I wanted Lea Luna to arrive in a natural home birth. What I didn’t realize was how much control I thought I was going to have over the experience, and how the only way to reach the finish line was to let it go.
When the contractions started around 4 a.m., I had the birth pool ready, I lit Palo Santo and swayed to my favorite mantras as I felt my body and soul entering the most beautiful, divine trance. The entire process was divine, but it was not as serene as smiling and dancing around my candle-lit living room with a bowl of fruit in hand, that is for sure.
I was in labor for 24 hours.
Things progressed so slowly, it was overwhelmingly painful and I was getting absolutely exhausted. My contractions were long, close together and almost unbearable, and it took all of my might to stay with my breath and my body.
I tried a hot shower and all the positions as I paced and tried to recover from contractions sucking all the air from my lungs. But the more I tried to progress the labor, the more I felt Lea resisting. She had her own timing, and I was the one along for the ride.
When I didn’t know if I could keep going, Dennis brought me outside to the garden and held me in the moonlight as I rode wave after wave, each contraction bringing us closer to our little girl. Breathing under the full moon, I remembered what I was working for. Lea Luna was on her way.
It would be another 8 hours before I finally had her in my arms, and it would get more challenging than I ever could have imagined, but in that moment... We were still in the in-between; in our last hours on this earth alone, slow dancing to music only we could hear. Breathing. Waiting for her.
Sometimes the only choice we are left with is to let go. To surrender and release control. Let go. Let go. Let go.
After laboring at home for 18 hours, we ended up going to the hospital because her head was wedged stuck in my pelvis and she couldn't descend, so I never dilated more than 4 cm (even with mega-intense contractions 2.5 minutes long and only seconds apart). I wanted a peaceful, sacred environment at home, but my amazing doula recreated it perfectly in our hospital room: dim lights, essential oils, quiet and calm, just me, Dennis, doula and midwife.
On March 13 at 4:16 a.m., 24 hours after labor began, our baby girl arrived. I sensed my body shifting as soon as I got in the car to go to the hospital—as soon as I surrendered to the process completely instead of grasping to control it. In 18 hours of labor at home, I dilated only 4 cm. In only a couple hours of labor in the hospital bed, I dilated from 4 cm to 10.
Only when I surrendered did the process move forward.
I got to pull her out myself with the final two pushes, and Dennis cut the cord after it stopped pulsing like a champ. She came out with her eyes wide open, alert and calm, just quietly looking around the room after immediately locking eyes with mine. Kind of like she's done this a few times before, like she already knew me from long ago.
So beyond grateful for Dennis for being a rock all the way through (24 hours is no joke!!) and to Kelly Robinson for the unconditional support (if you're in need of a doula, look her up!). I am so, so, so grateful to have this little girl in my arms.
Giving birth to her was the single most challenging and empowering experience I've ever had in my life. I bow to every woman out there. Pushing a human being out of your vagina is no walk in the park! No matter if you delivered at home, in a pool, in a hospital, in the woods… You. Are. Divine.
As of March 13, 2017, my life will never be the same. She’s here: Lea Luna, My daughter and The Bringer of Light.
I love this little girl so much sometimes it terrifies me. Every piece of her is so perfect I still find myself having to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming! And the most magical part is each day she teaches me more about life and love than I ever thought I knew before.
I still can’t believe she chose me, she found me, and I get the honor of being her mother. There is truly no greater blessing on this earth.
Listen to the full birth story or read the transcript here.
Lea Luna Schoneveld
People ask me all the time about her name and why we didn't name her Poppy, since that's what we called her all the way through pregnancy... We actually never intended to name her that but had Lea picked out from long before. But I have to admit, transitioning away from Poppy wasn’t easy! She started out a little poppyseed, and the name Poppy just totally stuck.
If we lived in Europe we might have considered making it her middle name, but here in the Caribbean/Central America it just sounds too much like "Papi". We always knew whatever we name her needs to work in both English, Swedish, Papiamento (Aruba's native language), Dutch and Spanish since that's what our families speak. Poppy will forever and ever be her nickname, though!
Truth is, I've had the name Lea picked out since I was a little girl. When I was 5 or 6, someone gave me a children's bible and I learned that in the ancient fables, Rachel and Lea were sisters. I didn't have a sister yet and always longed for one—someone to hold my hand when I was scared and whisper secrets with at night.
After reading the chapter about Rachel and Lea a million times, I decided that when I grow up I'm going to have a baby girl, her name is going to be Lea and we will forever be together. I'm not attached to any specific religion but since I was little, that's the name I always envisioned for my daughter.
Dennis loved it too, so that worked out well (our name for a boy also starts with an L!). Luna was at the top of both our lists because it's absolutely beautiful and also so intricately connected to Andrea and everything Den and I have been through.
It all brought us here. The moon is at the center of all our stories.
Everyone’s birth story is powerful, sacred and life-changing. What’s yours? I want to hear that special piece that was at the center of your story, and I want us all to celebrate you for creating LIFE! It doesn’t get much more magical than that, does it? Share below!
P.S. Read Lea Luna Part 1: From Healing to Pregnancy here.