¡Atención Amigos: This post is a letter to my daughter and contains some graphic birthing images. If that is not your cup of tea, you may want to change the channel now.
Welcome to Sprinter Life my beautiful precious daughter. This is where your Mom and I tell the story of our lives, and now of your life too. We share the good times and the bad, our happiness and sorrow, our wonderful memories, the lessons we learn, and all our grand adventures. One day you’ll be able to read all about these early times.
Today I want to tell you the story of your birthday, October 9th, 2012.
(Click here for your birthday announcement post).
Your journey into this world was not an easy one. In true Sprinter Life style, it was an epic adventure that lasted over 36 hours.
It started around 1 am on a Monday morning when I woke up and noticed your Mama was having trouble sleeping. By 3 am we realized it was the signs of labor. We stayed in bed, awake, timing her contractions. We smiled at each other as we talked about your arrival. We were both so excited.
We got up at about 5 am and decided to take a walk around the block. When we returned Mama began getting ready for your big birthday. While brushing her hair and putting on her make-up she said,
“I want to look my best when I meet my daughter”
We knew we had plenty of time, so we took another walk. Kiki knew something was going on. She followed Mama everywhere all morning and seemed very aware of your impending presence. Everybody was smiling.
After our 2nd walk Mama’s contractions were about 10 minutes apart and slowly growing in strength. We started practicing our relaxation and breathing while I gently rubbed her back.
Noni joined the effort and began to diligently time all of Mama’s contractions and take pictures. This ended up being a job that lasted for almost TWO DAYS!
Noni had only arrived 48 hours before, (remember here). We were SOOOOO happy that she made it in time for your birthday. I don’t know how we would have survived without her tender support.
Our birth plan was to stay at the house as long as possible before going to the hospital. We had toured the hospital the week before, (remember here), and it wasn’t a very warm place. So we wanted to minimize the amount of time we were there.
By midday your Mama was having contractions every 4-5 minutes, and they were building in pain. We decided to pack up and head out. At this point we were jumping out of our skin with excitement. Based on the interval of contractions, we thought you would be arriving within hours. I could barely contain myself.
Our doula, Roxanna, arrived with a car to take us to the hospital. We had hired her last May when we decided to move to Lima to give birth (remember here). Roxanna proved to be a huge help bringing you into this world.
We all loaded into the car and headed to the hospital. Your Mommy was in a lot of pain with her contractions, but she was extremely calm and poised.
When we got to the hospital, despite her strong contractions, we were all surprised to find out that Mommy was only dilated to 1 cm! We were expecting 6 or 7. What we would later learn after 36 hours of labor was that two problems were causing your Mommy’s contractions to progress while her dilation did not.
1) Mommy had an excess of amniotic fluid. We knew this from previous ultrasounds. Although we were told that it wasn’t a problem, apparently her contractions were trying to push you down to engage, but the extra buoyancy was not allowing it to happen. Maybe things would have been different if you weren’t coming 2 weeks before your delivery date.
2) You had an extra short umbilical cord, which also made it difficult for you to descend into the birth canal. You kept trying to get your head in position, but just when you got to where you wanted to be, you floated back up!
Below, Noni holds Mommy during a contraction in the hospital parking lot.
Well, since Mama was only dilated at 1 cm and since the hospital was not a very nice place to hang out, we decided to go to Roxanna’s place, Prenatal, which was only 2 blocks away. Here we rested with Mama and helped her through contraction after contraction.
We tried to feed her some chicken noodle soup but she threw it up. This would become a common theme anytime she tried to eat or drink, or if a contraction was extra powerful. She was never able to hold down food and essentially went 2 days without anything to eat. This may explain why you were SOOOOOO hungry when you came out!
We stayed at Prenatal until Mama’s contractions were only 2-3 minutes apart and very painful. Then we decided to go back to the hospital and check in for your delivery. We still thought that you would be arriving at any time! It had been a lot of work, but we were thrilled that you were almost here.
Unfortunately, when we checked Mama out at the hospital she had only progressed to 1.5 cm of dilation. This was INSANE. She had already been in labor for almost 14 hours. She began crying. We all felt very discouraged and tired.
But Mama quickly regained her composure and began the process of focusing through her contractions, working hard all through the night. She was absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. I was in awe of her.
I was so inspired by your Mama that through the entire labor I refused to leave her side. I told the nurses to bring in a couch and when Mama closed her eyes to rest, Daddy lied down. But neither of us could sleep because the contractions just kept coming. You really wanted out Soleil.
By morning Mama’s dilation had only progressed to 6 cm. She had now been in labor for almost 30 hours and everyone was getting worried, including Noni and the doctor.
The contractions were getting worse, and she was only slowly progressing. During every contraction she would close her eyes, breath very deeply, and picture your face Soleil. She would visualize your little eyes and nose, and your beautiful little mouth. She would imagine you lying on her chest, heart to heart. You were helping her through every painful moment.
Mama also had some really great nurses at the hospital. Her labor was so long that she went through THREE different shifts. We think that may be another hospital record for Sprinter Life, so congratulations Sol.
From time to time they would put a monitoring device on Mama’s tummy so we could check your heart rate. Sometimes it went down, which made all of us very worried. The nurses would rub the tummy, and Mommy would do deep breathing. Then it would come back up.
By late morning the Doctor was worried and decided to rupture the membrane to break Mama’s water. This would allow the amniotic fluid to drain. We hoped this would help you to drop and engage into the birth canal. And it did.
Mama started dilating faster until soon she was at 9 cm! Now we knew you would be coming soon. Poor Mommy was so exhausted, but she never wavered. She put her heart and soul into every moment and could only think of you.
A few more hours went by and around 2 pm the doctor started preparing the room. When I saw this happening I really knew you were on the way. I could barely contain myself Soleil. I was delirious with anticipation and excitement to see you. To meet you. To hold you.
Mama completely blew me away with her courage and strength as she breathed and pushed you into the world. To me, it was a miracle.
You joined us on October 9th, 2012 at 2:41 pm after 36 long hours of labor.
Many people told me about what to expect the moment of your birth. They said it would be the greatest moment of my life, that it would change me forever. They were right about that. It was and it did. But in all honesty I didn’t allow myself to enjoy it at the time. I was too preoccupied with everything else going on around us. This is Peru. I didn’t trust the environment enough to let my guard down. I focused on you, and everything they were doing. I was in full protection mode.
My number one concern was that they give you to Mama the very moment you were born. This is not the norm here in Peru. Usually they take the baby away, but we wanted you to breastfeed right away. We wanted you to feel the warmth of being in Mama’s arms. Luckily our doctor honored our wishes. But as I mentioned above, your umbilical was so short that you wouldn’t even reach, so the doctor had me cut it. What an honor.
You were put on Mama’s chest. Mama cried and cried and said…
“Oh my god….. ohhhhhh, oh my baby…… oh my little baby…. there you are, oh there you are, <you cry>, oh yes, I know, we had a tough go didn’t we….. she’s beautiful, she’s beautiful, she really is…. ohhhh, Mama loves you, ohhh Mama loves you!”
(captured on video for you to watch one day)
After you had been on Mama’s chest, they put you in a warm box and took you to a pediatrics nursery to make sure you were healthy. To their surprise, I followed you out of the room, down one level in an elevator, and to the door of the nursery. As they wheeled you inside, two nurses stopped me at the door. They said I was not allowed to pass, that it was against regulations, and that you would be back in a couple of hours.
At that point I did what I promise to do for the rest of your life: I pushed them out of the way, and I never left your side.
The nurses were shocked, but they didn’t call security or anything. They told me to stand back a few feet and I did. But I watched them like a hawk as they weighed you, measured you, and cleaned you. I did not let them poke you with any needles. The whole thing only took about 10 minutes, and I WAS counting.
As I waited I looked around the room and noticed the other little babies lying all alone in their little cribs. When they finished they tried to lay you back inside the little box. I said, “NO, dame mi Bebe“. The nurse looked at the doctor. She hesitated, then nodded. And from that moment on you never left my arms.
Noni came down and tried to get inside the nursery but they wouldn’t let her in. She took this photo from the other side of the glass to take back up to Mama so that she could see that you were okay.
I wanted desperately to get you back to Mama, but they kept telling me that you weren’t allowed to leave for another hour and a half because Mama was recovering. I argued with them until they called upstairs for permission. The answer was no. I continued to argue with them until they called the Jefe (boss). The answer was still no. When asked why they told me it was very political between the hospital departments. Soleil, Daddy hates stupid rules that make no sense, and he usually doesn’t follow them.
I turned around and walked out the door with you in my arms. Reluctantly, one of the nurses followed with your little box. I returned you to Mama, and she was unbelievably happy to see you Sol. She proceeded to give you a belly full of yummy food. You must have been very hungry, too, because you latched on with six pounds of fury, first try. Even the nurse gave a proud smile.
We named you Soleil Mariah.
Soleil - In Peru they do not say “to give birth”. They say “dar a luz“, which literally translates as “to give to light”, or “to bring to light.” You brought light into our world Soleil. You are our glowing, bright Sun, our Sol. We chose Soleil for this reason, and because French is your Mommy’s favorite language. She’ll teach it to you someday, as soon as you have a grasp on English and Spanish.
Mariah – After my sister Indra Mariah, who is now your Auntie. Mariah is what we called her when she was a little girl. It is a very special name to our family because she is so special and important to all of us. And now you share her name. She will always be there for you Sol, no matter what. She loves you with all her heart, just like Mommy and me.
That is the story of your birthday my sweet Soleil. We love you.
P.S. Here are all the posts we wrote about you while you were still in Mama’s tummy. xoxoxo