In a nutshell…my wife is a champion, just like every single mother in the world today and before — all of them are just amazing. To give birth to a child is a miracle and my wife personifies everything that is amazing about mothers.
Giving birth to a child is the most powerful experience a woman can have and certainly the most impactful experience for a man to observe. My wife, Juliana underwent 20 hours of labor to deliver our little boy, Bhimal Fox Turner. It was nothing short of a monumental feat to deliver him at home in a small pool without any painkillers.
The day started early at 2.30 am when the first contractions started. After one hour of timing them, she woke me up to tell me today seemed to be the day. We continued monitoring them for another hour and then called our midwife, Carolina.
Carolina immediately informed her assistant doulas, Esther and Eloisa.
By 5 am they had arrived and began preparing everything.
Throughout the morning, Juliana gently swayed to music, walked and breathed to welcome every contraction, while I massaged her feet, neck and lower back. It was hard, but nothing like what she would experience later in the birthing.
Juliana’s close friend Juliana Atehortua arrived to champion Juliana’s efforts. Soon after, another close friend, Hemakanti came and remained with her the entire day and late evening and officially became the 4th doula. Juliana’s sister, Dana was the 5th doula.
In the early afternoon, the doulas prepared the pool. Juliana immediately noticed that the contractions were much easier to handle in warm water. “It is like 80% easier,” she told me. At one point I joined her in the pool. As our skin shriveled up, we worked together to manage each contraction and prepare for the later stages, that we both knew were going to be way more intense. However, even though Juliana had only just started dilating, she told me often, “The pain is too much. I don’t think I can do this.” I assured her she could and would be successful, just as billions of other woman had in the past. “You can do this. I know you can. Just breathe deeply through your nose and on the outward breath, say the word, “Allow” in your mind. Try to see yourself as the “witness” and surrender to these contractions, knowing that every one of them is getting you closer to seeing your baby,” I told her.
Juliana listened and tried to employ what I said, but it was so hard for her. Theory can only take you so far, and this was a real-world, down-to-earth, painfully hard slog. I empathized with her but knew I had to keep encouraging her and helping her to believe in herself.
As each hour passed the contractions got stronger, but Juliana was very slow to dilate and although they never voiced it, I could tell that the doulas were concerned. Contractions in the water are less intense, so the doula’s decided that Juliana had to get out and walk and move, circling her hips so as to encourage the baby downward. For the next few hours, we all moved with her as Juliana would hold onto my shoulders for support. I had to lean down to make it easier for her to put her arms around my neck, but my small inconvenience paled in comparison to the powerful waves of pain she was experiencing.
During the labor, Juliana drank liters of fresh coconut water and ate chia seeds soaked in water to give her some strength. She refused all solid foods and did not feel hungry. This seemed to be a good sign that her energy levels were high, and boy would she need it in the final stages.
At 1:51 I wrote an update on Facebook:
10.5 hours. She is doing well. Very strong. contractions are like every 2 -3 mins. Powerful. She is in water getting massages with essential oils.
Soon after I wrote:
We are listening to Gaurangi Auman Magical Eclipse CD as her sister pours water on her belly.
During the early stages of the birthing, I chose to play the music of our friend Gaurangi Auman, aka Pia and her wonderful music from the album Magical Eclipse. The soothing sounds of this album helped set the mood for the day. Juliana’s contractions continued to come, on average, every 2 minutes.
To help Juliana with the pain, I began clary sage and lavender essential oils in the massage.
By 5 pm, Carolina measured Juliana’s dilation and it seemed she had still not reached the magic 10cm mark.
With a new sense of determination and urgency, Juliana welcomed every contraction with gratitude, knowing that her baby boy was as eager to see his mother, as she was to see him. Juliana returned to the pool for what we thought would be the final stage of the birthing.
I sat behind her on my knees outside of the pool, allowing her to hold me as she rode every contraction, minute by minute. She grabbed my hair and dug her nails into my skin and groaned in agony as each contraction ascended into the threshold of what is humanly possible to bear. In between each contraction, I would massage her lower back, neck, and hands and often gently stroke her head and offer words of encouragement. “You can do this. I know you can. Allow Mother Nature to do her magic. Surrender to her will,” I told her optimistically, but internally, I was wondering if she could get through this. Suddenly it was 6 pm and Juliana was still not fully dilated. The doulas were concerned too. In my mind, I wondered if we might have to go to the hospital. “Surely Juliana cannot keep up with this intensity with no results?”
Juliana got out of the pool again and we pushed on.
I amped the mood with a more up-tempo kirtan of Vaiyasaki das and continued offering words of encouragement to Juliana. “Darling, I am so proud of you. You are doing fantastic,” I told her. “I am not,” she countered, sadly. “He is not moving. I don’t think I can do this much longer. The pain is too much,” she told me. “Darling, just remember all the billions of mothers that had done this before. You can do it too.” I called for the blessings and the prayers of my mother friends on Facebook, pleading with them for love and prayers to be sent to Juliana, and they responded enthusiastically.
Boy, did we need mercy now.
Another hour passed and still, there was not much progress, despite heavy pushing by Juliana. But there was nothing else to do but remain hopeful and keep trying.
Again I updated our friends and relatives on Facebook at 7:26 pm
17 hours. All is good. We are close, ladies and gentlemen. Please keep the love and prayers coming.
Fully dilated, now for the decent
Soon it was 8 pm, Juliana had been in labor for just over 17 hours. She returned to the water for the last stage. It was at this time, Carolina decided to once again test to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
It was now time to really ramp up the pushing. She could not afford to take her time now, as the baby had to come out. Juliana pushed and pushed and yet still the head would not show. She was screaming in pain. I continue massaging her neck and whispering loving words in her ears. She was exhausted and bewildered, but so anxious to see her baby. Carolina said, “We are so close. He is right now at the opening. The baby is in the birth canal and literally centimeters from the opening. You can do this, breathe and push,” she said, holding her fingers up to show how close he was. Juliana was encouraged and although feeling so sore, she briefly smiled and raised her eyebrows, “He is?”
For the next 2.5 hours, Juliana either screamed in agony with every push or held her breath until she was red in the face. I wished I could have taken some of the pain, but I was helpless. All I could do was encourage and be there for her.
Suddenly, at around 10 pm we saw the boys head start to appear. Juliana readied herself for the final pushes. She changed her position to a squat pose and pushed as hard as she could. I moved to her side so that I could see the progress and report to her. “He is coming, darling.” I reached down into the water to touch his soft crown and told her, “I just felt his nose! He is there. Keep going. You can do this.” Juliana grimaced in pain but was encouraged.
“Arrrrrrrrrrrrgghhhhhhh” she screamed as millimeter by millimeter the boy’s head emerged from her fully stretched vagina. I felt for sure she was going to tear. How much pain can a woman’s body bear?” I wondered. At this time, Carolina reached into the water to help. At around 10.15pm the boy’s head was fully out. Carolina noticed that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and forced her fingers into Juliana’s vagina to push it out of the way. She then got her fingers around the boy’s left shoulder and helped it out. Once the shoulder came free, he slipped out easily. Juliana could feel him come out now and called out anxiously, “Where is my baby?” However, something was not right.
I noticed immediately, but wouldn’t dare say anything and remained optimistic, but it looked like the boy was not alive. He was off color and not moving when Carolina untangled the umbilical cord from around his neck and body and placed him on Juliana’s breasts. We later heard that they too had feared the worst, but did not say anything, hoping for a miracle. But I could see the joy and relief in Juliana’s eyes and told her, “You did it.” She was overjoyed with pleasure and cried. I hoped and prayed and chanted the holy name of God, but our little boy laid motionless on Juliana’s breast while Carolina sucked liquid out of his nose and mouth. Esther then told me, “Paul, talk to your baby. He needs to hear you.” I moved closer and said, “Hi Bhimal. We are so happy to see you. We love you.” Then suddenly, he coughed and grabbed hold of Juliana’s sacred necklace of the Nrsimhadeva yantra. He was alive and a huge sigh of relief flooded the room. Juliana laid in the warm water holding her baby tight to her breast and kissed him gently. I jumped back in the water to enjoy the moment and felt so relieved and overwhelmed with joy.
Below is our first official family photo.
I am so proud of my wife for what she accomplished in bringing out little boy into this world successfully, despite the physical challenges and all the naysayers, including doctors and nurses who discouraged her from doing a home birth.
How on Earth a woman can handle so much pain is beyond the comprehension of a man. I know that I could not do what she did and the only explanation is that a female is programmed very differently to a male. The innate motherly instincts are so powerful that it enables a woman to overcome anything to protect her child, to the point that she would kill or walk on fire to save her child.
“I can’t wait to tell them that I had my baby at home and that he is perfectly healthy,” she told me today.
Bhimal Fox Turner was born at 10:25 pm on December 19, 2015, at our home in Chia, Colombia, weighing 3kg and measuring 51.5 cm.
I love you, Juliana Castaneda Turner.
Thank you to our wonderful midwives, Carolina, Esther, Eloisa, Hemakanti and Dana for their loving support and the 180 friends and relatives on the Internet for sending your prayers. They worked!
#waterbirth #naturalbirth #homebirth #vegan #pregnancy #women