Sylvie Autumn Candee

October 6, 2009

Our gorgeous new little girl.

Our gorgeous new little girl.

September 30 2009

Who knew that 8 little pounds could bring such pure joy, and heal such huge emotional wounds? I feel like Superwoman, and I’m on cloud nine. The birth of our second daughter was intensely beautiful, incredibly cathartic, and absolutely perfect.

37 weeks and full term seemed like an unlikely possibility after the birth of Ruby at 34 weeks. But, the day I was considered full term came and passed without incident. Before I knew it I was rapidly approaching 40 weeks, and knew soon I would officially be “overdue.”

The waiting began. I was getting more and more uncomfortable, but still managing to love every second of being full term. I continued to prepare myself both emotionally and physically for the birth that I’d been dreaming of.

The afternoon after being checked at 39 weeks + 5 days I began contracting regularly and thought for sure labor would continue to progress. But it fizzled out by 5am, and I was left wondering when the day would come. For 5 more nights I experienced prodromal labor . . . and each time the contractions would be gone by morning. On Tuesday night, the 29th, just after I finished cooking a huge batch of soup and making an apple pie, I was about to sit down to dinner with my mom when I realized I had an incredible urge to clean my ceiling fans. So I did. I didn’t find this strange at all. Looking back, I am sure it was a sign of what was to come.

At 2:45am I was awoken by an intense contraction. By 3:30 I realized they were regular, and by 4:00 I woke Brian to let him know I thought it was the real thing. I took a long hot shower and got myself together, and then sat down with Brian to time things. By 5:00 my mom had joined us in the living room, and by 5:30 we basically made the decision that it was time to get to the hospital. Since I’d been having so much pre-labor, we knew I’d probably go fast. I certainly didn’t want to miss my chance to get into the big birthing tub!

At 6:00am we arrived at the hospital, after an agonizing five minute ride equipped with three intense contractions (what is it about cars and laboring women?!?). Soon we found ourselves in Labor and Delivery, and one of our midwives, Ann, checked me to confirm that I was 5-6cm and 100% effaced. I tried not to let it disappoint me because I was pretty sure things were going to move quickly!

And that they did! An hour later, after my Group B Strep antibiotics were administered, I made my way into the birthing pool. Compared to laboring on the hospital bed, it was pure heaven. I quickly hit transition, without knowing it, and everyone told me I was getting close. Using the word “intense” to describe the contractions barely comes close to what I was feeling. Beyond extreme pain is a primal strength more powerful than anything I have ever experienced. That’s what I was feeling. I was convinced that I wasn’t as close as they were saying . . . that they were just trying to make me feel like I was doing a good job.

Ann’s call ended at 8am, and Kris took over. They asked if I wanted to stay in the tub to birth and I told them I couldn’t get out if I tried. So the decision was made. I would birth in the water. I couldn’t believe how clear it was to me that that’s where I wanted to be.

Soon my rhythmic moans became gutteral, primal sounds as the pushing stage hit me like a ton of bricks. At one point I said, to my surprise, “I think I’m pushing.” And I was. I hadn’t been checked since my arrival, but everyone knew instinctually that I was ready to have my baby. Looking back I am sure it was blatantly obvious. I still thought everyone was lying to me.

I switched positions, from leaning forward over side of the tub, to my back, with my legs braced on the wall in front of me. The water still felt so good.

With my beautiful doula, Chama, holding my hand on one side, and my amazing husband holding my hand on the other, I began following my instinct to push through the intensity of each contraction. I could feel our daughter moving down more and more through the birth canal. I reached down to feel the bag of waters bulging, and during the next contraction I felt the bag pop. It was a split second of relief before the panic of the pushing stage hit once again. I knew all I wanted was for the baby to come out and for the intensity to stop. At the same time I wanted the contractions to just go away. Brian told me later he could tell at one point I was trying to get out of my own body to escape what I was feeling.

I can recall every detail with so much clarity, but I am sure I looked completely out of it. I remember Kris’s face in front of me, Chama’s voice in one ear, and Brian’s in the other. Our incredible nurse, Sheila, was off to my right encouraging me too. I kept saying things like, “I just want it to be over!” and “Get her out of me!” At one point Kris told me to reach down and feel my baby. I looked at her like the devil and said, “I know she’s there!” It was a difficult balance, and it was completely impossible to escape what was happening. So, I dug down deep, sucked it up, and pushed.

It was hard to catch my breath. I wanted her out so badly that I’d hold off taking a breath as long as I could to push for an extra second. I could have panicked, but I had four amazing people, my husband, my doula, my midwife, and my nurse, bringing me back to earth through each push. I felt her head coming down and I felt the burn as she crowned. At that moment, I decided I wanted to meet our little girl more than anything on earth, and I pushed harder than I had yet.

The screams I let out were instinctual. I sounded like a horse/werewolf/gruesome monster from a fairytale. I was almost there. I felt her shoulders pop out and suddenly she was floating in the water in front of me. Kris picked her up and placed her on my chest and I cried out in relief. Here was our baby!! It was 8:53am.

The emotion was just overwhelming. They covered her in warm blankets and the three of us huddled together and cried, amazed at what we’d just been though. We checked her from head to toe, and cried even more at her perfection and beauty. Here we were, all together, in a state of pure bliss and thanksgiving. So much had happened in the three hours since we’d checked into the hospital!

For an hour we bonded, first in the tub, and then in the bed next to the tub. Sylvie cried out, but was soothed by our voices – the ones she already knew all too well. Soon she was nursing like a champion, and I was a very proud mama.

Brian, Sylvie, and I sat together on the bed and laughed with the midwives and nurses. My recovery was basically nonexistent. I was as high as a kite, and just felt so good. There were no drugs to come down from, no pain medications to numb my feelings…And I was holding my little girl in my arms. It was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.

I finally decided I could let go of her for a few minutes so they could check her out and weigh her. We all crowded around as they slipped her onto the scale. Everyone had made bets on her weight and, of course, wanted to be the winner. None of us expected the scale to read 8lbs 0.4oz!! I almost had a heart attack! I had just pushed out a baby that was double the size of Ruby in no time at all!! Sylvie also measured 20.5 inches, a whole 3.5 inches longer than Ruby! Wow!!

Soon after we were moved to mother/baby, and at last it was Brian, Sylvie, and I alone. We missed Ruby terribly, but tried to make the best of our time together in the hospital. Brian went out and got us food from the restaurant and brought back a bottle of delicious wine. We had a “date” together in the hospital room, setting up our feast all around the bed, while Sylvie napped in my lap. We just stared at each other and at the baby, completely in awe of what we’d just been through. I was Superwoman, and he was Superman. Together we’d made it through the most natural process in a most natural way . . . and we met on the other side completely cleansed and more grateful than we’d ever been in our lives.

Thank you, my Superman, for helping me through it all.

Thank you, my amazing Ruby Jane, for teaching me that, no matter how it happens, birth is a beautiful process. You made me a mother . . . I could never have these feelings if it weren’t for you.

Thank you, my beautiful Sylvie Autumn, for giving me this chance. I will never forget how your birth changed my life.



Sylvie's arrival.

Sylvie's arrival.

Brian and Sylvie.

Brian and Sylvie.

The three of us recovering together.

The three of us recovering together.

Two tired girls.

Two tired girls.

A wide awake Sylvie with her snoozing daddy.

A wide awake Sylvie with her snoozing daddy.

Sylvie in her hat from Kindra!

Sylvie in her hat from Kindra!

Getting ready to go home and meet Ruby!

Getting ready to go home and meet Ruby!


9 Responses to “Sylvie Autumn Candee”

  1. stella Says:

    lauren this sounded EXACTLY like my own labor. the way you described the pushing/contractions – the intensity and pain. it was CRAZY!!!!

    i can’t believe how big she is – you are awesome!

  2. Kim Says:

    Love love love loved reading this!! What a beautiful story and a beautiful expression of it. I’ve been waiting for you to post some pics 🙂
    Love you all,

  3. kelly Says:

    this is awesome! i have tears in my eyes! congrats super woman!

  4. Aubrie Says:

    !!! amazing!

  5. Jilian Says:

    That sounds like such a wonderful birth. I’m welling up over here. I am so happy for you. She is just beautiful, both of your girls are beautiful. You are a strong and amazing mama.

  6. my darling. so amazing. what a fabulous writer you are 🙂 congrats to my super couple!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Lisa Says:

    Lauren, what an amazing story! I am so happy for you guys! We will be by to visit the newest Candee soon, but Kaela has been sick and we don’t want to bring any new germs over. Call me if you need anything. I can be there in 5 minutes 🙂

  8. aaren Says:

    What a beautiful birth story…Sylvie is a lucky girl to have such recorded history to one day look upon. I am so happy/ proud/ sappy crying/ thrilled for all of you. I wish I were a bit closer to bring food, wash sheets/ nappys/ whatever. . .I am so looking forward to visiting A’ville some time soon to embrace you strong amazing mama you!! All my love–

  9. gabymerediz Says:

    Congratulations! Your birth story is so amazing… I’m fighting tears here at work.

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