I don’t know what testimonial is, but … I imagine from the English that I know that the style of this testimony can be free, personal, confessional … And that’s exactly what I intend to do: to pour my soul out and share with you unambiguously all that I’ve experienced bringing in the world my precious Pauline-Maria.
July 28, 2016. Early in the morning, 2 o’clock, the waters break. At 4 we are already in the hospital. She’s my first and my dilation not even 2 centimeters wide … Until 7-8 am, when my doctor comes, it remains the same …
I can’t say I’m in pain. I hear the café del Mar constantly, the atmosphere is pleasant, relaxed, friendly… The doctor makes funny jokes, gets bored of waiting, goes for coffee, comes, leaves again and I think of my family waiting outside and I send them secret videos with smiles and reassurance that I’m fine! My husband by my side, always.
Somewhere in this atmospherε Roula also appears.
A friend who referred me to this doctor told me that with Roula every childbirth was different. Roula did this…
I was rambling due to embarrassment and anxiety… I was talking incessantly and she was sitting quietly against me and listening. I tried to tell her some things about me, to see who I was, how I was thinking, what I was feeling, to help me … It probably “worked” because it turned out that Roula had finally given me the style of childbirth that fit me, without the slightest idea, without even dreaming or hearing that there is… The birth through prayer. For me that was it. I gave birth … with prayer.
As my dilation was small and hours passed, I sat on the Pilates ball for the baby to come down. After quite some time I started to feel something like a pain “come and go” and it made me sweat. I immediately asked to go back to bed. I was starting to feel pain …
So I said it. I told them right away. “I feel pain”. And I was heard by two pairs of ears, my husband and Roula. Then it all started…
“What did you understand from what Despina just said?” Roula asked him. “I heard that she is in pain” Panos answered clearly and surely. “Perhaps there was something else behind what she said?” “No. She just said that it hurts.” “What do you think, Despina?” “I’m saying that this statement had some fear in it …”, I hurried to add because the ten years of psychodrama was not a total waste. We have a contact with our inner self!
-You’re scared, then.
-Close your eyes and tell me. What are you afraid of?
-It is simple. I’m afraid of dying.
-You are saying that for you pain is linked to death?
-And how is that?
-Pain brings death and death brings pain.
We were playing in nice fields for me. I felt comfortable with this discussion. After all, I have been dealing with this issue of death for fourteen years since I lost my father.
I had already forgotten that I was in pain with this discussion. And Roula made sure to remind me to keep my eyes closed to communicate better with my subconscious, as she used to say.
-Do you want to try to change this now? That is, to reverse this statement, that pain brings death, and to make pain bring joy.
-How is this done? I asked with surprise and mistrust.
-Always with your eyes closed I want you to think that childbirth brings life, because you will give birth to your child. Repeat after me …
I don’t remember the words well. It was a prayer – she told me. A prayer that she could teach me if I wanted, to tell to my daughter to help her. After she got my permission she closed her eyes and concentrated a lot on herself, myself, our “together”. And what I felt was helping me beautifully with the thought of being focused on the good part of my birth, in life, away from the death I was afraid of.
The negation had become affirmation. The sentence we kept repeating was exactly the opposite of what I had fearfully stated …
In every contraction, Roula was asking me to close my eyes and imagine something that was close to God, for me, such as a sunset. And I closed my eyes, saw, felt, smelled, danced, swirling in the petals of a white-yellow plumeria and somehow the contractions were gone, with Panos tightening my left hand and Roula my right, on the bed….
Don’t ask me how I thought of plumeria. I didn’t even know its name until I searched for it days after childbirth. As a Chinese jasmine was introduced to me by a friend in Patmos, where we had gone for Easter and guided us to her beautiful terrace by the sea. Its aroma had fascinated me and my friend gave me two-three flowers to take with me at the hotel. I could not get enough of smelling them! Five months pregnant on the holy island of Patmos, plumeria adorned with an almost mystagogical light the Passion Week, and ultimately the Resurrection of our Lord and God.
So at that time, in a magical way this elegant, humble flower projected on the screen of my mind and twirled as if I were holding it by its stem and playing with it while simultaneously sucking me into its hole from where it came out its intoxicating aroma and thus the birth pangs became a mere vortex … a dancing, fragrant, redeeming vortex…It sucked me in and I twirled like the notebook spiral in the hands of the students. That’s how I, the toddler, swirled around and got lost inside the stem, into the magic hole …
Now as I write these, a picture comes to me … as if this hole is also my womb, my mother’s womb, the womb of God and our Father …
For a while this feeling and the whole experience was so powerful in my memory, it overwhelmed me … It was over and above me, it seemed incredible to me that I had lived through all of this. I didn’t even know that such things are happening, everyone says that birth pangs are the biggest … not for me. When a friend of mine asked if childbirth hurts like colic, I told her that colic is worse, a stronger pain, perhaps because it is a sick pain, while birth is life, creation, joy … And that is how I experienced it.
So, describing this swirl in the flower, a friend told me that our DNA is also a spiral and something about our union with God, but I didn’t understand it … The only thing that matters is that I lived it.
Note, I’ve never read such books, nor meditated, yoga, etc.
Returning there, in those hours of birth pangs, every time there was a contraction at Roula’s urging I closed my eyes and disappeared into the plumeria. There was not enough time to feel the pain. As soon as I closed my eyes, I tightened my hands and dreamed. Until it went away and relaxed and again from the beginning … in a while.
At one point I was told that I had reached the maximum of pain and I had to decide whether or not I would have an epidural. From the beginning I didn’t want to be anesthetized. I didn’t want to contaminate my child’s body and mine with poison. So I was very pleased and impressed that the pain was just that! And now as I write these lines, it seems inconceivable how little pain I had, but it’s really true … I still can’t digest it!
-Surely that’s the maximum, my Roula? There will be no greater pain? I asked with fear, the truth is.
-No. This is the pain you will be feeling. What will change is the duration of the contraction.
-Okay. Then let’s go on!
And we continued. With aromas, colors and swirling, with God reminding us of Life and driving death away.
I remember at some point the door opened and a nurse came in to see how we were doing. “How nice you are here! Even the music in this room sounds different!” she told us. On leaving, Roula added looking at me: “Imagine how much positive energy there is here!” And she was right!
There came the time for the extrusion, to get the head out, when the doctor was more concerned … It was not until then that his role was more of an observer. By then we were Roula, me, Panos and plumeria.
And then something magical happened. In the latest and greatest contraction, I felt so much pleasure, as a consummation, like in a love affair, that became even greater when I pulled out my little girl’s head and the same moment a cry so deep and loud, out of my throats, that I thought the foundations of the hospital will be shaken … Even this, the greatest pain, was dressed in pleasure, delight, love … I felt as if I was lighter and the room was fluid and I could walk like water … in the light … Whatever I say is a little.
What followed was more earthy, because they included transfer to the delivery room, threads and stitches, but I was able to handle it calmly with the least – I guess – pain due to my experience so far.
That is how my child came into the world. Within an one and a half hour everything was over and I was nursing my baby. I am still breastfeeding, fifteen months now just to relax, to sleep. She is a calm baby, all laughing! She does not grumble, she does not complain, she has patience and understanding and everyone is impressed by her gentleness. I wonder if this quality is coincidental with how we welcomed her into our world… She left Paradise – as Tomatis says – where she lived for almost nine months and moved to the earth as close as possible to God, to the Paradise of life in my womb.…
Yes, I do believe. And from the day of my labor I believe even more. Not only in God, but also in the people who, if we invite them with our hearts, are there at the right time to give us their own light that will illuminate us.
Roula, from the bottom of my heart thank you for everything. God bless you and I wish this gift that you gave to me, be given in many, many other mommies. So it should be every birth. A God’s smile of life.
My name is Despina Repaneli and my story is completely true.
I am at your disposal.