IMG_0969Greg and I climb into our 'disaster' of a truck... the adventure mobile that has undergone several re-models and 'unmodels', and now has an uncertain future.

But that's another story that I may share in a future post.

Leaving The Homestead, (on our barely-passable driveway that's become a mud-hole during rainy season), we drive through our 'hometown', the pueblita (tiny town) of San Jose Chacaya, then along the winding eight kilometers to the city of Solola.

Parking at the town centro, we begin walking toward the street where we're supposed to find IMESSA -- a business that offers ultrasounds.

We followed the directions on the map they had posted on their website. Yet -- shockingly -- the map is wrong and IMESSA is not where it is 'supposed' to be.

So we keep walking...

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And we keep walking. And asking directions. And asking again. We walk down hills and up (very) steep hills (and I decide to count all this walking and huffing and puffing as my workout for the day), and FINALLY we find IMESSA.

We check in and pay our Q200 ($25) for a prenatal ultrasound.

Then we wait. And mastermind. And laugh at Guatemalan TV. And wait.

Greg leaves to find some food for us. I get ushered into another room with several other women. And wait.

My hubby comes back with tostadas and bean sandwiches (yes they eat black beans on bread) and a chuchito (Guatemalan tamale). I eat it, cuz I'm hungry... but I'm reminded that I'm tired of Guatemalan food.

And we keep waiting. The woman and her daughter-in-law next to us start up a conversation. The DIL is expecting her second. The MIL has eleven children. They ask if this is our first child.

We laugh, and tell them it's our sixth.

"But you look so young! You don't look like you have six kids," they tell me. (I like these people.)

At last, it's my turn. I walk into the darkened room, lie down on the table, expose my baby bump and they begin exploring.

There's a baby in there! (Greg is relieved that I'm not just fat 😉 ) We hear the heart beat and see the little body. A feeling of love for this little being fills our hearts.

We look at the head, the hands, the tiny little feet. She tells us that everything looks normal, and I'm a few days ahead of what I thought (19 weeks and 5 days, instead of 19 weeks and 2 days.) Then the technician searches for those 'parts' that will let us know the sex.

"Una mujercita," she says. (A little woman.)

I knew it.

My love for this little girl has already been growing, and 'seeing' her for the first time has only increased it.

I tell Greg, "Isn't it such an amazing miracle that you and I can create a little person, another human being?"

I'm awed. Amazed. Grateful. Excited. In love.

IMG_0971We're done. Greg leaves to get a haircut. I wait for the printout (which has pictures of everything EXCEPT the 'parts').

We meet back at the truck, and I get my shoes shined in preparation for my upcoming trip to the States ("a civilized country, where ... people are judged of by their clothes.")

Greg's haircut was Q8/$1. My shoe shine is Q2/$0.25. Ahh, the luxuries of life.

Then shopping (always a tiring task, carrying ALL your produce, for a family of eight, through the market, from stall to stall, and then to the parking lot 200 meters/650 feet away.

"Those Walmart shoppers don't know how nice they have it!" I exclaim, as my arms burn with bags of cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes. Greg's carrying the heavy stuff... two watermelons, five pineapples ($0.65 each), ten pounds of apples, mandarins and more... until the bag breaks.

But finally we're headed back home along the winding, curving roads, where the kids will be anxiously awaiting the news about their new baby sister.

An update on pregnancy and giving birth

Since I began my second trimester I've been feeling much better. As long as I don't go too long without eating, I feel pretty good. And I'm starting to feel my 'normal' self again -- motivated to actually do something -- education with my kids, cooking, and working on goals (and maybe even blogging. 😉 )

I mentioned before that I was afraid of giving birth, after a difficult labor with Atlas. Gratefully, those feelings are disappearing, and I'm trusting in myself and that the process will be beautiful, whatever happens. I'm working on 'surrendering' 🙂

So I'm I going natural, or epidural?

Well, as much as I originally wanted a 'pain free' birth, guaranteed by the use of drugs, ultimately 'other things' won out.

I love doing birth at home or a birthing center, because of the 'cozy' environment, being in familiar surroundings, and having only those I choose in attendance. I love not 'rushing' to a hospital because I'm in labor, but instead just hanging out at home, letting the midwife come to me. 

I love feeling that I get to make the decisions, without being 'pressured' by doctors and nurses who may have different beliefs about birth than I do. I love that my husband gets to 'catch' the baby, and is often the only one by my side.

I love that I'm the first one to hold my baby when it's born, that the umbilical cord isn't cut until I say (usually after all the blood drains out, several hours later. This helps to prevent jaundice.) I love that no one takes my baby away to weigh, measure and 'make sure everything is okay.' It's all done according to my timing and choosing and in my presence, usually on my bed.

Obviously I am only basing these beliefs off my limited experiences. I've never had a hospital birth, and I'm sure many people have had great experiences. But my 'fear' is that a hospital birth would include a lot of 'pressure' and 'authority' figures, recommended procedures, strangers in the room, rushing and intervention that I don't want... all in exchange for a 'painless' experience.

So, I'll be giving birth at home or in a birthing center. In the end, my 'fear' of hospitals outweighs my fear of pain. I can endure it, so that the rest of the experience will be the way I really want it to be. In the end, that's what really matters most to me.

But where? That's the question. We still haven't decided that. Will it be at The Homestead? Back in Pana? Guatemala City (at a birthing center)? Or in Costa Rica?

To be determined.

Why did you choose to give birth where you did? What factors affected your decision?



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11 Responses

  1. Kristin V Elliott

    I can hear my voice in your voice…Wow.  Someday we next to do face time to share our birth experiences.  I had my 3 daughters at home.  All planned, with a midwife.  No meds.  Just surrender.  Since my last daughters birth, sounding tough like yours was with Atlas, I feel like i can do ANYTHING!  So empowering.
    Congratulations…a girl.  Thrilled for you!

  2. RachelDenning

    @Samara Keller I think that’s why I’m choosing to do it again… even with the ‘pain’, the overall experience is beyond comparison, for me 🙂

  3. April

    All my births have been hospital births. My first was induced in a public hospital here in Guatemala and it was absolutely horrible, complicated by the fact that my son was born with a birth defect that meant he couldn’t stay with me. I was terrified of birth again with my second, but it was a pleasant, peaceful experience in the exact same hospital. Neither with drugs. We went there because we had no money. With my third, I ended up having a C-section in a private hospital and it was yet another experience (though certainly not one I’d care to repeat).

  4. MaryAnnKathryn

    Rachel, you really are amazing!  And strong!  I had 3 boys and told my OB I wanted massive doses of drugs.  Well nature outsmarted me:  my first son was a preemie so I couldn’t have any drugs.  I thought I was going to die.  I didn’t of course.  My second son was born on his due date and was in such a hurry I barely made it to the hospital.  My OB was having breakfast so the OB nurse and I delivered my son.  With my 3rd child, who by all accounts was going to be a BIG baby (9 lbs) and was 3 weeks late, I finally got my drugs!   None of these experiences were “bad”, I had great doctors and my sons were born in state-of-the-art hospitals but on the downside in those days, fathers weren’t allowed in the delivery room and no family members could visit.  So it was lonely and sad not being able to show off the member of the family.   I think you are remarkable and I’m so happy you are having a girl!  That makes 3 of each or am I missing someone.  You go girl!!!  I’ll be praying for you!

  5. RachelDenning

    MaryAnnKathryn Thank you! Having a healthy baby is the ‘goal’ of a successful birth, all the rest ends up as just ‘history’. Yes, we’ll have 3 and 3!

  6. Heather

    I had my 2nd baby at home, safe and comfortably (without ANY pain) in our garden tub.  I do not like the hospitals here (anywhere really) and there aren’t any birth centers, although, even then I probably wouldn’t have used one.  I got great prenatal care, and took care of myself.  Baby literally came flying out without pushing.  I wrote more about it if you are interested in reading!  Love your site.  Maybe we’ll be out there doing something similar soon!

  7. hennaLisa

    I had the exact same controversy – my fear of hospitals and the loss of control won out over my fear of pain. After my first was born at home, I couldn’t bear the thought of being in a hospital. I don’t think I could birth a child in a hospital room with bright lights and nurses and doctors poking and prodding and watching and intervening… any more than I could conceive a baby under those conditions! Lol… 

    My first was such an immensely life changing experience for me, which completely turned all my beliefs and ideas upside down. It was so beautiful, I had to question everything my society had taught me. I spent the next 3 years unlearning and rethinking everything. My second was a very spiritual birth. It was Easter Sunday and fresh new spring green leaves were glowing as rays of morning light streamed through the forest behind our house. We had the french doors open on our bedroom and birds were singing their hearts out. It was magical. My daughter floated out of me and I held her in my arms while she suckled. I realized at that moment that if my whole life was not as blissful as this, then I had to change something. I left my job, convinced my husband to leave his, and we are in the process of redesigning our lives. 🙂


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