Thursday, July 14th 2022, is when this story begins.

Normal cloudy day, pretty routine from top to bottom on this one. Lazy energy, we were both tired.

I went upstairs to go to sleep around 930pm. Maria was still eating. I put on a show and hoped to pass out but couldn’t fall to sleep. Around 11pm Maria came upstairs to lay down with me.

Before she lies down she says to me that she is feeling some cramps. I asked, “cramps or contractions?”

She says cramps. But she’s had them all day and it just doesn’t feel comfortable.

She takes a shower and by the time she comes out she is red in the face and is visibly exhausted. Says she isn’t feeling well and lies down.

Then the fun part begins.

For the next 30 minutes or so she rolled around letting out small yells in pain. This was quite normal during her pregnancy, as he seemed to frequently kick her in the ribs and cause her all sorts of physical discomfort. No need for alarm just yet.

We text the Doula and tell her about the discomfort. She says to keep her updated closely.

I drift in and out of being awake at this point. I’m halfway sleeping when Maria lets out another yell.

I ask her “What did the Doula say”, and she responded, “I might be in labor.”

I instantly popped up, suddenly wide awake.

The Doula said that if the contractions don’t stop after an hour, than she is most likely in Labor, or entering into the start of it at the very least.

Maria had an app on her phone for measuring contraction times, so she started logging them all.

Contractions went on for a solid hour. Was hitting her in waves every 5-10 minutes, and the contractions would last for about 30-40 seconds.

Now, one key piece here is that after around 30 minutes to an hour or so, with each contraction came a blaring scream. Maria was visibly, and very audibly, in a tremendous amount of pain. Screaming and crying at the top of her lungs.

Another hour passes the same way. I’m still in denial that it has begun and I’m hoping it’s a wave so I can go back to sleep for a bit.

We text the Doula that the contractions are still happening and are seemingly increasing in intensity and frequency.

The Doula is on her way.

She arrives around 1am and instantly got to work. Started giving Maria massages and got out the essential oils. Told her how to breathe properly and simple mantras to repeat.

We’re also in communications with the Nurse at this point. She says to keep a close eye on it and keep her posted for how long it continues on like this.

The Doula helps Maria to her feet and she takes a hot shower. I close my eyes for a bit.

She lays back in bed but the screams continue. The Doula and myself are just giving her massages, talking her through it all so that we can weather the storm.

3 more hours pass in this way – now it’s time for the nurse.

As the nurse is arriving I start loading up the car with our bags and baby seat and everything. Loading it all into the trunk and feeling like it’s game time.

The nurse arrives, sits with Maria, and does an examination. She’s at around 3mm dilation. It’s dilated, but still to early to go to the hospital.

She sits with Maria for a while, keeping her calm and talking through everything.

At this point it’s around 5am. The nurse tells me that while she is in Labor, it’s still too early to go to the hospital. She’s seen people persist like this for another 10-12 hours, so it’s best to wait.

Her recommendation? Go lie back down, try to get whatever sleep that we can, and then call in the morning.

Nurse goes back home, Doula goes downstairs, we close our eyes and try to get some sleep.

Thank god – we did. We both slept until about 10am. I woke up and cooked some breakfast, and the Doula helped her out a bit.

Things seeming calmer, the Doula goes home to sort some things for herself but lives close by and is on call.

By 1-2pm, the contractions are full blown once again. This time more frequent and longer duration.

We call up the nurse and Doula.

Nurse is there within the hour. Does her same examination – now we’re at 6mm dilated. It’s game time.

Maria is in extreme pain at this point so we focus on trying to get her to calm down enough to be able to get to her feet.

We weather the storm for another hour. Eventually Maria is able to get to her feet and we start organising ourselves to get out of the house and leave. At this point the Doula has arrived as well.

Now the fun part – I live at the bottom of a steep hill, and there is a small trail you have to walk through to get to the car. Normally, the car is parked outside of the house, and I can drive up the hill – but luckily for us it’s been raining for the past two days – which means car is a no-go up the hill, which means I had to move the car somewhere else, and we need to walk the trail.

Normally this trail would take 5 minutes or so. It’s a hill and then a short decline.

But when you’re 6mm dilated – it’s a whole different story.

It took us around 45 minutes or so to walk that trail that day. Step. Pause. Step. Pause. Grabbing trees for support along the way.

Here are some fun photos from that day 😛

We get to the car, pack everyone in and …. Bumper to bumper traffic the entire road leaving my house.

When Maria was pregnant we would always joke – imagine on the day of birth it’s raining and there is traffic on rendeiras (the name of my street). Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened.

All the same we pack everyone in the car and get moving. Luckily the traffic is moving and we’re making some decent progress.

Maria on the other hand – is absolutely wailing in the backseat. Screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs. Screaming that she can’t take it anymore.

About halfway down that first street and maybe 10 minutes into our drive, the nurse says to Maria, “let me know if you feel the need to push at all”, to which Maria replies/screams/moans “I’ve already had that feeling for the last 10 minutes!!!”

Now we got all three of them in the back seat with Maria laying down, and I’m stuck in traffic.

Finally we get out of the bumper to bumper and I’m on my way.

I start making progress and we’re about ten minutes from the hospital, about 20-25 minutes into the drive so far with all of the traffic.

Traffic again.

This time though, we can’t wait. This baby is already starting to crown in the back-seat.

The nurse jumps out of the car as we stop and runs to the cars in front of us. Tells them to clear the way.

They start to forge a path, I put on my hazard lights, and now it’s time to blare the horn and scream out the window to clear the way.

For the last 5 minutes of the drive I was driving in the middle of the road with my hazard lights on, beeping the horn repeatedly screaming for everyone to get out of the way.

Now keep in mind here as well – I’m an American driving a car in the middle of the road in Brazil. Technically speaking, I don’t even have a license here.

Nonetheless, here I am driving in the middle of the road blaring the horn screaming out the window while I have Maria in the backseat screaming bloody murder.

All things considered, I was super calm in the drivers seat. Totally in the zone and focused solely on the mission of safely getting us to the hospital before this baby pops out in the car.

Finally we arrive and they scramble out of the car. I remain behind to find parking and get us checked into the hospital and all of that fun stuff.

I go straight upstairs and Maria is already in the room in the gown and everything is in motion. They ask her if she wants to remain lying down, but she says that she wants to go in the shower and get some hot water on her (as per the recommendation of the Doula). At this point our actual Doctor is there at the hospital waiting for us as well.

We pack everyone into the bathroom. It’s Maria in the shower, doctor in there with her at the other end, Nurse outside of the door of the shower, and then myself behind her with the Doula now in the background.

Contractions are going full blast and it’s intense.

At one point Maria screams, “Ahhhh I can feel something down there is everything ok?”, and the doctor replies “Yep that’s his head!”

Then my personal favorite moment, as she is screaming she looks at the nurse in despair and screams – 2 “Take this thing out of me! I know you have some tool or something that can get it out, get it out of me I can’t take it anymore!!!”

To which the nurse replied, “he’s already out you’re doing it you’re doing it!”

(Keep in mind I’m also translating this back from Portuguese)

Shortly thereafer with a large scream, Don safely slides out of the womb into the hands of the doctor 🙂

At first Don let’s out a yelp but then goes quiet. Right as I think, “why isn’t he crying”, BAM!, he lets out his first scream. What a beautiful sound it was.

The doctor and nurse then clear the way and I go into the shower with Maria to hug and embrace her. Don is in her arms crying. We’re both crying and kissing as well. Such a beautiful moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.

And just like that, Don Rosa Erstling was born into the world 🙂 July 15, 2022 at 6:59pm.

Eventually we clear out of the bathroom, get Don into some blankets, and get Maria to lie down. She is in a daze and not quite fully conscious. Exhausted and still in pain, but happy all the same.

Here are some pictures of those first moments.

From that moment on nothing has quite been the same.

Next up, the first 6 months of Don’s life 🙂

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