Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
I love the peace this mom felt with her birth, masha'Allah. Those first few moments after birth are so precious. I'm not against hospital births, but I wish medical teams would slow down and savor that sacred time (assuming no complications).
I have to say that my unassisted home birth was also my favorite. However, there are risks associated with going it alone. Then again, there are risks to going to the hospital too!
No birth is without risk. In fact life is not without risk. But I want to make it clear that I do not teach/train/nor encourage women to birth without someone skilled in birth to assist her. But for those that do so successfully, most would never go back to hospital birthing again.
I hope you enjoy this story. Please let me know if you'd like to share yours. Now on to the story...Unplanned Home Birth in Malaysia!...
Our precious Iman Ayra was born on a peaceful Sunday afternoon. I had a bloody show at 7am in the morning. Didn't feel anything much, so I tried to get more sleep. Shaf and Sarah Ayesha went for a swim at 9am. I would've joined them if it hadn't been for the show - instead, I went for a walk by the pool. I started to feel contractions at about 10am and got Shaf to strap the TENS machine on. He told me to get the hospital bag ready just in case. I remember thinking "Oh I don't think it'll be that soon... maybe tomorrow?" He then left to buy some groceries.
I have to say at this point, this labour was different from my first one from the word go. I definitely felt more sensations with this one and because of this, I guess I was a little afraid I wouldn't be able to hack it. Anyway, since it was day time and I hadn't much to do, I started timing contractions. They were irregular- lasting only 30 seconds and about 6 or 7 minutes apart. Something felt different though... We went out for lunch with my parents at noon (with the TENS strapped to my back!!). We were timing contractions in the car, but they were still irregular although now some were getting closer together. We went back to my mom's house after lunch and I went into the bedroom to lay down. It was almost 2pm.
The contractions definitely felt more intense by now and I was aware that I was cranking up the notch on the TENS. I wondered if baby might be posterior and if that would explain the irregularity?? I tried to get in the most encouraging position for baby to descend well. I phoned Karin, my doula, at about 2pm to ask if I should go into the hospital. She said it was up to me. Somehow listening to her voice over the phone had an amazingly soothing effect on me. As soon as I hung up, things started to escalate and I could feel the contractions start to occurr in a regular rhythm .. "Ah... this feels better".
I don't remember much at this point, only that even if I had wanted to get up I couldn't. The contractions became really intense and I found myself scrunching my fists and fingers just to get through them. They were coming fast - one on top of the other, and I couldn't do much except to get in as comfortable a position as possible to get through the next one. I found myself flung forward on a pile of pillows, gritting my teeth... Then, the thought of groaning occurred to me. I let out a low groan and it felt soooo good. Suddenly I felt the urge to push... "But... I can't be ready to push, I must be about 4/5 cm max.. Would I have a lip??" I can't remember much else after this, only that I might have had a little snooze!!
Somehow I managed to get up and reach for the door. I called to Shaf. He came and seeing me, said "Let's go now". I said "I have to go to the bathroom". Once in the bathroom I couldn't move. Shaf was calling out to me, "Get in the car, let's go now!"..." I CAN'T MOVE!"
I got on my hands and knees. Shaf got behind me calling out to my Mom and Dad as he realized what might be happening..."Get towels!".. Chaos outside as reality sank in for my family- mom and dad running up and down, yelling, Sarah Ayesha bawling.
Then I felt the baby move into the birth canal (what an amazing feeling!) and the unmistakable urge to push...
"I can see the head!"
I wasn't sure how hard or gently to push (I didn't have the urge to push with my first birth). So I pushed once or twice trying to be gentle, and could feel her head crowning and the famous "ring of fire".
.... but only for a moment...
What do I do now? Pant?
...No time to think...with the next contraction her head was out.
"The head's out!"
.... and then with another contraction I felt her body slither out.
My baby! My baby's here!!
Shaf held her up to me and she let out a little whimper...I sat down and held her to my bare chest. We checked to see what gender - it's a girl! :) She was wide-eyed and alert, taking in her surroundings. Shaf recited the Adhan in her ear and recorded the time of birth - 2.48pm.
I can't believe it.. I did it!
What joy, what relief!
I leaned back against Shaf and held my baby close to me, savoring the moment with this precious new being...We took pictures and chatted, while admiring our little bundle. I took a mental note of the blood loss and waited calmly for the placenta to be expelled. She started suckling my breast within 40 minutes or so. The placenta came soon after..
Meanwhile, pandemonium continued outside as my parents were in shock and there was confusion about which ambulance to call, who was calling who, etc....In the end, it took one and a half hours before the ambulance arrived. God works in wondrous ways because it turned out to be the sweetest, most magical one and a half hours ever! In the silence of the bathroom, I got to enjoy and take in my new baby and bask in the afterglow of this birth..I got the peace I had hoped for that I didn't get with my first birth! :)
When the ambulance arrived, the midwife took the placenta and got Shaf to cut the chord. The ride to the hospital was a bumpy one, and the meeting with the doctor was a brief one. He said I had a tear that needed stitching, but I really didn't want to be stitched then, and asked him if it would heal by itself. He said it would and let me be. We stayed a night at the hospital - mainly to be observed (I have a mild heart condition) and left the next afternoon.
What a HIGH!!! I felt a zillion dollars after the birth and couldn't get enough of my new baby! The recovery has been fantastic and I've felt on top of the world for the past two weeks :)
What an amazing experience!
I think of all the women in my family who have birthed at home - my maternal grandmother who birthed 7 babies at home and my great grandmother who birthed 5 babies at home, and my paternal grandmother who apparently also birthed my Dad in the bathroom - and I am in AWE! I'm humbled that I got to experience birth the way they did..
To all the strong, amazing women whom I talked with before the birth (you know who you are), I thank you for your support in countless ways! :)
To my supportive doctor - thank you for standing up for our rights within a medical system devoid of empathy and understanding.
I pray for a time when birth can be accepted as a sacred and safe event once again, surrounded by familiar faces of loving family and friends..
Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal!