Hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, yogis and gangstas, proletariat and bourgeois – we gather you all here today as fellow humans, to tell you a tale of life, a tale that we’ve each personally experienced, a tale about that moment when a human life is birthed from womb to world, water to air, and darkness to light.
Let me tell you about my experience, what it is like for a privileged white boy, who never wanted kids, to start a family. I’ve gone from drunkenly tipping porta potties for fun and angrily beating up strangers to vent, to tenderly holding this bundle of love in my arms and crying with joy as I look into my wife’s eyes. And am I ever glad that I made it here.
We’re both wounded kids, Penpa and I. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has childhood wounds, so I’m not saying we’re anything special. But I can’t talk about our first child without bringing up our root wounds. For us, this journey from pregnancy to birth has been a deep dive into the early traumas which have shaped us, and healing them so they aren’t passed on.
Our wounds were both around broken families. Hers while fleeing Tibet as a refugee and being left behind at a boarding school in India while her parents settled in Nepal to make a living. Mine after a drug bust sent my father to jail, which led to his deportation back to Guatemala and out of my life for 30 years.
So when we found out we were pregnant, we both felt a strong need to be an unbroken family, to be in love and raise the child together as a team, as lifetime teammates. That meant all the lingering bullshit we were still harboring inside us needed to be addressed, and the growth needed to happen now, no more procrastination. In that way, from the very start, this kid was cutting through our self deception and leading us into growth and transformation.
As first time parents, this entire experience has been a novel adventure delivering gorgeous views and regular challenges to step up and grow. As our baby developed in the womb, we both felt a powerful energy sweep over us, inspiring us to face what we’d been afraid to face. The spiritual power of bringing a new life into the world was unexpected, but greatly appreciated. While the pregnancy changed us, the birth was also a rebirth for us into the life of parents.
I’d hoped for a short labor, a “wake up in the morning with contractions starting, head to the birth center at midday, and get home by dinner to celebrate with the new arrival” type of labor.
What we got was contractions starting on Friday, which became intense enough that Penpa couldn’t sleep that night. The next morning they’d slowed a bit but were still coming regularly enough so that we knew it was no longer Braxton Hicks. We already had our 41 week appointment with the midwife set for that afternoon, so we went with our bags packed ready to stay and have the kid.
No such luck, as the midwife checked to find we were only 1 centimeter dilated and she said we were still only in latent (early) labor, which could last a while. She informed us that it was common for contractions to get accelerated at night due to melatonin and oxytocin levels rising, which was our experience that evening as contractions stayed spaced out till nightfall, when they got closer again, making it tough for Penpa to sleep.
Sunday repeated the previous days pattern, but contractions got more intense and we started thinking, “it’s gonna be a Monday baby!”
When we woke up Monday morning (more like I woke up and Penpa braved the day after another sleepless night) it felt like my vision was coming into fruition, as the contractions were stronger and more consistent, generally 6 to 3 minutes apart. By the afternoon we were getting long stretches of minute long contractions spaced 3 minutes apart, and by the evening we hit the magic number of 3-1-1; 3 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for 1 hour. That was our cue to head into the midwife, so we grabbed our bags and made the drive. Upon arrival to the birth center, we unpacked our bags, burned some incense and smudged each other, and got the water started in the tub. It was time to bring this baby into the world.
Or maybe not. The midwife did the cervical check and came back with some rattling news – it was only at 2 centimeters. While active labor is usually indicated by 3-1-1 contractions, the official measure is a cervical dilation of 5 to 6 centimeters. So we still had a bit of time to go, while these contractions were now no joke and happening all the time. It could be another 12 hours, or another couple days, before hitting enough dilation, no way to know for sure. What they did know was that we’re only supposed to be admitted at active labor, so they sent us to labor at home till we hit that mark.
We went home to another sleepless night of contractions spaced 3, or 2, or even 1 minute apart. By Tuesday morning Penpa was beat and saying things like “I think I’m gonna die”, but she kept riding the contraction waves out, switching positions from leaning on the birth ball, to laying in the tub, to child’s pose on the bed, and more. We weren’t sure how we’d know if she was dilated enough, but when the bloody show started increasing quickly and the contractions got so strong that she was beginning to feel urges to push, we decided it was time to go.
We got into the car for what turned out to be our last drive out to the midwife, arriving at 12:20pm. The cervical exam brought great news – she was 7.5 centimeters dilated!
By 1:40pm on October 16th our baby boy, Dorje GEM Khandro, arrived, birthed in the same tub where we’d started filling the water the night before. I caught him in my hands (with the guidance of the midwife) and we brought him up into Penpa’s arms. I cried with relief that our baby was safe and in our arms, relief that all my worries could now subside, our little Gem was here!
Penpa carried him to the bed where she laid down and held him on her chest as she delivered the placenta. The medical staff did their checkups while we laid on the bed with our beautiful baby boy and had our minds blown and hearts open wide from all the love pouring out.
It’s an experience of love that I don’t have words for, and which I’d been told about but never understood. There’s no understanding it till you have the experience for yourself, and I’m guessing any parent reading this knows exactly what I mean. I’ve continued to cry throughout the week since the birth from the overwhelming love and gratitude I feel. On an energetic level, I felt this blissful love blasting through my energy channels and transforming my energy body back to a flow I hadn’t felt since childhood.
After some initial breastfeeding I had the honor of cutting the cord. Then mama and baby Dorje took a well earned nap before we went home to eat dinner with grandma. She was blown away that we’d had the baby just 6 hours earlier, and were now home and eating instead of laid up in the hospital for several days like she’d been when I was born.
That night I couldn’t stop staring at our baby boy, rotating from awe, to tears of joy and gratitude, to relief, to love for my family – the amazing woman who brought my boy into the world, and this precious Gem which was already transforming me on every level of my being.
Since then I felt like I entered into season 2 of LOST and joined Desmond in the hatch, having to hit the button every 108 minutes. The midwifes told us to make sure we breastfed every 2 hours, which we tracked with our phones. Every time that alarm went off, the breastfeeding would start and we’d hit the button to reset the countdown again. We began our baby-moon and entered the world of sleep deprivation, the initiation ritual of all new parents.
After a week as parents Penpa said “Sleepless nights are worth it, when you have a treasure like this.” Oh, how right she is.
I'm now diving into my new life as a parent and an Innovative Yogi. I've been blessed to get to this place, and I feel like it's my duty to share what I've learned.
Meditation, breathing, yoga, mindfulness, and soul work have been the essential tools for my transformation, and through Innovative Yogis I'm offering training and coaching to anyone who wants to learn them.
StarCraft has been an important part of my life since I discovered it as a shy 14 year old who hid his computer gaming from friends out of fear of being called a nerd. As a 20 year old on probation who couldn't risk the party scene anymore, I found community on Bnet and formed the team sMi, which had a great run in 2006.
When all my top players started quitting BW for Poker, I stopped fighting the current and entered a world that challenged my mind and emotions like Starcraft, but with real economic implications. I'm grateful for the challenge, because poker set me on the path of meditation thanks to a great CardRunners series called "The Eight Fold Path To Poker Enlightenment". While I'd been exposed to meditation all my life, I didn't actually try to get good at it till I realized how much it would help me improve my poker game (especially managing tilt and staying focused).
While my poker and StarCraft skills improved, so did my life overall, and it was the first step on my path of personal evolution to the person I am today. It makes me happy to be able to offer that back to the StarCraft community, so hit me up if you want to my help as you travel your path
P.S. I'm still on the babymoon, spending lots of time with my newborn son, but will be available for online sessions starting next week hs: