Okay so, I decided to be a starring. After attending antenatal classes, we decided we are doing a natural vaginal birth (NVD) with no medical intervention. This means no pain killers, no epidural, no laughing gas, NOTHING. When I was discussing my birth plan with the midwife, we made it official, on paper. So there was no turning back. Our due date was the 4th of November 2017a day before daddy’s birthday. On the 11th of October, my gynecologist trashed our dreams of having a NVD. Apparently I wouldn’t be able to push the baby out because she will 3.6 KG small, and my body is too small for that. If I did want to give birth vaginally I would have to induce in two weeks. I was totally against induction because I would force her into the world before she was ready.
You probably wonder why I was so adamant to deliver vaginally. I have been through so much in my life. Growing up apart from my biological mother, losing both parents before I was 16, The poverty, the depression, the suicidal thoughts, it was all too much for any kid to bear. I survived it though. That made me a strong young woman. What would make me a strong mother? The physical pain of giving birth to my child. It would be more symbolic for me than anything else. It would be liberating. If I can survive chid labour, I can survive anything else.
Let me tell you about how that labour happened:
5 days before I went into labour, I ‘spring cleaned’ the house. This is called “nesting”, the sudden urge to clean the cupboards, scrub the floors, wash the windows, unpack and pack the wardrobe and basically clean, unnecessarily when you’re heavily pregnant. My boss’ water broke when she was climbing stairs cleaning the windows.
At around 15:00 in the afternoon on the 24th of October 2017, I was on a call with my doula, Tsakani Shibe (what a blessing she was). This is after I had a hectic case of diarrhea. I was in the toilet for about 20 minutes. I had read that diarrhea may be a symptom of early labour. My best friend, who is a mom, confirmed it. Its your body’s way of cleansing itself. At 15:10 I asked her to wait for me as I felt a Braxton Hick contraction. Braxton Hicks are known as practice contractions. They started at about 20 weeks of my pregnancy. How you know its a Braxton Hick is its irregularity. They had not pattern at all. At 15:30 she made me aware that I was asking her to hold every 10 minutes. Like I said, Braxton Hicks are random and inconsistent. At this point I was feeling sharp but bearable pains every 10 minutes. I used my contraction timer app (yes, there’s an app for everything people) and after my 7th, as I would later learn, contraction, my app told me to pack my bag and go to the hospital. My bag was packed and I refused to go to the hospital ‘coz I knew I was in the first stage of labour. I owed this confidence to the antenatal classes offered by Genesis Maternity Clinic. We attended 3 awesome classes that covered labour, child-care and breastfeeding.
When my labour started I was at home in Soweto. At 6pm daddy fetched me and my aunt. I went to fetch my two sisters and niece in Fleurhof and we headed to our place in Randburg. I got home and relaxed. Okay I’m lying. You cannot relax during labour. I was playing music and dancing during a contraction gap. There is video footage. EMBARRASSING! This is the time God gave us as women to not feel miserable. To not remember what Adam and Eve did in the garden. About a minute or so after some time of torture. After some time my doula, Tsakani, joined us. So I was being watched by 7 people breathing like an absolute idiot. At 11:30 pm, people were passing out on the couch and I was ready to use the eviction notice: Tshimo had to come out! I woke people up and informed the family that I was ready to go to the hospital. We drove from Randburg to Rosebank. This is about 20 to half an hour of driving. When we got to the hospital, our midwife, Sister Phumelele, was convicted I was ready. Why? I had NO SMILE. I was in pain. It wasn’t as excruciating as it would be about 2 hours later.
I had everyone in my room. Which meant more breathing buddies. Psshhh. Who am I kidding? It just meant more people to shout at and more hands to squeeze. Lol. At 3:00 AM when Phumelele came to check me (this means stick her fingers in my vagina) I was at 8cm. We had 2cm to go and we would have ourselves a little human. In order to give birth you need to 10 cm dilated. Dilation means how expanded your cervix needs to be in order for the baby to come out. The midwife had to burst my water cause it hadn’t broke. Our labour went downhill from then on. I could literally feel Tshimo wanting to come out. Our midwife, with the support of daddy and doula, kept telling me not to push because Im not at 10 yet. “I’ m feeling the urge to push” I kept screaming. This was about 3:05 AM. Sister Phumele said she will check me again. Guess what? I kept in a child that was ready to come out. I kept squeezing her in. That is why I was in that much pain by this time. I was screaming so hard with each contraction. My entire body was shaking. This means that I progressed to 10cm right after my water broke, but I I didn’t know, and evidently nor did midwife. When she was done preparing, I started pushing out our little human. I don’t know how to describe that feeling. Its a human being ladies and gentlemen. Its an entire human being thats been developing in my body and is now ready to exit my body and grace us with her presence. I pushed about 3 times and the head was out. After the head exited, I could not push anymore because I could no longer feel her inside me. I remember telling the midwife that I cannot push anymore. She begged me and showed me how I can do it. “Place your chin to your chest and push”. I did that once and I felt something quickly fly out my birth canal (yes, vagina).
I am using “fly out” deliberately. She flew out. Thats because she was ready to come out after my water broke at 3:05 AM but I extended her stay for a couple of minutes more. She arrived at 3:15 AM on the 25th of October 2017 weighing 3.18 kg and her birth length was 49 cm. This means I was in labour for 12 hours. This does not mean I was in pain for 12 hours straight. Like I said, labour starts off like period pains, then progresses to extreme pain. I would say my labour was about 5 hours. This is when I was going through the most physically, and mentally. But due to the amazing support of my baby daddy, my doula, my family and the clinic staff, I did it with absolutely no fear
I would see her exit on the video we took. I dreamt of having a birth video ‘coz I watched tons on Youtube and I had tears rolling down my face every time those babies came out. The reaction of the parents and their first cry is just…beautiful and heartwarming. Pregnancy and birth is just magical. How a human being forms inside the body of another human being. She lives; breathes, smiles, eats, poops, inside someone else’s body. Absolute magic.
Im not going to lie and say it was not painful. It was excruciating. My body has never experienced that amount of agony. But about an hour after the labour, I was on my feet. I went to the shower, then went back to our room where our daughter was waiting for me to feed her. That is just the thing. Our bodies are amazing. How we can carry life, birth life and continue with our lives still blows my mind.
There are a couple of things that happens with a NVD that I wish I was fully aware of. Ill tell you all bout it on my next post.
Thank you for sharing this journey with me 🙂