Almost a month has passed since Max Collins gave birth to son Skye Anakin at home.
It was an extraordinary and special moment she shared with her husband Pancho Magno, who was with her throughout the ten-hour labor.
“Sobrang sakit, sobra talaga,” Max recalled with a smile as she and Pancho spoke to PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) on August 8. The interview for PEP Exclusives was conducted via Zoom.
Unlike women who are given anesthesia or an epidural during a hospital birth, Max did not have any kind of pain reliever during the natural birth.
“Gusto ko na nga lang sanang humingi ng paracetamol sa sobrang sakit."
In the ten hours from contractions to labor, Pancho could only massage Max to ease the pain.
Pancho explained, "Iyong sobrang namumula na ang tailbone niya kasi dinidiinan ko talaga. Iyon lang siguro ang nakaka-relieve ng pain."
MAX'S HOME BIRTH STORY
Max went into detail as she narrated her home birth experience.
It started with a trip to the bathroom at 3:30 a.m., where Max felt as though something was different.
“After that, nag-start na iyong contraction, tuluy-tuloy na. At around 7 or 8 a.m., dumating na iyong doula ko, and sobrang sakit na iyong contraction nung time na iyon."
As the contractions started, Pancho set about preparing everything they needed for the home birth.
"Minassage niya [Pancho] lang ako, ni-ready niya iyong kuwarto, in-inflate niya iyong pool. Meron kaming inflatable pool sa kuwarto so ayun, hinanda niya lang lahat."
Things began to escalate before noon.
“My midwife arrived at 11 a.m., fully dilated na ako noon. 'Tapos, my water broke already. Sabi niya, puwede na kong mag-water.
"Pumasok na ako sa water and hindi pa na-relieved iyong sakit, basta sobrang sakit lang talaga.
"Minassage niya ako, we tried a different position, pero wala pa rin progress. Sabi, kailangan kong tumayo. And then ayun, lumabas ang ulo niya until nakahanap kami ng tamang position para ilabas si baby.
“So, noong na-feel ko na ah, kaya na ito, puwede na ito, sabi nila, 'Sige, tuloy mo lang ang pag-push at lalabas na siya.'"
But at this point, pushing was a challenge for Max.
"Pero sa sobrang sakit, sabi ko, 'Parang isang push lang ang kaya ko.' Kasi, first three hours ako nag-push, as in, push nang push. At kapag nag-tear na ako, sa sobrang sakit, hindi ko siya kayang ituloy. Bumalik kami sa water, doon ko siya na-push nang todo.”
The pain was excruciating, and Max recalled saying over and over during the labor that she wanted to die.
“As in, gusto ko talagang mamatay. Kung puwede lang, pero siyempre, naiisip mo lang iyong anak mo, di ba? So, noong lumabas siya, iba iyong happiness.”
MAX'S LEARNINGS FROM THE HOME BIRTH
Despite the painful experience, Max was proud that she was able to give birth without crying or cursing.
“Sigaw lang,” Max said with a laugh.
“Kasi, ayokong maging negative. Kasi, alam ko na siya lang [Pancho] ang mai-stress. Baka sabihin niya, 'Sige, huwag na nating ituloy. Lumipat na lang tayo sa hospital,' e, ayokong nai-stress siya."
Max and Pancho had prepared for the home birth by attending online classes, and the mom-to-be also did some exercises to strengthen her pelvic muscles.
But her birth experience made her realize that mothers-to-be should be prepared not just physically, but also mentally.
The Kapuso actress said, “I think, more than physically strong, dapat ay mentally strong kasi, hindi ka talaga dapat sumuko.
“So, the whole time I tried to be positive. I tried na huwag magmura. I tried na huwag sabihin na hindi ko na kaya.
"Siguro, the worse thing that I said, 'Ang sakit! Ang sakit!’ ayon lang. But because ayokong ipasok iyong thought na iyon sa utak ko, wala akong choice, e, iyon lang iyong ways na mailalabas ko si baby.”
Pancho was very proud of the way Max prepared for the day she would give birth to their son.
“Siguro, iyon lang din ang nakaka-proud sa kanya at advice rin sa mga moms, kailangan talaga maging ready. Work-out, diet,” he seconded.
How does an actual birth compare to the birthing experience you see on television?
“Oh my god, ganun! I think, ini-underestimate ko ang sakit. It’s more on TV purposes kaya ganun ang face, pero hindi, masakit talaga."
Max added, “Pero worth it iyong sakit, sobra. Kasi, iba naman ang pagmamahal mo sa baby, di ba? Paglabas niya, as in, talagang binigay mo na iyong buhay mo para sa anak mo.
“Iba yung joy.”
GIVING BIRTH IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
For his part, Pancho recounted that the COVID-19 pandemic weighed heavily on their decision for Max to give birth at home.
He said, “Nag-meeting naman kami. Sabi niya, gusto niya raw dito because of the virus. Mas relaxed siya, kasama niya ko during the whole process.
"I hope and we should pray na mawala na itong pandemic."
But if they had chosen for Max to give birth in a hospital, they probably did it with anesthesia.
He said, “Kung nasa hospital, malamang nag-anesthesia kami. Siguro, number one is the pandemic, kaya kami nasa house. At may ibang hospital na not allowed iyong father to be inside the delivery room.
“So kung nasa hospital kami, as a nurse, baka nagpa-anethesia kami.”
As a nurse, Pancho had witnessed women giving birth. But the experience was different as he watched Max give birth to their baby.
“Kung maaalala niyo iyong pinost ko sa Instagram, hindi ko maidi-describe iyong process, iyong mindset niya, mom lang talaga ang makakagawa, katawan lang talaga nila ang capable.”
He added, “Lahat ng pinag-aralan ko, parang nawala lahat. Siyempre, iba iyong feeling na nakikita mo ang asawa mo, nakahiga sa banyo sa sobrang sakit.
“Parang kung puwede mo lang kunin iyong sakit, kukunin mo. Sobrang surreal talaga ang experience that day and it’s very special, as in, overwhelming.”
Pancho also revealed that even without a pandemic, he and Max were likely to choose a home birth again.
He explained, “Nakita na namin and well, ayon nga, nandoon ka sa bahay mo. Mas free ka, mas relax ka.
"Puwede kang jumebs anytime, puwede kang maligo anytime, puwede kang kumain ng gusto mong pagkain. Puwede kang manood sa Netflix. Puwede kang magtago sa banyo."
"Pero kung magkaroon muli ng time, siguro, home birth, and siguro, mas paghahandaan pa namin.”
Does that mean they are already thinking of having more kids?
While Max said they would not be so quick to give Skye Anakin a sibling after the pain she experienced, Pancho jokingly told his wife, "Next year na."