Enduring Childbirth Alone As A First Time Parent

Patricia Samin-Ellazar talks about the time she endured childbirth alone at home, and what the experience taught her about the bravery and commitment that comes with being a young mom.

Parenthood is, to many, not something one can truly prepare for. Though planning is necessary, it’s rather difficult to gauge if one is “ready” to be a parent—there aren’t any tests for it, or a scoring system. What more when the responsibility arrives so suddenly and at a time when parents are still quite young themselves. Mothers, in particular, hold a significant role in nurturing a child—they’re a part of them (quite literally) and birth them into the world, and what’s a more intimate connection than that? 

With Mother’s Day so close, an anecdote from a co-worker of mine, Patricia Samin-Ellazar (or Pat, as we call her), comes to mind. I recall the first time she regaled me with the story, when we were getting to know each other better. Casually, she told me of the home birth of her son, Dominador (“Dom”) Fernando—and how she had executed it by herself. It was surprising, to say the least, and a story that often elicits the reaction “You did what?” (which is also the reason why she finds amusement in sharing it as a fun fact). 

For most people, December is special because of the holiday season, but for one girl who was still finishing her third year of college, the month is precious for more than that reason: because on December 1, 2017, she gave birth to a small, slightly premature little boy with nothing but a pair of sterilized scissors and a few pillows. 

READ ALSO: Mothers Know Best: 6 Young Women Share Lessons From Their Moms That Shaped Their Lives

A Sudden Jump Into Motherhood

Being a mother wasn’t the first thing on Pat’s to-do list, as one would expect from anyone still navigating the hardships of young adulthood. With a tumultuous childhood and personal challenges she still needed to overcome, the concept of getting married and starting a family still frightened her. 

The pregnancy came quietly and unexpectedly. For the most part, she didn’t feel much of anything beyond her usual cravings and irregular menstrual cycle. “I didn’t know I was pregnant,” Pat told me during an interview on her story. “I didn’t have symptoms like morning sickness, so I thought that it was nothing out of the ordinary.”

Patricia Samin-Ellazar, her husband Elizer Ellazar, and a young Dom

Yet her mother, a dietician by profession, noticed swelling in her ankles and sensed something was amiss. After a visit to a clinic, Pat and her mom came home with the diagnosis that she was indeed with child. They broke the news to her boyfriend (now husband) of four years, and his family, who were all surprised and understandably apprehensive about what the future held.  

“Being pregnant in a society where traditionalists exist has been challenging. My mom and my then-boyfriend-now-husband’s parents were both very particular about rules on relationships,” she explained. “Both our moms and his dad cried as we’ve come to realize and grasp the responsibility that comes with bearing a child.”

Rediscovering Faith in Love and Family

Pat admitted during our talk that it took a while to mend her own relationship with her mother, especially with the rift caused by her pregnancy. Though they had their ups and downs, they eventually began the path to reconciliation upon the birth of Dom. Her in-laws welcomed her into their family after processing the situation. Pat talked about how the reaction of her then-boyfriend left her in awe. “Everyone had heightened emotions that day. The only thing I properly absorbed was that he was ready to take on the role as a father.”

She added: “That was when I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. It was still possible to recover from my past. Suddenly, I had hope that I could pull parenting off, even if we were just 20, as long as I had him by my side.” Today, the two gladly share their responsibilities as parents, with her husband Elizer taking on the role of a firm but caring father, and Pat being the nurturing conversationalist who’s always there to listen to her son. 

Unexpected Labor

Bringing Dom into the world was certainly no easy feat, given that the crux of this story was Pat’s extraordinary home birth. In 2017, she was looking forward to relaxing after finals, still in her third year of university. However, fate had other plans, as she woke up at around 4:00 AM, feeling pains coming from her stomach, akin to a more heightened form of dysmenorrhea. She hadn’t realized she was beginning to go into labor, closing her eyes and thinking the small stings would go away. They didn’t, however, and increased in frequency for the first half of the day. 

Unfortunately, Elizer had gone to his college classes, and would not open his phone until they were finished. “Five minutes after he left, I felt my water breaking,” she explained. Things were escalating fast, and she worried she was experiencing some form of miscarriage. 

“It took thirty minutes of scrolling on my phone for my mind to register what was really happening: I was in labor,” she shared. To put it simply, it wasn’t the most opportune time, as Pat’s mother was also out of the house and unreachable through phone calls, alongside the household help. 

She texted her friends, who also tried getting into contact with Pat’s mother and Elizer, yet it would be some time before they would see the messages and get home—but the baby couldn’t wait.  By 12:57 PM, no one had arrived home, yet Pat was already beginning to give birth. Her friends were calling an ambulance, though it was taking a while for it to arrive. 

A Solo Birth

Pat did what she could, heating water to sterilize a pair of scissors, ready to execute a solo birth. Luckily, the baby was coming out head-first through a normal delivery. She lay on a couple of pillows under her hips, trying to recall what she knew about childbirth. Aside from what she learned from her biology classes in university, she remembered moms in movies doing breathing exercises when in pain, and did the same. “Imagine having period cramps–only it hurts 10 times more,” she expounded. She could only pray and hope that the process would pass as safely as possible. 

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Patricia pulls off a solo birth in 2017, when her son, Dominador Fernando or Dom, was born a month earlier than the intended due date

“It wasn’t easy giving birth. It exposed my body to excruciating pain and exhaustion. I tried to withstand everything that I was feeling,” she stated. During our conversation, she mentioned trying to stay calm through it all, but confessed that the panic really arrived when she had to cut the umbilical cord herself. 

Thankfully, the hardest part was over as she followed her gut instincts. “I finally heard cries. My baby bid the world hello at exactly 1:11p.m.” One of the household help arrived home and, seeing Pat’s frantic and exhausted state, called their neighbor, who was apparently a doctor (a fact the new mother had only learned at the moment). Other than the fact that Dom was born earlier than his expected due date (smaller than most babies as a result), the doctor said he came out healthy. 

Changing The Landscape of Parenthood

That said, Pat explained that her birth was incredibly risky, as the doctor had told her. She had lost a lot of blood, and once her mother and in-laws arrived, they rushed her to the hospital to get treatment. She blacked out for a bit, waking up a few hours later to find Elizer by her side, worried and surprised at the news of her sudden birth. Still, despite the abrupt situation, he already decided on a name for their child: Dominador Fernando, a tribute to both of their fathers. 

Though Pat thankfully emerged fairly unscathed from the situation, she’s well aware that her story is one that should show others the importance of planned parenthood and the de-stigmatization of discussions on sex between parents and children. 

“I hope that parents can be more open with their children so they won’t hide things from them,” Pat told me. “Because I did that with my mom. I also hope that expecting moms will always get regular OB appointments—it’s really safer for the mom and baby.” 

Facility-Based Deliveries Are Best

If Pat could go back in time and change one thing, it would be immediately reporting her pains regardless of severity and rushing to the hospital at the first sign of something wrong. As Healthline defines, solo birth or unassisted childbirth means having one’s baby outside the hospital and in the absence of a midwife or any medical professional. However, healthcare professionals do not recommend unassisted childbirth since it’s generally unsafe. Dangerous risks will be present, and those include the death of the mother, or the child, or both. 

The Department of Health encourages all parents to opt for facility-based deliveries above all else/Photo by Adhy Savala via Unsplash

Though it’s not legally or explicitly forbidden to undergo home births in the Philippines,  a report from Rappler states that the Department of Health aims to encourage facility-based deliveries above all else. So as incredible as it was that Pat survived and pulled off her own birth, it’s certainly not something she’d want to repeat. It’s always best to consult with an obstetrician-gynecologist regarding birth plans if you are with a child. Facility-based deliveries are safer and are highly recommended by healthcare professionals.

Meet Dominador Fernando 

Today, Dominador Fernando—known as DF or Dom to his loved ones—is currently in kindergarten and is doing well in his classes. “He will be moving up to Grade 1 this month, and his father and I could not be prouder,” Pat shared. 

“He’s a healthy six-year old boy who loves eating chicken, lumpiang shanghai, and vegetables. His favorite hobbies include reading books, drawing, and he shows tremendous fondness for toy cars,” she added. 

As for what she loves most about her son, there are too many things to count—though she really adores his empathy, even at a young age. “He is the first one that notices that something’s wrong with me. If I’m sad, stressed, mad—he’s the first one to approach me, give me a hug, or tell me ‘It’s okay mommy, don’t cry.’ We’re really connected.” He continues to grow into a more articulate child who tries to help eagerly when he can and immediately apologizes when he makes mistakes.”

Worth the Risk

The bond between a mother and child is something inexplicably special. Despite the hardships of her birth, Pat will always say that Dom was worth it all. “It was a risk that I had absolutely no regrets taking, and I would do it all over again if it meant seeing and carrying him in my arms once more.”

Banner photo by Berthe Morisot via Wikimedia Commons.

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