Recibimos este increíble testimonio que deseamos compartir con las madres, las futuras madres y sus familias.
I moved to Panama in March 2011, while being 7 months pregnant. My husband, Joris, moved to Panama 6 months before. Meanwhile I still worked and lived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I thought it would be difficult or lonely being pregnant without Joris, but to be honest being pregnant alone for the most part was peaceful and rewarding in some way. Three months before I really moved I visited Joris in Panama as a holiday. We shopped around hospitals and doctors to see which environment and which doctor would be able to fulfill my wishes for the birth of our first child. I am from the Netherlands, where epidurals are still rare and home births very common. I assumed when coming to Panama that a home birth would not be possible in Panama.
It was really difficult to find an OB that supported a natural birth, but at the end of my holiday we found one that said he could fulfill my birth plan, in a hospital. Walking around, dimming lights, doing yoga, not being strapped to a bed, taking a shower, keeping my baby skin to skin right after birth etc. etc.
Then in March, after my final move, we visited various hospital maternity wards which we forgot to do during my holiday…. and that is the moment I got scared. All of the hospitals were cold, freezing cold, air conditioning that could not be regulated per room, bright lights, sometimes even no shower or private bathroom, unsympathetic nurses and the worst part being moved at 9cm dilation from the room where you have your contractions to the expulsion room, an operating like room. My husband saw me turn white, saw me truly being paralyzed. And I said that I would never ever give birth here. “I don’t care how, but we are not going to do it here in one of these hospitals.” I was truly surprised that even the private hospitals could be so cold and in my eyes primitive. I am sorry for being so blunt; I honour everybody’s own wishes and decisions as long as they’re well thought through. But here is the point that I gave up.
But of course you don’t give up, this baby had to be born, one way or the other, but my way. I was very determined to find the solution. Surfing the Internet did not get me very far at that time and my social network was still zero.
As it felt I took a last try in contacting a yoga school, where the same day I got the liberating call of a doula, Jimena. She was so calm, so kind and she told me about the existence of my angels. An OB couple from Hospital Nacional that totally supports natural births, even home births, as the only physicians in whole Panama. That same week I visited their office and I fell in love. Dr. Rodrigo Aybar sat in front of me telling me his view about birth, that it is a natural process, all the advantages for the baby during birth and later on in childhood and that it is all about the mother’s choice how and where to give birth! A pregnant woman is not an OB’s patient, but an OB’s client. Hurray! My quest was finally over; I could rest and nest, and prepare for my dream birth. But I’ve actually never seen it as having a dream birth; I see it as having birth as it should be. I have never felt so determined by keeping to your desires and your rights, your primal feelings.
When I met the Aybars I was already in my 34th week. Not much time left, but enough to finally feel at ease, sit on my nest and wait for the baby to arrive.
In the last weeks of my pregnancy the Aybars visited our home a couple of times to see if everything was in place and present for the birth. Checking the water taps, the connections etc. All was good and ready, however the baby was not ready yet, I passed 40 weeks and I got a little anxious about induction and then still having to go to the hospital after all. Luckily Rodrigo assured me enormously, we had still all the time in the world.
At 41 weeks I went to see Rodrigo for a check up, his wife Graciela, did an internal examination determining everything was already in process, progressing nicely and getting very ready. That night my contractions started, I perceived them as sudden and unexpected, but looking back I was just denying the minor contractions during the day and evening. I called Rodrigo around 1 a.m., telling me to clock the contractions and to call him back after an hour or so. I called him back 10 minutes later…. to come NOW! There was no rhythm at all, the contractions were fierce, on and off, but very little off…. The doula, Sara Zomer, came first and I didn’t know how to sit, stand or move around anymore.
I couldn’t imagine this lasting for another 8 hours. I did not like this part at all. Then the doctors came, calm and quietly and reassuring as always, that helped a lot. I was almost at 6cm already. They immediately inflated the bath. It took them maybe 45 minutes or so to install and fill it, but for me it seemed forever, I could not wait any longer, I needed to get into the warm water. And when I finally got in the warm soothing water I started to relax, the contractions even seemed to get a rhythm and I could handle them so much better, it was unbelievable.
Sara played relaxing music, the lights were dimmed and my husband was there, all I needed was feeling his hand on my shoulder. Meanwhile the early morning started, slowly the darkness turned into dusk and I could here the birds beginning to sing. How relaxing was that. I knew the Aybars were there, but they kept at a distance, drank coffee on our terrace and they were there when necessary. They totally respected that this experience was a very personal one, for my husband and me. Just knowing they were there was enough. Before the final stage I even slept during contractions to regain strength and boy I needed that strength because the pushing stage was really long and exhausting. I think that the first voice my daughter heard was the voice of Rodrigo, telling me to PUSH Marijke, PUSH! I needed that encouragement badly in the last stage. And there she was, Jiske, born on May 20th 2011 at 10 am, after 8 hours of real labour. Joris said that the expression on her face, which was calm and satisfied, did not change at all from birth to water to open air. I have been able to surrender myself totally because of the secure place of home, the presence of my husband, the presence of the experts, their amazingly beautiful characters and their beliefs. You need that, especially in a new country where you don’t know anyone.
Jiske was a very content, happy and calm baby and I truly believe that this is thanks to the calm pregnancy and the truly natural calm birth. Jimena, the Aybars and Sara are my angels, my lifesavers in Panama. Being in a new country, without family and still without friends, the difficult quest finding the right doctors, environment and my determination to find MY way have made me grateful. I have never been more grateful in my life than to these angels. The Aybars are brave people, the only ones who dare to act to their beliefs, being the only doctors to perform home births in an entire country. Colleagues can regard them as irresponsible or misfits in the medical world. Well, believe me, you then have to be brave to continue what you started and what you believe in. Respect and forever in my heart.
On 12th December 2012 our second daughter Janne was born. Again a home birth in water…as calm and beautiful as can be.
Marijke van Hoogdalem