Your birth story begins on Saturday the 22nd of April 2017. At 00h40 I received a call from your mom telling me that her water broke. I was only asleep for one hour, so my first reaction was “Oh my God…,NOW? ”. She assured me that everything was ok and I didn’t have to hurry because her contractions were not that strong.
Sleeping was out of the question, so I prepared and took the car to Bruges. Arrived at your parents home, I noticed your mom was very happy and joyful. It would take a while so I took the chance to rest a little. Your omi (grandmother) was there to keep your mother company and I didn’t want to intrude. My gut-feeling told me it was going to be a long day.
Around 5 o’clock in the morning, I came down the stairs and witnessed the same scenario: no strong labor and an enthusiastic mom because the big moment had finally arrived ! You were more than welcome now that you were almost 40 weeks inside her belly.
It was 5h30 when we went to the Serruys hospital in Ostend for a checkup. Mom had 1cm dilatation and slight contractions when my colleague doula Tine joined us. After breakfast at around 8 o’clock, your mother wanted to take a walk to the beach, hoping that this would make the contractions stronger. At the beach, your mom – wearing slippers – asked us “if it was ok for us to walk in the deep sand”. We all laughed loudly! Roles were reversed: the women in labor is worried about us? The healthy sea breeze and walking made the contractions a little stronger, but still tolerable.
Back at the hospital your mom was dancing away the contractions while she was keeping your grandmother and aunts in Indonesia up to date. She was checked again…3cm! Okay! We’re going in the good direction! Time to rest and catch some sleep (for what it’s worth). While your mom was taking a nap in the room, I slept a little on the couch in the delivery room where the birthbath was. After an hour I woke up and was relieved my pants were still dry despite the water sounds in the room :-D !
Your mom was still asleep so I took the chance to go to the lunch room and grab a bite to eat. Your father was here too, so we had lunch together and talked a little about this important day.
Back in the room, your mom was still stuck at 3cm. Time to go for a walk again! We took the stairs to the lunch room where your grandfather treated your mother a little pie. Your mom enjoyed her cake very much. “The last one before Sifra is here,” she said with sparkling eyes.
Unlike this morning, the weather was beautiful. Your mom and dad enjoyed the sun and there was even time for ice cream. Why not? I got one too myself. It was a fun and special moment.
On the way back to the hospital, I noticed your mom was getting more tired. She was still at 3cm… I sensed something was not quite right. As a doula I got to know your mom for many months before the day of delivery and at that moment, I knew there was something more to it then just a slow labor. When labor shuts down at a certain point, there is mostly a non-medical explanation for it. Together with the midwife and your father, I had a deep conversation with your mom. She looked me right in the eyes and listened the entire time. I saw tears coming up when I mentioned certain things. A lot of emotions that were deep inside were freed. A lot of thoughts she didn’t want to think about at first came up. Thoughts that blocked her mentally… and physically.
After the conversation the midwive of the hospital proposed a very slight and local stimulation. I advised your mom to take a shower and prepare for the real work that was going to start now. When she came out of the shower, I saw a totally different Reena. No sparkling eyes, no big smile, no giggling. My words touched her. We gave her some space to call her mother who was on the other side of the world. Through the door, we heard some deep emotions. Everything that she was holding back, now bursted. Your mother was going through a real transformation! You must have felt it inside the womb. After the phonecall, the medication was placed and not even 30 minutes later, she got contractions that were far more stronger than before.
Together with doula Tine we supported your mom as good as we could. We also encouraged your father to help in the process so he would be involved in your birth.Around 21h30, your mom had contractions every minute. It was heavy and intense. THIS is what she needed to dilate! The warm shower in the delivery room helped her to relieve pain. We helped your mom and encouraged her. She was doing sooo good!
At a certain moment she couldn’t do it anymore, she was done and asked for an epidural. She looked at me desperately and said that she couldn’t endure more pain anymore. But your mom and I made an agreement during our prenatal consultations. As a midwife she witnessed over 2000 births and she knew that every woman gets to a point where they want to stop the pain. She assured me that she would also ask for an epidural and I needed to remind and encourage her when she asked for it. So at that moment I was with her in the shower and I smiled at her. I said: “Do you remember? We made a pact Reena” She looked at me and said “yes, but it hurts sooo much…” I reminded her of the deal we made and encouraged her. She had to hang on just a little more. She was almost going to meet her precious Sifra she wanted to meet for such a long time. She didn’t say anything, but nodded.
When the shower was not enough anymore to relieve the pain, your mom went to the relaxation bath together with your dad and doula Tine. I stood next to the pool so she could hold my arms. In between contractions doula Tina and I sang the song of her blessing way to her. That made her able to relax and even to take some micro-naps. The micro-naps gave her just enough power to endure the next contraction.
The bath however, was not warm enough and after half an hour she returned to the shower. The midwife proposed to check the number of centimeters real quickly… She was at 5cm. Then, at a very unlcuky moment, the midwife told your mom she was already “halfway”. 5 centimeters was indeed half of the 10 she needed, but actually she was so much further than “halfway”. Contractions were so strong that Tine and I knew that she was almost there. We encouraged her both and the panic in her eyes turned into perseverance. She screamed loudly giving herself completely. And just as we thought she was at 9,5cm after only one hour. Through the pain she looked at us with such a relief in her eyes. We helped her to the birthing bath and after a few minutes we could already see the top of your head.
The gynecologist came right on time and guided your mom. I was sitting on the floor in front of her so I could look her right in the eyes when she needed it. Thanks to the transparent bathtub I could witness everything from the front row. You head was born very slowly and one push later you came out. What a magical moment… A little person that was inside your mothers belly just a second ago, was now swimming to earth side. Wonderful to witness.
You were lifted out of the water and put on your moms chest. You cried very briefly. Suddenly, your mom transformed from a woman in labor to a loving mom. All pain was forgotten and she smiled like she never smiled before. She was glowing! Your dad was also emotional when he saw you, his beautiful daughter. He couldn’t believe his eyes.
After a few minutes, you were both helped out of the water for the birth of the placenta. A very special moment, because your mom really wanted a lotusbirth. This a birth where the umbilical cord is not cut but detaches naturally.
The placenta was kept in the shell of a coconut. Can it be more natural? It looked really beautiful. Your daddy needed to lift the coconut during your first check so that an accurate weight could be measured. He was still overwhelmed. What can you expect after 24h and a rollercoaster of emotions… Right after the check you were taken back to mom. You found your way to her breast almost immediately. How wonderful to see how the instinct of such a little person is already so strong.
Your birth was a very special experience. It was so intense. I will always remember the way your mom transformed from woman to mother. The image of you being born into water is something I will never forget. Your mom learned me so much without even realising it. She’s living proof of women relying on their inner instincts when they give birth. She also confirms the fact that there is always a moment during labor where women think they cannot go on anymore. When you are surrounded by people who help you find your inner power, you can manage everything. And I’m convinced you will be a strong woman too. Your Hindu name is Lakshmi and her statue strengthened your mother at her blessing way. Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Welcome to this world !
Special thank you to Reena for sharing her beautiful birth with the world, and Caroline Devulder for her beautiful images, support of Reena during her birth, and for sharing the story of Sifra’s birth.
Debra and Reena first met in Bali at the Bumi Sehat Birth Center, where Reena was working as a midwife.
“I remember the first time I met Reena Roy in 2010 – a young Bumi Sehat Birth Center Midwife. Her smile lit up the entire center – so full of joy and kindness. Bumi Sehat has a special meaning for me – it’s where my Eat Pray Doula co-teacher, Ibu Robin Lim provides incredible maternity care and gentle birth practices in Bali, alongside an incredible team of midwives – including Reena. Each year I returned to Bali for our Eat Pray Doula Retreats, I would spend time with Reena – enjoying the Ogah Ogah festivities, and parade, and the sacred day of silence for Nyepi the Balinese New Year. This special day also meant many babies would be born, often deciding to enter the world on this sacred day. Reena and I shared a few special Nyepi’s together with the other midwives and doulas supporting the many MotherBabies and families who arrived in the dark silence of the sacred island to give birth while everyone else on the island remained home and quiet. It truly was magical to sneak in the dark to the Bumi Sehat birth center on Nyepi to offer care to the many people in labor and then to welcome the new babe’s into the world. Reena’s bright smile, her warmth and wise presence had a way of enveloping us all in the beauty of gentle birth and breastfeeding.
I was overjoyed when Reena married and was soon expecting her very own baby! She moved to Belgium with her husband, and while I miss her on my visits to Bali, I am so happy for her happiness. She birthed her beautiful daughter Sifra alongside her husband and doula Caroline in an amazing hospital lotus birth in Belgium. Even far from home and away from her culture Reena trusted birth and found a special team to support her in her desires. I was able to see Reena in the Netherlands while I was visiting teaching – once while she was pregnant, and then after her sweet daughter was born. Reena you and Sifra are forever in my heart with love!” ~Debra Pascali-Bonaro