Once Upon a Birth: My Birth Story
There are experiences that test your faith, and there are experiences that show you just how real G-d is. .. my birth story is both of those
It's been exactly one month since our little Mr. was born, and I am in complete awe and amazement of the entire birth process every time I look at him.
Let me start by saying that since I've become a mother, one of the things I've learned is that my children, much like my spouse, are sent to me to help me to grow. I had an intuitive feeling before he was born, that this child was going to be different. Not different as in better, but different as in uniquely amazing as all of our children are; only I wondered what our journey would be. I'd had dreams and visions of two things during this pregnancy. 1. The baby would be a boy, and 2. The birth would happen in our home. The pregnancy itself was pretty unremarkable. I remained healthy, with manageable blood pressure, and I had the least amount of weight gain of my three pregnancies. I had the additional comfort of down time and relative ease towards the end of the third trimester as my mother had our two daughters so I could rest. All of this played a HUGE role in me having a home birth.
In the Beginning
I started noticing changes on Thursday evening (June 23). After a day of resting,
I attended an Iftar (fast breaking meal -- no I wasn't fasting) with a group of amazing sisters. I was less than 5 minutes from home, when I got home I started having slightly more noticeable Braxton Hicks. My husband questioned weather I was in the early stages of labor. I assured him that it was probably pre-labor and it could go on like that for days or weeks. I didn't think much of it, and went to bed as usual. Throughout the day Friday, the same thing, but no other obvious changes. I spent the day at home, resting.
Friday night around midnight, I started to loose my mucus plug and having more contractions. I contacted our doula and birth assistant. They both told us to get some rest and check-in in the morning. At this point I'm a little excited, thinking this is the real deal! Tariq blows up our birthing tub, and we go to bed.
Getting into the Groove
Things start to pick up on Saturday. Contractions are coming more regularly, but not consistent. Tariq and I do some walking, some dancing. We're cruising along. . .fairly confident in how we are handling things so far. I'm still super excited thinking that this is really happening! We are in constant contact with our birth team. Things start to shift, a little more intense contractions, a little vomiting. Around noon we ask for our doula to come. Our midwife and birth assistant all arrive in the early afternoon. The gang's all here -- let's have a BABY!
We are rocking and rolling. I'm having contractions, not too bad, getting relief from counter pressure on my back and hip squeezes, figure 8 hip swaying, and rocking on the birth ball. Things are progressing fine into the evening. That is when things start to stall. the contractions aren't getting closer together or necessarily more intense. This is when the birth team pulls out their back of tricks to ensure baby is in the optimal position. We are doing exercises from spinning babies, stair lunges, dancing to music, taking homeopathic remedies. . .still no progress. By this point I'm feeling a little shaky on my confidence. I know what it is, but I've been blocking and not fully addressing it. The passing of my dad. I get my confidence from my dad and I was starting to question whether or not I could really pull this off -- a home birth after two cesareans -- without him there to cheer me on. Then the sadness, hurt, and yes, anger of him not being here to meet this grandchild or watch him grow up came into play, and I got stuck. Thankfully, one of the members of our birth team knew my story, and had experienced the loss of her father as well. She was able to help me process some of my emotions, and once again I felt confident in having this home birth.
Up until this point, I hadn't had any vaginal exams, but in order for the midwife to better gauge where baby was, I had an exam and membrane sweep. I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Not bad I thought to myself, especially considering I'd only progressed to 2cm with a hard cervix in the previous pregnancy. I decide to spend some time in the shower on the ball, the water cascading over me was refreshing. Later I transferred to the birthing tub. Being immersed in water definitely took the edge of the contractions off. By this point I'm getting tired, sleepy. The birth team in their infinite wisdom recognize the baby isn't coming tonight. Once again, in the bed to sleep. Sleep is glorious. I never understood what people meant by "they slept between contractions" until then, because I sure did!
Putting the WORK in LABOR!
Sunday (June 26) I woke up confident! There were sounds of pots and pans banging, and food cooking in the kitchen - I don't know about you, but that was a good sign for the day! Our doula had whipped up a tasty "refrigerator" soup with the random contents of our fridge! After a delicious breakfast we geared up to help the labor along with more exercises. At this point we had to be strategic to make sure the exercises are effective without being too physically draining since I'd already been in a phase of labor for some time. There was one particular exercise that involved my husbands back brace holding up my stomach, with a crib mattress on top of my bed, me hanging off of the mattress and my feet dangling for three contractions. Does that sound awkward? Well, yeah, it was, LOL!
Around noon I have another vaginal exam, I was still at 4cm dilated and 90% effaced. I began to get discouraged, and feel like my dream of having a home birth wouldn't come to fruition if I wouldn't progress soon. I'd been receiving chiropractic care since the first trimester of pregnancy. I'd just had an appointment on Wednesday. As we were checking out, Dr. Pam remarked that if we needed assistance during labor to call her, she makes house calls. Tariq happened to remember this and gave her a call. Turns out, she lives in our area and is on her way relatively quickly.
While we were laboring and waiting for the chiropractor to arrive, I had another heart to heart with my birth team. They helped me to put into perspective enjoying the journey and the ultimate goal of this whole labor process, to have a healthy baby. I'd gotten so focused on having a home birth - a mere tool to achieving the goal - that I hadn't allowed myself to look forward to receiving the ultimate gift of a healthy, perfectly formed human being! In my mind a home birth would be a sign of good things to come on an otherwise craptastic (dramatic overgeneralization) first half of the year. I began to speak to the baby, telling him how eager I was to meet him, to hold him, gently encouraging him to come on out and join the rest of our family!
By this time the chiropractor had arrived, the most comfortable position for me was on all fours, she adjusted my spine in that position. Turns out my sacrum wasn't relaxing enough to allow the baby to descend into my pelvis. After the chiropractor left, I took a nap, and then Tariq and I went for a walk. I could notice something different, the contractions were even more intense. The only thing that "helped" was getting on all fours and breathing/moaning through them. When we got back inside from our walk, things started to pick up. A quick vaginal exam indicated that I was at 6 cm and fully effaced!! PROGRESS!
After the exam, my doula suggested I get in the
shower. Before I got in the shower, she reminded me of the time of day, remarking that it was a great time to say a du'a (personal prayer) aloud between the obligatory late afternoon prayer and sunset prayer. I got in the shower and said a du'a that we meet our baby before the night prayer. After a contraction, I quickly amended that to the sunset prayer which was due to come in at any minute. No sooner than the words escaped my mouth -- while listening to the Arabic recitation of Surah Maryam of the birth of Jesus (AS), and the call to prayer alert going off on someones app -- I felt the urge to push. I wasn't expecting that! I told my doula and she suggested that I get in the tub.
I get in the tub, thinking that I can't be ready to push, I'm not dilated to a 10 yet. . .I don't want to split in half! To my surprise, I feel the overwhelming urge to push again. At this point I don't feel in control of my body, the pushing is happening almost on it's own! I feel something come out, I naïvely think it's the head, but after touching it, I realize it's the bag of water. Shortly after that push, there is another one and this time IT IS THE HEAD! I pause for a brief moment, to take a "picture with my heart" of this scene, this birth that I had planned, prepared for, and was about to be blessed to have. With a keen awareness of the miracle that is occurring, one more push, and with what felt like a gurgle in my womb, the rest of his body came out. No big cry, just a little utterance to let us know he was here.
I couldn't believe it! There I was, sitting in a tub with a baby on my chest that I had pushed out of my body. G-d is Greater, G-d is Greater, I kept repeating. I reached down and touched my belly, where he was just moments before. I then touched my cesarean incision scar, the route of the two previous deliveries, the entire time in total awe that we actually did it. Just that quickly, in the midst of all of the chaos and confusion in the world, G-d heard little old me, and answered my prayer. I birthed a baby, out of my birth canal, at home.
Are a few words that describe the emotions that I feel when I think about the entire birth process. Our first son, born on the first odd evening of the last 10 nights of the blessed month of Ramadan. Born to us on 06.26.16. Born, in the year 2016, the same year that my first love, my friend, my daddy passed- along with Prince, Phife Dawg, and countless others. Born, in June, the same month that one of the greatest athletes of our time, Muhammad Ali, passed. He is truly a shining light in a time cloaked in darkness. I am truly blessed.
Having experienced giving birth this way, I think that I COULD do it again, only G-d knows and time will tell if I WILL do it again 😉