Zyra’s Birth Story- Week 39.5. And she’s out!

3 July 2022

Late June 2021, Week 39.5/40, 4 days before the due date

2:08 am- I am in deep sleep and suddenly feel the wetness and a trickle down there. Did I just pee? Am I dreaming? Wait! Have my waters broken?

Slow trickle still at 5:30 am. I texted my midwife who advised that I should put a pad on and go rest. Nishu get as much sleep as you can get. The time is near.

I go to work with Sunny and Aiza in tow. Clear my desk at work and wave them goodbye for a year. I hoped to reach the full 40 weeks of pregnancy at work (like last time, actually 41 weeks at work during my first pregnancy!) but looks like this baby can’t wait.

Midwife examination and speculum at 10 am. She confirms waters have actually broken and books me in for an induction at 5 am the next morning. That’ll make it more than 24 hours since waters broke so if contractions don’t start by 5 am the next day, induction is the route to go. I can’t be losing all that precious amniotic fluid that provides the baby with cushioning and nutrition for more than 24 hours. Also informs that if induced I’ll be handled by a different midwife at the hospital. And that she’s off tomorrow so even if it’s a natural birth, I’d be handled by her associate midwife. I’m a wee bit gutted as I liked her calm vibes and natural ways. But like everything..I believe it’s for the greater good so rolled with it.

11:30 am- Back home from last day at work and midwife appointment. Still trickling waters down there.

1-2 pm- Did maternity photo shoot. I had been waiting for so long to find someone affordable. My budget was meagre and my to-do list was too long to fit in a self-shoot. But with broken waters, I knew the time was near. I had to capture some photos of that bump! Self-timer for the win.

Also secretly praying the entire day that my contractions start naturally and I get to skip induction at the hospital early the next morning.

Afternoon nap with Aiza 2-3 pm. Legit sleeping at any chance I can get. I made a wee video with Aiza, expecting it to be our last nap together before the new baby comes & takes all of me.

Cooking marathon 4 -5 pm - for those postpartum meals. The better stocked my fridge and freezer..the less anxious I am. Lots of curries stockpiled.

Walk outside - 5-6 pm - felt unusually calm. So much energy. Felt like I could run. No diaphragm pain either. Baby has surely moved down an inch or two. Ahhh the relief! Almost felt like I wasn’t pregnant anymore.

Shower and Aiza’s bath - 6-7 pm

A gush of water rushed out - about half a glass at 7 pm

9:30 pm- off to sleep praying something happens overnight and the induction is cancelled. I really wanted a natural vaginal birth with no intervention.

11:00 pm- Hugs over drugs (ahem ahem!), I ask sunny to help with a little love hormone release. It actually starts little contractions. Stoked! But also anxious about what’s to come. Is labour officially on?

12:37 am- Contractions seem to have been established 12-20 minutes apart. Sunny and Aiza sleep soundly without a care in the world!

1:11am- bless you baby (that 111 coincidence) - time to hypnobirth. I listen to my hypnobirthing music and try to fall asleep to that. Still in bed, but making many many trips to the toilet.

2:22 am- Conscious that I should get up and let gravity do some of the work, I get off bed. Bowels. Bloody show. Breathing. Aiza keeps stirring and waking up all night. Kids have a wired sixth sense I swear. I move to another room so I don’t wake up Aiza with my constant trips to the toilet. The spare room is colder. Lots of blankets are needed. A birth ball is out too. I really wanted the contractions to establish so I could avoid hospital induction in a couple of hours.

4:08 am- I timed my contractions and sent screenshots to the midwife. Contractions are 7-9 minutes apart on average. The midwife wanted them to be about 5 minutes apart and a minute or so long. But since they were constant, she said ok to skip the 5 am induction appointment. Ahhh relief! She mentioned that contractions should ideally ramp up and be 2-3 minutes apart in the next few hours. When that happens, I should contact her again.

And after that cancellation, I started panicking a little bit about my mother-in-law waking up to do her morning chores and Aiza waking up around 6:30 am. How can I take this labour to 2-3 minutes apart in 2 hours before everyone wakes up. Old mate anxiety here to screw things! I actually fell asleep. Contractions slowed down. At about 6-7 am, I decided to make use of every contraction. Breathing through each one fully. I really wanted to kick start active labour before my toddler wakes up. I mean her million questions when I’m in pain won’t be a pleasurable experience, to say the least.

7:30 am- My midwife calls to check progress. I inform its slowed down. Whoopsie! She regrets me missing the induction that morning and asks me to head to the hospital asap to get antibiotics every 4 hours. Tells me I can get induction there too. But just go to the hospital like NOW! Apparently, I was well due for antibiotics as my waters broke more than 24 hours ago (28 hours by then).

So I woke up Aiza and told her that mom and dad are going to work (me and husband shared a car and went to work together most days!) and she will stay with MIL like every day. This way I wouldn’t have to worry about her till 4 pm. Lots of hugs and kisses. Of course, toddler has no concept of time and doesn’t realise we are leaving home way too late today. Sleep-deprived and exhausted, I take a couple of photos and videos of Aiza playing and us 3, knowing full well that I’m very likely to bring a new family member home when I come back from ‘work’. Glad I kept the hospital bag and other essentials in the car boot while the whole fam was asleep. My Aiza is a detective!

Hospital at 9 am- receptionist tells me induction appointment is still available. I feel deflated that despite my best efforts at starting active labour and breathing through every contraction like a warrior, I was still sitting there waiting for an antibiotics IV line and induction. I did have contractions on the way to the hospital too. Had to pause conversations with Sunny when a contraction came on. Breathe breathe breathe. Hypnobirthing Surge breathing technique.

9:30 am- I got allotted a room at the hospital. I changed into a hospital gown. Goodbye natural water birth in the tub at the local maternity unit!

10 am- Antibiotics IV line installed (I’m sure this isn’t the word. Established?). I start this blog, making short notes of all that had happened.

10:30 am- Antibiotics penicillin dose 1 started. A new dose to be given every 4 hours.

10:45 am- Hospital midwife comes in and does a cervix check (the first exam since waters broke nearly 33 hours ago!). The midwife couldn’t conduct an examination before due to the risk of infection as the waters had broken. With antibiotics in my system, it was time to find out where my labour was and if I need to be induced.

She tells me she will give one dose of gel to induce if needed.

The hospital midwife does a painful sweep of the cervix, reaches the baby’s head and declares that I’m 3 cm dilated and that she can’t do any induction/gel thingy as I’m in labour already. Relief! so much relief! I cried. She says the sweep should speed up contractions. It’s a waiting game now. Sunny and I are keen to have the baby the same day so we can be home with Aiza by 4 pm. Aiza is on our minds. We miss her so much. She would have loved the hospital and doctors, but she would also not let doctors do anything and cry over everything so it’s better that she’s at home following her normal routine, unaware of it all. My target is to have the baby in the next 3-4 hours so I’m home with Aiza by my ‘work’ home time.

12:30 pm - Not much progress in labour. The hospital midwife says they’ll administer syntocin drip for induction at 3 pm if no progress.

2:00 pm-ish - More wet pads and bloody show. A lot of water is lost suddenly and things start to ramp up. Contractions are back to back with no break. Intense active labour. Hypnobirthing music is my saviour!

2:30 pm- 6 cm dilated it’s declared. Syntocin induction can’t be administered either. The hospital midwife contacts my midwife to come take over.

3:30 pm- My ‘associate’ midwife transfers me to another bigger maternity room from the transit facility I was in for antibiotics. My original midwife has her day off and I got a very kind calm Muslim lady to fill in. In my 2 minute walk to the maternity ward, I have contractions in the hospital hallway and have to take many breaks to breathe through them.

Lots and lots of contractions.

4:45 pm- The start of giving up. Too many contractions. Too much pain. Too uncomfortable. I’m so exhausted.

5:20 pm- I’ve given up. Headphones and hypnobirthing on at all times. Hospital wifi to the rescue all day long. At one point I literally beg the midwife to do something to speed things up. She is so calm that it annoys me. Why can’t she help me? She keeps saying the same thing. You’ve done so so well. You’ve breathed through every contraction so calmly and without a scream. I know you can finish it off yourself. You don’t need any of my help. Oh, what will I do without my hypnobirthing music and positive affirmations? Also I fully knew from my Hypnobirthing book and previous birth that it’s closer to the finish line when you are giving up and beyond exhausted. Still a labouring lady can complain right!

At this point, I was actively doing the downward pushing breathing instead of surge breathing. I didn’t care whether my body was ready or not. I wanted us (and if not me then Sunny at least) to be home with Aiza. I just wanted the baby out asap. I lied to Aiza and wasn’t going to come back home from work on time. The mom guilt was strong! So grateful she had my mother-in-law with her to help her bathe, eat, etc.

The midwife does a ‘courtesy’ check and says I’m 8 cm dilated. She wants me to do whatever my body says. Push or breathe through contractions, whatever I wanted to do.

5:45 pm- Done Done Done. I was so done with pushing vigorously through every contraction. But the baby was persistent still!

6:30pm- the only few cries I let out all day. Omg, it was intense pain and pressure. Plop ..head out. Wow! What an experience. I can’t believe I did it. I might have held sunny's hand way too tight. The relief was instant. Like I could breathe again after all these months and a very intense (unmedicated!) labour.

Midwife: Wait for another contraction before you push the rest of the baby out.

Me: I can’t. I’m done. Push. Baby out. Shoulders followed by body. Causing a secondary tear in my vagina. A tear that was entirely avoidable but I really didn’t care at the time. I wanted relief and now! Well, no regrets there. I was actually done and couldn’t take it a second longer.

Of corse, what followed were some painful stitches. Made better only by a baby girl who was lying on my chest. My very own baby girl that I pushed out. I was so proud of myself for persisting through all the pain and discomfort in the last 2 days to get to this moment. So was her dad, who was a rock solid support, shuffling through all the YouTube hypnobirthing videos and helping me breathe when I almost gave up.

As I’m getting stitched up, I hear another lady going through labour. So much screaming it gives me shudders and that’s when I realise the power of breathing through and also what my midwife meant when she said you were so calm & unflinching. Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan. That’s the book I recommend to every pregnant woman who’d listen. It defined the outcome of both my pregnancies.

Lots of skin-to-skin and feeding lil bubba . What an experience. Every time a midwife came to see me, she remarked on how well I was doing and there was absolutely no noise from my room. I would literally cry then. Easier said than done. I was breathing through so much pain that only I’ll know.

I was sweating profusely while pushing towards the end (in the middle of winter). But as soon Lil bum came out, I started shivering uncontrollably. I needed to be stitched up but all I wanted was layers of blankets. So much shivering. My body and all the hormones winding down from an entire day of contractions and holding up. I later found out that this was a fairly common phenomenon too. I was a wee bit embarrassed about it at the time. I just couldn’t stop my legs quivering.

7 pm- Baby Z/ Lil bum is a pro at breastfeeding and is already reaching out for the b**b again n again. Well that was one stress out of way. I remember having to squeeze hard out and trying to feed baby Aiza with a dropper when she was born. Clueless new mum. Our breastfeeding journey was rocky from the start back then but it looked like I had an enthusiastic feeder on hand this time.

8:45 pm- I get up to have a shower, to get ready to leave the hospital. So much blood dripping out.

9:45 pm- We leave the hospital for our local maternity unit where we have to stay for 24 hours for baby n mum monitoring.

10:45 pm- All checked it at the maternity unit. Sunny is off home. Luckily the unit had some food. I’m starving and all the eateries around were closed too.

11:45 pm- Baby Z fed and slept soundly on me. Where do I sleep? I feel like I’d drop her. She’s so tiny. Though I need sleep so bad after being up since last 2 days.

1:54 am- I’m so exhausted. This place (birthing unit) feels strangely familiar. I know it so well having spent days here with Aiza. Long nights taking care of the baby without your husband, the comforting cooked food, all the blood & pads.

Now the cycle of breastfeeding, nappy changes, and healing begins. I feel severe after pains during each breastfeeding session. A sign that my uterus is contracting. Not so fun regardless.

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