First instants of life:
Fauna was born on Monday, 9th of May of 2016, at 08:02am. At 39 weeks + 6 days, one day before the inicial suggested date. She weighted 3070g, her length was 52cm and the diameter of her head was 34cm. She came out of me peacefully, no crying when confronting the new outside world. The midwife put her between my arms but took her away from me quite immediately: her breathing sounded watery. I don't know if we managed to be even one minute together, skin to skin. I was so exhausted... I wasn't able to be aware of anything around me. I wasn't able to be aware of her presence next to me... It wasn't enough time.
We were left alone, Manfred and I, waiting in this dark birthing room. Waiting for Fauna to come back. I don't know how long it was but it felt like an eternity. A doctor came in to tell us that Fauna had an infection and that she had to be taken to another hospital, since the one we were didn't have a pediatric unit. We saw her once more and Manfred took this picture you can see above. I couldn't go with her. I had to be seen by the gynecologist first and to wait 4 hours to be able to leave the hospital. That is the protocol.
I was broken inside. I felt totally frustrated. I felt like if all the effort and pain was for no reward. The waiting was a torture. I was exhausted but a new strange energy emerged from my feeling of unsettledness. After the doctor checked my vagina and confirmed that everything was in order I went immediately to take a shower and to tidy up my things. I needed to be ready to go, ready to run to Fauna.
First week in the hospital:
After this long and sad hours the ambulance finally came to takes us to the hospital where Fauna was taken. Manfred and I were so nervous and impatient. She was in the intense care unit and had breathing assistance. When I saw her I felt to sad for her, what a way to arrive to the world! Being connected to machines and receiving medicaments before being able to taste the milk of your mother. She was so quiet and sleepy, already adapted to this cold world we live in. I am actually crying while I write all of this. I'm trying to stop (since everything is alright and Fauna is sleeping over my lap in this very moment, healthy ever after) but I cannot help it. The image of that room occupied by lonely and weak babies is too much for me.
Finally reunited, I wanted to touch her so badly. They let me take her in my arms and breastfeed her. Then some kind of magic happened: I put her quiet body agains my naked skin and suddenly she opened her eyes, moved energetically her head, automatically grabbed my nipple and started to suck powerfully. It was amazing that, after being her first hours of life alone and away from me, she just recognized me. I felt really proud of her and satisfied too. Some minutes later we were both sleeping deeply, skin to skin.
After this glimpse of breastfeeding and intimacy I clearly saw a change on her: she was stronger than before. My supposition was confirmed when that evening they removed the tubes to assist her breathing. The next morning she was stable and they moved her out from the intense care unit to another pediatric unit. As each day I could spend more time with her and breastfeed her she became stronger. However, she had to remain in the hospital the whole week just to finish the antibiotic treatment.
I suffered a lot of stress that week, especially the first days. The nurses gave me orders continuously and doctors were sometimes really unfriendly. Because I didn't have Fauna with me the first nights and therefore, didn't breastfeed her so often, my milk wasn't coming up as fast as desired. I started to feel frustrated. A nurse came really often to tell me that I had to pump my milk out or I wouldn't be able to produce enough for her. Pumping made me feel miserable. I didn't find the moment because whenever I could I gave the few drops of milk I had to Fauna. In the end I didn't really pump as often as they told me and it came out that it wasn't relevant for my milk production. Everything got better as more time I spend with Fauna and less stress I suffered. In the meantime I gave her formula when my milk wasn't enough. I struggled a lot this first days because I thought I wouldn't be able to breastfeed her and I felt guilty because I wasn't pumping.
After the third night in the hospital I got lucky. The two babies who shared room with Fauna were moved somewhere else for different reasons. Fauna was alone in the room and they put a bed inside for me. I slept with her the rest of the week and everything was easier and smoother from this moment on. Also, Manfred came to be with us every single day and spend as much time as it was possible. This helped me really much to handle the situation without getting too aggressive or depressive. Finally, on Monday 16th, we could go home all together.
First week at home:
The afternoon and evening of that Monday felt like heaven. My beloved husband had cleaned the house and prepared it for our arrival. We just hung around on the sofa and do nothing else than cuddle our daughter and each other. We did the same thing the next day. Slowly we started to go out and to make paper work here and there, solving this things that have to be solved. Her umbilical cord detached from her belly that week, ten days after her birth. There is not much more to tell.
Of course, there were moments when it was overwhelming to care about a newborn. It is something you cannot imagine until you are into it. Sometimes we were tense with each other, even more without having sex nor other kind of intimacy ritual. For Manfred it was difficult to hear her crying, he felt that she was truly suffering pain. For me, it took some time until I got used to her deep dependency of me and my breast. Although I was extremely happy to see that that my milk production was just right as soon as I was at home, relaxed, getting a good sleep and being able to offer my nipple each time she needed (which, in the beginning, is a lot). I must thank the midwife who comes often to check on us. She was the one who assured me that I would be able to breastfeed her normally. I stopped giving her formula the second day we were home because she was satisfied with what my breast offered her.
Following two weeks at home:
Each day is becoming easier to care about Fauna, even if Manfred is at work some hours a day. It is a pleasure to have her despite she is each day more active and powerful, and therefore, crying more often, sleeping less and demanding more attention. Now we are able to enjoy the little things more than in the first days. We make photos of her all the time, specially when she is sleeping peacefully. We go out for coffee. We make walks around the park. I breastfeed her shamelessly in public. We also managed to have sex a couple of times (Oh my god! It is so necessary for the balance of our souls and our relationship). In resume, everything is just fine. Fauna is growing properly, healthy and strong. Today the midwife weighted her and she had achieved 3340g.
We are a little, happy and lucky family of three.
The pictures are in chronological order, taken along this weeks since her birth.
There is a universal truth about birth-giving: it doesn't matter how much you try to get ready for it, there is no way to make the right expectations. The only way to find out about this experience is to go through it. The weeks before giving birth I started to be excited but also afraid. I knew that it was going to be painful and exhausting. I wanted to be in control and aware of the moment I was living so I tried to be prepared. Therefore I watched birthing videos in youtube, I asked every woman I know how their labour were, I went to the so famous birth preparation course together with Manfred (to make him prepared too)... All this things helped me to be relaxed and more self confident while the wait but when I was into labour, they all faded. In this moment you are driven by the situation. In some point you are not yourself anymore and everything is a crazy and blurred trip. Manfred helped me all the time making me relaxed with massage and good words, but the task he covered was actually to be the witness of the whole process. When everything was over I completely forgot the suffering. Manfred is here to tell me about the crazy time I went through. He reminds me about my animal force and my power to bring Fauna to the world.
My labour slowly started in the evening of the 7th. Well, lets call it pre-labour. That night I cried of melancholy because the idea to not be pregnant anymore made me sad. Manfred and I talked about the possibility of that night being the last one we would be ever alone, both of us. To not let the last chance to have sex (for a while) we did it then. During the night I had soft contractions so I didn't sleep as deep as I wish I would. The next morning the contractions continued and I had the intuition that it was going to be my last day of pregnancy so we made lots of photos of me and my naked belly. It was Sunday, 8th of May. It was a warm and pleasant day.We spend the morning relaxing at home, listening music and drinking tea. Around midday the contractions were slightly stronger and coming every 15 minutes. We decided to hang around the hospital which is in a really nice neighborhood near to ours, full of cafés and green spots. We went there in U-Bahn (underground) as if we were just having fun, behaving like if it was a completely normal day. We had lunch and walk around, and when a contraction occurred to me I howled in the middle of the street. I had no shame and I found it all really nice.
When the contractions started to be every 10 minutes we went into the hospital to make them check on me and to give us some clue about if we were really into labour. The midwife said that we had to wait more and perhaps go back home because the contractions were still not close enough to each other. But then she touched to see if I was delated and I was, indeed, 3cm delated. Then she said that we should keep walking around and come back in two hours. After that period of time the contractions were still every 10 minutes so another midwife wanted to send us home but the first midwife palpated me again and I was 7cm dilated. I was definitely in the beginning of labour so they finally let me into the delivery zone.
I decided to take a shower to get relaxed and it worked out really good. Then it was around 23:30. I wanted to give birth there with the water falling on me, but it wasn't the actual delivery room so I knew it wasn't possible. Hours passed by and contractions got truly painful. Manfred and I fell sleep in between them. My howling transformed from a funny "aaauuuuuuuhh" to an authentic animalistic shouting. I was exhausted and I asked for painkillers but it was to late for any kind of drug, they told me. I felt the complete birth sensations pack. At least my cervix was really soft, they said. My uterus and vagina seem to be really competent.
My water was still unbroken and I started to feel desperate. They offered to open my amniotic sac and I accepted immediately. This released my pain slightly but I cannot really asure it because at this point I started to loose myself and entered into a trance. Some time later a midwife told me that my contractions weren't strong enough (perhaps I was way to relaxed) so they give me some kind of contraction promoter. Time passed by and I cried around saying that I couldn't anymore. I saw that the night was over and the daylight was coming back and I remember I felt miserable. But then the real labour started and I got an unknown power coming from who-knows-where. The animal inside my human, the real me... I guess. I started to push, even a before the midwifes gave me permission. I wasn't able to wait anymore. In every contraction I push out with my whole soul. It was like defecating but in hardcore. This part didn't hurt so much, actually. It just took a lot of energy. It seems that this phase was another 3 or 4 hours. Fauna going down through my hips and lower. At each contraction I bite Manfred's hand with all my power (thank you, my love). I felt she was almost out, the midwife (the nicest from all of them that had check on me that night) encouraged me really good, I pushed and pushed and pushed... but it wasn't enough. Fauna had the head in a difficult position so every time I stopped pushing she came slightly back in. I was in another universe trying to take her out of me. Manfred got the chance to touch the top of her head while she was still inside. Finally the midwife and the doctor decided to help me in the last bite with a sucking device (that actually looked like a bad joke, you wouldn't believe this thing suck out anything). Another contraction, pushing again and the help of the sucking device and......ahhhh she was finally out!! Her body followed in the next seconds and the whole placenta in the next minutes. They put her in my arms, so peaceful she was. She didn't cry, she was so quiet. I loved her a lot in this moment, but also I wasn't able to be completely aware of her presence. Her breathing sounded watery, the midwife realized it quickly and took her away from my arms. I had her between my arms jus a few minutes. I felt extremely frustrated when she was away, like if all the effort and pain was for no reward. The truly hard time started then.... but this is another story to tell.
In resume, I had an average labour. Tough like any other but kind of easy. It took 10 hours. I didn't suffer any damage in my organs and I recovered really fast and good. I was really exhausted but also really energetic just because of the dissatisfaction of not having her with me. I wouldn't be able to do it without Manfred. His presence and his help and love made the whole process something to enjoy and not to suffer. If I am so happy to go through this adventure is because I shared with him. We gave birth together, and it's the best thing we ever did.
I understand now why women say that giving birth is an empowering experience. It make you surprised to find out what you are capable of. Giving birth is the most intense and animalistic process you can experience. It is all blood, vomit, piss, feces and sweat. It is violent and perhaps, in a lot of cases, much more violent than death. Life versus death and all the forces that define them... it makes me wonder a lot.
The pictures below document in chronological order our experience.
Today was a beautiful day. The first truly warm day of this spring. The atmosphere was golden and delicious. 1st of May is always supposed to be special and crazy in this city but I don't remember one as nice as this one. This year the mood was chilled out and friendly as never before. Manfred, the belly and I were feeling gorgeous. I couldn't help go around with my naked belly, dancing and smiling. I enjoyed so much! What a great Sunday full of love.
Now I am lying on the bed, really relaxed next to my blonde Monkey. Out there, on the streets, the party still goes on and the night is full of life. I love my neighbourhood.
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