This birth stories blog was created to empower and help women heal through story telling.
Trigger warning: This birth story contains details of labour and assisted delivery: ventouse.
I want to start this birthing story off by saying that I am a control freak and I planned my birth out just like I plan many other aspects of my life. As with most things however, life had other plans in store for me and whilst my birth was not the ideal scenario designed by me, it was perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I had a fantastic pregnancy journey. I had minimal morning sickness, few aches and pains, some sweet cravings and was able to keep relatively active throughout the entire process. To prepare me for birth my husband and I undertook a hypnobirthing course, which was undoubtedly one of the best investments that I ever made.
It is an interesting feeling sitting down to write my birth story whilst I am just shy of seven months pregnant with my second child. As my due date gets closer I start to ponder whether I am more nervous for birth the second time around knowing what I will soon experience or whether it is comforting to know what to expect. Either way, the experience of birthing Amirah undoubtedly is my greatest achievement and something that I will forever be proud of. This is mine and her story.
Amirah was born on the 5th of July 2018 at 10:51pm, four days after my original due date and five days after the last exam of my entire nutrition degree. Like most soon to be mama’s I prepared for the birth as best as I could. I kept active through out my pregnancy, teaching pilates and taking classes as often as possible. I ate a nutritious well balanced diet and gave into the occasional cravings minus any guilt. I also undertook a course in hypnobirthing with my husband when I was in my second trimester and to this day I believe it was one of the best investments that I ever made. Hypnobirthing equipped myself and my husband with evidence based information outlining the physical process of birth and it also explained what can hamper the natural process. Hypnobirthing provided me with a set of breathing techniques, visualisation cues and guided meditations to use in preparation for birth and during the actual process. I did these as often as possible in the lead up to birth and through out my labour and took comfort in these tools to help me feel more prepared.
In the few days prior to Amirah’s birth I was in no hurry for her to come out and was still very much enjoying being pregnant. This enjoyment did however turn to concern the day before her birth when my midwife told me if she didn’t come soon they would need to induce me, which was something I was very much hoping to avoid. So the day before her birth I followed all of the recommendations to bring on labour, I went for a big walk, was intimate with my husband and went out for a spicy Afghan meal. After the meal I took a bath and went to bed as normal and was awoken with a tightening sensation at around 11pm. Not knowing whether I was in labour or not I decided to sit with the feeling for a little while. I did this until around 3am and then decided to wake my husband to let him know. I told him I thought that I was in labour and in his sleepy state he told me he didn’t believe me and to find out for sure as he had work in the morning and wanted to keep sleeping. I called my midwife, explained what I was feeling and she confirmed that my labour had started. I let me husband know the news and made him get up to make me a cheese and zaatar sandwich. It was the last substantial meal I had before I gave birth.
As instructed by my midwife I waited at home as long as possible, timing my contractions and using my hypnobirthing techniques to assist me through the discomfort. At around 11am when my contractions were drawing closer the hospital sent a midwife to check me so that I could avoid coming in too early (in case sufficient dilation hadn’t occurred). The midwife arrived, checked me and told me that I was 5cm dilated and that most women come in a lot sooner. So we jumped in the car, the contractions growing more uncomfortable each time and we made our way into the birthing suite.
On arrival to the Women’s and Children’s hospital my midwife and student midwife had set up a calm, dark room and drawn a bath as per my birthing plan instructions. I then spent the next few hours getting in and out of the bath, trying to find a comfortable position. At around 6pm they checked how dilated I was and found that the labour was not progressing so I spent some time out of the bath deep breathing trying to will it to continue. Around 8pm I felt the extreme desire to push and from this point on I spent the next few hours actively trying to push Amirah out. I would get close, the midwife would see her little head and the process would repeat itself. After two and a half hours of actively pushing the midwifes transferred me to the delivery suite to gain assistance from doctors.
As soon as I was transferred the mood was very different, there were bright lights and the doctors were telling me what would happen. They told me that they needed to give me an episiotomy followed by using the ventouse (suction cup to get baby out) and if that was unsuccessful I would be having an emergency C-section. Reluctantly I agreed and after two attempts of pushing, Amirah was out into the world and crawling up my chest to meet me. She weighed 3.95kg, had a full head of hair and was very puffy, squishy and adorable.
After birth I felt like I had run a marathon and I was in shock from the whole experience. I was proud that I managed a drug free, natural birth but I also don’t think that the control freak in me had adequately prepared for complications that could happen. I spent three nights post birth in hospital and received so much support with breast feeding education, it was amazing. In the car on the way home from the hospital I cried for the entire journey. I was in awe of the love that I felt for my daughter, the journey we went through to bring her earth side and how amazing it felt to be someone’s mother. My birth may not have been the ideal scenario that I had planned out in my head but I would do it a million times over for my daughter.
By Angelica-Hazel Toutounji, Owner of Saha Botanica