Born March 24th, 2021 at home in Amsterdam
Everything started on Monday night. I went to bed having clear contractions, but unsure if they were the real deal. While they were stronger than the Brackston Hickston (I still can’t pronounce them properly!), I remember them being even somewhat “pleasurable”. I tried sleeping but I was alert and could not, I had a fast birth with our 6-year-old daughter Frida Blue, and several friends had warned me that second time around could be much faster, so that I should not wait too long to call midwife. By 2AM I was feeling more intense surges, and we woke Frida up so she could go to her brother’s mom house to stay there during the birth. We also called Tania, our doula. It was around 3AM, and what a better plan, than stimulate labor with a walk in the city, in the middle of Corona-imposed night curfew. No police were going to stop a preggy outlaw in labor to give a fine. So we did, and Tania, who is also a birth photographer, came walking behind us, silently taking photos.
The absolute silence only found in desserts surrounded us. A surreal postcard of Amsterdam. Not a soul, not a sound. A city in this historical pause, and we were invited to bathe in it. Towards the end, the silence was interrupted by some birds chirping, announcing dawn. The walk was so peaceful that by the time we arrived at home around 4:30AM, surges had vanished and all I wanted to do was sleep. Not before feeling a good dose of guilt for having woken everyone up “for nothing”. I felt responsible for having robbed everyone from their night sleep, Tania, Rhon, Frida, Joao’s mom (Kahya)…
Only a few days after birth did I realize this was a wonderful gift from our son to Rhon and I: he gifted us with a magical and unique moment of solitude, connection and peace.
Next day, Tuesday, I slept until 12, but Rhon did not, he had to work. We went through the day like nothing was happening. The midwife said to call her if contractions happened every 3 minutes, only then. She said that the “false labor” or prodromal labor did not mean that the real one would be imminent. I could chill. I should chill. And so I chilled.
But when all were sleeping that night, around midnight, a new set of surges started. These were far from pleasurable. I laid quietly in bed, just as Frida came in and fell asleep in between us. I stared at the clock, timing the contractions. 5- 6 minutes apart. Strong. Real. Very real. I decided to let everyone sleep, and connect with my most powerful tool: My breath. For 5 full hours I laid in the intense pain surges that kept coming every 5-6 minutes like a clock. “The out breath is the natural painkiller”, “Every surge brings me closer to my baby”, I grunted these mantras in my head with each exhalation, as I had learned from Kasia Pokrop (I call her Kasia Pop Rock) my hypnobirthing teacher. Rhon and Frida snoring besides me, completely unaware that Faro had initiated his journey to this world, right beside them.
My decision to go through the first stage of labor “on my own” was a conscientious one and one I am proud of. I knew there was nothing at that point that anyone could do for me. I needed to retreat, cocoon and connect from within. Only my breath was my aide. All the rest at that point meant noise or distraction and would agitate the already excruciating pain. While I was alone, however, I never felt lonely.
At 5AM I went to Frida’s room to call Tania from there. She arrived at 5:30AM. She tried massaging my feet, but the pain was too furious, and she had to stop. At 6 Rhon woke up. We timed the surges and they were still 5-6 minutes apart, but very strong. So we called the midwife, Veerle. Apparently she had a 7AM appointment at the hospital with “Marina” another pregnant client that also had a Doula, and whom she confused me with. Luckily the surges immediately went to every minute. I knew it would be imminent so very shortly after Rhon called her again, and she redirected to come to us, and expedited her commune. That was a very close call.
It was 6:15. The next 30 minutes were frantic, blurry and adrenaline fueled. The midwife was driving 120 kms per hour through the tunnel that connects the center of Amsterdam to the north part of the city. In the meanwhile, I managed to walk back to my bed, while Tania took Frida upstairs to eat breakfast. Rhon was shaking and going up and down the stairs, asking Tania if this was “really happening”. After all, I had 6 hours to mentally prepare for Faro’s arrival, but Rhon had JUST woken up to the imminent birth of his son.
Before I reached my bed, I felt the urge to push. The midwife was not there. I slightly panicked. Where is she? I was weak, exhausted, in so much pain. “Rhon tell her to come NOW, baby is almost here”. I laid in bed, probably the worst position you can have in birth, the best for me though as I needed to wait a little…Rhon called the midwife and put her on speakerphone. She was racing through the city as the baby’s head was crowning, tears dripping down my cheeks. “Maria, breath long and deep, I’m almost there.
For a second, the world stopped. I T R U S T E D the U N I V E R S E. I knew very deep inside of me that everything would be alright. I thought of the female elephant I had seen in my recent trip with Frida to Tanzania (where I took her after we both recovered from Covid) giving birth to her baby elephant. She had no husband around, no midwife, no doula supporting her. If she could do it, I could do it. I felt the animalistic force of nature holding my hand.
I heard the doorbell, Veerle was here. As she was coming through the main door, I felt save to push. She barely had time to put on the gloves. It was an almost socially distanced birth, very appropriate for these times. Faro came at 6:45 in one push, head and shoulders, he was ready. It had gone from 5-6 minute contractions to birth in 45 minutes. It was a supersonic birth.
I laid a little in shock the first minutes, catching my breath, feeling his warmth on me. We did it. And a full ray of light and joy covered all of us in the room. Faro Garvey Löwe had been born.
Maria and Rhon invited me to share the HypnoBirthing tools with them at their home. Maria also joined me weekly for prenatal yoga classes via Zoom from about mid of her pregnancy