Friday, August 19, 2011

Embracing my birth story

Becoming a mother has brought to me wonderful things! However, motherhood is something that should NOT be taken for granted, and it is not an on going state of joy. It is a relationship that has to be cultivated, taken care of, it requires constant learning, research, work, acknowledgment and lots of patience. Yes, it comes with tons of gifts, but you as a mama have to embrace them, internalize them and then put them into practice! It is the biggest responsibility...

And it all begins with one enormous event (as enormous as you wish to see it): giving birth.

I, like all my other journey sisters, planned a home birth. We wanted a beautiful, natural, empowering and grand water birth, in the comfort and familiarity of our living rooms. Tunning into our bodies, into our womanhood. No drugs, no rush, no forced positions. We wanted to give our baby girls the best of the best: waiting for the cord to stop palpitating before cutting it, keeping the placenta, getting lot's of skin to skin time, letting them do the baby crawl, having them protected in their own space... and many other things.

I kept a very strict diet during my pregnancy, making sure my baby would be healthy and strong. No smoking, no alcohol, no coffee, no fish, nothing fried, checking on the carbs and fats, lots of organic food. I went to pregnancy yoga classes and  I took long walks with my dog at the park every day (which does not explained that huge belly with over 40 pounds on!).  I took all the classes: child care, CPR for infants, breastfeeding, vaccinations workshop, pumping 101 and of course the class that brought us all together, childbirth class. Finally I saw all the videos and read many books...

I was physically prepared and I had all that amazing information. I had a birth plan going on! I was even dreaming about the BEST position to catch my baby... Just for your amusement this was the vision: I saw the famous "Business of being born" video, and let's say <it had me at hello>. As you all may know, in the video you follow the pregnancy of a few women and then their births. Ricki Lake (the producer) had a specially incredible, beautiful home birth. She was in the bath tub when her midwife told her "rich down and grab your baby", so she took her little one and placed her in her chest... I cried so much, it was very emotional. I could not believe the magic of it, I was inspired... I wanted that for myself, I wanted to catch my baby with my own hands, put her in my chest and fill her with warm words of love and blessings!...

It was all unrealistic! Not because home births aren't great, but because labor is wild! My visions and my birth plan set me on a case where anything different would be labeled as a failure, and that is exactly what happened... 

My little Adiel is one year, 3 months and 3 weeks old, and that is how long it took me to embrace my birth story. Why now? I guess because God works in mysterious ways and this time it was through my friend Paulina, who I have not seen in over a decade, lives in Singapore, and just had her first born son. Two days ago she wrote me her birth story: she planned everything as much as me. Like me, she was going for a more "conscious and responsible birth", and like me, she ended up frustrated, so I talked to her from the heart and as I was writing, I finally internalized many things... (Gracias querida Pau!)

This is my birth story:

It began on a Wednesday morning when I went to my yoga class. As my teacher had told me, that day was my day to sit in the center of the circle of mamas and receive their blessings! It was very touching, I was happy and by the end of the class I had officially entered Laborland! I was calm and walking and smiley. I spent some time with my mother and aunt and at night my friend Vania came to be with us during labor. Later, my husband, my friend and I went to the park to throw some frisbee with our dog. We came back and my friend Fernanda came to also help us (she was in charge of our dog, our phones and food). We had a light dinner and I started moving around. The midwife came at 2 am when I was less than 5 minutes apart, but we decided that she would come back the next day. At 4 am the hypnotherapist came and did a session with me that got me through the night. I was able to sleep! The next morning labor was going incredibly well and by noon I was 8 cm dilated... The pool was set on my living room, and we were all ready to go...

Unfortunately, that is when things took a turn... The midwife told me to let her know when I was ready to push and, after half an hour, I was so excited I decided to start pushing... I pushed for 6 hours non stop, by then it was very hard for me to move, I was in a lot of pain, and baby's head was not even close to coming out... I started loosing confidence, we started to talk about the possibility of going to the hospital, my uterus was swollen and I was exhausted. I can't tell you how hurt and disappointed I was to even hear the word hospital, I could not tell what was going wrong, I was working so incredibly hard!!... the midwife seemed a little worried, she tried many things and did not know what else to do at that point.

We got in the car to Cedars Sinai and called Dr. K (midwifes back up, who specializes in "failed home births"). I walked all the way to the delivery room (read pain) and at that point my water came out completely... that gave me hope, so by the time the nurse suggested the epidural I firmly said "NO"...  My husband and midwife would not believe it, I was not going to be able to push any longer in such pain. Eventually, I accepted the epidural and by then I could not even sit on my own to get the injection!

Light came into my heart and my whole universe opened when I saw the doctor (who knew?? I had been afraid of the guy all through my pregnancy thinking a doctor and a hospital would be a nightmare). He told me with full confidence that I still could have a vaginal birth if I helped him... all the power and strength came back to me and I knew that everything was going to be ok.

Adiel Sima was born vaginally with a little assistance from a vacuum and lots of support from Dr. K and his staff!! I had to get several stitches and I was grateful to get them from such a good surgeon. Apparently Adiel's head was completely on the side and could not get down... So, I have to say: giving birth at the hospital, with drugs, on that bed, with a great team of professionals was a blessing to us!! We received great care in a very personal and compassionate way!

However, as the days and weeks passed, I kept rolling the whole event in my head... what went wrong? why did it happened like that? who is to blame? what would I have done differently? where did my dream go? that dream was so heavy and bitter now...  I kept trying to focus on the many positives of the experience, but the feeling of failure stayed. I mean... all those months I was talking in support of home birth, explaining my reasons to all the skeptic and fearful relatives and friends, I made such a big deal about it AND I paid a lot of money to have it!... and then it felt and looked like a big fat failure! Don't get me wrong, I was bursting happy and deeply in love with my darling little Adiel, she was perfect and astonishingly beautiful to my eyes. I was sitting home with my precious, healthy baby and  still with a terrible itch in my heart... it did not make any sense...

Here is what happened: I spent months building up what was to be my birth experience, preparing to live the ideal scenario, to be blown away by it... I basically forgot the one fundamental truth: you can NOT control labor (unless you plan a C-section from the beginning), you can NOT predict what will happen, you do NOT know where it will take you (specially with a home birth plan) or what presents it will bring you.

I know the things I prayed for in labor were 1. a healthy baby and a healthy delivery, 2. a beautiful enriching event and 3. a healing and enlightening experience that was perfect for my baby and for me. And all of those things I got! Now I can see the birth of my daughter taught me to let go, to flow with whatever comes my way with confidence, responsibility, a little bit of fear and knowledge, and specially to respect and honor my baby's path, her needs and her destiny since now. I always knew all those things, but never really got them so clearly. Today I can see that my birth experience has been a very important first lesson for my baby and myself.

I am adopted. I was adopted when I was a couple of days old and my father came to pick me up from the hospital to finally become my family. My parents do not know much about my biological family, but since I was very little they gave me a very crucial and significant piece of information: my biological mother passed away giving birth to me. These days, that data does not make any sense and brings many other questions, but that is not the point now. What is important is that I grew up knowing, feeling and internalizing the idea of my mother dying to give me life. That thought had many many implications on who I am today. All this just to say that we have to consider that not only our babies birth experiences will have an impact on the person they will become tomorrow, but also the way we talk to them about their birth story and share what we have learned from it.

I finally can see my birth story with loving eyes. It has brought many precious things for me as a mama and a person... things that I can bring to other areas of my life, important lessons. We can not control everything in life, but we chose to learn from them or to hang heavily from them. And, as my friend Paulina said, all those months of preparation for a home birth had a great deal to do with the type of mother I have become and also the type of parents Uri and I have chosen to be as a couple.

The birth of my little Adiel is the greatest blessing I have ever received and I am forever thankful for it!

But, would I plan a home birth again? not sure... I loved being in labor at home and all the freedom... I am just not sure yet. Would I plan a water birth again? must definitely! Now that I am not afraid of hospitals, doctors, drugs, nurses and the straps birthing position, now that I know my body much better, I would love to try it again!

Yes, I am aware I did not discover anything new, but writing all this was important for me, and I want to encourage all of you mamas to do the same, share your birth story! It is good, not only for you, but for other mamas and mothers to be (even if you plan a C-section from the beginning). I was amazed how little I knew about births before having my baby at the age of 30. I was never in a birth before, I never saw a mother breastfeeding her child, nobody shared the important details with me. It is a very intimate process, but it should be a process shared among women, for it will help us all connect to our inner wisdom.

Am I ready for my second birth? Yes! Am I ready to have another little one running around? Maybe in a few months... not just yet =)



  1. Awe, good. :) I'm glad you feel more at peace with Adiel's birth.

  2. Vania Castello JimenezAugust 20, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    Mercedes, reading this has made me so happy.
    I have tears in my eyes darling!
    I am so proud of you, you are an amazing woman and are getting so much more beautiful by the day.
    I know how much the little princess has changed you and your life and I have to say I think you are a super mom!
    I had the honor of being with you through the whole thing and It was one of the must beautiful things I have witnessed in my life. Thank you so much for wanting me there!
    It took me like a week to realize that you had the perfect birth for you and Adiel, and I knew that some day it would feel that way to you to.
    I have recently acknowledged how important it is to always be aware of our concepts in life, what is good-what is bad, because if we allow ourselves to become rigid in our thoughts we tend to suffer a lot!
    Live is so mysterious and we should allow it to present itself as it will. Hopefully one day we will be able to flow freely!
    They say time heals everything, and it does if you are opened to the healing process. You have always been a GUERRERRA in that sense.
    I love you Mer and I respect and admire you so much my darling.
    Te amo mucho amiga!
    I Send you all my love!

  3. Mercedes, I am so happy to have connected with you! This is such a beautiful and important story to tell. So many women have very clear ideas about what they want their birth and even their parenting to be like. But the reality is that we are not as in control of things as we wish. :) I had wanted a water birth, too, but when I found out I was carrying twins I was too afraid to try it. Although my birth "plan" didn't happen exactly as I had envisioned, I feel blessed I was still able to have a vaginal birth - with twins it is so often not the case. And my children are the greatest gift I could ever have asked for.

    Your daughter is so lucky to have such a wise and loving mama. I look forward to reading more of your story!

  4. Mercedes Love, thank you so much for sharing your empowering and personal story. It is a story of triumph and discovery and you, Adiel and Uri are all winners at the end.

    I love you all dearly.


  5. My dearest Mechita,more i know you ,more i have respect and unlimited love for you.And my son Uri and Adiel very lucky to have you...Your wisdom just unfolding...Looking forward for more of your brilliant stories.always on your side to support.Ester.

  6. Mercedes,
    Thank you for your beautiful account of Adiel's birth. I echo many others when I say: warrior mama! Can I share your story with others in our childbirth class? No pressure, either way :)

  7. Thank you Jacqueline! and definitely share it, that is the idea... I hope many other mamas would share their stories because I believe we could help each other a lot. Since I gave birth I have talked to so many of my friends and give them advice about the little details on labor, giving birth and motherhood... I heard many important things in our childbirth class, but the subject is so incredibly big and profound, that probably you can never get enough feedback...
    Take care and please give a big hug to Kim and her beautiful baby. Love, Mercedes

  8. Mechita felicidades!! Me encantaría escribir mi historia pero necesitaría años de clases en el anglo... I just want to say that i'm soooo proud of you

  9. Meche, I think the right moment for reading your Blog has finally come. Thank you so much for mentioning me in your beautiful words,you inspired me too when I was in Labor, thank you for that. With the brief words we share from one side to the other of this beautiful planet you really gave me light when I needed it during labor and my 360o turn to unexpected C- section.
    Today I can say, no matter how I brought my beloved healthy boy to this earth, he is here and he is perfect.
    Thank you for sharing all this words Amiga, I was very lucky to receive your love and light at the right moment! Thank you for making me embrace my labor!I will never forget this guidance! From deep in my heart Amiga! Love you so much!

    Paulina, in Singapore after 2 months of her baby's birth: Tito Inlkesh
    =) Thank you again for fixing my heart!


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