On the 15th of February my life has changed forever. I thought I was ready for what was coming but little did I know…
My whole pregnancy has been a smooth ride from the beginning to the end. I had no morning sickness, no bloating and no complications. I would even go as far as to say that I enjoyed it! Especially the glowing skin! Apart from a few hormonal attacks, which I’m so glad I can blame on the pregnancy, as I went into a full psycho mode, and the occasional dizziness, I felt great. Yes I had to make a numerous trips to the bathroom during the night and towards the end I felt pretty uncomfortable but I still felt good and had energy. My whole pregnancy I was lucky enough to work from home which gave me plenty of time to look after myself. For the first time in my life I had the luxury of being at home every day and I really enjoyed it. I attended prenatal yoga classes, went to the gym and fully prepared myself for my baby’s arrival. I started pregnancy thinking I wanted to have a C-section (don’t judge). The reason for this was that we have recently moved to a new country where I didn’t know anyone and I only had my husband with me. I really wanted him to be there with me during the birth and share the experience with him. Since he travels a lot with his job I was very nervous that I will go into labour when he is away and I will have to deal with the whole labour by myself. As my pregnancy progressed though, my thinking started to shift completely and I started looking into more natural options. I was practicing yoga 3 times a week and had prenatal sessions with an amazing doula which made me feel a lot more informed and prepared. In the 3rd trimester I did a complete U-turn and started looking into hypnobirthing. The concept was so appealing to me and the more I read my book and did my meditations the more ready and almost excited I felt about labour and I kept thinking that my baby will chose the perfect time to come to this world and that it is in his own interest to come when dad will be home too.
From the 38th week I started to feel a little nervous again. Maybe it was the hormones, maybe the fact that I only had about 3 outfits I kept wearing because nothing else fitted anymore and maybe it was just the fact that I knew I was near the end and that this huge event I was preparing for, was finally here and all of a sudden I felt really unprepared. My days basically consisted of me telling myself in my head that I was ready for this and then imagining all the things which could go wrong (again I blame the hormones for this). I also remember looking at all the baby things which were all ready and nicely folded and feeling so happy and excited that he will be with us soon. I didn’t want to go overdue too much as I wanted everything to be as natural as it could and I really didn’t want to be induced. When I had my doctor’s check up at 38 weeks and she suggested to do the sweep the following week I freaked out. Of course I told her that as long as the baby and me are doing good I would like no interventions. Don’t ask me why she suggested it but here in the Middle East they very much prefer the ‘controlled birth’ rather than the natural. That is my impression from the whole experience anyway. This is when I started to drink a lot of raspberry leaf tea and went for lots of walks.
I always wondered if I would know that the D day was there but I really didn’t. Someone told me that the day you go into labour you feel full of energy and ready. I didn’t feel any different to be honest I went to my yoga class and had dinner by myself as my husband was away and due to come back that evening. My little baby boy timed his appearance perfectly (I knew he would be a good boy and wait for his dad). My husband got home around midnight and my labour started at around 3am. I woke up thinking I’m sweating a lot, not realizing my water broke. In the movies you always see a big gush of water coming out so that’s what I expected but it really wasn’t like that. I got changed and went back to bed. I felt very strange and kept saying to my husband that something is happening but I really wasn’t sure what. Things escalated quite quickly after that. I started getting pain in my lower belly. A bit like a period pain but it was bearable. It kept coming and going and I thought I better time it as it might be contractions. The pain literally escalated in half an hour and by that point I definitely knew these were contractions. They were coming on pretty close only about 3 minutes apart and lasted about 30-40 seconds. By this point we started going through our notes from our doula sessions as I wasn’t sure this was the time you go to the hospital! It’s funny because when the contractions kicked it they were so strong and overpowering that my hypnobirthing went out of the window! I still had my meditation playing in the background but I’m not sure how much I listened to it, maybe I was, but I had it on more to calm me down and because it was familiar. They tell you to breathe through the contractions and ride it like a wave. Well when the first strong contraction came it literally took my breath away. I couldn’t move, I felt like I was going to be sick and I was just standing in the bathroom rocking from one side to the other waiting for it to stop. Apparently the contractions feel like period cramps but thousand times worse. For me the best way to describe the contractions is to imagine that your lower back and your lower belly is stuck between two walls which are closing in and literally crushing your bones. The pressure in my lower back was so intense I really can’t tell if I even felt it in my belly. I remember thinking hell no! I’m not doing this! I need to get to the hospital now and I want an epidural!!! But somehow the idea of the journey put me off and I went into a bath instead and stayed there for nearly an hour. Risky I know, but the water made me feel so much better and the contractions so much more bearable that I really didn’t want to get out. My husband kept asking whether we should go to the hospital and I finally said yes. Trying to get dressed in between the contractions and then walk into the car was the biggest challenge! I was so glad it was about 5:30 in the morning and there was nobody around. The last few months I kept saying to myself that even if my husband isn’t at home when it all happens I will be ok and can always call myself a taxi and get to the hospital safely! Well I don’t think I would’ve even been able to call the taxi, let alone carry my hospital bag or anything else! The car journey to the hospital felt like the longest car ride of my life even though it only took 15 minutes. I had my headphones in the whole time and was listening to my hypnobirthing meditation but I was so uncomfortable and the contractions were so strong I couldn’t focus on anything other than just pressing the start and stop button on my contraction’s app. When we got to the hospital, it all went a bit crazy. I got taken to the assessment room for a quick examination and the nurse found out I was fully dilated and started to shout at everybody! All of a sudden there were about 5 medical professionals in the room shouting all over each other whether they have time to take me to the delivery room or whether I was going to deliver there and then! This boy was ready to come to this world soon! I was in such a strange state that I didn’t have much of an idea of what was going on. I just kept thinking he will be here soon! This will be over soon! There was a nurse standing next to me and I remember asking her: ”I guess it’s too late for an epidural then?” and she just laughed. It wasn’t funny. I always thought that since they see women going through labour every day that they would know better than to talk to me whilst I was having contractions. Well they didn’t and kept asking me question after question and I don’t even know if I answered any of them. I was then whizzed through the hospital laying on the bed covered by sheets whilst the nurses were actually running to get me to the delivery room on time. It was like a scene from a movie and even in the state I was in I thought it was really funny and I’m sure my husband was laughing a little too. Or freaking out. Or both!
In the delivery room it all became a bit of a haze for me. One nurse was trying to take my clothes off and put hospital gown on me and I literally hated her there and then and thought she should’ve done it in between contractions not whilst I was going through one but obviously didn’t have the energy or the will to tell her so. They hooked me up on the monitor to see my contractions and my doctor has arrived by then too. I was really pleased to see her as she has brought a bit of calmness into the room. I imagined myself having a nice quiet room with dimmed lights, with just my husband and the midwife there. Instead I got bright lights, a midwife, a specialist, my doctor and 2 other nurses looking after me and running around. I didn’t care though as all I could focus on was that monitor announcing that a contraction was coming and by this point I don’t think I would’ve been able to tell myself. It was almost like I didn’t feel it. I was in another dimension. I was told to push with every contraction since I got to the delivery room. Told might be an understatement since somebody was always shouting at me ‘’push, push’’. So I pushed and pushed and apparently I was doing it all wrong. ‘’Push more. Push longer.’’ I never knew pushing was so difficult! You would think you just push and something would eventually come out. Well it didn’t. Literally nothing. I couldn’t even feel him getting any nearer to get out. At one point the specialist told me that until they see me pass stool I’m not pushing in the correct way. Well that didn’t really add to my confidence! I was pushing for 2 hours. I was so extremely lucky that my labour was so quick but the pushing part was the most exhausting thing I have ever experienced. Imagine tensing and flexing every single muscle in your body every couple of minutes for what feels like eternity. Every single muscle. And push. It was crazy! I had tears running down my face. Not because I was crying but because I pushed them out. Turns out I can push a tear out but couldn’t push a baby out. I didn’t breathe through my contractions. I didn’t ride them like waves. I literally survived from one to the other. I was gripping everything around me, the metal bars on the bed, the sheets, my husband’s hand. I kept trying to imagine holding my baby in my hands and visualizing him in my arms. That is what got me through it. My doctor said she will let me push for 2 hours and if it’s not successful they will have to help him out. I wanted everything as natural as possible. I had no pain relief throughout, but at this point I literally didn’t care. They could cut me up open and I wouldn’t care I just wanted him out!
I ended up having vacuum assisted birth at the end. It’s the one where they help to suck your baby’s head out and he comes out with a funny shaped head. When my baby boy finally came out I felt pain like I never did before. It was unreal! And also the most surreal thing I’ve ever experienced. When he came out they put him straight to my arms and said ‘your baby, this is your baby’. They had to say it a couple of times because I must have been so out of it I was just staring at him not really getting what just happened. When I was finally holding him I just remember saying ‘Oh my god’ repeatedly whilst looking at him. I thought I was going to be emotional and fall in love with him instantly but it really wasn’t like that. I was more in a disbelief that he was finally here and just kept looking at him thinking this is my baby, I have a baby! When I read my hospital notes afterwards it said that the baby was crying at birth but I don’t even remember hearing him cry! I only had him in my arms for a couple of moments before they took him off me. To me it felt like minutes, but my husband said it was more like seconds. The midwife took him to clean him up and weight him and do all the checks. Few moments later I gave birth to the placenta too. I have no idea if it just happened of if my doctor helped a little. I wanted to have a skin on skin immediately but at this point my doctor was stitching me up and I couldn’t think of anything else but the pain again. They say that you don’t feel the stitches after you have just given birth and let me tell you – they lie! I felt every single one of them, every needle and thread move! I think I screamed from the pain too. My doctor was shouting at the nurses to give me some pain relief. I was given gas and air and it did help with the pain but I still felt it. All I could hear was my baby crying and I kept saying to my husband ‘take him, stay with him’. I’m glad that he got some contact with him at least whilst the doctor was sorting me out. I felt absolutely exhausted but so happy that it was all over and that I had a beautiful healthy boy next to me. I was so cold and was literally shaking so much my teeth were chattering. Apparently this is normal after birth given how much of your strength you have just used and what you have been through. When the doctor was done we were left alone just with my husband and our new baby in the delivery room and the midwife placed him onto my chest and told me to start trying breastfeeding straight away. This is when I started to feel all the emotions, the happiness, the relief that the hard part was over (haha little did I know!) and the overwhelming love that I felt for that precious thing in my arms. He was so tiny! And looked so vulnerable! He had a big red bruise on his head from where the vacuum was attached to his head and I just felt so unbelievably sad that he had to go through that. I wanted to hide him from the world and protect him from everyone. I felt extremely hungry like I didn’t eat for days. My husband was feeding me a sandwich whilst I was breastfeeding my baby and I felt so happy! I was required to stay in the delivery room for another couple of hours to make sure that everything was ok. These were the most precious moment for me. It was just the three of us – our little family soaking up the moment and looking at our beautiful baby. I wanted to message everyone to let them know that he has arrived but I didn’t even want to look away from him and take my phone. I just needed a few more moments to soak up his little face and to cuddle him as much as I could.
Max has arrived to this world on the 15th of February at 8:22 am weighting 3.118 kg and measuring 54 cm. The next few weeks following his birth have been both, the most amazing and also the hardest moments of my life.