So was I able to get some sleep at all? Nope. Not a wink. I remember just losing myself in timing each contraction. Let me try to explain. The pain of a contraction isn’t intense right away. Instead, it builds up. The longer it is, the stronger it becomes. Meaning at the start of a contraction, the pain would be manageable. At 14 seconds, I would be bracing myself because The 20th second is when the pain gets really intense and it grows more and more so until it reaches the 60th second. By that time I would be beside myself with pain. And that was how it was for the next five hours or so.
At around 9am, Pammi knocked and greeted us a good morning and cheerfully offered us some breakfast. Breakfast? How can anyone even think of eating at a time like this?
Food, as it turns out, is very important to a woman in labor. You had to keep your strength up, given what your body was doing and would still be doing much later on. Breakfast consisted of some freshly brewed coffee, homemade wheat bread and scrambled eggs. While Pammi and Dondi ate and chatted happily amidst a marvelous view of Antipolo green landscape, I nibbled on my toast and tried to be as normal as I could. Conversation, fresh air and a beautiful view helped a lot.
For another hour or so, I paced around a general area of Pammi’s house. They said that laying still may be too much but when I combined visualization with prayer, I discovered that it became much more tolerable. If a contraction caught me while on my way to the bathroom, I stopped and swiveled my hips around, a great way to get my mind off the sensation.
Dondi was a real trooper, hugging me, encouraging me, and praying with me every step of the way. the husband aspect in a birth is so important and so natural that I encourage women everywhere to explore ways on how their husbands can become a bigger part of their labor process. We were also waiting for my water bag to break anytime, which may or may have not something to do with the increasing pressure I was feeling on my lower abdomen.
Now at one point, I just remember being bowled—no, rocked—by a particularly strong contraction. It was so strong that I just told myself, I can’t do this anymore. I tried holding on to Dondi or to Coco the Shit-zu’s fluffy fur to get me through but even these no longer helped. It was time to let Pammi know.
At 11:30 am, she checked how far along I was dilated. She gave me a look of mild surprise. “Wow, you’re almost there. 9cm.” If I wasn’t in so much pain, I would have jumped up and celebrated. I was meeting my baby soon.
The ensuing scenes were a flurry. I remember piling up in Pammi’s blue 4×4 to go back to the birthing center. I had to admit, it was pretty exciting as the curtains were pulled around me and two beautiful midwives popped in front of me, all smiles and jokes. “You’re going to meet your baby soon,” they enthused.
At this point, Dondi called my dad and I could hear him exclaiming joyfully through the phone. That was the last straw and the dam burst, I started crying. It was the first time in my life that I cried like that—out of sheer, unexplainable, overflowing joy. But I couldn’t get too caught up with the drama. It was time to get down to business. It was time to push.
In a medicated birth, the epidural numbs you from waist down so that you do not feel the contractions and therefore you do not feel the urge to push. You rely on your doctor’s instructions on when to move your baby out of your canal. With a natural birth, you know exactly when to push because your body is telling you to do so. All I did was go along with my natural urges and to my midwives’ cheerful and encouraging words. I also tried different positions while pushing and settled on a reclining one, with Dondi acting as my “chair.”
I kept my eyes on the verse that was painted on the walls of the room: “Magagawa ko ang lahat sa pamamagitan ni Cristo na nagpapalakas sa akin.” – Filipos 4:13
And because all of the beds in the delivery room faced windows, I also had a beautiful view of the mountains of Antipolo outside.
Someone put on some worship music which really helped me give it my all. In a few minutes, the midvives exclaimed that the baby was almost there, and did I want to see the baby’s head? They assured me that this would really help my pushing so despite finding it weird at first, I agreed. They held a mirror up for me to see and imagine my delight when I saw a little head full of hair. This was really it.
“Just one big push should do it,” one of the midwives said. I was exhausted at this point from having no sleep and undergoing about 5 hours of intense labor. But my baby wanted out and I wanted to help her. So I gathered all of the strength that I could muster, every last bit of it…and pushed.
And I felt something slippery come out of me.
And there were exclamations of, “Thank you, Jesus!” and, “It’s a baby girl!” (Dondi and I chose not to find out the baby’s gender beforehand.)
She was born along to “Hosanna” by Hillsong.
They put her on my chest and I remember looking at her hands first and marveling at how long and beautiful they were. She had such thick black hair, such a small crumpled face and the most heartbreaking cry. She went for my breast almost immediately, and I just lay there, stunned, while everyone else continued to bustle around me.
Maaya was born on a Monday, June 24, 2013 at 12:15pm. She was 6.4 lbs and 18.5 inches.
Maaya’s name means “True Design”.
There were no complications. She was healthy, complete and beautiful.
There was no more pain. I was walking around by 2pm and by 6pm that same day, we were able to bring her home.
The delivery went smoothly, beautifully, safely and wonderfully.
As God had designed it.
As God had promised.