Danielle and Eva: My Journey

I will admit that I did not plan to get pregnant at 22 years old and I believe that no one can truly prepare you for the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.  It is a journey that each woman experiences differently, and a journey that never ends.

My journey started with quick and impersonal prenatal visits with a local OBGYN.  This particular doctor’s blatant disrespect for women and the natural processes of life pushed me out of the hospital setting and with the guidance of a college mentor, I was introduced to midwifery.  I was extremely skeptical of “quality of care” at first, since many of my loved ones did not seem to support this option.  Ultimately, the decision was mine so I conducted my own research but more importantly I was forced to search within my soul.

Through The Gathering Place of Miami, I found my midwife, Anjali Sardeshmukh, and my doula, Amanda Fischer, two of my many blessings.  Their unconditional kindness, understanding, and support truly inspired me to trust in myself; that only I had the power to deliver my healthy and happy baby.  Approximately a week before my due date I decided that I would have my baby in the apartment that I call home.

I lost my mucus plug on my due date, the early labor contractions started at 1:00 am the following morning, and I was in full-fledged labor by 8:00pm that evening.  Throughout the early labor, both Anjali and Amanda encouraged me to proceed with my normal day but it was hard to take my mind off of what was going on in my body.  I did attend my scheduled chiropractic visit followed by a “too big for labor” dinner date with my partner Ernesto, which ended up all over my bed a few hours later.  My dear friend Kristin timed my contractions in the bank parking lot across the street from my building while Ernesto set up the birthing tub.

Once the neurotransmitters started shooting off in my brain, I completely lost track of time and to be honest, I felt great!   I was laughing, making jokes, and having a great time, unrestricted.  Anjali refers to this state as “labor land” which I would compare with a feeling of ecstasy.  It is amazingly beautiful to me how our bodies know just what to do.

I can vividly remember Amanda walking into my bedroom while I freely labored on my bed, looking at me dead in the eyes and telling me, “Honey, you look beautiful.  You look like a mother.”  My heart melted.  I was going to be a mother, tonight!  A little while later I see a woman whom I had never met, standing in my doorway.  It was Sheila, the assistant midwife, another blessing.

Anjali checked my progression only once before I was complete, and I was already 7 cm.  My mother and aunt on speaker phone from Ohio were shocked and so was I.  The pain was definitely tolerable, up until this point.  My journey through labor land was getting painful.  Amanda suggested that I enter the tub at around 11:30pm and it was a tremendous relief.

The contractions were STRONG and once it was time to push, my body felt weak.  I turned to Amanda on my right and said, “This is really hard!” as I squeezed her hand.  Her encouragement never once dwindled, as she continued to press cool washcloths on my face, eventually holstering up my right leg.  Kristin, on my left, took hold of the other leg and kept telling me, “You can do it Danielle.  You can do it.  I can see the head.  You are almost there.”  Ernesto held me up by my under arms from behind.

The pushing lasted 45 minutes and the breaks in between contractions were truly heaven-sent, the perfect relief to regain some energy.  Just before that final contraction in which I delivered my baby, I took a moment to focus all of my energy on my thoughts.  I consciously prepared myself to give everything that I had to push my baby out this time around.  And it worked!

I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Eva Dolores, 7lbs 1oz, at 1:29am on Saturday, January 14, 2012 in the living room of my Little Havana apartment and she is truly the greatest blessing of them all!

A huge feeling of relief came over me.  I had delivered the healthy and happy baby that I had hoped for, in the way that I had wished.  As I held Eva to my chest for the first time, I looked at her and said, “We have been waiting for you for so long.”  I looked at Anjali and said, “It’s a boy, right?”  She smiled and told me that it was for me to discover on my own.  I held her up in front of me and saw that she was in fact a girl, my perfect, sweet angel baby girl!

I held Eva for nearly an hour while I delivered the placenta.  I had spent so much energy on her delivery that Anjali had to literately pull it out while I pushed.  Once my beautiful placenta was out, Ernesto was then able to cut the cord.  Shelia cleaned and swaddled Eva so Ernesto could hold her and he took her into the bedroom as I watched.  I followed shortly behind and fed my baby girl for the first time in the same bed, in the same room, that I still feed her every night.

The truth is that nothing can prepare you to be a mother until you see that sweet little face looking back at you with unconditional love and the rest will come naturally.  The process of childbirth will come naturally too, you just have to trust in yourself and in the end you will be empowered.  My journey has had its ups and downs already but it is my journey, no one else’s, and I would not have it any other way.