Tag Archives: giving birth

647. The Birthing Process: Patience and Perseverance

 

After we had made our decision to give birth at home, we continued to get educated on the topic watching documentaries and learning from other couples that had gone through the same process recently, which gave us further strength and trust in ourselves and in our capacity to do it. This is something I consider is very supportive for first time mothers, to get acquainted with other mothers to be and get a firsthand share of how the birthing process was for them. In my case, the pregnant ladies I met that gave birth during the time I was expecting, didn’t have favorable outcomes in their intent to have natural births, which did initially moved me in the sense of thinking ‘what ifs’ but, I have to thank my partner and the midwives that were able to explain why such complications took place so that I could see the reasoning behind it and so, not fear, and get myself back to trusting myself and my capacity to do it.

 

One interesting thing is how upon getting to meet our midwife Minerva and getting more informed, I became quite settled and tranquil within the process and fears dissipated, because I saw how much I had been brainwashed to see birth as something painful or terrifying even. And that was awesome as well, because then I wasn’t fearing getting to the delivery time, I had other resistances that played out as I will share here, which were of another kind.

 

So the story begins… It was January 14th, I had gone to my yoga class that morning and then had a family meeting to celebrate my father’s 70th birthday and I actually was feeling quite alright but already having some of what I had understood were the famously known Braxton-Hicks contractions, which interestingly enough I started noticing in a more defined way on January 1st. That same day at night, I was eating some left overs of the chocolate cake I had made for my father and one of those contractions came and I told my mother: ‘come and feel this!’ and she placed her hand on my belly and she was shocked by how rock-hard it felt and she was like ‘how long have you been feeling these?’ and so I said that I noticed them from the beginning of the year – actually on the 31st to be precise when we were at the movies watching Parasite, lol, Minerva really disliked that movie chair – and she explained how there’s this theory that 2 weeks after these contractions begin, well, labor also begins. I didn’t pay much attention and just said how this was nothing to worry about.

 

The midwife, Minerva, had explained to us how from the 11th on, anything could happen. Well, I was still kind of holding the idea that first time mothers deliver mostly close to the 40th week or even later, I was in the middle of the 38th and I thought I ‘still have time’ and actually was kind of being lax about buying some of the stuff required for the whole home birth experience. Actually on the 10th we were still going to shops to buy stuff and we were foreseeing to start packing and moving things by the end of that week… well, that night we came home and close to midnight I saw that the mucus plug came out. I kind of freaked out even though I knew this was something that would happen before labor started. I also held on to some information of how some women lost this plug and ended up having their child some 2 weeks later, I thought this was going to be my case.

 

I told my partner, I wasn’t feeling anything after that, so we went to sleep and all I can say is that in the middle of my sleep I was feeling this quite heavy or hard contractions throughout the night, but I kept sweeping them aside as if they were just the Braxton-Hicks ones and nothing serious, however the pain was getting definitely more than the ones I had felt the days before. So, it was at 4 am when I decided to wake my partner up and explain the situation and from that moment on, contractions started happening quite frequently. I downloaded an app to keep track of them and man, it turned out that they were happening every 10 minutes and then, gee, every three minutes! lol the app was telling us ‘you need to rush to the hospital right NOW!’ lol well I laugh because I also knew this could happen and how it didn’t mean that labor is starting ‘right now’ but I still called Minerva – our midwife – at 5 am and let her know about it, she simply said to keep her updated and let her know whenever we wanted them to come to the house.

 

I called my mother and she obviously freaked out because, yes, like me, we weren’t expecting this to happen ‘so soon!’ and my reaction was that of rushing and worrying how I didn’t get to have or ‘leave’ everything ready, I was still expecting to have some time left, some more days to go swimming or to my yoga class – yep! I had such kind of thoughts in the middle of these continuous series of contractions at 5 am on that Wednesday morning. But, in the middle of my disbelief, we started packing everything we needed to temporarily move to my parent’s house where the birth and my postpartum time would be spent.

 

By that time, I really thought that our daughter was going to come in the next following hours, but! what actually happened is that the contractions receded, they essentially slowed down in frequency, oh and I was also having some of the amniotic fluid coming out, but not entirely, so midwife explained how this was a partial rupture of the membranes, so that kept me ‘on guard’ so to speak as well because of having to keep an eye on that and ensuring the liquid remained clear- if not, that means attention, you need to go to a hospital soon.

 

To make the story shorter, contractions kept happening that day, sometimes an hour and a half would transpire before I had another one, sometimes they happened every 20 minutes, and that’s how most of the day went. At night, they spiked and so, I would wake up to manage them – because it’s not particularly nice to experience contractions while laying down in my experience – and my partner would assist me in every single one of them. We would sleep in between the contractions and to make the story even shorter, the same happened in the following two nights which means by the time I got to the day of giving birth, I have had four nights of really bad sleep with contraction pains… not cool, but that’s how it went.

 

The next day on Thursday, we got the first visit from the midwives after me telling them that contractions were still happening just not as frequently to call it an ‘active’ labor phase. So they came home, checked baby’s vital signs and did some acupuncture on me, some massaging and some rebozeo, which is a very traditional technique with what is called a ‘wrap’ in English to help the baby position herself better to give birth and also to assist with my hips and in general also to relieve some tension in my body. That was great, it all was aimed to ‘start the engine’ on the giving birth process. They explained to us how most women go into ‘activity’ at night due to some hormones, and so I was expecting that action would begin that night, but it didn’t. We had another long night with multiple contractions but nothing too painful to call it an active labor phase yet.

 

On Friday, both midwives came home again, this time they gave me a series of homeopathic stuff to induce labor and here comes the most interesting part, they also have a set of questions to check up on some of the emotional stuff that could be clogging or delaying the active labor phase. So when Minerva asked ‘are you ready to give birth to your child?’ My Ms. Correctness answer was ‘yes, as ready as I can be’ but my partner was like ‘hold on, that’s not true’ lol! Grateful for his ever bluntly honest perspectives and feedback because he then explained to me how I was still doing my work in the past days, how i was still doing chores and the ‘regular stuff’ and in essence not really focusing on the birthing process at all. I had to admit that was in fact true and how my sense of ‘responsibility’ was killing me because of not having ‘everything ready’ at the time and still holding on to that idea of myself having to ‘get to do everything’ and not really giving myself that space to realize: you are about to give Birth! How about focusing on THAT!

 

Well, that was my first point of admitting I was preoccupying myself with all kinds of stuff instead of realizing: it’s time, baby is about to be born. And then, there was some kind of question related to the end of pregnancy, and that’s where the nail was hit on the head as well. As the conversation opened up, I realized how pregnancy had become my comfort zone, I was feeling so well and was able to do ‘all of these things’ like going out and exercising and I was sleeping well up to the contraction-night time that I just kind of wanted to prolong that phase because, hey! it’s easier apparently, you don’t have to actually take care of the baby outside of the womb, don’t have to feed them or get to be awake at night, baby goes everywhere with me and I didn’t have to do a thing to care for her… this was my point of resistance and what also delayed my active labor phase.

 

It turns out that I was holding on to the pregnancy and as such, I was holding on to keeping the baby inside me, I hadn’t essentially let go and ‘detached’ in that sense of her. And, as I was sitting cross legged on the mat with my partner next to me and I started opening up all of these things about me ‘holding on to the pregnancy’ and having her within me… I seriously hadn’t realized this if it wasn’t for those questions that led me to find this out. And the moment that I said: “I need to let go, I need to detach” bam! The ‘water broke’ or the membranes were ruptured and liquid started flowing for real this time. I started crying, it was such a ‘magical’ moment, it seemed that’s what I had to realize, to really recognize this time as ‘this is IT! Baby is coming’ and in a way then also embracing that this was the end of this ‘sweet time’ that I made of pregnancy to be.

 

Was it the homeopathy, was it the talk, was it all of the above? I’m not sure or all of the above, but one thing led to another and so this time contractions continued ‘as usual’ throughout the afternoon and then around 10 pm at night on that Friday night, contractions really went up in intensity. I started experiencing them every 20 minutes and I kept tracking most of them. I am eternally grateful for my partner that would wake up with me and step out of bed in every single one of them throughout the night to assist me with coping with the pain, now that was some more intense stuff I couldn’t just ‘laugh’ through as I had done in the previous contractions. I had to be swaying from side to side holding his hand and holding myself from a piece of furniture that was in fact Minerva’s diaper changing zone 🙂 Well, once we saw that the intensity had reasonably augmented and that this time they didn’t seem to slow down in time, we called the midwives to let them know it was time to come home.

 

I still can’t fathom how we managed to do this, we would sleep some solid 20 minutes and like clockwork a new contraction would begin, then we would go back to sleep and so forth. By the time I kept track of the last series of contractions before midwives arrived at around 5 am on Saturday morning, I had logged in more than 235 contractions since early Wednesday morning when I started tracking them. God knows how many more I did on the rest of that Saturday when things got really intense and then we certainly knew it active labor time.

 

That Saturday is kind of fuzzy to me, time ceased to exist and I just remember having a lot of contractions, being on several positions, holding my partner’s hands in each contraction, holding the midwives hands when he had to leave to eat or go to the toilet. I was assisted with many natural means throughout the whole process, I had a heated bag of salt on my back to relieve the pain. I had homeopathy, aromatherapy, essential oils, massage, acupuncture all done throughout that day to assist with activating the process and relieving pain.

 

I was also able to eat whatever I wanted to, this apparently is a no go when going to a hospital. I had my aunt sending me some chicken soup and I even ate a bit of a hamburger throughout that day lol along with all the usual nuts and seeds that I eat, dried fruits, lots of electrolytes and a natural mix of lemon, salt, baking soda and honey to hydrate myself. I had some really rough moments where I thought

I wasn’t going to make it, I felt like fainting, I hadn’t slept in the past 4 nights and I was in pain. I got a tact done by Minerva and got to know I was half way dilated, there was progress, yay, but still had a long way to go. After some more hours of constant contractions, I got another tact done and voilà, I was fully dilated, yay, but I was exhausted.

 

This was a crucial moment because the birth tub was getting filled with water but there was a general concern to use it or not, because as much as water helps to relieve pain, it can also slow down the process and ultimately take it to a halt if one gets ‘too comfy’ in the water. Well, I decided I wanted to do it anyways and give it my all to make it work.

 

Now, entering that birth pool was a heavenly experience to me, seriously, I don’t know what I would have done without that water embracing me in that moment, I am grateful for having chosen this method of giving birth, which also btw can only be used once that one is totally ready to give birth, so it’s meant to be used for a short period of time, but! in my case, I spent more time in it than expected because, It did happen that things came to a halt at some point, I lost focus, I was really tired and I had to essentially be ‘re-focused’ to it through a guided meditation, to essentially give myself the necessary awareness of how close I was to giving birth now and how I had to gather my strength to do it. At this point I was really in pain, I was screaming out loud with all of my lungs and I was also continually directed to refocus it, to not go into the ‘pain’ experience but to channel that through vocalizing it, with my whole body instead of just ‘screaming out of pain’ type of thing.

 

Something else that I got to actually take as a big lesson in all of this is how I am not entirely IN my physical body, meaning aware of how every muscle works and how to direct my body in fact when it comes to something like giving birth where I couldn’t really focus on pushing as such where I needed to push; instead, I would tense my whole body and that of course only prolonged things once again. This was getting everyone’s nerves to the top, to be honest, I could see everyone’s face how they could see the baby’s head and I even was told to stick my finger up to feel her head and I couldn’t believe that ‘this was it’ that it was in fact Minerva’s head, I thought it was some trick to keep me in good spirits and keep pushing, lol, but it was in fact so that she was only a few centimeters away from the outside. Well, those few centimeters took a couple of hours of constant pushing for her to actually come out, yes, it was intense and by that moment I was having contractions like every minute or god knows how often, all I remember was having a contraction, holding my legs up so that Minerva, the midwife, could do some aid with her hands to have the baby come out and then I would go back into the water and drink electrolytes. Yep, I ended up drinking like 5 bottles of it that day, all definitely needed because, I was truly in that marathon experience I had considered it would be, only with some ‘extra’ days added of relative hard work.

 

I was getting desperate by the very end, I kept pushing and everyone kept saying how close I was but the baby wasn’t coming out. I have to admit I said – almost at the very end – I give up, I can’t do this anymore. In that moment, my mother stepped up and reminded me how this was definitely not the time to ‘give up’ lol and how I had to give it my all. She actually had to directly explain to me how to breathe and direct the force of that breathe to push the baby out. It turns out I just wasn’t really ‘connecting’ with that innate way that women have to give birth, it turns out my intellect, my rational mind has more of a hold of me to the point that I wasn’t really surrendering to the process. And that was in fact one of the key words that also assisted me to finally give birth, to surrender to it, I was still trying to ‘manage’ the pain by tensing up my body throughout the contractions, instead of giving myself to it, surrendering to it, offering myself to the process so to speak, fully opening myself up. And that’s something that I finally did in those last moments of pushing when I gave it my all, it didn’t matter anymore if all of my insides would come out in that moment, I just wanted Minerva to come out and end this whole marathon for myself, for her and for everyone that was there and not there that were also stuck to their phones trying to find out any news about the birth, making their prayers and sending me good vibes essentially for everything to go well.

 

The moment came when I did one of those gargantuan efforts to push and with Minerva’s hands as aid, the head was released from my birth canal and a fraction of a second afterwards the whole body just came out like a torpedo in the water. I couldn’t believe myself and as I type this, I still can’t fathom how that was possible. My partner was in tears throughout the last phase of the process because he was seeing how much I was in pain and suffering, but I kept calm in that sort of trance that one goes into when giving birth, I can’t honestly recall if I cried at some point, I probably did, but the moment that Minerva came out it was just this giant relief, because I was just about to be ‘out’ when it comes to lacking energy to do another effort like that.

 

She was finally here, on my chest, spewing some phlegm out and mustering her first crying. I recognized the feel of her vertebrae because it was the same I would feel on my womb, I said how I was glad she was finally here, but I was mostly ‘out’ of myself by that moment. Giving birth to the baby doesn’t mean it’s over yet. Next came the placenta and I wasn’t ready to have more contractions for it to be delivered, I wanted to have some ‘rest time’ lol, but it didn’t quite happen, after some 20 minutes I had another big contraction – though less than the actual final delivery moment – and the placenta came out also with quite a force.

 

The next thing was to step out of the pool, which I didn’t want to do, but it was something I HAD to do since I was already at a very weak state and staying there was only prolonging getting back to the regular pressure of the outside and getting some actual rest. While the midwives and my partner were helping me to get out of the pool, Minerva was carried by my mother, a very happy grandmother that got to carry her first while still connected with the placenta that was kept in a crystal container next to her, that was definitely something new to her for sure as well.

 

As I went out of the pool, I felt the weight of gravity, I felt like the air wasn’t enough for me, I felt pain just everywhere and as I was walking next door to the room where we would be sleeping, I was ‘gone’ for a second. This was very creepy for me as well because that moment where I essentially ‘fainted’ seemed like an eternity for me. I was awaken by Minerva with the words ‘Marlen, wake up, you are here and now’  with a very direct voice and as I opened my eyes and saw her face, it’s as if I had been born myself again, like having that fraction of a second recap of what had just happened ‘Oh god, I just gave birth, Minerva – our daughter – is here, I made it, we made it’ and then after a few steps, same fainting happened and was brought back instantly again with their ‘magic’ lol – and I was awaken.

 

This is significant, this is something that happens to women where there’s like a really big shock after birth, and sometimes there’s this unconscious desire to just not wanting to ‘wake up’ to the new reality of having a child, of becoming a mother, of now having to take care of a child. I do see some of that in my case considering how I had interestingly enough placed ‘the birthing process’ as some sort of an end-goal, instead of taking it as the beginning of a new phase in my life that it actually was.  Fortunately, I am alive to tell, lol, it’s not like I was dying, it felt like a rebirth certainly, a new phase of me and my life of which I still had to go through some more ‘mourning’ because, I hadn’t really placed too much attention into ‘what’s next’ after the baby is delivered… yep, that is correct and so the next phase came with the challenges that emerge when one is stuck with the heroic feeling of ‘delivering the baby’ and forgets about actually taking care of oneself mentally and physically for that which starts right after the baby is out.

 

Fortunately enough due to all the labor done, colostrum came out with ease and Minerva started sucking it up right away with all her might and strength which has characterized her from the moment she was in the womb 🙂 We had a very special moment to cut the umbilical cord, a little ceremony to release her from the placenta that had given her all the support she needed to be born alive and well, which I ended up also consuming right after giving birth  in a milkshake as well as taking it in pills throughout the quarantine to take some of those nutrients back into my body – and some other medicine that was made from it as well as the actual dried placenta, which serves as an aid to restore tissue in any kind of injuries in our bodies. Well, I share about this to be aware of all the benefits of using the placenta, instead of perhaps leaving it to the hospital where they most likely sell it on the black market to companies that make some ‘stem cell’ health or beauty products. Own your placenta, women! I learned to be thankful to it in realizing the essential job it has to keep my child alive in the womb.

 

Once the cord was cut – with an obsidian knife by my partner – I was just wanting to rest, and there is nothing like being able to get out of the ‘birthing room’ – as we now call the TV room hehe – take a few steps and be in bed at the comfort of your own home, not having to deal with any other ‘hassle’ of measurements or vaccines or lousy treatments for the mother or the baby, just pure skin to skin contact with myself and with her father. I ended up sleeping afterwards and my partner slept with Minerva on his chest that whole night. That is priceless when it comes to the first hours after the baby comes out of the womb, to have the warmth of her parents as a bed to sleep on, no need for separate beds or incubation.

 

The next day, I was feeling ‘really well’ like surprisingly well – all things considered in terms of all the postpartum aches and bleeding. I sure would get the usual contractions while breastfeeding and bleeding quite a bit as is normal after giving birth, but I felt well, perhaps some of the hormones still having an effect on me at that time that I kind of ‘forgot’ to eat well, I ‘forgot’ to sleep more during the day. We were just ecstatic about the whole odyssey that the birthing process had been, we were just happy to see Minerva alive and well and have her in our arms and I forgot to do those very basic self-care points even if people offered them, I didn’t quite ‘realized’ that I had to be WELL fed and rested to be there for my child, to feed her, to take care of her.

 

Minerva was born at 6:35 pm on Saturday January 18th, and I went to bed at around 11 I think. The next day I didn’t sleep throughout the day, I have had some bad nights of sleep the previous days but I didn’t seem to care, until the second night where I felt the effect of staying up several nights and I felt so weak that I was losing it, like closing my eyes and perceiving I was going to ‘leave’ type of thing, it was scary for myself and my partner who didn’t know what to do in the moment other that telling me to go to sleep while having a baby that craved to eat but still wasn’t having enough of what she was demanding at the moment, so that was a stressful time for the three of us and got to learn the lesson: I have to feed myself well enough, I have to rest well because I am now feeding my daughter and I have to take care of her and so, I have to be well for myself to be there for her as well.

 

I share this because, it may happen that someone overlooks this kind of basic things and one can prevent such ‘overdrive’ by learning from others’ experiences as well.  After that, I made sure I eat more than the usual because I am breastfeeding Minerva, also resting well even if at times it is hard for me to go back to sleep after feeding her at night, since I have ‘programmed’ myself to ‘wake up’ and be fresh like a lettuce quite easily upon opening my eyes, but that means I start my mind and brain’s engine and then it’s hard to fall asleep again, even if I’m tired, so I’m still practicing breathing at night to be able to sleep. I’ve never had any problems to sleep at night, but I definitely have a hard time going back to sleep in the middle of the night, and that’s been a bit of a challenge because, Minerva is actually really calm, she wakes up at night, eats and goes back to sleep, there’s really no hassle with that, but it’s all now on me to be able to go back to sleep in fact and perhaps it has to do with my constant ide of “having stuff to do” which is also a form of anxiety I have to work with and will share more about in time.

 

Well, up to there the birthing process odyssey. I am entirely and eternally grateful for the two midwives that assisted us – Minerva and Maria Luisa – who were some genuine pillars of support throughout the whole process with their strength, courage, bravery, wisdom and essentially coaching me throughout this journey and life changing moment – a rite of passage in fact – which was giving birth to Minerva and me becoming a mother. Omg, yes it took me some days or perhaps a week or so to actually ‘change the chip’ in my head to realize ‘I am a mother now’ lol, but I’m getting better at it 🙂

 

We are also eternally grateful to our family and friends that were in spirit with us in that moment. We decided to only have my parents present in the birthing process, so my sisters and the rest of my relatives waited some days or weeks to visit us to meet Minerva, which we appreciate in them understanding this decision, giving us time before coming to visit, which is also different from how things usually go when having a baby delivered at a hospital and everyone comes at the same time. This was also something different we did to give ourselves a space to recover and get to know Minerva as well since it is quite a new thing to enter that parenting phase right after the birth process, which I will expand on in blogs to come.

 

The current aftermath is that I recovered quite well and I’d dare to say, surprisingly fast. This is from my experience and doing some constructive comparison to my sisters for example with c sections, I was back on line so to speak with ease. I sure was drained for a week or so to catch up on some sleep and eating more than well too. But I then was fine, had no complications thankfully, so I’m grateful to my body and the organs, tissue and bones that were involved in this process, well, the whole of my body actually. I’m currently quite fine and almost the same as before the pregnancy, which is awesome and another proof of how natural processes take in perhaps most cases less time to recover from.

 

I may also add I was glad I got to do exercise and get a better physical condition during the pregnancy because! It was definitely like a marathon that I experienced and I’m not sure I would have been able to deliver this way without building some physical condition to withstand the amount of effort I had to put in this whole ordeal. However again, I’ve heard of stories of women that don’t really do any physical training and get to deliver with ease, so nothing is set in stone, as I was saying, it all depends on our bodies and getting to know ours is a primary thing to do in any case.

 

Thank you for reading if you got up to here. I wanted to share this as close to the reality as possible to perhaps assist other women to realize that labor, the birthing process can be lengthy, yes, and that there’s no reason to be alarmed and be rushed into hospital if it’s been one or two days of ongoing contractions and nothing happens… it actually takes patience and perseverance to get it done in a natural way without any artificial ‘accelerators’ like artificial oxytocin that’s given at hospitals, which make contractions feel a lot more painful and accelerates the whole process because there it is about hospital time and doctor’s time. In my case, I’m almost certain no hospital or doctor would have had the patience I needed to give labor in a natural way, I probably would have been induced at the first signs of having contractions and most likely citing al kinds of risks (not real in fact) about losing amniotic fluid, having the umbilical cord around the neck (which she had as well) or being too big to fit and probably doing an episiotomy – when in reality I was able to deliver without any tearing 🙂

 

Thus it is also relevant to realize how a lot of the “complications” that may be commonly cited by doctors “at the last minute” while being at the hospital about to deliver – a very, very vulnerable moment for the woman – might just be the usual tricks and ways to get you to agree to “speed up” the process or “just get over with the pain” so as to consent to get a C-section instead. Again, this is in cases when the woman is fit and healthy to have a natural birth and had planned or desired to have a vaginal delivery, which takes time, patience and perhaps not many have it when it comes to, say, 4 days in passive and active labor like I did.

 

Here I also want to say that it is OK if one wants to instead go to the hospital if one doesn’t feel like doing it ‘al natural’ anymore, or if something goes off in the body or if one is seriously too exhausted to make it. It is OK as well to have moments of rest and just keep at it and trust that things will be alright with proper monitoring of the situation of course – like keeping track of baby’s vital signs etc. I have learned how for some women it can go as fast as a couple of hours of labor and having an easy delivery s well, each body is unique and so different and this is then my story with most of the variables that influenced the outcome, so it is definitely not something to measure anyone’s birthing process against.

 

This is a tale to perhaps encourage women considering natural births or perhaps prevent having to be ‘rushed to get a C-section’ for those that do want to have a natural birth or just have unnecessary procedures done onto themselves. Know that there are ways, even with the umbilical cord on the neck or any other seemingly inevitable obstacle. So, consider questioning your practitioner or midwife about any possible obstacles or complications and how they handle them, so that you are on top of things and are aware of every decision made in your birthing process. It’s your body and your child’s wellbeing, so, be aware and use your ability to decide How you want to give birth wisely.

 

I can lastly say that I am humbled by the whole experience. I was able to see how much I have yet to really BE my body, which is something I want to continue focusing on developing. And at the same time, I am humbly proud of myself for this, I turned one of my ‘greatest fears’ into a successful self-empowerment story, and may I say: this is just the beginning 🙂

 

Placenta Print

 

Join in if you want to start walking your own process of creating yourself to be the best that you can be:

 


646. Choosing How To Give Birth

 

It’s been over a month since I gave birth so, it’s time to share about the actual big decision we made when it comes to giving birth to Minerva, our daughter.  I’d like to first of all clarify that what I’m about to share is a very personal process and decision that doesn’t imply ‘is the right or correct way’ to do things or ‘how it should be.’ I respect each woman’s and couple’s choice of how they give birth, and as such I’ll share the story of how we got to choose ours, which we were really glad and satisfied to do after all.

 

From the 5th month or so we started looking at ‘where to give birth’ and few names of hospitals came up, I went to visit one and even if it was an entire hospital just for giving birth, something didn’t quite sit right with me. I had initially considered that I would be having possibly the usual C-section like most of the women in my family and that would be it. However, as I was in the spot looking at the rooms and the list of instruments and stuff that’s used for the ‘birthing package,’ I got calmly freaked out, I couldn’t really fathom myself being at a hospital giving birth, though I thought I had to ‘suck it up’ because ‘there was no other way’ apparently.

 

Well, I kept having such hospital in mind, trying not to think too much about it in the subsequent weeks, but then a few things came to my awareness as I started investigating more about the birthing process that led me to become aware of alternative ways to give birth and by this I mean both in and out of hospitals, beginning with the idea of having a natural birth, which I had sincerely not considered before seriously enough because of the idea of how painful it would be.

 

One day my cousin – who is now pregnant by the way, lol – told me about the documentary ‘The business of being born’ and that opened up my eyes to what actually goes on with doctors and hospitals in terms of how they essentially benefit from sending a perfectly healthy woman to get a C-section by making up all kinds of stories that lead the mothers-to-be into a path of apparent ‘no other way around other than C-section’ or ‘no-other-way-around but to get an episiotomy’ and a bunch of other so called ‘problems’ that are in fact rare in nature that could make a birthing process difficult.

 

Around that same time, we had a chat with my friend who is a neonatal care specialist and she made us aware of all the things we would have to be aware of that are routinely done to newborns in hospitals… there were quite a few things that we got to understand could disrupt the bonding and feeding initial processes that are so relevant to do in the moment right after the baby is born, along with other shots and intervention that I had seen in the hospital’s TVs when my nephews and niece were born, which by the way horrified me and I couldn’t understand how everyone would be so joyful at seeing the newborn being treated like a piece of meat about to be sold while I was shocked and almost cried of seeing how they were being handled by the doctors. I didn’t want this for me nor for our child at all, but this is ‘how things are’ apparently.

 

I also got to chat to my friend Anna and she expressed how she would have liked to have a woman accompanying her birthing process – a doula to be precise- and that got me pondering how is it that I ‘really’ wanted to give birth, because I was just superficially looking at that significant point as if it wasn’t relevant enough, but it all was due to me not being informed about ‘how things go’ in fact at a hospital and the potential of having either natural or C-section there, and the relevance it has for both the mother and the baby. All of this peaked my curiosity and interest to actually try and do things differently than how I had observed people around me would do with their pregnancies and birth processes.

 

So, I avidly started investigating the benefits, the pros and cons of C-sections, natural birth at hospital, the procedures etc. I still couldn’t fathom me going through this at such a place, but I was ‘settling’ for it because I thought there was no other way in hospitals where I live.

 

Then, I stumbled upon the ‘humanized birth’ concept and some doctors trying to sell that for many thousands… well, talking to them didn’t sound like they were totally ‘humanizing’ after all when including all kinds of expenses for anesthesia even if I didn’t end up requiring it. Then I got to watch the birthing process of a yoga teacher on YouTube which really peaked my interest in finding a way to do something similar. I had been following her yoga lessons throughout pregnancy so that’s how I got to see that she gave birth at a birth center and voilà, that seemed like an awesome thing to do: giving birth in a tub, in water. Hmm that looked so nice and peaceful, away from this spooky hospital place. I thought how that would be so awesome and I did further research on it, but I only found some costly services from Mexico City, which seemed like a lot and improbable due to the preparation required for it, and I was already getting to the 7th month by the time.

 

Well to short-cut the story after watching a lot of information on water births, investigating ‘who’ could do it and not finding anything, I went to my first actual prenatal yoga birth class and there I met a woman that, in our 10 minute conversation, told me about her plan to have a home birth with midwives and in water! I was like ‘what? you can actually do that here?’ and so I finally got her midwife’s contact and that changed the course of the birth story and something I am entirely grateful for, perhaps I just hadn’t done a proper search on Facebook for it, lol, but I found the right people at the right time.

 

Oh, I had also known of another friend from my qi gong class that was choosing to give birth at home with midwives, it sounded too ‘hippie’ to me lol, of course this is a  prejudice I’d then clear up with proper information on my side, she was 3 months more advanced than me in her pregnancy, so I got to know about her – also – lengthy birthing process and it turned out it was the same midwife that assisted her 🙂  so that created more confidence in our choice. I also remembered Joana’s birth at home and I remembered her having a tub, so I kept considering that there should be a way to do that here, and perseverance played a role because I got to find the right people to accompany me and actually do the whole process that we both had by then considered would be the best way to give birth to our child.

 

Talking to the midwife -whose name is also by coincidence Minerva -was refreshing in the sense that she explained to us the way she does things and that’s exactly what we wanted,  we were in the same ‘wavelength’ so to speak and at the time we still were going with the regular doctor who would indicate to us – as I have shared in previous blogs – how everything was going just fine and without any complications, which of course then was like a ‘green light’ to pursue doing things in a natural way.

 

Here it is relevant to say that this whole process of ditching the hospital idea and going for the home birth plan is entirely a personal – and as a couple – decision that doesn’t mean ‘it’s the best way’ for everyone. I’ve met women who didn’t feel at all at ease with the idea of having a child at home and went to the hospital because that’s where they would feel most at ease and safe, some others just can’t have natural births due to medical reasons or any other physical complication, even though I’ve also now gotten to know more about the medical tricks used to entice women to get C-sections and so forth, but that’s another story and something each women would have the responsibility to investigate to not be, essentially, tricked and fooled into believing they can’t give birth in a natural way, The reason for this? Easy: money.

 

To me, choosing to give birth this way was like a 180 degree turn again, where I went from being very vague about a birth plan and sort of brushing off the idea of having to go to a hospital to give birth and postponing looking at those – gory to me – details because I actually didn’t want to, and circumstances led me to find other ways with which I was definitely more comfortable with. And this to me was also a revelation, because… the idea of giving birth without any ‘painkiller’ is probably something I feared the most in my life, the sole idea of giving birth was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to have children to begin with. However with sufficient amount of YouTube testimonies on natural birth, several documentaries about midwives, births at home, births in water, learning about the multiple – horror – stories of obstetric violence at hospitals and women’s accounts of their terrible experience at hospitals was enough for me to realize that this would be the best way for us, and that we’d have to work a bit hard on it, since it wasn’t going to be easy, so I set myself up to have this ‘mountain-hiking’ like experience that giving birth resembles, according to Minerva, our midwife.

 

The most interesting part of this is how ‘uncommon’ and ‘dangerous’ and therefore feared this way of giving birth is for a lot of people.  When we talked to my mother about our home birth decision and asking her if we could use their home – specifically their TV lounge – to be the space for our choice of birthing process, man, it was very difficult, she reacted a LOT and it’s all because of fears and misinformation that we’ve gotten throughout the past decades about a birth process being some sort of ‘illness’ or ‘complication’ that needs a whole medical team to do it… this is of course in the majority of cases false, however, as with everything, we have been brainwashed to think the other way around and have forgotten the thousands of years that women have given birth without the ‘clinically sanitized’ hospitals, when in fact there’s a lot of evidence on how counterproductive this can be for both mothers and children – yep perhaps not in everyone’s case, but there’s still a lot to fine tune when it comes to giving proper aid and support to a birthing mother in hospitals to prevent a lot of the mistreatment that causes emotional stress and many times even influences the infamous postpartum depression.

 

We kept this plan under the radar for the most part precisely because of considering how most people would be fearing the worst by us doing it this way and possibly talking us out of this ‘crazy’ idea, so, it was our first choice anyways, but always also kept a plan B in case anything could possibly go wrong, and that’s also very relevant because there were certain conditions that ‘in the last minute’ could in fact be sufficient reasons to go to a hospital and get a C-section. I am entirely grateful that wasn’t my case, but I will detail as well in the following blog how the whole birthing process actually took place.

 

So with this all, the learning point is to not settle with what the majority of people do around you even if it doesn’t really ‘sit right’ within you. Once I asked my mother about how I’d like to have some ‘freedom’ in the positions to give birth. and this was way before our choice of home-birthing – and she was like ‘no way, you are doing to be in one of those beds where you put your legs up and that’s how you deliver a baby… that in itself already sounded like an unnatural ‘must do’ where my palms would start to sweat just by the thought of seeing myself in that situation with all the white bright lights and screaming my lungs out without being able to move… well that was enough motivation for me to look at doing things differently.

 

Secondly, to not back down with making this kind of choice even if multiple ‘worst case scenarios’ are presented to oneself by different people in an attempt to ‘do the safe thing’ according to their views, perspectives and experiences. It’s also understandable how a lot of people do this out of actually wanting the best for oneself, but, it’s also important to consider that without having proper information or education on the subject, any idea that goes out of the ‘norm’ may simply be feared because of not being the most common thing to do or having misinformation about it. In this, we learned to understand people’s fears and concerns, but we also take them from ‘where they come from’ so as to then investigate their claims and truly make sure that those fears are addressed with proper directions of ‘what one would do IF’ this or that complication takes place.

 

Thirdly, realizing that the thing one feeds throughout one’s life as ‘the thing I feared the most’ is probably something that one needs to actually do to then come through on the other side and say ‘hey, I made it! I’m alive’ and yes, this by no means down-sizes the actual rough process this was, but I also see how my disposition to stop just fearing and instead looking into a better way  – to me- to give birth, making an informed decision and choice and preparing myself for it – not having anyone telling me ‘what’ to do – empowered me to own my decision, in a way, knowing that yes, this will probably be hard but hey it’s my absolute choice and decision, and that actually helped me to get rid of fears of ‘not being able to do it’ and instead, entirely trust the process and trust my capacity to do it, along with the indispensable help of professionals to do so of course.

 

As a result of this, I actually felt a lot better in the last weeks and days leading to the birthing time, because I knew I wasn’t going to a hospital, I wasn’t going to go through surgery, I wouldn’t have to worry about extra expenses and charges that these places usually do – and doctors – and instead pay a round fee for it which included the whole attention and support needed throughout the whole birth labor process. This also was a settling fact, because I’ve heard also the stories of how hospitals kind of take advantage of couples being in this ecstatic moment of giving birth to their child and any ‘extra’ expenses are just unquestioned because ‘well at least my child is here and safe’ and bam, there goes some 25% or more of the cost on top of the initial expected fees… yes, yikes, there’s a LOT that needs to be changed in the medical realm and specifically in birthing processes, but that’s just my perspective from what I’ve researched so far.

 

All I can say for any woman expecting a child or looking for alternative ways to give birth or just having a regular plan at the hospital is to get informed, at least on the basics of how you will be ‘handled’ and how your baby will also be handled from the moment they come out of the womb – regardless of the way you deliver – so that you are the most aware possible of how things will go. I share this because of watching many women having sour experiences after birth because of not informing themselves or being tricked ‘in the last moment’ to do something they didn’t want to initially but believing there are ‘no other ways’ so, going for it without a question. In this I might sound as if I am encouraging people to do it the natural way, to have a home birth or with midwives, and that’s how i would do it if I had to do it all over again – not that I plan to either, lol – but I am simply suggesting to own your choice and decision so that whatever the outcome is, one can be settled with it, embracing the outcomes and consequences of such choice. I guess this applies to everything really, but this is just my experience with choosing a way to give birth 🙂  

 

Choosing how to give birth - Marlenlife

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645. Revisiting My Own Birth

 

 This is a new year, a new decade and I’m surely starting it with quite a massive change coming in our lives soon and all that I can do is give a possible or tentative final chapter to this series of blogs related to pregnancy now since I am officially 37 weeks, and from next week on, baby can decide to be born any time. I didn’t find something that relevant or different to share in the past month since I definitely kept on the same routine and habits I had shared about in the previous blog and everything has been going well and I had been feeling quite fine. I started this new year though with a flu and with that not being able to ‘keep up’ with the routine I have set for myself and then, suddenly I started feeling more discomfort and weight on my belly and more tiredness and aches in parts I had not had it before and that also came as a realization that, well, yes, we’re now officially into the ninth month and so it makes sense that I’m coming to experience that shortness of breath and tiredness everyone was talking about. But, I am still recovering from the flu and I haven’t moved as much and I may be speaking from that kind of context of hitting the nine months and having a flu – nonetheless, I am thankful though that sleeping isn’t yet much of a problem or aching so much. I do seem to have some kind of contractions, but it’s also part of baby gaining more weight and positioning to get out, but I know it’s all quite ‘chilled’ at this point compared to what may be the actual birthing process, but even that, we can’t really know how will actually go.

I want to write about the birthing process and my relationship to my own birth since we’ve had some interesting support from midwives about certain conditions I may have and how it could relate to the way I was born.  Perhaps this is something that may be entirely an assumption or ‘linking of the dots’ in a convenient way, but I do see that it is nonetheless timely to open up about it and walk through any remnants of that as I prepare to give birth and to use this opportunity to heal from my own birthing experience as in ‘how I came into this world.’

I had at some point written about the idea of having had fetal suffering with having the umbilical cord around my neck. I’m recently learning that’s not really ‘a problem’ to be given birth in a natural way, and more like how some doctors may use that as a reason to get the woman into a surgery, which is a whole topic in itself when it comes to the various reasons why some doctors prefer to induce women into labor or getting c-sections without there being a real need for it. In my mother’s case after she explained her labor process with us, it seems that this was the case. That means, I probably wasn’t really having fetal suffering and all the ideas that I created in my mind about ‘having had fetal suffering therefore I have this inherent ‘emotional suffering’ as part of my nature’. What I did go through though is the inducing of labor, which implies this rush to get me out and compressing in time the whole labor process that my mother could have naturally gone through, but was sped up artificially. How could that have affected me? There were some lines drawn to certain experiences that ‘could be’ linked to it, and I’ll share about them here.

I’ve noticed how up to this day in certain conditions I may show some signs of lacking air, feeling a bit claustrophobic for example if being in a bus with too many people – or having little to no space around me empty – suddenly seeing myself almost gasping for air or wanting to open up windows because of perceiving that ‘I can’t breathe’, almost like claustrophobia and having this urge to ‘get out’ as soon as I can. I actually even recall this kind of experiences quite vividly whenever I’ve had them, including the time when I didn’t know how to swim as a kid and I ended up at the bottom of the pool and having that same anxiety of ‘wanting to go to the surface’ and not knowing how to and feeling quite desperate and afraid of not being able to ‘get out’ and breathe. I end up having similar symptoms when having low blood pressure, all of a sudden getting tired and yawning after having been just fine the moment prior to me thinking : ‘I’m in a packed place, it’s hot, there’s little oxygen, I have to get out quickly’.

Well, the suggestion was made that this could be a remnant of my birth experience where I basically was pushed to go out through chemicals that induce and rush contractions in an unnatural way and even though this was happening, my mother didn’t dilate. I didn’t know this, and this was essentially medical negligence because then it simply meant it wasn’t my time at all but, it was all forced to fit a certain timeframe and with the assumption that me having the umbilical cord was a sign of fetal suffering = therefore I had to be taken out.  What happened then is that because mother was having contractions, but there was no dilation, I felt most likely trapped, being pushed to go out but having no way of going out.

It also reminds me of the kind of panic I would go into, like petrifying fear whenever I would play with my sisters and they would lock me in a closet, I’d go into some kind of trauma in those moments because of not being able to get out as well and start crying desperately, also gasping for air even if I was say locked in a bathroom or a closet that had sufficient oxygen. Well, it all sounds a bit similar to what I could have gone through at the moment of birth and that being the cause of my fetal suffering: being pushed to go out but having no way to go out and so having had to be taken out surgically through a c-section.

So here, also clarifying that it’s not about the c-section in itself that was the problem, but the conditions around it that (mis)led to it and what I most likely went through within my mother and what my mother went through as all the worry, apprehension and stress of having these heavy contractions but having no ‘opening’ at all.  I was suggested to make peace with what transpired at the time and instead focus on being grateful for having being born, being alive and healing that birthing process within me, so that it doesn’t reverberate into the experience that’s coming up for me next in giving birth myself.

I am aware that what I experience as let’s call it the ‘claustrophobic’ experience may or may not be related to the birthing process, but since understanding things usually leads me to the ability of making peace or making amends with things, I decide to for now take this ‘connecting of the dots’ to self-forgive it, walk through it, understanding what happened, what was done, why it was done and let go of it, not harboring any bad feelings around it either since it was a different time back when I was born and there might have been mistakes made. But hey, I’m here and alive so, now that I’m aware of what actually transpired, I can stop creating stories or reasoning about it and simply heal from it, let it go, understand it and focus on what’s here for me to look at now that the birthing time is coming closer, and so have a blank slate on how a birthing process can be.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to harbor an experience of claustrophobia as in going into a physical perception of lacking oxygen, lacking air to breathe, not being able to breathe, feeling suddenly weak and sometimes even having cold sweat pouring out as signs of distress that could have originated from the time when I was ‘induced to be born’ through chemical means that would try and accelerate the birthing process, yet not having a ‘way out’ naturally as the opening of my mother’s vagina to actually have a way out, and in the end, having to be taken out through a surgical maneuver that may not have been necessary if proper time was given for me to be birthed.

I realize that at the time, my mother and doctors did what they thought was best for her and for me as a baby having the circular around the neck – the umbilical cord around the neck – and believing that was a sign of fetal suffering that they had to act on, and that my mother followed doctor’s orders and perspectives because of not knowing any better, and with that comes then my own forgiveness to doctors and my mother for not knowing any better way to deal with that situation and doing what was common to do at the time.

I realize that currently I have the opportunity to live in a different time, different era where a lot of the misconceptions around pregnancy and giving birth are being opened up for discussion and clarifying a lot of beliefs that would usually lead to surgical births for example, and that are now not considered a reason to induce labor, speed up labor, doing c-sections or intervening mothers in other unnatural ways to give birth – and that I now have sufficient information and education about it to make different decisions on how to give birth, what is doable and what is not and having this opportunity to perhaps prevent my own child from going through what I went through in my own birthing experience, and with that, allowing myself to be birthed again with her in a more suitable way.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to in any unconscious way harbor resentment or anger towards my mother and the doctors for the way that I was born, for the experience that was perhaps traumatic and claustrophobic as I was pressured to go outside of my mother’s womb, of not being ‘respected’ enough to allow me to naturally show signs of wanting to get out, but instead be intervened because of a belief around fetal suffering at the time, even if it wasn’t yet my time to go out.  

I realize that they all did what they could in my best interest with the knowledge that they all had at the time and that if I had been in their exact same shoes and responsibility and with the same amount of information or education they had, I would have done the same thing in the consideration of what I would know to be best.

Therefore, all that is left for me to do is to prevent such same or similar scenarios in my own process of giving birth to our child now that I have access to more information and education about the real contexts or complications where I’d have to go into an emergency c-section surgery and knowing when not to worry to be unnecessarily rushed into one, such as having long labor or not dilating as quick as it would be ‘ideal’ or having a circular around the neck or losing the mucous plug ‘long before due date’ – but mostly realizing that now I’m also in the hands of people that have their best interest on me having a natural birthing process and that we could only consider a surgery if it is strictly necessary – and this is then the trust that I can give to myself and to my baby to be fine with either outcome based on how things evolve on the birthing process itself.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to recreate the same suffering or traumatic experience I had in my own birth whenever some elements I’ve defined as ‘distressful’ are in my environment, such as when feeling like there’s a lack of oxygen in the air, when feeling like I don’t have enough space around me to move and so feeling like I have to ‘rush to get out’ and in general the experience of ‘having to rush’ constantly and not being able to slow down may even come from that experience of having to ‘quickly’ move somewhere or go out and not being able to be just stable and calm even if having a small limited amount of space around me in certain environments, or if seeing closed windows and perceiving that ‘I need some fresh air’ in moments when going into this kind of physical distress that may – or may not be- related to the experience I had when being forced to get out from my mother’s womb as a baby.

I realize that I’ve been explained how no matter how ‘tight’ a place can be with people, the idea of lack of oxygen is mostly a belief in my mind and that the experience of ‘having to rush to get out’ may also be a remnant of that initial experience within my mother’s womb that I can now let go of and instead direct myself to practice remaining calm, learning to breathe properly as well, deep enough so that I can actually replenish my body with necessary oxygen and at the same time, to use that breathing process to settle myself down in my body, to not fuel ideas of ‘having to move or go somewhere’ but instead to embrace that moment where I can redirect my focus and attention from ‘lack of oxygen’ to ‘I can breathe, I’m here, my physical body has what it needs, there’s no rush to go somewhere, I can slow down, be here, I’m here’.  

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to recreate a sense of resentment and anger towards medical professionals that have and may continue to induce labor to women for unnecessary reasons, causing more babies to go through the kind of experience that I went through – or worse – and within this to realize that my own pain, suffering or emotional distress now that I know how these things work only do a disservice to my own body and the baby that is growing within me, therefore I let go of the emotional stress about it and remain calm.

I realize that the real path to change is to be informed, to get educated about what really goes on in the birthing process so that I can know how things may be, how ‘complications’ may be approached, how to handle certain obstacles during the birthing process and how to also make peace if intervention is needed in case my body does require it and it is in fact the best option for everyone involved, myself and my baby.

I also realize that I have to be open to the unknown in this birthing process and that a lot of ‘stuff’ may open up that day that I need to physically work through and go through, and that all that I have for now as a preparation is knowing that I can trust myself. I also have to listen to my body, to not get ‘hooked’ on a particular idea of ‘how I want things to be’ but to always place our wellbeing as a priority.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to mentally resist and fear the idea of having to go through surgical procedures or further intervention to give birth, instead of realizing that if I resist and fear it, it persists. Instead, I need to embrace that as a possible path if it is necessary to go through it.

I realize that as much as I’ve set myself to do it in a natural or less intervened way, things may not happen the way that I could prefer them to happen – therefore, I embrace the possibilities of what may be needed or required to be done when the birthing process takes place.

I realize that flexibility and being open to ‘the unknown’ is a key here considering that we may sometimes want things to be in a particular way and create expectations about it, which may simply not turn out to be the reality that we create and face and so, that becomes the origin of resentment, guilt, dissatisfaction and even anger for not being able to ‘accomplish’ certain birth plan, as it is called. I’m making peace with whatever has to happen that day and time whenever baby decides to come out into this world.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to fear that my body will not handle this kind of process properly and that I won’t be ‘strong enough’ for it, not realizing these are fears from times when I would actually have this kind of ‘lack of air’ in certain physical situations and feeling like ‘fainting’ which might be once again related to this belief that there is something ‘wrong with me and my body’ and ‘I don’t have a physical body that’s suitable for demanding exercises’ or situations – however, I have been physically challenging that idea and I have to make peace with the fact that anything can happen, but I can have the certainty and can be proud of myself of how I have invested on my physical wellbeing to be prepared for that birthing process and for what’s to come, regardless of the outcome and regardless of how my body can handle things and how baby decides to come into this world.

All that I can be and focus on is on my own trust, strength and confidence to do what it takes to walk through the birthing process, something I never thought of going through in this life to be honest and that I can also feel now proud of being willing to go through and have the courage for it, after having been so fearful of anything related to giving birth for most of my life, mostly because of hearsay, misinformation, lack of proper education and will to learn more about it, because of fears really. I now see the capacity to turn things around if I decide to do so with awareness, dedication and willingness to do this with all of my being, a once in a lifetime process for sure, because even if one has more kids, no process is ever the same, and that applies for everything really.

As a closure, first of all, this is all a result of walking the Desteni process, I do not know how I would have handled something like this without the support and tools to break through some of the main limitations I’ve had lived in for two thirds of my life. I also can be glad and satisfied with how I have carried this pregnancy process on, for the most part it became quite enjoyable to be honest after the first three or so months. It’s perhaps the kind of challenge I consider I wouldn’t have taken on with full awareness or deciding to do so explicitly – as that worst of me was overriding my ability to see beyond my initial fears – nonetheless it has been an opportunity to grow as a person, and I’m extremely thankful for it, we both are.  And even though it has its challenges, difficulty in making certain decisions and even if discomfort emerges from time to time, I embrace it as part of the whole actual miracle that creating a baby inside me is, without me being aware of it at all. And on top of that, the time that’s left is really nothing to go through some more ‘slowing down’ processes, some more ‘weight of life’ to carry on in order to give birth to the new part of us that is coming into this world J

All the best for us and for all of you, let’s see how life unfolds J

Happy new year 2020

 

Litografía - Ultrasonido

 

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