In my first pregnancy, I read. I read all of the books recommended to me about birth and pregnancy and plenty of extras. My brain was ready. I practised prenatal yoga and walked regularly. I resigned from my full time job at 5 months pregnant. My body was ready. I spent a lot of time creating my birth preferences. However, on the day of the birth itself, I retreated. I did not have a voice. I was not confident. I did not feel that I was in control. My mind was not ready.
So with the experience of how NOT to approach birthing I prepared this time not through memorising literature, but by memorising my body. My strength. My confidence. My perfectly designed ability to become one with my baby and birthing.
"This time I was going to do things differently."
I didn't know how until I heard about Hypnobirthing. The breathing techniques, MP3 tracks and visualizations helped tremendously. In particular, fear release tracks and visualizing the birth I wanted regularly ensured that this time things were different.
"Things were better this time.
Would I do it all again?
A thousand times!"
On the day of the birth everything went exactly as I had visualized and prayed for. I remembered the breathing without any conscious thought. It was second nature to my body at that point.
"I was so in tune with my body and my baby, following every instinct and not letting anyone's words or suggestions disrupt this connection."
I owe the success of this birth to my mind, my body, and my baby but most of all to Jasmine Collin - a gorgeous, kind woman who took the time to care. Jasmine provided me with the practical Hypnobirthing tools that I needed, but also was always there for me when I started to lack confidence. She prepared my mind and it was worth every second of practice.
July 18th 11 pm:
I began having surges ranging from 5 to 15 minutes apart. I had had at least 3 false labour experiences at this point and so when I told my husband he rolled his eyes and honestly I secretly did as well.
Surges lasted until the morning in this manner and my 3 year old must have sensed this was it because she woke up no less than 3 times during the night, quite restless. Nevertheless I texted my doula in the morning to let her know that this was "probably" not it. I was nearly too embarrassed to let her know. I prepared breakfast and ate with my daughter and got her out of her pyjamas.
Like we did every day. Just as I had prayed to be able to do.
We all relaxed and hung out and surges stopped. My instinct was telling me that wasn't the last of them. I had allowed myself to get excited this time.
We decided to try and get things moving again. 10 minutes of prenatal yoga for me!!
After a lunch with the family surges started again and then there was no doubt that baby boy was on his way. I was calm. I was confident. I was in tune.
A call from my therapist wanting to know when to book appointments for. "So sorry I didn't call this morning to let you know but I'm actually in labour." At this point surges were about 5 minutes apart but not regular. Still can't believe how apologetic I was to her!!!
"I took paracetamol and started to time the beautiful surges."
I called my daughter in to the bedroom and let her know that today was the day. She was so excited and quickly got her bags packed and shoes on. Mum and sister looked through the list and got everything else packed while my husband supported me through labour on our bed. My beautiful daughter came in about 10 minutes later. "Mama I'm ready!" So sweet. At this point I really didn't believe it was time to go to the hospital and so had my husband put on a film for her. I could hear her excited squeals coming from the living room at the sight of the Little Mermaid (she doesn't usually watch TV).
"The surges were beautiful. I breathed through them just I had practised without any conscious thought."
Throughout labour I instinctively had my husband apply pressure to my lower back and I stayed in a kneeling squat hanging off his neck for surges.
Call from estate agent.
My husband: "Sorry Sarah can't talk right now........Actually I'll be honest she can't talk cuz she's in labour...".
"The thing I remember from this whole experience is laughing and chatting throughout. So natural."
2 surges 2 minutes apart. A lot of downwards pressure.
My husband: "One more after 2 minutes and we're going...ok let's go!"
He sent my panicked mum to cool the car down and my sister got my overly relaxed taking-her-time daughter ready to go with mum. By this time I was moaning through each of the surges. My sister went to call for a lift but when I reached the front door I told my husband I couldn't go. Something had shifted. This baby was ready. He asked if we should call for an ambulance but at that point I didn't want to freak my mum out (priorities huh??). We somehow made it downstairs but the pressure was making it hard to walk.
"My husband and sister had the genius idea of wheeling me out in the security guards chair."
I was not impressed but burst out laughing at the sight of my husband trying to carry out this bulky chair which was too bulky to just push through from behind the desk. I got on the chair just as a gentlemen and two ladies walked into the lobby. I have to say I understand his concern as by now I couldn't really control the noises coming out of my mouth! Again I stifled laughter as this man flailed his arms around trying to be helpful and made sure to thank him profusely. My sister to the 2 staring ladies (in her usual sarcastic manner): "Oh how nice are u two sisters." aka "Would you like a picture?"
Laughter point again as my mum comes round the corner saying she'd taken down the wrong car key. Needless to say, the journey was HOT.
So picture us in my little ford focus hatchback. Husband and sister at the front. Daughter in her car seat. Mum in the middle. And me next to mum in the passenger seat facing backwards.
"So funny to see the faces of the two Emirati men in the car behind us on Sheikh Zayed road as I shouted and made faces every 2 minutes with my mum rubbing my back and crying. "
My husband handed my daughter his phone to watch songs on. "Baba I can hold it?! Yay!" (She never is allowed to hold the phone. Best day of her life!) Another comical moment.
Mum is panicking and decides it would be appropriate to push upwards on my bum while saying "Don't push ". I think you will understand my reaction of shouting
"Get off my bum!" and husband and sister simultaneously shouting back "Leave her alone!"
3 ish pm:
We arrive at the hospital and I carefully climb on to the wheelchair leaving my sister with my daughter and all the bags....she struggled to say the least. The receptionist gingerly suggests we should go straight to emergency.
My husband: "She's about to have a baby. We're going to the labour ward."
I was meanwhile shouting at the Porter to push the wheelchair faster with my mum hyperventilating by my side. We get up to the labour ward.
"I am looking at the floor and recognise my doula's perfectly pedicured feet and instantly relax."
I let myself look at mum as I was wheeled into the room and saw her face. "Mama stop crying". I honestly wanted to her to relax and enjoy the beautiful moment. The midwife and my doula somehow managed to help me on to the bed. I had been shouting that I "just want to get in the water" but turns out I was a bit late for that. Baby's head was visible!
Hanging on to the back of the bed in a kneeling squat my doula reminded me to hum the baby out which then made things much more manageable. I asked my midwife's name in between surges as I wanted to know everyone who was sharing this experience.
"My doctor came in a few minutes later and respectfully stepped back and let the birth unfold."
With my husband on one side and mum and doula on the other. Midwife ready at the foot of the bed. I hummed through each surge and at one point I remember asking "Why is it taking so long?" when in actual fact I had only been on the bed 10 minutes.
My baby's head was born. I cannot describe the beauty of that moment after being numb and disconnected during my first birth.
"I felt empowered. I was relaxed. I was in control. I was proud of myself and had a newfound respect for my body as his body was born."
I cut the cord after it stopped pulsating so that I could breastfeed my instantly hungry baby who hardly let out a whimper. A few minutes later the placenta was birthed and the emotions took over me as my midwife showed me where and how baby had been in my womb for all this time.
They say it's nothing like the films but I have to say I beg to differ this time. Funny from beginning to end. Every prayer of mine was answered. It was quick. It was smooth. It was comfortable. I was only apart from my daughter for about an hour.
And so I repeat.
"Would I do it again?
Trust the process.