I want to start this off by saying that we didn't have the birth I envisioned in my head but throughout my pregnancy I dedicated a lot of time to coming to terms with the fact that we may not have the birth of my dreams. Not because I didn't think we would, but because I knew I needed to be prepared for any and every outcome. I am so glad I did that, I know I wouldn't be so happy about the way everything turned out if I was set on having the perfect, calm, homebirth and would most likely be suffering from birth trauma right now. That isn't to say that I haven't spent countless hours going through everything that happened and processing it all, looking at why things happened and how we can prepare better next time. At the end of the day, the way Asiya came into the world was how Allah SWT planned it, His plans are forever going to be better than ours and it may not be the easiest thing to accept (especially in the moment) but looking back on everything I know her birth happened exactly as it should have.
I'm just warning you guys, this is going to be long. It was a 37 hour labour and I like detail and want to share everything with you.
Friday 16th February 2018
F and I were chilling out at home that afternoon when we suddenly both noticed that my right foot was swollen and the left wasn't. We knew isolated swelling wasn't good and I started to worry, so I quickly sent a photo to Sonya and asked her if I should be concerned. She replied back saying "No, it's not that unusual. The only thing I'd suggest would be to see a Chiro incase there is a pelvic imbalance." I asked her who she'd recommend and said I'd make an appointment asap. The next day the swelling disappeared and I forgot allllll about it...
You'll see why this part is important later on.
Wednesday 21st February 2018
If you follow me on Instagram then you may remember that day I smashed out 3 designs for the Eid collection. I had this sudden burst of energy that day, not just physical energy but creative energy too. I didn't think of this in the moment, but I've often heard mothers say you get a big burst of energy before you go into labour. Well, I channelled all mine into work and was so proud of myself for getting so much quality work done in one day. Not to mention, I was 40+1 so it was an even bigger accomplishment for me as the days before I wanted to just nap all day. That night I decided to write a blogpost on how I was feeling that very moment being "overdue" and a little bit about how I felt about pregnancy. I started writing the post when I started feeling a lot of pressure in my pelvis. Asiya had been engaged and in the perfect position for months by then and the day before we had seen Sonya who said her head was so far down she couldn't even feel it properly anymore.
I put the pressure down to her being so low and me not sitting in the best position. I tried various positions, different chairs and the birth ball to no avail. I tried standing. That didn't work. The pressure got quite intense that I decided to just head to bed and lay down. I ended up falling asleep but remember waking throughout the night with period like cramps. I put these down to Braxton Hicks as I had been getting them for the past month and thought nothing of it. Went to the toilet a number of times and just kept trying to sleep. I woke up again, but this time the cramp was a little bit more intense and I couldn't drift back asleep during it. This happened a few more times before I decided to check the time, it was 1.30am. I thought I'd give it a bit longer before I woke my husband up so waited it out, they stayed the same intensity but they started to happen more frequently. I really didn't want to get my hopes up but in my head I was thinking "this is it, we're going to meet our baby girl soon." I was so excited so I woke my husband up at 2.30am and asked him to start timing the surges. They were irregular, but they were happening. I didn't want to call Sonya straight away though, cause what if I was wrong? I didn't want to trouble her at that time of the night so we decided to just wait it out till morning.
Thursday 22nd February 2018
As part of my support system my mum and my sister-in-law were going to be at the birth. My mum lives 2 hours away from us and my SIL lives in Sydney (so she had to catch a 2 hour flight to Brisbane then drive the 2 hour drive to us). At about 5am we decided we'd let them know that labour has started even though we weren't sure how it would progress just so they could plan their day. We called them both and told them not to rush, but we think it's best if they make their way to us as soon as they can.
By now it was around 6am and I decided it was time so I messaged Sonya and sent her screenshots of the timing of the surges. She said yep, it's happening and asked if she could come by at 7am to see how we were doing. Part of my early labour plan was to keep busy by setting up our living area for the birth. So we set about moving some furniture out of the way and blowing up the birth pool fully as we had it out from about 38 weeks just lightly blown up. Sonya came by at 7am and we were having breakfast, I remember I made a nice big bowl of oats but was struggling to get them down. My surges were still irregular but about 5 minutes apart and didn't feel much more than a bit of pressure, they still felt like period cramps and I could get through them with no trouble. Sonya came by and checked my blood pressure and Asiya's heart rate, she also brought with her some things we'd need for the birth (oxygen tank, hot water bottles and a few other things I can't remember now!) then we just hung out, had some tea while all getting excited to meet baby girl soon. Sonya told us to try and rest and eat and to keep her updated. Before she left she said "Don't forget to pack your hospital bag...Murphy's law!"...
We went right back to getting the house ready, I really wanted my birth space to feel calm and be something I'm happy to be in so I had my birth board set up with all my positive affirmations, inspiring images and an ultrasound photo of Asiya. I had planned to get some vines from the creeper growing along our fence to decorate the board with while I was in early labour so I went and did that and had hubby help me tie it all together, we also put fairy lights up and even though it looked so extra I loved it.
By this point the surges were a little more intense but again nothing crazy, there were one or two that I had to stop for and they started to happen in more of pattern. And so I thought now would be a good time for me to go wax my underarms and upper lip and do my eyebrows lol! I also really wanted to have my hair in braids during labour as braided hair makes me feel totally bad*** (even though F insists I just look cute but whatever) so I braided my hair and I was feeling ready and so excited. I think it was around 12pm by now and mum was on her way to us and SIL was soon to be arriving in Brisbane.
Things started to intensify a bit here so my memory is a bit blurry but luckily Sonya took down detailed + timed notes! When I experienced a surge I would just focus and I felt like I was in my own world, I would breathe through them using the breathing techniques I learnt from Hypnobirthing and they helped me so much. I can honestly say I didn't felt any pain, but rather it felt like pressure.
I think it was around 2.30pm that my mum arrived and I was so happy to see her. Soon after SIL arrived too. F was quite tired by this point so I told him to go have a nap cause mum and SIL were here to be with me. Mum had this plan to change her WhatsApp profile photo to announce her granddaughters birth but she couldn't find one she liked so made me make one while going through my surges. I remember sitting on my computer on Illustrator making this image for her, she wanted her bitmoji in it and it ended up being really cute saying "She's here, I'm a Nani!" with her bitmoji holding a gift that said "special delivery." It took at least an hour to make it cause she kept wanting things changed and at one point both her and SIL were standing behind me like "hmmm I think we should make it like this...and make that bigger..and change the colour" and I was like "guysss come on" haha it was fun though and a nice distraction.
My SIL then started talking about these donuts she had made, and I kid you not I had been craving these donuts from this place in Sydney for my entire pregnancy. I searched EVERYWHERE and could not find them anywhere (halal ones at least). So she said she'd make them for me and off she went to Woollies to grab the ingredients. Writing this all out it sounds like we were having a party lol but we were having a lot fun and the time was passing. My surges were getting more regular and more intense and I was just bouncing on the birth ball and breathing through them.
At 7pm I went to the toilet and felt a little pop and then something trickle out. I went out to mum and I was like "mummm...I think my waters broke...but I don't know it was just a trickle" so I called Sonya and told her and she said to put a pad on and she's coming over. When she came by hubby must have heard her voice, woken up and basically ran out of the room with a "DID I MISS IT?" look on his face it was so funny. I was like, "mate, I wouldn't let this baby come without you by my side."
I remember when Sonya came in I had just sat down to eat...the same oats I had made in the morning that I just couldn't get down! I hadn't eaten anything else that morning, I just really didn't feel like eating anything. I had prepared some watermelon, beetroot and aloe vera smoothies for labour and some Raspberry leaf tea and couldn't get any of that down either. My mum was supporting me while my SIL was making donuts (this makes me laugh just thinking about it and makes me realise how it felt like such an ordinary day but was so extraordinary).
Sonya confirmed that my waters had broken, well more the fact that something kept trickling out confirmed it. This got us all excited as it meant labour was progressing and Sonya even said, "I think we'll be meeting this baby tonight." I can't explain how excited I was at this stage, but the surges had intensified a lot more, I asked Sonya when I should get in the pool and she said "when you know, you'll know." Sonya said she could stay if I wanted her to or if I was happy for her to go and comeback later that works too. I said I think we're doing okay for now and I don't mind her leaving and we can call her when we feel we need her.
No joke 10 minutes after she left I was holding onto hubby saying "I NEED TO GET IN THE POOL. FILL THE POOL UP AND CALL SONYA. I NEED TO GET IN." Poor Sonya I don't think she even reached home yet (I just checked her notes and she got home at 8.40pm and got the call from F at 8.46pm haha) I felt so bad! At about 8.54pm my surges were A LOT stronger and about 2.5 minutes apart.
Sonya got back to our place at 9.20pm and started filling the pool up, unpacked all her gear and called Meg, our second midwife, to come by as it seemed like we'd be birthing this baby soon. It took about half an hour for the pool to fill up and once it was ready I got in and oh my Allah did it feel good. Good is an understatement, it felt incredible. Once I got in the pool, I zoned out completely and was so focused on getting through the surges that I lost any sense of time. I remember asking everyone to turn all the lights off and I just had my fairy lights on and my hypnobirthing soundtrack playing. I was just floating in the pool and with each surge I would sway my hips and breath and it was so wonderful. I didn't realise then, but a few days later I asked hubby why I had to ask him to apply pressure on my back when I was going through a surge and he said "I didn't know when you were having a surge." Sonya said the same thing and said when she came to check Asiya's heart rate she had to tell me to let her know when I was having a surge and so every time I got one I would just give her this little wave hahaha and then my mum said she thought I was sleeping LOL I was like nooo way I was sleeping, I was just soo focused and in the zone.
Anyway, I remember hearing mum and SIL in the kitchen setting up a pot to fry the donuts in and I just stopped and was like "hell no you guys are frying anything (I hate the smell of anything frying) bake them or use the air fryer" hahaha so poor things were set up in the pantry so I couldn't see the light or hear the air fryer and they had to do so many batches till all the donuts were done and guess what, I didn't end up eating one donut!! Yep, I still hadn't eaten a thing at this point.
Meg, our second midwife (last January a law passed in Australia that you have to have 2 midwives at a homebirth) arrived at some point just before/during/after I got in the pool (lol I can't remember when it was but going off the notes she arrived at 10.30pm!) I hadn't met Meg before as we had another midwife lined up but she had a shift at the hospital that day. She said she could pull a sicky but if we had to transfer to hospital she couldn't come with because well...she told them she was sick lol! I was like no don't do that and so Sonya had to call a few other midwives and Meg was available. Meg was so lovely and I am so glad that she was at the birth, she was the sweetest, kindest, softest soul and her presence was so calming.
At this point, my surges were 3:10, so 3 surges in 10 minutes. About an hour later they were happening at 4:10, which is right where you want them to get your baby moving down the birth canal.
So i'm in the pool and I needed to pee but I reallyyyy did not want to get out and go all the way to the toilet so Meg told me to just pee in the pool hahah I could not bring myself to do that though I seriously contemplated it cause I did not want to get out. I ended up asking my husband to get me a bucket and I stepped out of the pool and peed in the bucket hahah but then I was like ok where's the jug? I need to wash myself before I get back in the pool! It was sooo funny and I can't imagine what the midwives were thinking lol!
At 11.30pm I started feeling it and saying I don't know how much longer I can do this. As soon as I said I got excited, because I knew this was a sign of transition. And transition meant we were getting SO close to meeting our babygirl. Sonya told me to stop thinking and just take it one step at a time, she said everything was progressing beautifully and baby was doing well. I asked F to get in the pool with me and he was massaging my back with a clary sage and geranium oil blend I prepared. It felt so, so good.
Friday 23rd February 2018
It was now 12.30am and Sonya recommended I get out of the pool and try walking around or getting in other positions. I didn't want to cause seriously guys the pool was incredible, but I got out. I walked around for a bit, sat on the birth ball and got through a few surges like that. F was tired so Sonya took over rubbing my back, bt 3am my surges had slowed down all the way to 1:7. Sonya was massaging my muscles around my sacrum and said the left side was tight as well as bilaterally from my sacrum to coccyx. She could feel the tension in the muscles and was trying to use pressure points to help the muscles release.
Sonya recommended we go try and rest/sleep for a bit. I was so ready for some sleep as I was already super tired by now. My mum and SIL had gone to bed already and I could tell Sonya and Meg were tired. So hubby and I went into our room and tried to sleep.
This is where it got intense and this was the first time in my labour I can say I felt pain. I was so tired that I'd drift into a deep sleep and then get woken up by a surge. Because I wasn't focused and in the zone the surges hit me like a tsunami. I remember feeling like I was delusional during the time I was on the bed as every time a surge would come I would wake and grab onto my husband and tell him to ride the wave with me (Hypnobirthing compares surges to waves as they slowly rise to a peak then slowly go back down) and I remember just holding onto his hand and grabbing the wall (and wishing we had an actual bed and not just a mattress on the floor so I could grab onto something!!) and just saying to him "ok we're going up, up, up, we're almost at the top, ok we're coming down, we're almost down, it's almost over" hahaha and then once a surge was over i'd fall back asleep and this happened a few times before I was like stuff this I'm getting out of bed I do not have to feel the surges like this.
So I got out of bed and went and sat on the toilet, it was so comfortable but also uncomfortable at the same time. I fell asleep there for a bit though and managed to ride the surges out. I woke around 4.30am and went into the living area to find Meg asleep on the couch and Sonya sitting up looking really concerned. I asked if she was ok and managed to get some rest and she said she'd been up listening out for me. I got on the birth ball and laboured like that for a while, my surges had picked up and were more frequent again and then everyone slowly started waking up.
I noticed that the vibe was quite different and could feel the concern radiating off Sonya. Part of my birth plan was to not have any cervical exams. Firstly, Sonya doesn't do them unless asked for by the birthing mum and I personally felt like if I laboured hard and then found out I was only 4cm dilated it would greatly affect my mindset and lead to my labour stalling and me thinking/feeling "it took that long to get to 4cm and I have to get to 10cm this is going to take forever, I can't do it". So when Sonya came and asked if she could do a CE to check where we were at I was a little shocked and concerned but consented.
At 5.30am Sonya first checked bubs position and this is when we realised Asiya had turned and was now posterior after being in the perfect position for at least 2 months prior. Sonya then did the CE and that's when we realised that my pelvis wasn't opening up and Asiya was struggling to get her head in a good position and kept moving it around. While Sonya was doing the CE she would be like "ok I feel this part of the head oh wait ok no now this part ok no she's moved again" lol she said she's never felt a baby move their head that much before! And it was exactly at this moment that I thought to myself "Oh. My. God. I was meant to go see the chiro FOR THIS EXACT REASON."
I was 7-8cm dilated at this point but my body was struggling to open my pelvis up. We discussed a few things to do to help my body open up. Meg started doing inversion rebozo, she did this for 15 minutes and then tried some side lying releases.
At 7.15am Sonya came to me and recommended we do another CE to check for progress. She then said that if there was no progress she recommends we transfer to hospital for closer monitoring and maybe some IV Syntocin. I obviously didn't want to transfer so asked Sonya if we could wait longer and what would happen. Sonya said the contractions require strength and frequency to to complete labour and to assist baby to rotate her head for descent. She also said strength was required for second stage and that when labour stalls near the end the uterus tissues become soft and more easily damaged if a caesarean was required and the chance of postpartum hemorrhage and fetal distress increased.
Sonya did the exam at 7.45am and nothing had changed. Alhamdulilah Asiya was handling everything really well and was in no distress. She was still moving her head all over the place too. So, Sonya recommended we transfer. I was upset and cried a little but then got my focus back and remembered that Allah swt has plans better than mine. I asked Sonya if it we had to go urgently, she said no and I said, "okay cool....because I haven't packed a hospital bag" LOL everyone was like "seriously Naeema!!" so my mum and Meg went around and packed things in a bag for me, alhamdulilah I FaceTime my mum daily so even though she hadn't been to our place much she knew where everything was.
Once everything was ready we got in the car, I was in the back of Sonya's car on my knees facing the boot, probably the most comfortable position to be in while labouring in a car but not very comfortable. Meg was next to me checking on Asiya's heart rate and F was in the front seat with Sonya driving. At this point I really started to lose focus, Meg grabbed my hand and said "You have been in transition for 8 hours. You have been labouring so beautifully. Don't be afraid of losing control. Just let it go." and so when the next surge hit I roared through it and it felt so good. I then looked outside and thought to myself, "where are we? why is this taking so long?" and I started getting really annoyed at my husband (in my head) because he worked at the hospital and knew the quickest route but wasn't telling Sonya!! I looked outside again and realised it was daylight and it was raining, I had no concept of time so I didn't realise how long I had been in labour for already and all I could think the rest of the way to the hospital was “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DIDN’T TELL HER THE FASTEST ROUTE!!”