The first thing you should know is that somewhere deep down, I have always wanted a home-birth. The calm, tranquil environment and being in the comfort of your own home always appealed to me. But with having a V-Bac, I always had the “what ifs” in the back of my mind. I have also opted for a shot of pethadine with my other 2 children, so I knew that having a birth with no pain relief of any sort, wasn’t really something I was sold on. My gynae and I joked about it and I said I didn’t think I was strong enough, and how much I admired those women who could “sneeze a kid out”…. Well, be careful what you wish for 🙂 This is the story of how my fourth child entered this world.
It started off like any other day. My second day of maternity leave, I dropped the kids at school, played with my almost two year old toddler, did some grocery shopping, homework and afternoon activity pick ups. I had been feeling generally uncomfortable the whole day but nothing out of the ordinary for 38+ weeks and all of its general bowel and constipation issues 🙂 I made dinner for the family and tried to do a few yoga stretches to relieve the feeling. Taking the kids up to bed, I remember snapping at their hooligan antics at bedtime, telling them my tummy was sore and they should just relax and go to sleep. After putting them to bed, I took a long warm bath to help relieve the discomfort and general feeling of pressure but there certainly weren’t any contractions to take note of. My previous pregnancies also went all the way upto 41 weeks, so I wasn’t expecting anything different this time around either.
At about 10h45 pm I remember feeling the first few contractions (or surges if you follow hypnobirthing), but they weren’t very strong and certainly weren’t in any sort of pattern yet. Never the less, I told my husband to come to bed early because we may be making a hospital trip at 3 or 4 am (based on my previous labors). He came up to bed at about 11h30 pm and at this stage they were more frequent and definitely strong enough to be considered a “contraction”. I started to actively time them, but they still weren’t lasting for a minute so I thought we still had a long night ahead. I plugged in my ear phones and played 2 Surah Maryams (verses from the Holy Qu’ran) as I lay down to try and rest as much as I could at home. By midnight, my eldest son had jumped into our bed and in the next 5 minutes the contractions went from bearable, to me actively having to focus on breathing through the pain. Time to switch up to my “rainbow rhythm meditations”. I was going to get up to move my son back to his bed at this point but the next contraction was a little more painful and I let out a little whimper so I thought right, time to shower and get to the hospital now. Husband and son fast asleep in bed, I went into the bathroom and was suddenly hit with another contraction. Swearing under my breath at the “stupid meditations not working” (well rather not the meditations itself but me for not being able to relax), I focused my breathing into my tummy like I was told (so grateful for that hypnobirthing course now) and decided to draw a bath instead of a shower (thank goodness). The moment I jumped into the bath at about 00h28 (I checked because I was timing those contractions now), I felt my waters break, but not a normal break like they did with my son or daughter, a huge gush. “OH SHIT” I thought, there is no more time. “OK BABY… OK BABY…. I’m coming, hold on for me, we getting up now, we’re going” I literally said out loud, like my baby could hear me and was going to hold on.
Gripping onto the side of the bath for support I stood up and felt baby’s head. Crap….. “What happens if my husband doesn’t hear me” was my first thought, my second was I could hear my two year old crying in her room so now the kids were awake too, and my third thought was this baby is coming now! “Ahmed…. Ahmed….. BAAAABY” I cried to my husband, “Whaaat”… a sleepy sound emerging from the bedroom came back, obviously roused by my daughters crying too, “Heeelp BAAAAABY”.. 1 x sleepy husband stumbled into the bathroom in a shocked state “What? What do you mean? What must I do ?” “CATCH HER” I said and in literally two breaths (I literally don’t think I even pushed), one for head and one for her body, this super rocket human was brought into the world. Thankfully, I married a skilled cricketer and he caught his daughter before her head touched the water, I pulled her forward onto my chest and lay back in the warm water. Less then 10 minutes from the time my water broke to the time when my baby girl made her appearance. There was no time to “feel pain”, no time to “panic”, my body knew instinctively what to do and I just followed it. This little angel basically birthed herself.
“Go back to the room” I heard my husband telling our son, who clearly had heard everything and was in a shivering state, “I’ll come to you now, just stay in the room”. “What must I do” my husband repeated again. “Call an ambulance and get me some towels”. Trying to assess my newborn in a dark, candle lit room (Yes I actually freaking lit a candle before jumping into that bath), I noticed she was wriggling in a weird way and was still quite blue, then I saw the cord around her neck. Alhumdulliah, THANK YOU to God, for showing me that in time. I unhooked the cord and held her close to me. I can hear my husband swearing at the operator on the phone and realised he had phoned 10111. “NO MAN” I shouted “Call Netcare” (Our private ambulance service).. Thankfully my cell phone was in arms reach and we both ended up calling them at the same time. I can still hear the sheer shock in my voice as I replay the conversation to the operator. “Hello Mam, I need an ambulance, I just had a baby” :), not quite believing it myself. Ahmed brought some towels to me, and then went to tend to the kids, My poor children, had NO IDEA what was going on. Thankfully we have the most incredible live in nanny so next up on speed dial was Servie to come and sit with the children.
The Netcare ambulance were amazing. Within 10 minutes, we dialled them at 00h37 and they were literally there by 00h47. The female paramedic came in and cut baby’s cord, handing our princess to her partner to wrap and warm up. We sat in the bath for about 5 more minutes waiting to see if the placenta would come as contractions had already re-started, but no such luck yet. She suggested we get out the bath and transfer me to the hospital as I needed to deliver the placenta as soon as possible. I got up, put a gown on, my husband grabbed the hospital bags and off I climbed into an ambulance at 1 am holding my newborn baby. YAY now the second round of contractions were really starting. Can we just speed this up I mumbled.. I begged the ambulance to transfer me to Parklane hospital which is where my doctor is, and not TOO far away, however emergency protocol dictates they drive to the closest hospital, which in this case, was Sunninghill.
Here’s where the story turns a little nightmarish…. The casualty ward at this hospital has no maternity casualty unit attached to it. They have a maternity ward, but no maternity casualty facilities and there was no OBGYN on duty. Now for a labour to progress effectively, you as a mama, need to be relaxed and your body needs to be producing that oxytocin, a casualty unit is really not very conducive to a calm, serene environment.
For first time mums, if you are planning a natural birth, after you give birth in a hospital, you normally receive a shot of oxytocin to help deliver the placenta faster. It should come by itself, but this just speeds it up if need be. So whilst my baby girl was safely in my arms, her other “home”, my placenta, was still inside me. The longer it’s inside after birth, the higher your chance of haemorrhaging.
So there I was, like a deer in headlights in this casualty unit. The staff take their time and do all the admin work, connect me to those battery wired heart monitors, and literally joke about how they have no experience with maternity patients to the doctor. I’m hearing all of this, and looking around this strange, cold room and everyone is “waiting” for me to deliver this placenta. The contractions are now beyond painful, worse than the birth itself and in comes in the head casualty doctor/surgeon dude (and he was a big guy). “MAM he said, I need to catheterize you”, we need your bladder to come down do we can get this placenta out now, “No Sir (I literally called him “Sir”, please wait I’m in the middle of a contraction, please don’t do that now, just wait 5 minutes… “I cant wait, you are cramping because the placenta is still inside you, we need to get it out now” he says as he starts to punch my stomach. “You are punching my stomach while I am having a contraction, PLEASE STOP”, I shouted… “MAM if you do not push this placenta out I am taking you to theatre”….( I did not go through a homebirth just to go into theatre dude) “Do you not have a gynae on duty, Is there no midwife here?”, I asked. In between all of this I had a lab guy come into the room to take my blood and to do my COVID SWAB ( I punched the guy, I’m sorry lab guy, it was bad timing), (Seriously, no wonder I couldn’t deliver the damn thing).
Then, I heard someone mention Syntocinon (a synthetic form of oxytocin), (It was the female paramedic who came on check on things) “YES”, I shouted “Do you not have any synthetic oxytocin, please, that will help me.” FINALLY after 45 minutes in ER and 7 failed attempts to find my veins, they insert a drip with the Syntocinon. Less then 3 minutes of that being injected, Sergeant Major doctor dude was back punching my stomach, again I remember telling him to please “STOP THAT” (as my 2 year old shouts), wait for the oxytocin to kick in. “MAM this placenta is retained, it is not going to come out, I am taking you to theatre”…
Queue the singing angels as I see a midwife in a maroon uniform finally enter the room. FINALLY… almost 45 minutes of absolute agony, I have SOMEONE by my side who knows what they are doing. “OK, let’s see why we are having trouble here” She said, and in the correct manner, apologising and saying “Sorry mam”, I’m going to have to check you internally” (take note sergeant major) she told me to push and with a little pull from her side and a push from mine, one fully intact (thank you God) placenta was delivered, and I now burst into tears. “THANK YOU THANK YOU” I said to her, thank you so much for helping me.. And also , screw you Sergeant Major.
All this time my sweet baby girl was being handed from nurse to nurse to hold. I kept asking them to remove the towels and wrap her in blankets. Finally, after the whole ordeal was over they wrapped her up for me. At about 4h30 am I was wheeled into a general ward, my husband went home at about 5h30am to check on the kids and get some rest and I was finally transferred to the maternity unit at 6am. At last, I could relax. Of course, any new mom will know I got ZERO sleep until 8pm that night, but it was worth every minute.
So there it is.. Our little Aaliyah’s dramatic entrance into the world. One thing is for sure babygirl, you were born one determined little sausage. The first thing I noticed was your beautiful almond shaped eyes and your mop of dark hair. You didn’t give a loud cry or scream like your siblings with all the bright hospital lights, but rather some gentle gurgling sounds. Your warm body lay on my chest for 15 minutes just you and I, quiet in our moment and in a bit of shock at what just happened. Your birth was BEAUTIFUL and I wouldn’t change it for the world (except for maybe actually planning it and having a midwife to call instead of going into the hospital), but still, you gave me what I subconsciously wanted, an unmedicated, unassisted, home-birth. A water birth in a sense lol. You gave that to me and you took away any pain. I cannot wait to see the plans that Allah has for you. You are incredible and I thank you for showing and teaching me so much strength. One week later and I am still in absolute awe of what out bodies can do. What we are capable of. This is a salute to all women out there. WE ARE AMAZING. If you are planning a natural birth, TRUST your body. You CAN do this. I hope this inspired you in some way. …