On February 29th, at 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant I had hit a wall. The week prior to that had been extremely challenging both physically and emotionally. I was struggling with the outside noise and the noise in my head. I was trying to connect to my body and quiet the mind, but it just seemed like I couldn’t do either. That day I woke up in a terrible mood, had no appetite, and zero energy. I got in the shower and cried unconsolably, even though I didn’t know exactly why I was crying. My husband walked into the bathroom and asked me if I was okay, I said “I am, I just don’t want to be pregnant anymore” and hugged him tight…Baby Shiva sure got the memo.
We went to bed around 10pm as usual, and I woke up at midnight because I thought I had peed the bed. After I realized I didn’t, I woke my husband up and I said, “amor, I think my water broke”, to which he replied “well, in that case, go back to sleep because you’ve got a long day ahead”.
Looks like somebody read the baby book after all…
I obviously couldn’t go back to sleep. I texted both my doula (Eyla Cuenca) and midwife (Dana Gordon) telling them that I "thought” my water broke. She asked me if I had any cramping or “bloody show” I said no. They said “try to go back to sleep and text us if anything changes”.
At 2am, I started feeling mild cramps—think period cramps—so I texted Eyla again. She said “Start tracking your contractions and text us when they’re steady”. I pulled out my iPhone and started tracking my ‘cramps’ on the contractions app. It was game, the cramps turned into contractions and they sure were progressing because they never stopped after that. After an hour or so of tracking, I texted Eyla again and she said, “Ok looks like we’re progressing, I’ll be there at 5am”. I told my husband to set up the inflatable birthing pool because we were having the baby!
By the time Eyla arrived, my contractions were strong and steady so I had moved to my bathtub, though the buoyancy helped ease the pain it slowed down my progress so I was urged to get out and walk around. A couple more hours went by and I was in full blown labor. Eyla coached me and supported me through each contraction. She made sure I was hydrated by constantly giving me coconut water, she spoon fed me breakfast (green smoothie and oatmeal), and she massaged my back to help ease the pain. Some contractions were really strong, and others weren’t, so I was able to rest and take short naps in between. My only tools were my breath and the ability to move around—we paced around my house, laid down, went in and out of the bathtub, sat on the toilette, went up and down the stairs, and squatted trying to hold space for each contraction. Around 11:30am, I told Dana that I couldn’t do it anymore and to take me to the hospital to get an epidural, contractions had gotten crazy strong and in my head I kept thinking I couldn’t go any longer at this rate. Calmly, she said, “I hear you. Let me check how dilated you are and we go from there.”
After she checked me, she said “what if I told you…you’re 10cm”. I started crying of happiness because this meant I was one step closer to meeting my baby girl.
Little did I know I had only done 50% of the job—we still had to push. This part gets a little blurry for me as the racing hormones took me to another realm. Physically, I was in my house and I was interacting with all these tangible things, but spiritually I was somewhere else. It sure was an out of body experience. It felt like a dream, or as I like to describe it to my friends…an ayahuasca ceremony. If you know what I’m talking about, you know.
You see, birth is a beautifully wild long thing. With pain comes progress and with progress comes the gift of life. It’s called “labor” because you’re working so hard to bring a human being into the world. It sure is painful but if you allow it, it can be beautiful. I trusted my body to do its thing, and it did. The fight was with my mind, as it kept urging me to give up. Thoughts like: “why are you even doing this?”, “what are you trying to prove?”, “it doesn’t have to be this hard”… were coming in and out.
At around 1pm Dana told me my waters had been broken for over 12 hours and asked me if I wanted to take the antibiotics. I asked if I had a fever, she took my temperature, she said no. I asked if I was showing any other symptoms of infection, she said no. I went ahead and denied the antibiotics. At this point I had been in active labor for 13 hours and no sign of baby yet. Contractions had slowed down a bit, but the ones that did come were really powerful. Though I fought so hard to stay present, my mind was taking over. I was getting tired and frustrated, I asked my husband and birth team again to please take me to the hospital. To which they responded, we could, but you’re past the point of getting an epidural and you will most likely end up in a c-section. I turned around and continued pacing around the house…
For the next 4 hours we continued to work with my contractions, I pushed in all sorts of different positions to help my baby make her descent. Around 4:30pm, we were pacing around my garden when one very strong contraction took over and I felt the need to bear down. I was extremely tired and had lost all hope of the baby being born anytime soon; but then I heard everybody say “We can see the head! She has a full head of hair.” Dana knew what this meant, so she suggested we moved inside. I got in the birthing pool, and I looked at Dana and said “Fuck this. I cant do this anymore”. That said, Dana knew the baby was here, so she moved me to the birthing station for the last push. These last moments were crazy intense and I was running on empty. Dana looked at me and said “your baby needs you right now”, those words fueled me back up and I pushed with everything I got.
On March 1st @5:08pm at 6.12oz Shiva Marie Vogel was born in a corner in my room. After 17 hours of the hardest labor of pure raw love, I was able to find the sweet spot between complete surrender, trust in my body and maximum strength for my little mermaid to be born straight into my arms. We had the most incredible team of strong & powerful women holding space for Shiva’s safe arrival. We are incredibly grateful to @eyla_cuenca_birth @dana_linvill_gordon and Amanda Fisher who held us with so much love and honored our entire journey. Ronnie, the love of my life, stepped in like a boss and held me in his arms with so much love and confidence as I delivered our little angel.
The real star of the show was Shiva who was born perfectly healthy, with no interventions, no trauma, and no meds. Our only tools were our breath, our intuition, and our synchronicity. All I did was hold space for her to do her thing, and she did, in her own perfectly beautiful way.
with love and gratitude,
Gigi, Shiva, & Papi.