The Birth of My Baby Girl
Let me start with the Grand Finale.
The clock read five in the afternoon and I was lying on a yoga mat on my bedroom floor, surrounded by pillows and a warm compress on my stomach. The curtains were closed and my mantras were playing. My mind had escaped to a different dimension, to a place where I could find peace in the midst of my current reality.
My entire team was on the floor with me waiting for my next contraction. Juliana, my midwife, was right beside me, and Cecilia, the physical therapist, was behind me. Larissa, the acupuncturist, had just done some cupping on my back. My husband, Fulvio, was also there, making sure the hot compress stayed on my pelvis.
When the contraction came, Cecilia put pressure on my hips to help me open my pelvis and deal with the pain in my lower back, while Fulvio held my hand and Juliana lent me her legs as pillows. I remember needing all the touch and human warmth I could get.
While the pain in my lower back was hard to deal with, the pain in the front of my pelvis was different, it was sharp and almost unbearable.
When I told my team about this sharp pain in the front of my pelvis, they knew the baby needed help getting into the right position. Her head was trying to come down, but it was in a position that didn't help. To be more precise, her head was hitting the front of my pelvis, which is why the pain was so acute and hard to deal with. The hot compress helped, but it wasn't enough.
I was in hell. The pain was excruciating. All my knowledge about the Alexander Technique, Yoga, and Mindfulness, just evaporated. I was like a scared cat trying to find a way to escape, and that’s when I entered an imaginary world and started rambling out loud.
“I'm still not bleeding, this whole process will still take a while. When are we going to the hospital? I can't be in a car for 40 minutes. The hospital is too far away. The contractions are getting closer and closer. I won't be able to deal with them on the way there. When we get to the hospital, please give me an epidural, I need to sleep and rest before she comes.”
I was trying to resist everything. That's when Juliana whispered like an angel in my ear, “Ariel, even if you get an epidural, you still need to do the work. Childbirth is a joint commitment, between you and your baby. There is no escape.”
Doing the “work,” which in this case means doing the inner work; staying present and cooperating no matter what is something I know intimately, so in that moment, her words felt like my own.
After listening to her, I didn't hesitate. I simply returned my attention to my body and looked at my own pain straight in the eye. And just like that, there I was, connected with the present moment, with my body and my mind.
Remember that moment when Neo, from The Matrix, started believing he was the chosen one? That's how I felt. Like him, I was fully aware, without fear or interest in avoiding the bad guys. I felt as if everything I learned in my field had prepared me for this moment.
I knew exactly what to do next. Not only was I aware that my neck and pelvis are connected as the beginning and end of my torso, I actually felt it in every part of me as the pain came and went. If my neck was free, so was my pelvis, and with a free pelvis my little girl would be able to find the right position to descend.
I thought to myself, 'To keep moving forward, I have to be my own teacher.' It was at that moment that I turned the tables. I was already there and I knew the way, now I just had to walk it. That is, I needed to have the patience to release the pain and discomfort with movement and mindfulness, one contraction at a time.
With that in mind, I surfed each wave of contraction as it came. I concentrated on keeping my neck and body free even though I wanted to contract everything. What I realized was that keeping my body open and expanding through each contraction was a true work of art, and for me, this artistic expression felt more like I was undergoing an exorcism.
With each new contraction, I changed positions. It didn’t matter if I was lying down or standing up, when the contractions came I went to all fours. I quickly spinned my head in circles, mouth open, releasing any pressure on my neck, shoulders, back, pelvis as I howled, screamed, and shook.
When I wasn't rolling my neck, I rocked it left and right while letting go of all the pain I felt. One of the girls pressed down on my hips with both hands, while another kept my stomach warm with a warm compress.
As strong as each contraction was, I didn't fade away, I simply kept the intention to open my body and move in a way that would help the process. I remember looking at Fulvio and seeing his pupils wide open, as if we were at a rave. Adrenaline washed over everyone present, not just me.
And just like in the movie The Matrix, when Neo started believing, everything started changing.
After about an hour of having contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart, on a pain scale of 10, and keeping my mind and body connected through movement and intention, something changed. The pain in the front of my belly became bearable. At that point, we knew she was in the right position and ready to descend.
It was time to head to the hospital (if you haven't read my last blog post about the reasons I had to change my home birth plans to a hospital birth, click here to read it). My team was amazing and made sure we were taking everything we needed with us.
Cecília made sure that the kitchen staff prepared my chicken soup, fruit, cheese bread, and tea to take to the hospital. She also made sure to bring my yoga mat and personal things like pillows and blankets. At that moment, the team was divided between notifying the obstetrician who was in the hospital, gathering the things we needed to take, and preparing the car.
In the car, my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. Flora was in the front seat texting the rest of the team and figuring out how to get into the hospital room as smoothly and quickly as possible. My driver, Cosme, was being very careful on the way to the hospital. Fulvio was in the back seat, and Juliana and I were in the middle seat.
It was one of the hardest but most psychedelic car rides of my life. In the sky, it was a full moon in Leo, and with the windows open, I was able to feel the full power of that moon. On all fours, like a dog, I would look out the window and let the breeze ease my pain.
And people, it was so much pain!
The support Juliana gave me was fundamental in all the bumps on the road to the hospital. My hands were holding her legs, my left knee was propped up on the car seat and my right foot was on the floor. And with each contraction, I was grateful to have Fulvio's hands behind my back.
After about forty minutes, we arrived at the hospital. By this point, my contractions were probably a minute apart. There was no blood and my water never broke. It was just me, my pain, and a beautiful floral cotton dress I was wearing.
As soon as I got out of the car, I squatted down, the last contraction was so strong, I only had the floor for support. I remember seeing the shocked expression on Cosme’s face.
My doula and I quickly entered the hospital, as it was not necessary to check in. Everything was already prepared, thank God. As I entered the elevator, another contraction came so I crouched on the floor once again, but this time on all fours. Flora was right behind me pressing my hips to help me get through this new wave. When we finally got to the room, Luciana, my obstetrician, was already there waiting for me.
I remember saying to her, "Give me an epidural, please, there's no blood, this will take a while and I can't take it anymore." As soon as Cecilia arrived with the yoga mat and pillows, I went straight to the floor and layed on my side. The obstetrician was beside my legs and allowed me to place my feet on her shoulders.
When I felt strong pressure on my pelvic floor, I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, this is it, it's her head.' I took a deep breath and when I exhaled her little head came out. Fulvio was there and said, “My love, she's a beautiful little girl, she looks like Jasper. Breathe in one more time.” I waited for the last contraction and with almost no extra effort, her body came out.
Luciana gently picked her up and placed her in my arms. It was 8:25 pm and I was ecstatic. We were all on the floor and she was born on my yoga mat!
I didn't really have to push her to get her out. All the mind/body/soul work I had done in the last three and a half hours was enough to take care of everything that needed to be taken care of. It hadn't been twenty minutes since we arrived at the hospital and she was already born.
My water broke just as she was coming out. She and I spent about an hour together hugging each other. There wasn’t much vernix left so we kept what was there. We waited over one hour to cut her umbilical cord, and she latched right away. I remember my legs were still shaking, but other than that I felt great. We were all ecstatic, vibrating at the same frequency.
Even though I was in a hospital room, I had my own team and they respected everything I asked for in the birth plan. Each of them had a special gift to share and what they all had in common was that they were all there, fully present for anything I needed. Because of this group of amazing women, I had a new unforgettable experience and for that I am eternally grateful.
Everything happened so fast that I didn’t end up taking the antibiotics I needed to take four hours prior to delivery, but our little girl is doing great. She is healthy, beautiful and has a very sweet soul. Mama here is also doing great. I was able to walk, talk, laugh, and eat cheese bread with ease after she was born.
Everything went even better than what I had written in my blog Writing My Birth Story and Visualizing Success. I am happy that I felt ready and able to face challenges with such courage.
I thought she was going to be a Pisces, but she turned out to be an Aquarius. I thought her name was going to be Goya, but when I looked at her, I didn’t feel her as Goya. I thought I was going to have a home birth, but she took me to the hospital so I could get another point of view.
In the end, I realized that like every Aquarius I know, our little girl doesn't like to follow predetermined plans, she likes to create her own future, and what works for her. All I know is that we work well together and I am so grateful that she chose me as her mother.
Baby girl was born on Wednesday, February 16th, 2022 at 8:25 in the evening, Brasilia Standard Time. Measuring 18 inches and weighing 6.4 pounds.
Edited and Prepared by: Lily Zara