A few days before Jovie’s birth I was crying myself to sleep, anxious about the unknown, about the future really. I knew this was not from the Lord so I asked Him, “Lord, will you please take this worry away from me? I cannot do this anymore. I need to trust You”. In the midst of my “moment of crisis” I heard a small inner voice tell me “November 15” I paused, stopped praying and asked Him, “Is that You Lord?”. Nothing. Yet, I felt such peace about this number. I said to myself “that’s the day she will be born!”.
You see… I was already 40 weeks pregnant, and if Jovie did not come before week 41 I was to be induced, something I was trying to avoid. In the meantime I kept trying to induce naturally. Walking, eating pineapple, smelling clary sage oil, you name it! I was desperate. So on the morning of November 15 I decided to do everything in my power to have that baby out. That day I walked about three miles with my 40 week plus one day belly. After eating lunch and walking back to our apartment I realized that Jovie was most likely not coming on the 15th. Maybe I had just heard wrong, it looked like I was going to make it to week 41. That night we went to Casa de Vida (our bible study group). We had a typical Chilean Once (dinner) and chatted about life. Every time I go to small group I laugh so much; this night was no different. While everyone was enjoying their once, I thought to myself “what if this is the last meal I eat before Jovie comes. A chilean once… how funny will that be?”. And that was it. I didn’t think of it any longer. Everyone joked and laughed about Jovie not wanting to come out yet. More jokes and more laughter... it was 11pm already; November 15 had come and gone like any other day. Before getting back to our apartment our friends Nati and Mario told us, “if anything happens please call us. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3 o’clock in the morning”. I smiled and nodded. I would for sure call. They were my family away from home here in Santiago.
On November 16 at 2:30 in the morning I woke up with pain. I thought it was my stomach, a little gas you know what I mean? I went to the restroom and as soon as I laid down again I felt a strong cramp on my lower abdomen, and that’s when I knew. I knew it was not gas hahah!. Still on my bed, laying on my side, I woke up Brian and said, “Brian? I think I just had a contraction…”.
Brian quickly got up and started timing the contractions with me. I got out my pregnancy + app and started documenting them as well. I was still in doubt because I did not feel “bad”, but I knew that what I was feeling was definitely unusual. An hour passed and they were constant. 7 minutes apart, 5 minutes apart. Some were stronger and getting more painful, and others were minimal. Yet, I still did not believe I was in labor! After talking to a friend back in the states (by this time it was already close to 4am) I decided to contact my midwife. I was a nervous wreck as I called because I still could not believe that it was real. That she was coming. What if it was false labor?
After explaining to my midwife all my symptoms she gave me the green light to come to the hospital so she could check me. Brian had been preparing himself some coffee and when he heard me say, “ok, we will see you in 30 minutes” he jumped and immediately rushed his coffee making. Looking back it was funny but at the time all I could tell him was “hurry!”. A little background information : at 40 weeks pregnant I had not been dilating at all. Just a few days before, my midwife had mentioned that she did not think Jovie was going to come in the next five days. (It was day four when she decided to come). On our way to the hospital I kept having contractions; they were getting stronger. Once we arrived I was offered a wheelchair to get to my midwife but I declined, sitting down just made the pain much worse. Walking and taking the elevator to the fourth floor had me anxious. I kept on thinking that it wasn’t real; I mean, wasn’t this supposed to feel worse? I spoke to soon, because three hours later I was definitely in pain and asking for some relief.
“You are almost three centimeters dilated. You will be staying in today.” It was around 5:30am when I heard those words and then I knew that it was actually happening. That she was coming and there was no turning back. Our friends Nati and Mario came rushing to the hospital after I took them up on their offer. It doesn’t matter if it’s 3am… well it was around that time that I let them know I was going to the hospital. Contractions came stronger, much quicker, and at a rhythmic pace. It was harder to concentrate and breathe. In the middle of labor I asked, “when is it too late to take the epidural?”. My midwife had told me the longer I could withstand the pain, the better. I did not want to delay my labor with the epidural but I was also sure that I wanted one! I heard her say, “when you think you will not be able to stand still during a contraction.” I then knew It was time to get some relief because she was going to come soon and I was already feeling like I would pass out. Once the epidural came it was heaven… no joke. Then I started “practicing” my pushing. For an hour and a half I practiced. Take a deep breath, breath out, take another deep breath and this time HOLD, and push for ten seconds. I must have done this around ten times when I heard the midwife say, “do you want to feel her head?” I knew what she meant with that question. She meant, “do you want to see how close you are to see her?” I nodded as she guided my hand to touch my daughter’s head. I could not believe it. She was almost here!
Throughout the entire time that I was pushing, Brian was by my side coaching me. Out of the two of us, I speak the most Spanish due to it being my native language. Yet, during labor I could not for the life of me understand my midwife’s instructions. I was in a daze, feeling a little confused. Brian was the one who understood what was happening and was able to translate and tell me in English so that I could understand. haha! How ironic! Two years ago I would have never thought that would be possible. I must have only pushed twice after feeling Jovie’s head when Brian told me, “babe, she’s almost here!” and as soon as he gazed back Jovie was already out. Immediately she was placed in my chest for some much awaited bonding time (let me just say momma’s and soon to be momma’s, that skin to skin is the best!). Her cry was perfect. Her eyes were open wide. It was the highest moment of my life. I don’t think you can ever live that moment again. It comes and goes, but it’s only once in a lifetime. After cleaning her up and checking to see if she was okay, Jovie came back into my arms and immediately started breastfeeding. It’s as if she already knew. She knew what she was supposed to do, she knew that she had just been born. Those eyes did not close for slumber for quite a while. We, the Castros, were instantly smitten with Jovie Grace.
Birth changes you, not just physically but also spiritually. On November 16, 2017 I understood that what I thought I heard that night was not that Jovie would be born on the 15th, but that it would be my last day as a whole person. Yes, my heart is shared with my husband and since day one of our marriage we are not complete without each other. However, what I did not realize, was that November 15 would be my last day to share my love with Brian alone. The world changed at 8:41 am the very next day. Jovie Grace, born at 7 1/2 pounds, 19 inches long, changed our lives. We are now incomplete without her love. We love you Jovie Grace.
- The Castros
P.S We were not able to take many pre-labor pictures due to being without a photographer. Once our friend came, she was able to capture a few moments for us. Grateful for Andrea Parra! The last few pictures in color were taken at the comfort of our own home.