Valeria: [in English] how different and yet similiar

[Valeria lives in Quito, Ecuador.]

It is amusing to me how two babies, made from the exact same mix of people can be so similar and different at the same time, starting by how they came to the world.

Let’s start by saying I had never been scared of birth. Yes, I knew it would be a kind of pain I had never even been close to feeling, but I also knew I was gonna meet my babies. Also, I like to think that our bodies are wise, that nature is wise, and that if millions of women have survived birth this way for millions of years, I would too.

With my first, Elina, I never did a birth plan, I never attended any kind of labor, birth or parenting classes. I always figured that nature knows what it’s doing and that I would be fine; motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks.

I started labor on the night of my due date. At around 8 pm I felt a contraction that was clearly different than the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing for the last few months and that I had grown accustomed to, so my parents, husband and I had dinner and went to bed knowing that it will be a long night.

Between trying to sleep and managing the pain, the time went by. My water broke at 3.45am and we ran to the hospital. Contractions are painful, a pain that comes from the deepest of you, but that as soon as the contraction is over, the pain is over.

The nurse I had in this birth was not the greatest, she was an older lady that didn’t have a lot of patience, kindness or empathy. Or maybe she did. Maybe I just was not prepared for what I was going through.

The pushes were hard and because I had an epidural, I didn’t feel the urge to push, just the pain, which made me not push “the correct way” (according to said nurse). They say that when you can’t handle the pain any longer, it is because the end is near.

Eventually I gave up, my pushes were not working, the baby was stuck in the birth canal, we could see her head, but she wasn’t going anywhere, so I told my mom that I didn’t have it in me to push any more and that I needed a C-section.

That’s when the nurse decided that she was going to call the doctor to see what he says – doctor came in, said the baby was ready and that with a suction cup she’ll come out right away. He did that and in the next push Elina was out.

She came out with an arm next to her head, so I tore. That recovery was the worse part of it all, it was worse than the contractions themselves. It meant not being able to sit, not being able to walk, peeing on an open wound and having to do all that with a newborn on arms. The tear took about 2 weeks to heal, and the epidural spot hurt in my back for about the same time.

With her it was rough. I think the biggest part of it all was that it caught me unprepared for the kind of love I was gonna feel, it was like my whole world changed immediately. It was so big, that even through the pain I only had love. Her birth was more of a painful experience than my next one.

As soon as she was born the nurses took her to clean her, test her and do whatever they do, then they gave her to me to nurse. From the moment she was born she was a very aware and curious baby, always moving, always kicking, always looking around. I’ve always felt that the way she came into the world had some influence in her personality. She is currently 4 years old.

With Sam, I was at the same time a little less scared of birth because I knew what I was getting into and a little more scared of it because of the exact same reason.

He was due on Dec 13, but I kept on telling everyone that my parents were arriving on the 4th and he was allowed to make his arrival on the 5th. I knew at the first contraction, at 5:00am on Dec 5th, that labor was starting.

Contractions started 10 minutes apart and within one hour they were at about 4 mins apart, but I was still at home. They were painful but not unbearable, so I was instructed to go to the hospital when they became unbearable.

I had time to wake up my husband, parents, let them shower and get to the hospital without being in terrible pain. Contractions were like 3 minutes apart and they were absolutely bearable. I walked all the way to labor and delivery from the door (it’s a long walk when you’re in labor!), and when we got there I was at 8cm dilated.

By the time I got to the delivery room I was at 10 and it was time to have a baby; unmedicated. My body kept on telling me to change position, so I squatted and that delayed the contractions, so it took much longer than it would’ve if I had stayed on my back. That was what my body was requesting from me.

Contractions were hell painful, but I don’t have a bad memory about them. The big difference between here and Elina’s birth were the nurses: here the nurses were two kind, compassionate, AWESOME people that walked me through it and helped me with my breathing, with my thoughts, with my control all around.

I will FOREVER be grateful for the two amazing ladies (and my mom!) that helped me through this. Also, I didn’t have an epidural – I could feel the push and control it much better. I was in control of my pushes, I could feel how powerful I was and how my baby, the love of my life, was coming out of ME.

This is the single happiest and most euphoric moment of my life. They put Sam on my chest before doing anything to him, before clearing him, weighing him, and he was on me for a few hours, he latched onto the breast and those became the most amazing hours of my life.

I did tear, but the recovery seemed so easy. I was moving without assistance within hours of having him, and I didn’t even have to take pain killers all along. This is how God, evolution, the Universe, (call it whatever you will) meant for birth to be like.

I think the birth stories relate to their personalities too, Elina is much more determined and „hard headed“ than Sam, everything seemed harder with her (it may also be because she was the first), but she was a bad sleeper, a bad eater, very high needs and active child.

Sam is more mellow, slept well since the beginning and is a wonderful eater. It has just always seemed to me that Elina had to come to the world fighting and she’s always ready to do so, while Sam came in more peacefully and is more capable of take things easier, more slowly, to adapt better to changes – or maybe it’s just the “second child syndrome”. He is now 2.