It was a busy weekend for our little family. On Saturday the kids’ school had a luau fundraiser and Eva and Damian performed for us on stage. It was so adorable! Sunday we woke up eaaarly (thanks, time change) and did some fishing. Damo reeled in his first fish and as soon as we caught one big enough for dinner we went in. It was delicious!
Trick or treat! Here’s what our Halloween looked like…
Damian & Eva dress up pretty much every day around here, but Halloween is still extra fun for them. This shark costume is one of Damian’s favorites, and Eva’s sparkly mermaid costume matched perfectly. It was only natural to dress Ariela up as a butterfly to go with the theme of “overall things we love,” lol. 🙂 Ryan made that backdrop for me out of some old pallets. Can’t wait to go trick-or-treating!
Today you are two months old! It has been a busy month for us. I started back up at work and we’ve been transitioning into a new routine. It’s sooo hard for me to be away from you, but you seem to be handling it well. You stay with Nina or Papa while I’m gone and drink pumped milk from a bottle. I was worried that you would have a hard time switching back-and-forth between nursing and the bottle, but you are doing both very well and I’m so relieved. You are a wonderful baby and super chill. You spend a lot of time awake; Your big blue eyes scan the room, stopping on things that spark your interest. You love being around your big sister and brother; They can entertain you for quite a while. This month you’ve really started smiling and trying to communicate a lot. I love hearing your sweet little voice making “gooooo” and “aaahhhh” sounds. Sometimes you laugh and let out adorable little squeals. You love bath time and can hang out in the water forever. I can’t wait to take you swimming in the ocean, but for now you’re perfectly content hanging out on the shore. You still wake up every couple of hours for milk, but it’s not so bad cuddling with you all night. It’s been a great month getting to know you, baby girl. I’m looking forward to watching you grow.
On August 24, 2017 I birthed without fear in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Three days before my due date, I awoke around midnight feeling a bit crampy. I sleepily stumbled out of bed to go for a pee and realized I had lost my plug. I wasn’t having regular contractions at that point, but I noticed there was quite a bit of blood in my show. Something told me it was time to go in. The birthing house was about an hour drive from the home we were renting, and I didn’t want to take any chances. I shook Ryan by the shoulder and told him it was time. We fumbled around throwing last minute things in a bag and headed out the door.
I’ll never forget the drive to the birthing center. Normally we avoid driving around at night in Mexico, but it was pitch black outside under the new moon. There were about a million topes (speedbumps) on the drive there, and as we bumped across them I began to start feeling some real contractions. We seemed to arrive at the same time as Dra. Toni Vargas, a Mexican doctor and partera, a woman who delivers babies. She opened up the birthing house for us began making preparations as I bounced on a yoga ball and did some dancing to reggae music to help move the baby down. At that point the waves were coming about every seven minutes. After an hour of that I remembered how tired I was and laid down on the bed to try and rest.
An hour or two later, the contractions became closer and closer. I didn’t want to be laying down during them, so I would get up when I’d feel them and lay back down when they were over. When they started to become painful I got back on the yoga ball. I’d get through the contractions using Ujjayi Pranayama or “Ocean Breath:” breathing deeply and exhaling with an open mouth and “haaaa” sound. Toni put a few drops of Peppermint Oil on her fingers and I would inhale when I felt one coming. She spent the next hour or so massaging my back and hands and feet. It was so amazing to have a doctor actively participating with me in labor instead of just pumping me with meds and walking away. Toni was with me the whole way. At one point she hung a scarf from the ceiling so that I could sort of hang from it with my upper body (with my feet still on the ground). It only took one contraction while doing this to really get things going. It must have been the most intense contraction during the entire labor experience. When it was over collapsed to my hands and knees and felt like puking. Toni checked my cervix for the first time and I was almost complete. We decided it was time to move to the water.
Toni began filling up the birthing tub while I held on to Ryan. At that point my contractions were around 3 minutes apart and very intense. When I finally entered the tub I felt an immediate sense of relief. The water was so calming and comforting. Ryan sat behind me and I relaxed in his arms. When I’d feel a contraction coming, I’d move from the sitting position to the squatting position. It was much easier to change positions underwater and while the contractions were still very uncomfortable, they were much more bearable. They did slow down quite a bit, though. Before I got in the water they were coming every 2-3 minutes. After, it would be more like 7. I even found myself falling asleep between the contractions, being woken by the next wave.
The waves started becoming more and more intense. My Ujjayi Pranayama turned into loud moans. Ryan and Toni calmed me by chanting OM through each contraction. I found steadiness in the OM through every wave. During one particularly intense one, I felt the “pop!” of my water breaking. The baby’s head was low and I felt the urge to push. But this time, I didn’t. With my next contraction, I let my body take over. I didn’t really have a choice. In one involuntary spasm, the baby’s entire head was out. I could see a full head of black hair under the water and was worried whether the baby could breath. Toni reassured me that it could. Moments later, I felt another contraction and the baby was out! At 6:01 am, Ryan grabbed it from the water and placed it in my arms. A beautiful baby girl.
I put the baby to my breast and she immediately started suckling. Toni checked the umbilical cord while we waited for the placenta and noticed something strange- there was a knot in it! She said she’d heard of it before but in her many many years of delivering babies she had never actually seen one. I remember feeling a little bit of anxiety while waiting for the placenta. It seemed to take forever to come out. Even with the baby breastfeeding, it must have been 15 or 20 minutes before I finally felt another contraction. When it finally came out I exited the tub with the baby. Toni examined me and helped me clean up before getting into the recliner. Everything looked perfect- no tears or excess blood like with my previous labor.
I climbed into the recliner and Ryan sat next to me. We spent the morning bonding with our new baby girl before returning back to our rental home (and other two babies) later that afternoon. I felt so grateful and blessed to have such a wonderful birthing experience.♥
If anyone reading this is considering a natural or water birth in Mexico, I highly recommend Dra. Tony Vargas in Puerto Vallarata. You can find more information on her website here.
About a week after Ariela was born we decided we were ready to head South to Guerrero, where Ryan’s family has a home. We piled in the Silverado for the 12-hour drive, and decided to make quick stop halfway through in La Ticla, a world-famous surf spot in Michoacan, Mexico. We drove through the windy mountains down the coast for hours. Ariela slept most of the way but Damian and Eva were getting antsy. When we finally arrived at the beach the surf was firing! I couldn’t get in the water yet, but enjoyed relaxing on the beach, taking pictures, and watching the sunset. We stayed in the bungalos on the beach there. It was a bit uncomfortable being one week post-partum with no hot water or air conditioning, but it was definitely worth the experience. The next morning we spent a little more time on the beach before embarking on the other half of our journey.
About a week after Ariela was born we were finally done running around Puerto Vallarta getting her papers in order. I was sooo ready to get to the beach! It was a gray, cloudy day and the whole family ventured down the hill to a little beach tucked away in the bay. Ariela and I relaxed under a big umbrella, while the kids worked on their paddling and found some treasures. It was perfect… I just wished I could get in the water! Still, little adventures like these help my body and mind recover after giving birth.
It has been one month since you made your appearance earth side! You’ve had quite the adventure since then. Your first month was filled with activity, from our adventures trying to get your “papers,” to your first surf trip to La Ticla, to rest time at El Rancho and flying back to Texas. You’ve been a wonderful baby through it all. You spend a lot of time nursing, which I don’t mind… I’ll take all the cuddles I can get before I have to go back to work. You sleep pretty well- not through the night or anything like that, but enough that I don’t feel like a zombie or anything. When you’re awake, you’re very alert. Your big blue eyes take in all the new things to look at. Lately you’ve been giving us real smiles that just completely melt my heart. You’re intrigued by your big brother and sister and don’t mind watching or even sleeping through their loud, energetic activities. You love going to the beach and falling asleep to the sound of the waves. We’ve already dipped your little feet in the ocean. We can’t wait to get you on a surfboard! I hope you love it as much as we do. Either way, you’re the perfect addition to our family and we’re so happy you’re here.
The day before I went into labor, our family took a little drive down to Las Peñitas for some surf and sun. Eva had fun combing the beach for treasure (she always finds the coolest things), and Damian had a blast just running around and being Damian. Little did we know it was our last little beach day as a family of four… Ariela would be joining us shortly after. It was a wonderful day…
She’s here! Ariela Selah was born in the water on August 24, 2017 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She’s healthy and lovely as can be. I’m excited to share her birthing experience and what life has been like as a mother of three. For now I’m going to enjoy these cozy newborn snuggles. ♥