Friday, July 15, 2011

Giving light

I am crazy busy these days, specially at finishing my homework for the course I am taking on line at the University (it ends tomorrow!! so this is the last and most important days), but also with work and running after Adiel. She is unstoppable and learning so much everyday... However, I wanted to stop by and share a few words of advice I am writing to my friend Aida for her labor (due date is today!). I thought maybe you have some recommendations to share as well... (...oh, those days we were all learning about becoming parents in our childbirth class!)

Dear friend, without any doubt I can say nothing in my life has ever been so explosive, powerful, intense, empowering, healing, emotional and wonderful as giving birth to my daughter. With all my heart I wish your experience is perfect for you and your baby, that you are able to go through it as if it is the most beautiful gift and that it will grant you all you expect from it. This is a short list of advices and reminders I wrote to myself during pregnancy, with the purpose of having them close and read them in my early labor. These are words from what I learned in my prenatal yoga class, my childbirth class, and the books I read. Then, I also added a few points from my birth experience. I do not recall exactly what comes from where, but I have to however recommend 2 brilliant books (I might or might not be quoting): "Birthing from Within", and "Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful" (they are a pregnant mama must reads!!). 

Words for labor, giving birth or, as we say in Spanish, giving light (dar a luz):
  1. The only certainties for labor are: it will be hard work, it will be painful and you will be able to do it. Labor is a wild ride... you will not know when it will start, what will happen, how much it will hurt and how long it will be, but you can be in disposition to take whatever comes your way with love and strength, and trust that is the best for you and your baby.
  2. Your body won't give you anything you can't take.
  3. Give birth with your body and not with your mind. Lose yourself into it. Giving birth comes from within you, from a universal consciousness that encircles all generations of women that came before us. Your body knows what to do and the more you let it do it, while shutting your mind and trusting, the simpler it will all be. Nature will do its own thing if you allow it to work for you.
  4.  When the time comes that contractions overtake you, there might be a visualization that help you through it. A phrase I took for myself is "open like a flower". It's a nice reference!
  5. Forget about time. Do no ask anybody to tell you the time because it might generate anxiousness. "Laborland" has its own time and space. Go to your inner self, to your baby... whatever goes on outside is not your problem.
  6.  Breath, breath, breath deep. Breath with an open throat and a long rhythm... like the sea or the mountain breaths. When you groan with a high pitch, there is resistance and pain, your throat closes and the sound is distressing. If you moan in a deeper way (exhaling with a wide "aaaaah", instead of a high "ayyyy") it will help you connect to your inner wisdom. Think of the waves coming and going, or the leaves of a tree moving to the soft wind. Contractions are easier with rhythm and harder if you resist and stop your deep breathing.
  7. Every contraction helps you to open your cervix and brings you closer to the moment of giving birth and being with your baby. Experience them to the fullest and with gratitude... take one contraction at a time, moment by moment, being in the present.
  8. There might come a time when you will want to give up, you might think it is too hard for you and you can not take it... Fortunately, that means you are really really close to giving birth. Then you will surrender to the process. Go to the edge and beyond with no resistance!
  9. There is NO correct way of giving birth. Do not judge yourself or your experience, don't feel ashamed, do not feel bad. Whatever you are going through, and the way you are going through it is your own perfect way. Forget about your plans and your ideas of "the ideal way to birth". Respect and embrace your baby's journey and destiny. My ideal way was a water birth... lets just say my Adiel was born in very different circumstances... she was born her own way.
  10. A lot of tension is accumulated on the jaws, do not tighten your face and neck... the less tense you are, the more your body will cooperate. Ask the people who will be with you in those moments to remind you to let go of the jaw!
  11. Whenever the pain is getting intense and you start thinking you can not take it any more, it makes a world of a difference if you smile. For some reason it snaps you out of being focused on the pain... so give contractions a big smile!
  12. There will be people around you during labor (like maybe your mama) that might start getting worried or feeling bad for you. They might be troubled by the pain your are feeling or the way you are expressing it. However, it's very important that you feel absolutely comfortable to express whatever comes to you (you can not control it, so do not try to control it), even if that means shouting and cursing. Talk to your birthing team beforehand and remind them that you can do it and that you are not helpless (you do not want worried faces around you!!). Ask them to be supportive of whatever your body needs to do.
  13. Remember your baby is also working very hard to come out. Your baby is your partner here, talk to her and let her know what you require.
  14. Do not be afraid!!! We established there will be pain and you can not predict or control anything during labor. It is a very primitive process of your body and you might cry, shout, vomit, pee or poop! Or all of the above! All of that is ok, those are natural body secretions, so do not mind them. Do not be concerned of being unladylike, birthing is not for ladies, is for warriors! Let it be.
  15. Talk to your partner and ask him to NOT take anything personal.
  16. Move! Even if you have to force yourself it is better to move. Specially when pain takes you, if you stay in one place or position your muscles (working harder than ever) will get a little stiffer with every contraction. Take a few steps, even if it is not the easiest.
  17. You need energy, a lot of energy. And you need to be hydrated (it is critical! I know people that had complications because they forgot to drink water). Drink something refreshing with many calories like coconut water. 
  18. Push only when your body has no choice but to push. Do not force yourself into pushing. If you are thinking about pushing or thinking about when to push, then it is not your time yet. 
  19. If all is good and you have the chance take a few minutes for you and your baby and let her do the breast crawl. I was able to do it, and I cherish those moments. 
I planned a home birth, so I wrote all this thinking I was going to be with my midwife, and that she would guide me, but also respect my needs. I knew I was not going to be hooked up to the IV, at least on my early labor... I ended up in the hospital giving birth naturally, but with a lot of help from a wonderful doctor and my midwife... but there will be a different post with my birth story one day...

The days before the birth there was a lot of "mama drama", navigating on a roller coaster of hormones and emotions. When I gave birth the story of my life changed completely. I had to forget about that little girl who wanted to be good and pretty, to become a mother who thinks always first of her child, who is loving but fearless, tough and compassionate, patient and responsible, a mother who needs to provide stability and equilibrium to her family, becoming the a pillar for my loved ones. 

So, dear Aida and baby Constanza, may you have a beautiful birth experience and be full of blessings, health and joy!

One last share: the SONG I danced with my father on my wedding day, and that accompanied Adiel and me during many sleepy times! I love singing it to her...

My Adiel 2 days old 

Now that we are here, I want to thank Sada, my wonderful yoga teacher who inspired and guided me so incredibly much through many months, and Jake my midwife ,who was like a loving mama to me in the most critical moments on my journey towards becoming a mother, and who sadly passed away a few weeks ago... Thank you Jake, your memory will always stay very close to my heart!

Finally, thank you to all the mamas, my journey sisters, who walked the motherhood adventure with me and who continue to support and encourage me in many levels.

With much love,
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