If Erica Bovino of Southington, Conn., is still trying to recall the exact details of the birth of her second child, daughter, Stella, three weeks ago, it is easy to understand why.
Bovino, 34, delivered Stella at home, in her bathroom, with no one else in the house besides Stella’s older brother, 3-year-old Jack, who slept through the whole thing.
“I didn’t call anyone because I figured I had plenty of time,” Bovino, a speech pathologist, said of the moment, May 6, when she realized she was going into labor.
Bovino had been in labor with Jack for 30 hours so, based on the many labor and delivery books she had read, she anticipated at least a 15-hour labor with her second child.
Instead, Bovino felt her water break less than five hours after that first contraction. Her first step was to call her husband, Paul Sulzicki, also 34, and a police officer, to tell him to get home quickly from his overnight shift.
“I realized there was no way I was going to be able to get to a hospital in time,” Bovino said, throwing away the couple’s plan to drive the 30 minutes to Yale-New Haven Hospital and deliver naturally with a midwife, as she had done with Jack.
“All my instincts kicked in,” she said. “I went into a primal mode.”
Luckily for Bovino, a natural birth advocate, she had done her research during her pregnancy on delivering without the aid of medicine or, now, in her extreme case, without the aid of anyone else.
“I didn’t know what position she was in and I knew I had to get on my hands and knees,” she said. “Then something told me to go into the bathroom and squat.”
“I remember just trying to squat and I said, ‘Come on baby, come on baby,’” she said. “I put all my effort into opening and getting her out. I was like I have to get her out. It’s life and death.”
At 5:35 a.m., Bovino lifted out of herself a healthy six pound and three ounces baby named Stella Jane Bovino Sulzicki.
When Stella first came out, her eyes were closed, giving Bovino a momentary scare. Then, as soon as Sulzicki made it home and ran into the bathroom, mother and father saw their newborn daughter’s eyes for the first time.
“All of a sudden she opened her big eyes and that’s the moment my husband walked in,” Bovino said. “He calmly took us to the bed and I started nursing immediately and he called 911 and called my midwife.”
Paramedics arrived shortly and, after determining that both mom and baby were fine, granted Bovino’s request that she continue nursing her in bed to bond with Stella, and also allow time to introduce Stella to her big brother, who had slept through her entire birth.
“My husband went into his room and said, “Do you want to come into mommy and daddy’s room, mommy’s had the baby,” Bovino said. “He [Jack] was just all smiles.”
Bovino was then taken to the hospital with Stella for an overnight stay, just as any new mom would do. She says the doctors there were impressed with what she had accomplished.
“People have babies at home but they don’t do it completely alone,” she said. “It’s very rare. I’m still processing the whole thing. With lack of sleep and everything, it’s hard to remember exactly what happened.”
What Bovino does know for sure is that she wants to use her accidental home birth as a message for other moms.
“I want to be an inspiration to other women to empower them to trust themselves and their instincts,” she said. “Hospitals are there, and they’re wonderful in emergencies, but a lot of times women don’t trust themselves and their bodies that they’re able to do it.”
“I trusted my body and the process,” Bovino said. “I tried to stay as focused and looking inward as I could and not let any fear come over me.”