For starters, Silas broke the mold of the other boys by being the first baby born past his due date! Isaac and Josiah were both "early", while Adoniah was born smack ON his due date. But not Silas! He decided to surprise us all by making us wait an extra SIX days before deciding to make his grand debut! In the weeks leading up to his birth, I experienced what I call "false labor" multiple times only to have the contractions fizzle out after hours of anticipation that "maybe this was really it!" Obviously, those experiences were doing great things to prepare my body for birth, so I am thankful for them...but I will admit, it was hard to be disappointed several times in a row when labor did not progress. My mom had come into town for a set amount of time to help me with recovery, and the timeframe of her visit was steadily ticking as each day passed...and still no baby So, you can imagine that I was very ready to bring this baby into the world! Then, in his own sweet time, Silas made his move! :)
It was a Monday night. I had felt uncomfortable all evening, to the point that my mom noticed and commented on it. Around 10:00 p.m., while sitting on the couch and thinking about going to bed soon, the contractions started. It didn't take long for me to start thinking that these felt like the real deal. I mentioned this to Nathan and we began to gear up for the possibility of a birth that night.
Because we have home births, preparing for labor and delivery does involve some effort on our part. Thankfully, all my supplies were ready to go and we had already been through a "dress rehearsal" on a previous night that had proven to be merely a practice round. Setting up our table of supplies and putting our special set of bedding on the bed was quickly tended to. I started to heat water in a crock pot for my favorite natural way of cutting contraction discomfort (warm lavender oil compresses) and of course, made sure to have plenty of red raspberry tea on hand to sip throughout the night!
My mom had already gone to bed, so we let her sleep until about 1:00 a.m. when I was feeling the intensity of contractions pick up and ready for her help and support. I honestly can't remember at what point we alerted the midwives that things were progressing, but I do remember that they arrived somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. By then, I was draped over a birthing ball in the living (my first time to use one!) listening to peaceful music, sipping my various beverages of choice and moaning my way through contractions. The warm lavender oil compresses were being expertly applied by my mother, and Nathan was also right there with me as my moral and muscle support. Everything was progressing beautifully and I was definitely getting into my "zone."
I remember the midwives arriving and me feeling extremely relieved to see them as contractions were at a full "go." I knew the baby would not be long in coming. They quietly made their way into the living room and set up their own supplies and tools, checked my vitals, and got caught up on the details of what had transpired thus far. Meanwhile, I continued to work through contractions primarily using the birthing ball and swaying with Nathan.
Labor is never "easy." But once again, I was so thankful for the opportunity to birth in the comfort and peacefulness of my own home surrounded by familiar sights and smells and people that I knew. I felt comfortable mentally even if I wasn't comfortable physically. I felt cocooned in an atmosphere of warmth, love, care, support, and all that is wrapped up in that special word, home. My music continued to play softly in the background. The lighting was dim. Labor was picking up in intensity as it always does, like a train picking up speed, until the momentum becomes so great it's almost overwhelming and that baby is THERE! "I can see his head! Here he comes! He's coming! You're doing great! Keep breathing! You can do this!" Those are some of the words I remember from within my zone.
Pushing began and lasted for a little while. I can't remember how long this many months later. It was definitely shorter than with Isaac, but longer than with Josiah...and maybe Adoniah too. I want to say I pushed off and on for 40 or 45 minutes this time. I remember contractions actually clicking off for a little while and my body entering rest mode while the baby was right there, positioned to come out! I tried various positions to start things back up again...and eventually they did. It was hard. It was work. It didn't feel very good. But my body was doing exactly what it was designed to do, and I was just going with the flow of things. I remember getting loud with my cries of effort. By now it was around 5:00 a.m. and I kept thinking how grateful I was that that boys were sleeping peacefully through it all, despite my increasing volume.
Finally, after roughly 7 hours of labor (my shortest one yet!), our sweet baby slipped out into the waiting hands of the midwives and I crossed the blessed finish line! There is nothing like the relief that is felt when the baby is out and in my arms! I was exhausted. I was so thankful to be done! I was in awe over getting to see Silas for the first time and hold him and nurse him. There is such an incredible rush of emotions in that moment. I remember lying on the floor of the living room with my head on the lap of my midwife while her assistant checked me out and we just all gazed at this amazing tiny person. Nathan was there looking on and smiling and cooing at his new son. My mom was there smiling and praising the Lord out loud! My midwives were there smiling and admiring our handsome new baby. So much joy! So much delight! It's pretty indescribable, even in the midst of total exhaustion.
I laid there for some time, completely spent, and happy to just let my body rest while I cuddled Silas and we waited for the placenta to be born. We announced his name as Silas Andrew and explained that it meant "Manly man of the forest." He latched on right away and nursed like a champ before falling asleep. Birth is tiring for these little guys too! Meanwhile, the minutes kept passing with no sign of the placenta. Every time I felt the slightest tinge of contraction, I pushed to try to get it out. I could see the concern growing on the assistant midwife's face as she waited and watched, ready to catch the placenta. Eventually, she had to use her fingers to feel around and figure out what was delaying things. I don't remember the exact conversation, but there was something about a part of the placenta being "caught" on a part of the cervix or uterus, and with insightful instruction from the more veteran midwife, she was able to release that snag, and then the placenta slipped right out! Phew! We were all greatly relieved. The placenta looked perfectly healthy and intact.
Then came the very unpleasant examination that always follows a birth as they checked for tearing or other problems. Thankfully, there was nothing to be concerned about, and I was ever so thankful to have that examination over with! Eventually, the cord was cut, the baby was weighed and measured, and I was able to get into a warm, soothing bath with my new baby. (Turns out, he was our biggest baby yet - 9 pounds even and 21 1/2 inches long!) After getting all cleaned up and dressed in warm, snuggly pajamas, we made our way into the dining room where Grand-Champ Daddy was feeding the boys their breakfast, as they had, by now, awakened for the day. Of course, they saw the midwives and all the gear that was being cleaned up in the living room and knew Mama had had the baby during the night. But this was their first time to see their little baby brother. As I walked into the dining room holding Silas and introduced him to the other children, I cried for the first time. There was something so incredibly touching about being able to make this introduction, knowing how very excited the boys were for this baby to come into the world. I could barely make it through the words due to being so choked up with tears. I am not usually a person who cries often or easily. But something about brining a baby into the world and all the hormones that were swirling around definitely had something to do with it! ;) The boys just looked on in awe and wonder! They couldn't wait to hold Silas, and shower him with little boy love.
I remember going to sit on the couch with Silas while they finished eating as fast as they could, and then how they came one by one into the living room to snuggle up next to me on the couch and hold Silas. Watching those first moments of connection are forever etched upon my memory. We had such a sweet family time that morning. More sweet than I ever remember past meetings of siblings, probably because the oldest brothers were a little older now than before and could better appreciate what was going on. We have some of the most adorable photos of them holding Silas from that morning! And from that day on, they always begged to hold the baby. In fact, they still do sometimes! ;)
Silas has filled our home and world with delight! He is a sweet, snuggly boy who has had the cutest little grin and giggle ever! He is also our first red-head, which I find particularly adorable. :)
In a way, it's hard to believe a whole year has passed since that momentous night. Overall, Silas has been an easy-going baby so long as Mommy is nearby. ;) He was easy to put on a (loose) schedule for nursing and sleeping, although smooth nighttime sleep has been off and on with him, and I look forward to the day when he sleeps as soundly as his brothers until morning!
Silas is an avid fan of the outdoors, loves to eat, has no fear of dogs, skipped right over a bottle to a sippy cup, dotes on Isaac, and absolutely adores his daddy! It's the cutest thing ever when Nathan gets home from work! Silas crawls to him as fast as his little legs will go, or reaches for Daddy if I happen to be holding him. Then, once Nathan picks him up, Silas lays his head on Nathan's shoulder and just rests there for several long seconds or minutes soaking in the snuggles. Melts my heart every time!
Just over the past few days, Silas has begun taking his first toddling steps; only 2-3 at a time for now, but he knows he's big-time stuff and looks around with a delighted grin whenever he does give walking a try. He can say, "Mama" and "Da-Da", although rarely does so anymore. Nowadays, his preferred words are "all done" (after a meal) or "uh" when something falls to the floor (short for "uh-oh"). A quick temper is starting to emerge when things don't go quite his way, so Silas is joining his brothers in the daily life lessons of obedience and self-control. :) Sometimes, he doesn't want to be left out of a play session with the other boys, whereas at other times, he is content to watch the commotion from the security of my arms. His favorite game is Peek-A-Boo!
And now, without further ado, here is a collection of pictures from Silas' first year of life! We are so thankful for our sweet snuggle bug!
Sometimes, they move too fast for my phone camera to capture! :)
This was "Silas the Super Hero!"
Birthday lunch - tuna salad, one of his favorites!
Birthday brownies were a big hit!
Our big one-year-old!
Also known as: Si-Guy, Siley, Smiley Siley, and just plain Si. :)