I always heard of other moms speak of “mothers intuition”, but I never really understood this until I became one! I was 39 weeks pregnant and by that time I had to go to my Obstetrician/Gynaecologist (OB/GYN) weekly. The day before I could go into labour I was exceptionally exhausted and was pretty much passed out on the couch for the entire day. That same evening, I had a surge of energy and nesting and decided to paint a table for my daughter, much to the dismay of my mum and husband! My husband did the nightly routine of rubbing my aching belly with bio-oil while he spoke to Ardyn and asked her to please come soon. It was strange but I knew that night when I lay down, that she was coming soon. I was tossing and turning in bed at around 04h00 that morning, with what seemed like period cramps. I told my husband, Don who was still sleeping, I thought I was in labour, I don’t think he took in what I was saying. I stayed in bed for a while, and started documenting the cramps on a contraction app.
The Mucus Plug
When I went to the bathroom, my mucus plug had passed, this is one of the first signs of being in labour, I had read about it so I knew what to expect. I went downstairs, made myself a cup of coffee and some cereal, and sat on the couch. At this point, my husband and mum came downstairs and found me casually sitting on the couch. I had heated the wheat bag and placed it on my lower back as the pain was starting to intensify, it cames in waves so I knew for sure I was in labour. My husband and mum were scurrying around by now, panic in their faces! As for me, I was as calm as a cucumber, I was so mentally prepared for this day, well I only had 9 months to do so. I watched many birth videos and read so many blogs, and I made a point of watching positive birth stories. I did not attend any ante-natal classes, instead, I just downloaded the classes from YouTube (There’s a tip! Don’t waste your money parents, you will need that cash when the baby arrives).
I was progressing quite fast, and by 06h30 when I stood up to go to the kitchen, my waters broke right there in the living room. I was so excited it happened on its own at home. There was no pain, no sound, just a gush of water trickled down my legs and soaked my pyjama bottoms. My mum grabbed a towel, and lay it under me and I just sat on the chair as the pain got worse. By now Don and my mum were listening to the ante-natal classes I downloaded, and I was laughing at how I told my husband many times to listen to this beforehand! Still calm and chilled, I went to have a bath, my mum helped me shave, everywhere! She washed my hair, and all this time in the bath the amniotic fluid was continually leaking. It was then I noticed my tummy shape change, and I could feel the baby move much lower, and my contractions were about 12 -15 minutes apart.
Getting ready for the hospital
My bags were semi-packed, I just needed to throw a few more things in. While I did that, Don and my mum got all the hospital documents ready, I dried my hair and applied my make-up because I swore I would not go to the hospital looking crazy. As I was applying my 5-minute make-up my mum was starting to panic, because she could see how much pain I was in! Don and I left to go to the hospital at 09h45, and I reassured her I would be okay. I, on the other hand, was still downplaying everything, I knew early on I would try to labour at home for as long as it could be done. I had not gotten a chance to thread my eyebrows and upper lip, and here I was trying to convince Don to take me to the beauty salon that’s not too far from where we live. He had to bring me back to my senses, and here we were arguing about how I was gonna look so unkempt at the hospital. Good thing I gave in and listened to him! I got to the hospital and walked to the maternity ward, and informed the nurses I was in labour. They took me to the first ward, where I had to undress and put on the fashionable hospital gown. You lay on the bed with a huge maternity pad between your legs, while the nurses hook you up to a monitor.
Checking my progress..OUCH!
Then what was for me, one of the most painful things ever! I still cringe when I think of it, the nurse came to check how far along I was. This was so painful I had to pull back her hand, that entire area is super sensitive and sore! She said I was 2cm dilated at this point. A few minutes later my OB/GYN arrived and thankfully he did not want to put me through any more pain, and decided not to a physical check himself. I was then given a pethidine injection, which did nothing to ease the pain, but did make me super drowsy, and I felt even more relaxed (bit high to tell you the truth). My amazing husband, never left my side as I went through one painful contraction after the next. He held my hand, and we prayed through each one. At some point I asked him to play the old Hillsong gospel music for me, he left his phone next to my ear! The song that played many times was “Eagle’s Wings”. This ended up becoming the only song that could calm my newborn in the early days.
I said, no Epidural!
We made videos, and gave our family regular updates through the day. There were so many forms my gosh, and my poor husband was left to do all the admin and running around! The nurse and my doctor came around with like 10 pages for me to sign, this was an authorisation for an epidural “epidural anaesthetic, used especially in childbirth to produce loss of sensation below the waist”. I maintained from the beginning of my pregnancy an epidural was not an option for me, I was adamant on having a natural birth, with no medical intervention unless it was necessary. I made sure to tell my OB/GYN at all my visits I would not take one. The nurses insisted I complete and sign the form, but I knew it was a waste of time. I told my husband that even if I wanted to take it at the moment he should remind me of how intent I was to do without one. By 12h00 after drinking my blueberry smoothie, I was feeling hungry and asked my hubby to run down and get me a sandwich. While he was gone, the nurses came and wheeled me into the Labour ward. My hubby got there with my sandwich, and then he needed to go back down to go buy those plastic sheets to go under you (Yes, the private hospital’s don’t supply you with everything you need, but will save that for a different post). I was once again strapped on to check the baby’s vitals and my contractions. By this point, the pain was so intense I felt as if I was in another universe. You slip into some weird out-of-body kind off vibe, time just flew by in there, and I did not even know my husband was filming me. I needed to use the restroom, but the nurse said it was too dangerous for me to wake up as I was progressing so fast, so she used a catheter “A flexible tube inserted through a narrow opening into a body cavity, particularly the bladder, for removing fluid”, this was a huge fear of mine, but that quickly dissipated when I didn’t even feel a thing, pretty rad if you ask me!
Time to push!
The nurse would come and go, and asked me 3 times if I felt the urge to push, but I did not feel any urge at that time. By 12h40 my husband had to go call her, as I felt the natural urge to push. She immediately called my OB/GYN and within minutes he was there getting his gloves on, and opening up these sterile packs of equipment he would need. He checked me and said I was ready, and our baby would be here soon. All of a sudden I remember feeling an immediate rush of adrenalin, the room was beautifully calm, but there was an excitement in the air as well. He asked my husband to hold my right hand and asked me to place my right leg on his hip. I had two labour nurses on my left side doing the same. By 12h50 I was ready to push! In the end, I proved my OB/GYN wrong and did not take an epidural and there was no time for one in any case.
My first push was very lacklustre, to say the least, and my OB/GYN and nurse coached me on exactly how I needed to successfully push. While pushing I was constantly encouraged by my amazing husband and birth team, they would tell me every time they saw baby’s head and this gave me a super strength that only mothers would understand. So I would push when I had a contraction, and in between, I would rehydrate, catch my breath and wait to push again. Ardyn’s head, a rather big head, was going back and forth in the birth canal, and in my haze, I heard the nurse say to the doctor that baby’s heart rate was dropping. The phrase fuelled something else in me, already exhausted, I instantly got a surge of energy and I started pushing with every fibre of my being.
Ardyn Grey Daniel is here!
At exactly 13h20 Ardyn Grey Daniel, our baby was born! The first thing I noticed were her feet, she was crying loudly and I was instantly relieved. My husband cut the umbilical cord, and it was tears and excitement all around. When the doctor first placed the baby on my chest, I was so overcome with emotions, I did not know what to look at, and what to do. While distracted my doctor stitched my nether regions, yes guys if you reading this, women go through a lot more than you think. Thankfully we avoided getting an episiotomy “A surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina during childbirth, to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues”, and in total, I received 2 internal and 2 external stitches. I remember thinking baby felt cold and I instantly felt the need to warm her against my chest, the nurse checked baby and she was and still is perfectly healthy and given a score of 9/10 Apgar “Apgar testing is the assessment of the newborn rating colour, heart rate, stimulus-response, muscle tone, and respiration on a scale of zero to two, for a maximum possible score of 10. It is performed twice, first at one minute and then again at five minutes after birth”. My doctor and birth team hugged me and we all celebrated the birth of our baby, it was the most perfect birth experience I could ever have asked for.
Don’t shower after giving birth!
After some bonding time, I asked the nurse to place the baby in the cot so I could shower. I did not know how dumb this was, as it was less than an hour since I had given birth. I just wanted to feel refreshed and go back to the maternity ward. It was only when I stood up, did I realise how ravaged my body had looked. I felt weak, and there was so much blood! I decided against the nurse’s advice to shower instead of a bath, first mistake! So there I was packet on my head (forgot my shower cap), standing under a very hot shower, thankfully my husband was standing at the shower door. As I was standing there, all I remember was telling him I felt very weak, and next thing I woke up with him screaming “Nurse, Nurse”, and me lying on the shower floor. Poor husband fully clothed and wet as he caught me as I was falling! So yeah, word of advice don’t give birth and proceed to stand in a hot shower!
A positive birth experience
In these moments my loving husband supported me and gave me so much of strength, he was so crucial to me having a beautiful birth experience. We went into the process ready and with a positive mindset. I do know that not all parents are fortunate to have an uncomplicated labour and delivery, and often it is out of their control. This is just my experience and I hope it inspires, informs and removes some of the fears associated with a natural birth option.
Thank you for reading, please share your experience in the comments
Love and Light,