“It all began the evening of June 2nd. The contractions I’d been having for days suddenly grew closer together and stronger. About 4 or 5 minutes apart. After Andreas went to sleep, Toby and I laid in bed together, timing contractions and wondering. Wondering if this was the day we’d be forever changed and parents to two beautiful children, instead of one.

The next thing I knew, it was the following morning. I felt really sore, and was still having contractions about 5 minutes apart, but I convinced myself that I was not in labor. ‘My water hadn’t broken, I was talking through the waves, this was false labor.’ Then, I’d have a really strong one, be leaning against the kitchen counter, breathing. Allowing the excitement to penetrate my mind, little by little. I called Toby, and we both agreed that I should call our midwives, to let them know what was going on. The midwife on call (Angelica) lived over an hour away, so she suggested that I go into the clinic and be checked by another midwife. I remember that I kept telling her I didn’t really think I was in labor, but that I just wanted to be safe. I hung up the phone and continued to second guess my decision. ‘This is just false labor, and I’m going to waste their time,’ I thought. I called and made an appointment to be checked, anyway. I started to bake some cookies for the midwives (these yummy flourless chocolate chip). This was the point that I let go of doubt, and decided to fully embrace the excitement of that day. I finished baking, and Andreas & I headed to meet Toby, so we could all go to the clinic together. Once we got there, one of the midwives (Yvonne) checked my cervix and confirmed that I was in the early stages of labor. Close to 100 % effaced and dilated to a two. To get an idea of how quickly things were to progress, she suggested that we stay in town for a little while (we needed to make a trip to the local market anyway) and come back in an hour or so. I called my dearest friends & family, while we stocked up on organic yummies for during & after her birth. My water also began to leak. A lot. We hurried back to the clinic and Yvonne checked me again. I was 3 centimeters and 100 % effaced. She said she’d finish up one last prenatal and head to our house.

{A little side note: our 4 midwives rotate being on call, and you can’t chose which one attends your birth. It’s left up to chance, and it just so happened that Yvonne was to go on call the evening of Lucía’s birth. Yvonne also attended Andreas’ birth, and while I developed a bond with each midwife, I felt a strong connection with her. For me, birth is an incredibly bonding experience. After both of my births, each one of the people that were with me, somehow meant even more. Held an even more special place in my heart. Especially Toby and Yvonne.}

So, Toby, Andreas and I headed home to prepare for the birth. Yvonne and Nikki (the wonderful assistant) soon arrived, eager to deliver another beautiful baby at home. The next hour was spent examining me (blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) and getting settled. We all (Toby, Yvonne, Nikki and I) sat down on our couch, monitoring my contractions and Lucía’s heart rate. Andreas ran around, entertaining us all.

About two hours passed, while we all sat and talked. It was such a peaceful day, with the beautiful afternoon light coming through our living room window (the light in our house is always the most beautiful around this time of day). I was still having contractions between 3 and 5 minutes apart, so I would pause and breathe through them while Yvonne watched. She was watching every move I made, visually measuring my body’s progress. She was determined to check me as little as possible (to avoid bacteria from being introduced to the birth canal). As labor naturally progressed, I wanted to get up, walk around, and have a minute to myself. At this point, things also became much more intense. I walked around our house, mentally preparing myself for what was to come. Breathing through each wave, which were still pretty mild, but growing more intense by the minute. I didn’t speak much during this time (or the rest of my labor, for that matter). I slowly gravitated toward our bedroom for some peace and quiet, and Yvonne came in to monitor Lucía’s heart rate. Throughout my labor, Yvonne wanted to know what her heart rate was doing before, during, and after a contraction. Thankfully, my sweet girl was very resilient and remained calm despite the stress her little body was surely experiencing. Never a dramatic deceleration or potential scare.

To cope with the pain during each wave, I would relax my body, focus on slowly turning my head from side to side, while breathing deeply. Each wave had a slow beginning, intense peak, and quick end. The in between was marked by no feeling at all, giving me just enough time to harness my strength and collect my thoughts. Peace between the waves.

Once the peaks became nearly unbearable, I knew I was at a nine. I’ll never forget the discomfort I felt at that point in my labors. Yvonne checked me and proved my intuition correct. I was a nine. She asked if Toby and I needed a moment to ourselves, which we gladly accepted. I leaned on him through a wave and he just held me, in silence. This moment alone with him soothed me (he’s always had a strange way of doing so with little more than a word). I sensed his deep empathy, but also his excitement. He was torn between wanting my pain to dissolve, and a strong desire to meet this new life we created. Yvonne and Nikki crept back in the room, and I laid on the bed to rest. I continued to move my head from side to side, but was beginning to grimace at each agonizing peak. All the while, Yvonne calmly reassured me and Nikki gently massaged my aching hips. They soon began to quietly prepare our bedroom for Lucía’s beautiful entrance into this world.

Yvonne checked me again, and said that I was dilated to a ten, with only a small lip of my cervix remaining. It would need to get out of the way before I could push, so she attempted to hold it back with her fingers. My pain at this point was indescribable, and I reacted by turning away from her. The next hour seemed to last an eternity. This was the first time that my mind began to focus on the pain, instead of the prize. ‘What if,’ I thought. ‘What if I can’t do this?’ Yvonne exhibited incredible patience and suggested that we try to shift my position instead. I got on my hands and knees, but ultimately, standing up provided the most pain relief. A few minutes later, she checked me one last time. The lip of my cervix was gone – I was fully dilated, or “complete”.

I still found myself trying to escape the pain, yet now, something deep within my being shifted. I made a clear decision to endure it instead. I let go of all fear, closed my eyes, and just trusted my body to do what it was made to. I started to bear down, and only a moment later, Lucía was born.

I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. I sat on the edge of our bed, as she cried her first cries, in my arms. I was also in disbelief of my own courage. I laid eyes on the tallest mountain within view–and scaled it. The door to our bedroom opened and my beautiful family, who awaited her arrival in our living room, piled in. Love filled the room as we all celebrated the day of her birth – together. I’ll never forget the beauty those moments held. Lucía’s first on this earth.”

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