On Sept 25, 2008 our beautiful little boy Silas Orion was born in our home. It was 18 hours of a really hard labor. Chris, my mom and our friend Andrea were the most incredible team I could have possibly have had supporting me. I remember very little of the first 15 hours, though a walk outside to look at the sliver of the moon stands out firmly in my brain.
I didn’t eat much but remember drinking juice, water, smoothies and all sorts of stuff to keep me hydrated and strong. Asking “can I get in the tub yet” over and over stands out as well. Ironically it was too hot and needed to be cooled down in order for me to get in when the time was right. The last 3 1/2 hours will forever be implanted in my brain. I was pushing with all my might. I wanted to give up so many times. My support system would not allow that. I found an inner strength I never knew I had. I had to get my little baby out.
But Silas was just taking his time, he was as stubborn as his parents. We did most of the pushing in the tub, me sitting in front of Chris and using the tug of war method with my mom on the other end of the towel. My midwives were there helping to get that baby out of me. Our dear friend Andrea was also there as my doula, my support and my rock. We had a fabulous team doing everything we could to make this happen. After hours of pushing and almost giving up, his head finally emerged and I was told to get out of the tub immediately. My midwives basically tore him out of me, but he wasn’t breathing. They did CPR and gave him oxygen but it wasn’t working. The EMT’s came immediately and took him away in the ambulance. Chris rode with them, distraught.
We had to wait until my placenta was born before I could do anything else. I was pretty badly torn so my midwife thought I should get checked out at the hospital instead of having them sew me up. We drove over to Yale-New Haven hospital and first went to see Chris and Silas. They managed to get his heart to start beating, but Silas was brain dead.
What happened during the labor was called Shoulder Dystocia and happens in less then .05% of all births. Whether it had been a hospital birth or homebirth, the outcome is usually the same. His shoulders were back instead of curling forward like most babies do when they are exiting the birth canal. His shoulders got stuck on my pelvic bone and he couldn’t come out on his own. It’s really not something they could predict ahead of time. Also the umbilical cord was squeezed between his body and the birth canal and that was the point he stopped breathing. The midwives had been checking his heartbeat constantly and he was fine. My blood pressure had also been fine so there was really no worry throughout the labor. It was those last 5 min that they were not able to check the heartbeat when he was on his way out the birth canal.
We are not going through the what ifs, homebirth is what we believed in and still believe in. Our midwives were fantastic and we were in the best possible hands. The doctors and nurses at the hospital told us the same thing happens there more than you would expect, and that we should be proud of our courageous decision to have a birth at home. We just happened to be one of that .05%.
We got to the hospital and Chris was holding Silas who was attached to all the machines. Our whole family was there. I held my little angel for a while before I had to leave to be stitched up. When the time came to take him off of life support and let him pass away almost our whole family were around us to hold us up and keep us strong. At about 3am, they brought Silas back to us – letting us know that he was being held the entire time. He was so peaceful and beautiful. We each got to hold him and say goodbye. This was not how I envisioned this day to end.
The love and support we are getting from all of you is helping us get through this horrible time. We have had friends and family here with us at all times in that first month and the outpouring of love through email, phone calls, texts and blog posts has been incredible. I feel like I am living someone else’s life right now, like this is just all a bad dream that I will wake up from at some point. I am having my ups and downs, we are laughing and crying, remembering and forgetting. We will get through this, as we know, time will heal us.
I wrote this post a few days after Silas was born and died. Having 8 months to digest the enormity of our situation, I no longer believe time will totally heal us. I think that’s ok because a part of me will always hold Silas close to my heart and at this point, I think I will always be sad when I think of him. I have not healed, not yet.
I felt the need to add this because it seems like I wrote that forever ago and some of my thoughts and feelings have shifted since that time.
And another addendum, almost 3 years out. We no longer believe in homebirth (for everyone) and are going to have a hospital birth with this current pregnancy.
Our beliefs and views on the events that took place leading up to the birth of Silas and what happened at the birth have also shifted since writing this originally. I won’t change what I wrote, but feel the need to add that we believe things should have gone differently and that homebirth was not what was best for us in our situation.