He’s here! What a 40 week journey… and what an epic final push out into the world. (FYI all births are epic.)
I have always related the concept of child birth to journeying from space through the ozone… literally through a ring of fire. Zai’s journey is no different. At each step of development from Conception to Birth to Childhood and into Adulthood, the previous step is set in place to help you transition to the next level with your offspring. Birth is likely the easiest day you will ever have; a massive struggle and then a moment of terrific relief. Think of it like training for the “big game of life.”
Throughout this pregnancy I had become a vessel with 1 soul purpose: to create a new, healthy life. Now with Zai on the outside on my body we can say it was a success. He is sweet and cuddly, healthy and chirps like a little bird out of delight or frustration. He is making us all better people with his presence.
We set out on the journey of baby #2 with the anticipation of a total of 4 kids. Experiencing such a different pregnancy had me reeling from day 1 and I am happy to say that we have our perfect nuclear family with one of each sex. We are two and done. We started out the year in a totally different place in a totally different life on the road to discovery. Somehow along the way during the last 9 months we found a new home and a wonderful community we are excited to be in. Our work is growing, our blogs expanding and our personal voices are finding a sense of place in the world. It is really exciting and we feel exceptionally lucky to have both Iza and Zai.
Starting a week prior to delivery I had pretty regular contractions that never progressed. They started and stopped a few hours after each series. The contractions were like sledgehammers each time, which I later found out was because his head kept missing the birth canal opening (maybe as a result of having a cord around his neck) and was hitting a variety of other places in the proximity to the exit ramp.
Zai came as our amazing doctor said he would, though… on his due date: October 12th. I labored from 11pm onward on the 11th and by 7am I was having 3 – 5 minute contractions. We already had our Dr.’s appointment for that morning at 10:30am, but I was pretty nervous about Monday morning traffic in Guate so we left around 7:30am. We miraculously avoided all traffic and ended up getting to the office around 8:30am (literally never happened before). Dr. SanJose checked me and I was already 5cm dilated. Woohoo! He told us that we would have the baby between 3-4pm and to go to the hospital. He called ahead and ordered our suite and we drove the 2 minutes around the corner and “checked in.”
Hospital Universitario Esperanza is beautiful. The gardens are so lovely and it is situated behind one of the largest malls in Zona 10 in Guatemala City, but feels like you are in a little park and the birds are even chirping! It is set on a University Medical Campus. We had a chance to explore a little while I labored, always better to be walking around, and Kurt had a nice cup of coffee from a great concept called Gitane that I like.
We labored until about 1pm by ourselves with a great Gynecologist who came to check on us every 30 minutes or so. I didn’t even change until then into my birthing dress until Dr. SanJose came to check on us. He said I was 9cm and I would have the baby in another 2 hours. He did say that the head still had not engaged and it could be because the cord was wrapped around Zai’s neck. This sent me into a tisy since I didn’t want a cesarean if I could avoid it (longer recovery, less of an immediate connection to the baby, more money, etc.). Together me, Kurt and Dr. SanJose set to work and as a team we brought the head down by skillful yoga positions and hip sways. We ‘welcomed’ Zai with every contraction and Dr. SanJose checked progress as we went. Within an hour and a half he had engaged more and we were ready to rock with delivery. We still didn’t know where his cord was, but Dr. SanJose and our pediatrician Dr. Castañeda thought they had it covered. The pain was outrageous… 10x what it was with Iza’s transition period… but I was in it to “win it.” They broke my water and knew they had to act fast since if the cord was wrapped it would choke the baby without the buffer of the water around the sack.
In Guatemala the pediatrician attends the birth which is absolutely wonderful. Dr. Castañeda is Iza’s pediatrician, so we know him and feel comfortable with him and trust his advice. If you want to picture it: Here I am on the bed with Kurt on the left and my hand in his, the local Gyno Dr. Urrelula on the right with my right hand in his, Dr. SanJose at the bottom right watching the whole scene and Dr. Castañeda on the bottom left coaxing the baby out making sure the cord was not wrapped. It was a sight to see, I’m sure. Kurt said my eyes were literally bugging out of my head (from the pain) and I was screaming a number of profane words in English. What I felt in that moment was pain + a tremendous sense of security, presence and connection from all 4 of them. Kurt as my partner was brilliant – we took the Bradley Method workshop with Iza and had retained all the learnings from it, putting them into place beautifully in a pressurized moment. I feel very lucky.
The ring of fire was the most intense I could have imagined since Dr. SanJose pulled me back and had me hold through two contractions in the same position with the baby half way out. This was to keep from tearing and he slowly had me ‘bleed’ the baby out of the opening. It was INTENSE and definitely the moment of pure white clarity you don’t want to ever have. But it was silent in that moment, and the end result is this beautiful person; the pain is forgotten.
The Upside to the Pain: No cord around the neck and a perfectly shaped head as a result of it not being engaged in the canal until the last minute. A winning moment all around.
The beginning stages of a brand are crucial. It has to be a perfect setting with the right groundwork. Without it, you are already sunk before you get off the dock, so we know how important the branding of our baby is and we have not been light with the development of it.
When we found out that we were having our first baby in 2013, we would talk about baby names on our decent from Mt. Beacon… it is about 30 minutes down, so we had lots of time to talk. Kurt loved the name Zai and within minutes we were both sold on it so we decided that if we had a boy it would be Zai Stefan (after his brother’s middle name). Coming up with a little girls name made us crazy once we found out Zai was actually a going to be a little girl. I had a million ideas and all of which were shot down with force by Kurt, not being the right sound, arrangement of letters or potential nickname. Eventually, out of frustration, I tried rearranging the letters for Zai and it spelled Iza.
Not sure where this name even came from, but we assume through sounding out words. And as noted above we love the idea of Iza & Zai having similar names and sharing in the letters and sounds together. Living in a Spanish speaking country the “Z’s” are pronounced liked “S’s” so their names actually sound like “Eesah” and “Sahi.” We liked that these were translatable names to most cultures.
Zái in Mandarin means “at,” so by the nature of this translation it literally means for him to be in the present moment. We love that idea since he is a Libra like his cousin Marshall, and it appears is meant to be one of the most balanced Astrological symbols.
Kurt’s brother Karl is ever present in our lives and his middle name is Stephan, but pronounced “Stefen.” In most countries it is spelled instead with an “a” before the end instead of a second “e” so we went with that. Karl is a very important part of our family, mostly because Kurt and he have a similar disposition regarding their art and feed off of each other’s creativity, collaborating regularly. We wanted Zai to have the opportunity for creativity from birth and to feel empowered to always make things knowing that we will support his ideas fully. He may end up being an accountant or bartender, but we still like the idea that his roots stem from a place of choice for a creative life.
The last time we went into labor we didn’t anticipate needing anything other than a few clothes. We lived about 40 minutes from the hospital and it was our anticipation that we would be in and out of there (what did we know?). We were pretty quick (under 28 hours), but we missed out on having a relaxing experience with our moment-old-newborn because Kurt had to rush home and make us something healthy to eat and dehydrate the placenta. We didn’t have anything ready to go or organized and as a result we paid the price in emotional and physical exhaustion. It was almost as if we got to the point of exiting the baby in preparation and then forgot about what happens next!
This time I made sure to have everything from food made to a freezer bag for the placenta. We booked a hotel for Iza and my mom and arranged car transport for them after her school. We knew how long we were planning on staying and what our day looked like after we left the hospital. I suppose it has something to do with this being our second child, too. We know how to change diapers now, afterall!
Must haves in our bags:
- Technology: Laptops, Speaker, Phones, All chargers (phones, speaker and laptops)
- Clothes: Birthing Dress, Slippers, Comfy Pants, Nursing Bras & Nursing Shirts, Warm Fleece Shawl, Regular Clothes for Kurt, Clothes, Burp Cloths, Cloth Diapers & Wipes for Zai
- Placenta: Freezer Bag
- Food: Silverware, Wild Rice, Roasted Potatoes, Salad, Cereal, Snacks, Mandarins & Apples, Nut Mix, Crackers, Green Tea, Mother’s Milk Tea, Sparkly Water
It has been a rough road with Iza since the start of the 1st trimester. I know I was the problem, but it took me until now to realize exactly how I was the problem. The reason: I changed, and stopped being Iza’s Mama right when she needed me the most. I was miserable and as a result Iza felt the effects of the change through my emotional distance. We had our nanny’s work additional hours to help supplement the time I wasn’t feeling well and for months I laid on my back staring at the ceiling and not participating. Then we went traveling for 3 months and finally moved to Antigua. Here Iza has had me more in her life than ever before, but I have not been as active physically or emotionally connected. Now that I am out from under the pregnancy cloud I am beginning to realize just how different I was. I am thrilled to be back on track and able to be there and mobile for my little girl.
We prepared for how difficult this transition was going to be by doing a few extra special things for Iza before Zai came:
- We made sure her bed was done and installed and she had a special space. We established an area that belongs to Zai, but showed her how everything integrated so she could see that they were sharing.
- My mom came 3 weeks early to be with Iza and spend time with her and now she is her dedicated playmate, making her feel like she has a special support system.
- Iza and my mom made a special trip to Guate on the day of the birth and stayed at a hotel so they could have an adventure together, go out to dinner and swim (they did come to the hospital for an hour, but that was like a side trip, not the main attraction).
- As a gift, my mom gave Iza her own boy doll to play with complete with bottles and a diaper. Iza in turn claimed a bunch of Zai’s new clothes as her babies and is really enjoying having her own “Baby.”
- Other fun and distracting games like the below DIY game.
- Now that we are home we are allowing Iza to participate in everything from bathing to rocking to changing Zai.
- Everyday I spent at least an hour just with her. In the morning I make sure Zai is fed and sleeping again before Iza wakes, so when she comes to snuggle it is just her and my time. Then we make breakfast together and Kurt watches Zai until Iza goes to school.
DIY Color & Shape Matching Game
My mom had an idea to do a color and shape matching game, which she crafted in Iza’s honor just for this special trip together. Essentially she created a board with a bunch of shapes and had a bag full of matching shapes to place on top. This is a common Montessori practice, so Iza quickly picked up on the project and mastered the basic level very quickly.
2 1/2 years ago we welcomed our gorgeous daughter Iza into the world, in someways igniting our life together and starting a family. Read the start of our journey with Iza’s announcement which shares many of the resources we used in preparation for birth (i.e. the Bradley Method, yoga birth and supplements).
The same rules apply and here we were graced with lots of luck. We had 3 terrific Doctors at our side and it was all due to planning and questioning the process.
Thinking of delivering in Guatemala? Call on our team (all thanks to our friend Katherine who bestowed this great list upon us)!
- Hospital Universitario Esperanza
- Dr. Luis Francisco SanJose: Private practice obstetrics and gynecology near Centro Medico in Zona 10 / 502-2362-3744 / 502-2362-3741 / 502-5200-3816
- Dr. Raul Castañeda: Private practice pediatrician near Arkadia Mall in Zona 10 / 502-2261-7014