A Birth Story, Part Four (The Birth)

When I booked the reservation at the hotel, something told me that my little girl would cut our visit short.  I completely relaxed during that final day, and perhaps that is what coaxed my littlest love to arrive: a mommy’s body doesn’t cooperate well when it is in a stressful situation.

(*See footnote for explanation of “Ding Dang Baby.”)

My contractions began at around 11pm, and I just continued to read while relaxing in bed.  They seemed pretty steady though, and I mentioned them to Victor about an hour later.  He asked if I wanted to go home.  I didn’t really see the need of abandoning our hotel room until we knew for sure this was it.  I also wasn’t in a hurry: Ale took forever to be born, so I thought we had plenty of time ahead of us.

Ale was asleep, so I just continued to monitor the situation without waking her.  Finally, I decided I would use the app on my phone.  It helped me to realize that maybe we were further along than expected.  Around 2:30am we started the process of cleaning up and packing up the hotel.  Ale awoke and couldn’t understand why we couldn’t go swimming.  She had started the day wearing her swimsuit and tutu, and at this point was dancing around the hotel room wired.  I had been telling her for a month that her sister was “coming soon,” so she was pretty unphased.  That is until the contractions were strong enough for me to need to stop and breath.  “Mama, stop!  Stop doing that!” she said more than once.

Pre-Josie 4

This was our last family photo before Josie was born.  Victor was a little irritated that I wanted a photo during my labor–so there was no time for a retake!

Victor called his mom to let her know I was in labor, and I called the midwife as we were leaving the hotel.  I also notified my mom and sister, as promised.  Clearly it was the middle of the night, as both of them asked me if I was going to go home…  Umm, no, I thought I would I would just use the bathtub here.  

This chat spans a couple of hours.

I not-so-patiently checked out of the hotel.  Contractions were pretty strong, and I had to stop to breath through them several times during the process.   I would feel one beginning, and tell the middle-aged man behind the counter, “Excuse me.”  Then I would turn my back on him, walk to the wall, hold on, and breath for a minute.  When the contraction subsided, I walked back, smiled, and apologized.

The taxi arrived and I joined my family outside.  (My husband must have been a little nervous.  He let my toddler pee in front of the hotel before getting in he taxi.  No time for a bathroom break! No sir!)  The ride home was pretty quick.  I sat in the front seat just to continue making middle-aged Mexican men uncomfortable.

We arrived home and began getting the room ready.  Remember when I said I thought we had plenty of time?  Well, we didn’t prepare the room before leaving for the hotel… So there we were, 3:30 in the morning getting everything in order.  I went through the baby basket and cleaned off the table in our room.  (By “cleaned off the table,” I actually mean I swept everything into a bag and stashed it in the closet.)  I am pretty sure Victor swept and mopped.  Finally, I took a permanent break from getting the room ready to concentrate on getting my body ready.

 My contractions were strong.  I know this next part sounds crazy, so don’t judge me: As a contraction would start, I would imagine a tall skinny man.  That’s what it felt like.  The contraction was like a long line that went down my back.  With my hands braced against the wall, I would start at his head and breath my way down his body.  Weird, I know.  It helped though, a coping mechanism of sorts.  I also nodded my head as I breathed, so I am pretty sure I looked nuts too.

The bathroom was nice because it was dark and private, but at this point it felt good to stand up.  I didn’t want to bend over, lay against the sink/wall, squat on the toilet, etc.  It felt good to stand straight pushing out to my sides with both hands against the doorframe.  My midwife arrived and did a quick check on the baby.

She, her crew, and Victor worked in the bedroom to get the pool set up and filled.  I literally didn’t see my husband again until the baby was born.  My labor was requiring all my concentration, and I didn’t have a break or all the time in the world to chit-chat like I did with Ale.  Finally I asked if the tub was ready, and continued my labor there.

I have sweet memories of Ale during this time.  She would check on me during contractions.  A couple times I remember her getting right down in my face and smiling a big, fake, slightly terrified looking smile.  I was aware that she was there and needed some reassurance.  I would smile back (I think, although it was probably more of a grimace.), tell her I was fine, and let her know baby sister would be there soon.  She joined me, bathing suit and all, in the birthing tub.  My midwife showed her how to pour water on my back during the contractions.  At some point, she got out and fell asleep in the next room.  Later I found out that she refused to remove her bathing suit before sleeping.

In the pool my contractions changed.  They weren’t a tall, skinny man anymore.  They morphed into a short, fat man.  Instead of long pain, it was horizontal and stretched across my back.  The short, fat man wasn’t nearly as nice as the tall guy. The coolest thing is that depending on my pain, my midwife knew where the baby was.  She didn’t make me get out of the water to check the progress, because she could tell the labor was progressing.  She also didn’t check to see that I was dilated, so I have no idea how far along I was.

It seemed like I was in the birthing tub for hours.  Later, Tirsa (the midwife) told me it was only about an hour.  I laid down a while, like one might in a bathtub.  Then Tirsa said it could help to change my position and move my hips.  I would ask questions like, “Why is there no break?” “Why does it only hurt on one side?”  She would just answer, and we would rest until the next contraction.  She applied counter pressure to by lower back and hips during the contractions, as well as pouring the warm water over my back.  I was on my knees while lying against the side of the tub.  I remember somehow working my way from one side of the tub to the other.

I didn’t voice these thoughts aloud, but in my head I thought, “Never again.” “I understand why women like drugs,” etc.  When I started getting the urge to push it seemed unreal.  With Ale I would push, then fall asleep in between contractions.  With Josie, there was no time!  I remember telling everyone I felt like I needed to poop.  (A bit embarrassing now…)  Tirsa said, “That’s because your baby is coming!”  Someone got my errant husband, and he held me at the end.  Three contractions back-to-back and Josie arrived!  I was on my knees, so they helped her swim between my legs to the front.  I laid back, and put her on my chest.  Wow.  That feeling.  Even writing about it now makes me tingle inside.


The hours after her birth were amazing too.

I had watched this really inspiring video about the breast crawl, and I wanted to see if it worked.  We moved to the bed and placed Josie on my chest.  It was totally cool!  Within 30 minutes she latched onto my breast.  I delivered the placenta, but it was just placed into a bag alongside of us.  I don’t remember when we cut the cord, but it was so calm in the room, it wasn’t a big deal!  I moved to rest against the wall, and we continued to work on breastfeeding.  I had (mistakenly) thought that after nursing Ale for 2 years and 4 months, I would be a pro.  Wrong.  Feeding a newborn is no task for the faint-hearted!

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I feel like I should reiterate how calm it was.  Maybe I felt calmer because it was my second baby, but the general atmosphere of the room (and the people present) was peaceful with Josie.  I had a home birth and water birth with Ale, but it wasn’t exactly the calmest environment.  In fact, Josie’s entire labor was MUCH calmer.  When it was over, I almost immediately felt like I could do it again.


Ale meets her sister, Joselyn Victoria.  (Josie’s name is a combination of my brother, Joseph, and my sister, Jenny Lyn.  Her middle name is in honor of her Papi, Victor.)

I have so enjoyed looking back over the photos.  The following photos are of the hours/days following Joselyn’s arrival:





Josie is one day old! (Yes, she’s at McDonald’s.  We took her sister there after registering Josie’s birth with the powers that be…)



Ale’s special Big Sister cake that she helped to make. (Because only BIG girls get to cook with Mami–not babies.)



Daddy and Josie!



Sister still likes to poke the baby’s cheeks! I blame that on old Mexican women who always grab her cheeks. 😉


Abuela and Josie; My mother-in-law is something special.  Upon meeting Josie, she THANKED me.  It still makes tears come to my eyes to think about it!


Los Abuelos! Having them here for Josie’s birth was really special.



Sweet girl…

* “Ding Dang Baby” is from a Jacqueline Woodson book, Pecan Pie Baby.  I read the book when I was pregnant, and I sat and cried in my office.  It is all about a sister who isn’t overly excited about the birth of her sibling.  She calls him a “Ding Dang Baby.”  I was really worried about Ale being hurt or feeling replaced by Josie.  After reading the book to my mom, we often referred to Josie as the “Ding Dang Baby.”  This is an AMAZING book, by the way.

** I am SO happy I have these text messages with Mama and Jenny.  Not only do they remind me of details, but they provide quite a bit of comic relief!

The Mamas and the Papas

I’ve been thinking about this miraculous family unit–and how the gears all work together to make things run smoothly.  One gear out-of-place and things get rough.  Squeaky gears need a little attention to get going.  When everything works together–progress can be made.

My little squeaky is really growing up so fast.  I’ve heard people say that all my life, “They grow up too fast.”  I never knew how true those words were until now.  Her six weeks  are literally just around the corner, and this mama is heading back to work.  It’s a good thing I really love my other job (teaching)–because I might start squeaking too.

I was thinking about an event from a couple of years past.  My ex and I were at a church convention, and were playing with all the kiddos.  Suddenly, he picked up a little girl and began swinging her wildly around by her arms.  Well, my sister’s arms popped out-of-place when my uncle swung her like that–and I began freaking out.  The mama of the little girl said to me, “Jania, this is why God gave us a Mom and a Dad.”

I suppose I could twist that to mean that God gave us Mamas to keep the Daddy’s on the right track…  But in all honestly, she proceeded to tell me that kids need a little rough play every once in a while.

Kids also need time alone.  This is what my husband has taught me this week.  The Mama in me wants to cuddle, love on, and snuggle my little bug all the time.  I want her naps to be beside me on the couch–not out of my sight.  I want to jump when she says, “Wah” and fix everything wrong in her little world.  I want to make sure that she doesn’t get hurt by padding everything around her.  I want her to have music and sweet sounds to sleep to.  I want her to get to rock while she still fits inside the swing.

This is why she has Papi.  Papi said to me the other day, “She really needs some time alone.  She’s going to get used to being in your arms.”  I forget the word he used to tell me that she would be spoiled.  I let him take her, change her diaper, and he returned without the baby.  And guess what?

Her world didn’t crash.

She didn’t cry in outrage.

My heart didn’t break in two.

And I learned a lesson.

My baby doesn’t really need to be with me every second of every day (and night).  She needs peace and quiet just as much as you or I do.  Logic (and my Mama) tells me that if she were unhappy, she would have let me know with more than “Wah.”  Because when that
Wah” becomes “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!” you bet we both go running.

Since then, I’ve tried to let little Sugar Bug do a little exercise on the floor–even when I am yearning for cuddles.  She is becoming stronger–lifting her head and looking around.  She’s learning to touch with intention, and loves to tickle her toy that jingle-jangles.  And Mama is learning to give a little growing space to her bebita.

See, God really does know what he’s doing.  He gives us Mamas to cuddle and love on, and Daddys to help us grow.  (That doesn’t mean that Papi doesn’t get his cuddles in there too, or that Mama doesn’t have words of Advice for growth…)  Mamas dresses us up pretty every morning.  Papi wraps diapers in a no-frills-this-will-leak-soon way.  Papi settles us down at night with no nonsense.  And Mami hums a tune as she climbs in bed beside baby–her body rocking even though her baby isn’t in her arms.  Mama scrubs baby up in the kitchen sink.  Daddy worries that baby will be hurt from leftover pepper juice and germs.    So how does it all work if Mama and Papi are so different?

Mami and Papi and learning to keep mouths shut.  This is allowing that machine of a family unit to get moving the way things were intended by a higher power.  Because the minute we start tinkering–trying to change the way things are done–it all will fall apart.

Poop Poop Everywhere

My husband likes to take my daughter’s diaper off and let her roll around naked.  Apparently, this is a Chiapanecan thing.  He says she needs some air on her nether region in order to keep from getting diaper rash.  And I don’t totally disagree…  BUT I can’t help but sigh in exasperation when she does it again.

Alexandria has pooped or peed nearly everywhere and on everything.  Furthermore, I breastfeed her.  So her poop is this really slimy yellow liquid.  Not exactly what you want to clean off:

1)  Our first bed–  this was the bed that we were in right after Ale’s arrival.  We moved to a different bed the first weekend.  She pooped or peed (or both), and Victor had to wash all the covers in the middle of the night.

2)  Our second bed– we change her diaper here most often.  That means this is where husband-0f-mine likes to let her air out and “exercise.”  It wasn’t long before he decided to get a mattress cover (Not a fancy normal mattress cover–but a sheet of table-cloth material from the Tela Store).

3)  Her Daddy– I like to sing, “Poo-poo on Daddy!”  When Victor lets Ale get a little breeze–he also will tend to carry her around naked. So more than once I’ve heard, “Oh no!”  Then he comes to show me poop on his leg.  “Look what she did!  She pooped on me again!” he will say proudly.

4)  Her play carpet– we bought this carpet because our floors here are tile.  I wanted to have a place for Alexandria to lay down and really get exercise.  Yesterday Victor had her naked (Do you notice a trend here?) when she began crying.  I always take my shoes off when I step onto the carpet–and lucky for me!  I found out the hard way that she had peed all-over everything!  (Seriously, how do baby girls a) pee so much, and b) really shoot it out there?)

Our daughter doesn’t have to have her diaper off when she makes one (I like it in Spanish when they talk about dirtying a diaper–that’s how they say it.)  She likes to really spread the love:

5)  All over the nice lady we stayed with in Monterrey during meeting–  I look over thinking that she’s handing me Ale just to see something dripping down into the floor.  Oh yes, explosive diaper.  All over the front of Rosario’s skirt and all over the cute outfit she was wearing…

6)  On her breastfeeding pillow–  I like to prop her up on this thing.  She holds her head up and will push with her legs.  Actually, she catapulted herself over the top the other day.  The same day I had to wash the cover–thanks to a little squirt (Not a nickname–just the verb…)

You know the one place she hasn’t made her mark yet?  On me.  I am really hoping to keep it that way…

Being A Mom

Family picture March 2013


No one told me how hard it is to be a mom.  I am guessing that’s because it’s totally worth it–so moms just ignore the fact that time has gone out the window.  They put on the same smelly clothes (baby doesn’t mind), and slap on more lanolin.

Or they climb on a plane and spend spring break consoling their grown daughter on her ability to produce milk…

I’ve barely been on the computer–much less on my blog updating everyone on life.  I guess that’s what happens when you’re learning how to live.  I have quoted my Mamaw before, “You haven’t lived until you have children.”  And I reckon she’s right.  Although my mom and husband have pulled out the stops to keep me breathing–short of hooking me up to a liquids line.

I guess she said that, because it’s  hard to  describe how it really feels to have children.

I feel like upon bonding with my little girl, part of me became incomplete.  Now, she has to be there for me to feel whole.  It scares the heck out of me, to be honest.  I lay beside her, and stare at her sleeping–close to tears, waiting for her to need me.  When I finally sleep, the slightest movement or whimper wakes me up in a state of panic.  The best night of sleep I had was last night–in my mom’s bed.  I think I must have slept harder knowing she was there to take care of Alexandria.  Her sad/upset face breaks my heart in two, and when she smiles, I feel like I’ve won the lottery.

There’s nothing like nursing her (even when it’s hurting).  She stares up at me with big brown eyes.  As she drifts off to sleep, her eyes open and close quickly as she attempts to figure out sleepy-time.  Her little hands have become more controlled in two short weeks, and she curls one up on my chest.  The other is tucked away.  Sometimes she holds my fingers as I guide her to her source of life and happiness.  Her body relaxes, and there she goes again: stealing my heart away.

I try to share her with her Papi and her Grandmama.  Daddy comes to get her for diaper time without a word from me.  He stands by as I give her bath, singing to her describing my actions, unconsciously mimicking my mama.  Papi likes to carry her around too–and I refrain from warning him to watch her head, hold her tighter, or comfort her whimpers.  I have selfishly watched him feed her from a bottle for a week, as I had to pump my right pecho to allow it to recover.  Today we took back feedings–and I proudly listen to her swallow loudly, gulping as much leche as she could.

I watched my Mama leave us today at the airport, and I cried.  I cried because of my own needs, but also with a strange new awareness for what she’s warned me of:  a mama’s love for her baby.  A piece of her heart gone from her body–keeping her from feeling completely complete.
Mom and Me

A photo from convention 2010