I gave birth to an 8.1 lbs (3.7 kg) baby boy, at home, in the water, with no anesthesia.
Yes, and I’m still alive! Yay! 😀
Exactly a week ago, at this very moment, September 4, Tuesday, around 11:30 PM, I was in Marikina, writhing in pain, praying that I may survive the night and give birth finally.
I can say I am quite proud to be one of the few lucky moms who remember everything about what happened when she gave birth, from the beginning up to the end.
I would like to share with you my story.
September 3, 2018 – Monday
It was my schedule to visit Ms Aileen Vinoya, my head midwife of Marikina Maternity Clinic and Lying-In that night, but prior to that, I had to do my little errand of shipping a product to a client. I was fearful to not be able to send the parcel knowing that I am due anytime.
I said goodbye to my husband as he was still busy doing something at work that time. We have agreed that he will be following me to Marikina as soon as he is done.
I arrived at the clinic and was courteously greeted. I had an internal examination, and the results are looking good. I was 1 cm dilated, the baby was lying low already, but my cervix was still thick. I had some Borage Oil capsules inserted to organically persuade my cervix to dilate more.
I was also given dates, which are believed to help speed up dilatation. I was so happy to go home that night. My midwife said to go back to the clinic same time the following day.
I was already having Braxton-Hicks Contractions (false labor/irregular practice contractions) since my 37th week, but this time I observed that they were becoming more regular.
I downloaded the “Contraction Timer” app to help me time and monitor the pattern. I was a little shocked and excited when they were becoming more intense. I had to ask my sister to lightly massage my lower back because they were starting to become more uncomfortable. The intervals were at 6 to 8 minutes already.
September 4, 2019 – Tuesday
John arrived in Marikina, and we started to prepare the room to which I will give birth anytime. I tried to sleep but was only successful to manage an hour’s slumber. I wasn’t able to sleep the entire night already because the pain was getting stronger and stronger. I had to wake John or prod him to squeeze my back because it was painful already. I said the pain was 4/10.
We were dancing to the tunes of K-Pop songs. The hip swaying was helpful, and dancing kept my mind off things. I was enjoying, and consciously forgetting that I was about to face a large feat of excruciating pain, which I chose in the first place by the way.
We texted our birth team to give them an update. Our group chat was a little silent at first because I know that they were all sleeping. I was relieved to get a reply after 30 minutes! Ms Aileen requested that I go to the clinic in the morning, instead of in the evening.
We told Ms Aileen, that we can’t go anymore, because I wasn’t able to sleep and our intervals were at 4-5minutes already, with 1 minute duration.
I particularly remembered that in the “Birthing is a Blessing” class.
Plus, my mucus plug has already made its debut.
Ms Alaina Balida, our other midwife arrived to check on me. She said I was already 2 cm dilated. Actually, there’s not much progress in there, because I have been labouring for 12 hours already! Golly, I have a stubborn cervix. I had another Borage Oil insertion to promote dilatation.
I had to eat lunch to conserve my energy, but I was too preoccupied with the pain. I didn’t have any appetite to ingest anything. My husband even bought Vigan Longganisa (my favourite) for me!
My doula, Ms Jen Faiwas of Pinay Doulas Collective arrived and gave me the comfort I cannot imagine my gentle homebirth without. It was such a relief because John can rest and sleep, while Ms Jen takes over.
This is me getting so pampered and relieved with the birth ball, while Ms Jen puts out the fire in my abdomen.
Ms Aileen arrived and our internal examination revealed that our baby is lying even lower, that it will only take me a few pushes to get him out. But there was a problem, my cervix won’t dilate. She then realized that our baby’s head is not aligned to my cervix’ opening.
Ms Jen asked me to do some lunges to correct the misaligned baby head and cervix. I also did some squatting on the bed for an hour.
I was so shocked when they told me that I was able to sleep during that exercise. My knees and thighs were burning after though. But Ms Jen was such an expert with these exercise positions that I never hesitated in following them.
It turns out that baby changed positions, he was lying so low in my back, his back facing my spine, hence the loooooooong and tumultuous anguish.
I was already crying. These were the first tears I shed during this 27-hour labor.
I was practicing excellent breathing exercises because allowing more oxygen to penetrate the tissues actually helps. But during this time, they were not as effective.
I still couldn’t eat dinner. I was whimpering already, and letting a few silent shrieks in between. It was sooooooo painful, it felt like my lower abdomen was being rolled on by bulldozer trucks continuously, or I was being broken and destroyed from the inside.
I felt like my body is rebelling against me like it never belonged to me, I couldn’t control the pain. It was just there. Taunting me like a little fly that won’t go away. I then remembered what was said during the birth class, that we should welcome the pain. Feeling pain brings me closer to my baby.
And so I welcomed it. Embraced it like its strength. I let it fill me up because I know these labor pains won’t be forever. I just have to endure it while it lasts. And it will be over soon.
I was in agony. I was on fire. I can hardly describe the amount of soreness my body can still inflict. My intervals were 2-3minutes.
I was shouting in between contractions. My birth team then recommended that I take a hot shower. I was hesitant at first because I think I cannot walk that far anymore to reach my aunt’s bathroom who lives next door. Our residence is a compound.
When I found what’s left of the strength I so bravely collected for the past 10 months, I agreed to take the hot shower. We didn’t have a continuous heater shower at home.
John and I were alone in the bathroom. He was very patient and careful in pouring the hot shower on my lower back. It was like a glass of water putting out a big fire or conflagration. Futile, but it’s better than nothing.
I told him I can’t do it anymore. I said I was prepared for the pain, but not for more than 24 hours of pain. I wasn’t expecting to go into labor this long. He said what I told him to say to me when I am about to give up, “Is this what you really want?” “Are you sure? We have gone by so far, and the next few hours are just shorter than what we have already survived.”
I agreed, and I thought that if I were to run to the hospital that night, I was pretty sure the doctors will slice me up and declare that I have to agree on an emergency C-section.
I thought about getting a scar in exchange for more hours of pain. I then settled with the more hours of pain.
I was crying, and my face was already that of an unpaintable subject. I asked for any form of pain relief because it was already unbearable. I could have sworn I was totally being sliced from the inside to two tiny writhing pieces.
Ms Aileen told me that “Sayang naman. Try pa natin intayin. Intayin natin mag 6cm, kasi 1cm na magdadilate every hour.”
I agreed. She encouraged me that I can do this, and it was possible to see the baby in a few hours. Welcome the pain, we will see your baby very very soon.
It was during this time that Ms Aileen said my shrieks and pain tolerance were already that of an 8 cm dilatation, but mine was just on 4 cm. I asked if she can give me any pain reliever.
She then inserted an IV and locked it with a heplock. I was given Buscopan diluted in water. But honestly, I didn’t feel any form of relief. It was like a placebo, but nevertheless, I was glad she honoured my request.
I lied on the bed, and my birth team started massaging me. I was asked to lie down on the edge of the bed. They lifted my leg, placed it down, knead my muscles and my blazing lower back. Ms Jen, my doula offered me honey sticks and buko juice.
All those massages actually helped because I found relief, and I was so grateful.
Until I had the urge to push.
It was one of the weirdest and unknown phenomena to me. I mean, I studied Maternal and Child Health in my Nursing course in college, but it was never fully elaborated on what a woman actually feels when she was about to release the baby.
I felt a strong push-like contraction created by the muscles of the upper portion of my uterus. It felt like it had a mind of its own. And the baby inside sort of straightened up to align in the small opening of his grand entrance to the world.
I said, I think I can push.
Everyone fell silent.
They were waiting. I pushed. Ms Aileen was encouraging, and she said it was just like pooping. Ms Jen reminded me to take a deep breath before I push. She said I had to exhale long and put my head down.
It was not enough. My birth team said I should relax and to not pressure myself. It will come. So while there was no urge, I just have to gather my strength and rest.
September 5, 2018 – Wednesday
I was already pushing for 45 minutes, and to no avail, there wasn’t much progress. I told them I was too tired already, my hips were powerless. I don’t have the strength to push anymore.
Then they offered that I use the pool already.
I was thinking I cannot probably stand and walk anymore, so I said I will just stay on the bed. I know this was not the plan. I specifically wanted a gentle waterbirth, to give birth underwater while maximizing gravity. I know that lying on the bed was not the best position to introduce our baby, into the world.
My sacral bone at the end of my vertebrae will be constricted and will not be able to move, and provide ample space as the baby goes out. I will probably tear down there, big time.
These thoughts filled my mind as I attempted another push.
After the push, I had a series of pushes after. They were all unsuccessful. That is why when Ms Aileen said that I should try and go to the pool, I agreed. Maybe the pool will make things turn.
I anchored myself and stood like a helpless little child. I stepped into the water, and I suddenly felt the gush of reprieve as the warm water caressed my burning lower back.
OMG. Why did I ever think of not giving birth here 15 minutes ago?
I felt more alert when I was submerged in the water, waist down. John followed me into the pool to support me.
I felt the urge to push 3minutes into the pool. I clung on the rims of the swimming pool, and mimicked a slightly bent-over position, thinking I might imitate those powerful women who gave birth this way in the videos I watched on Youtube.
I pushed and pushed, but this child is not going out yet.
I felt weak, and a total pathetic. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. Maybe I was not like those women. Maybe I didn’t prepare enough, was not strong enough. Maybe I was not meant for this.
I had a lot of doubts. But my birth team, including my sister, husband’s mom, my dad’s girlfriend, were all cheering for me!
They asked me if I wanted to eat so I can have more energy. I said, yes. I ate honey sticks, buko juice, banana and ice cream.
I then changed to another position, facing John.
He was quite excited because if I give birth this way, he will be able to catch our baby.
I pushed and pushed, and pushed some more. But the baby just won’t go out.
I was seriously believing that I will give birth this way. When nothing happened, I then changed into my third position.
I sat on John’s lap. I pushed when the urge came, as expected, still nothing happened. See, I was now pathetic-er. And I was getting more and more frustrated.
My birth team was so supportive, they said it’s okay. I should just take my time. And all I had to do was just push, I was already 10 cm dilated, and they can actually see baby’s head already.
Ms Aileen said I can actually touch and feel baby’s head if I try to poke. I was scared, so I refused.
After more pushes, I decided to really take my time and rest. So I attempted to sit on the pool floor, and remove myself from John’s lap, in the middle of this little movement I felt the strongest urge to release.
I said, “WAAAAIT. May urge!”
I pushed, and shouted like there are no neighbors! I shouted like I have never shouted in my life. Ms Jen reminded me to inhale deep, and release via a long blow, and keep my head down.
I did everything they told me, and for the first time, their voices started to go louder, and cheered for me even more!
I had my eyes closed while pushing so I cannot see their faces. They were all chanting “Push pa Viaaaaaa! Kaya mo yaaaaan!”
I opened my eyes a bit, and looked down. I saw the head. His head. My baby’s head. Underwater.
I told myself I had to make this looooong push, even if it is the last thing I do. I have to get him out!
I made a loooooooong push, then a series of even longer pushes!
And finally, the baby came out! He had a little cord coil around the head which was released asap by my midwife. I saw the long umbilical cord that connected my baby to me.
He was given to me, and I felt the softest skin ever.
They suctioned his nose to get excess water, and I held him and I felt the most joyful moment in my life.
I said, “Hi! Welcome to earth baby Davion Calum Alistair!”
He had his eyes wide open. He looked at me like he knew me. Like he recognized my voice. He looked at John, and then moved his face to see my sister above me.
He didn’t cry a loud one, he just whimpered with confusion and fascination to what little he can see.
It was a beautiful birth. It was like a spa, only in a different version. 😀
We took some photos, and then after 15 minutes, I stood up, and lied on the bed while holding Calum. He was quiet in my arms. Ganun pala yung unang yakap. Parang ayaw mo na syang bitawan.
Calum was big and long.
Weight: 8.1 lbs or 3.7 kg
Height: 50 cm
A lot of people sooner told me that his size was like that of a 1 or 2 month old, and it was already a marker for a caesarean baby.
Since I had him on a normal spontaneous delivery, I had natural tears. I stated that there will be no episiotomies in my birth plan, which my team was very supportive of.
I never noticed that my water broke, because it was still intact even before I went to the pool.
I’m guessing it burst while I was already submerged under water.
Ms Aileen then elegantly stitched me up. After that, I changed into my clothes and walked to the dining hall to eat dinner. Haha
Finally, I have the appetite to eat again! Nakakagutom kaya manganak! 😀
We had delayed cord clamping. It was also part of my requests because I want Calum to be able to get all the stem cells, oxygen, and blood components he can get while his placenta is still viable. Semi-lotus birth was a non-negotiable.
John was the one who cut the cord, I thought it would be meaningful if he will be the one to do that. We then lighted a little cake to celebrate the birthday of our son.
Through all this, I learned that to give up is not an option.
I am Via Galang-Tancuan, and I gave birth to an 8.1 lb (3.7 kg) baby boy via natural unmedicated water birth, with NO anesthesia.
And I am proud and grateful to be able to find and utilize the strength and bravery God gave me. We are stronger than what we think we are. We are women.
Midwives of Marikina Maternity Clinic and Lying In:
Ms Aileen Gay Gaa Vinoya and Ms Alaina Balida
Ms Jen Faiwas of Pinay Doulas Collective