WHEN I BECAME A FATHER
It was Saturday morning the 19th of November 2011. Maggie and I went to Cuzco to do some shopping for our baby’s arrival. Maggie had felt some pain the night before but didn’t make a big deal of it. It was still two weeks to go before the expected birth so we wanted to be out in good time to shop for a wolly hat and mattress protectors. The last items we needed for the big day. While in Cuzco, Maggie started to complain that her pain got worse and she felt dizzy. So she called me as I was stuck in a computer shop, and told me to stop arsing and hurry up so we could go home. We met up at the San Pedro market, jumped in a taxi and went home to Huaran.
At home, we had two friends that came over to visit. At this time Maggie was really starting to have contractions. We didn’t think it was time yet but we called Leonie our midwife just to check in with her. Leonie said that we needed to time the contractions if they lasted for 50 seconds. They didn’t so we thought it wasn’t urgent yet. Our friends left and we continued to time the contractions. Leonie was baking a cake for her daughter Emilia’s birthday the following day so we didn’t want to disturb. The contractions continued… 40 seconds, 45 seconds, 48 seconds… and finally it reached 50 seconds. I thought “holy shit, is it happening now”??? I said “Maggie I am calling Leonie now”! I called Leonie and she was really cool and said, “ok I’m just going to collect my things and then I’ll come over.
Maggie was in some kind of denial, like if she tried to pretend that it wasn’t really that urgent. The contractions came on stronger and stronger. I didn’t freak out at all, although I was thrilled but still centered and calm. I mean what to do, if it’s happening it is happening, better just try taking it easy. Besides I had googled stuff so I knew at least that if the baby popped out, I should catch him, keep him warm and not cut the umbilical cord until it clamps… At least I had done my homework so should be ok if Leonie couldn’t make it to our house on time.
Maggie wanted to take a shower so we showered together and I had to hold her up as the contractions intensified. The warm pouring water seemed to calm her down and offer some relief. We went out of the shower and got dressed in cozy clothes and we prepared our home with candles and soft music.
I had made a playlist for the iPod with mantras and devotional music. Maggie started to sink into a trance state, breathing deeper, going deeper inside. It was like if she journeyed in towards her womb to meet our baby, to take his hand and lead him out to us, his expecting parents.
I felt like standing in front of the arrival gate in an airport, all excited to meet our dear friend. I was also scared, “what if something goes wrong, if he can’t make it” but I took charge of my mind and did not allow myself to give in to the fear. I had to be there for Maggie and for our baby and that was the only thing I could do, just to be there and not in my mind.
Leonie and Sue arrived. I had never met Sue before but I felt totally comfortable with her being there. They started to rig up the gears and preparing plants and Leonie was as stable as a mountain, very confident and calm. She had this hypnotic effect on Maggie and kept her right in her center, breathing and feeling with her.
Leonie was so much more than a midwife: she was a mother, father, friend and a mirror for Maggie’s inner strength. Maggie felt calm so we tried to get some rest. Later, Maggie started to feel restless again. The contractions continued and we went for a walk around the garden. She had strong contractions and I had to hold her from time to time. We went back into the house and Leonie prepared a bath with herbs. I remember she said earlier that the baby’s heart rate was a little high but Maggie just needed to eat something and change to looser pants. But now it was good. Ok fine, I didn’t worry because I felt that Leonie was completely on top of the situation. Leonie and Sue went upstairs to get some rest and instructed me to keep Maggie in the bath for 40 minutes but not longer. I woke Sue up when the time was up and she came downstairs, looking a bit drowsy with a messy hair but still very present and shortly after Leonie came down the stairs. She looked a bit like a worker going to the office, a bit like okay; here we go again, time to punch in for another shift, hi guys…
The contractions got stronger, she had to go to the bathroom and I heard Maggie from the bathroom saying, “Leonie I think the water broke”. –Almost in a way like, “hey a think I shit my self!” Leonie just replied “good” and acted so calm, I thought she looked too calm so I asked “so is it happening now?” Leonie looked at me as if I was a moron, smiled and said “yes Michael I think it is happening now”. What happened after was like a massive build-up towards a crescendo… Maggie was moving into different positions, and Leonie massaging her back, stroking downwards and repeating “BRING YOUR BAAABY DOOOOOOWN” with a deep voice and breathing loudly, “DOOOOOOWN!” Maggie tried to escape but Leonie kept her present saying “look at me, look at me” maintaining eye contact and bringing Maggie back into the trance to keep her totally centered. It was definitely happening now and I felt a little silly for asking that question. Obviously this was happening now.
I thought that I would be catching this baby in a cheerful way but no, at this moment I felt that the best position for me was to hold Maggie from behind and let Leonie do the catch. I was sitting on the upside down turned bath tub holding Maggie under her arms. I was thinking at a moment that, fuck, we are such a hippies, giving birth in the kitchen in this little mud-hut in the mountains in Peru…
Maggie felt strong and focused like a tigress but at the same time very weak. I was breathing my strength into her, giving my whole spirit to support my Maggie and our baby. I could almost feel him stretching, kicking his way through the birth canal as I could feel Maggie trying to mobilize her last strengths to push him out.
It felt like she was fading away, too exhausted and got heavier in my arms. Leonie was checking with a pen light, and said something like, “I can see the head”
So came the last strong push, a slopping sound and suddenly a blanket with a warm little body inside. No crying just a little grumbling. Maggie collapsed in my arms as I was holding her from behind. She mumbled something and didn’t have strength to hold him so I held him to her breast. He was here with us now. It probably took about 5 minutes before we even checked if it was a boy or a girl.
It was a beautiful boy. Leonie asked what his name would be and Maggie said “Leo” and I said “Yes his name is Leo”.
We had a few optional names but yes, this was our son Leo. We went to our bedroom and laid down to recuperate with our beautiful son. Leonie came to make a routine examination while we were all in the bed. All looked good so she left us alone in our bubble. Leo slept the rest of the night on my chest in the comfort of the sound from my heart beat. The following days, whenever I held him, I kept him with his little ear to my heart to keep him connected to the sound of the heartbeat. I cried for three days, so happy to have this little beautiful guy with us. My heart wide opened, this is it. My life has a meaning now and I am dedicating it to our son Leo. I love you Leo, thank you for coming to us and I love you Maggie. I love our beautiful Family. Thank you Leonie. Thank you Sue. I love you. Thank you.
WHEN I BECAME A FATHER