So Mom, Dad and mother's younger sister made their way to the hospital while I followed closely behind. Once at the hospital, we hung out at the hospital cafetaria as Mom had a sandwich for breakfast still unsure of whether she should check herself in, and how she was going to do it. A couple of months before, Mom had a vaginal exam performed on her by her doctor and it was clearly a very traumatic incident for her. So she wanted to avoid a vaginal exam at all costs. Its clear she still carries the trauma with her. In the last couple of months I had tried to talk the couple into changing doctors (as it was very clear the doctor was not pro-natural birth), but Dad's mother was the director in this hospital and the couple felt they owed it to her to take her advise.
I tell Mom that she can get a CTG (electronic fetal monitoring) done – just to give her mother peace of mind - and she can go home after that if she wants.
We sat in the cafetaria for close to an hour just chatting and eating, in between Mom's surges. Mom chatted and giggled in between surges, but when a surge came, she would close her eyes and relax her body and breathe through them. We took turns holding her hands during a surge in the middle of the cafetaria, and people must've been wondering what we were doing! Dad's mother arrives at about 10.30 am and the conversation takes a slightly more formal tone. Dad's mother and I chat for a while and we find out that we know the same people in the birth and breastfeeding community and she is at ease slightly, that this strange person is not going to put strange ideas into her kids' heads! She advises Mom to register and get a CTG done without having a vaginal exam (It helps to have a mother who is Director of a hospital!).
So Mom goes to have a CTG at about 11am. I leave at this point because I have to send my daughter for her class. At 12.30 I get a text from Mom saying her surges are more intense and so I go to the hospital and reach about an hour later.
Mom is in the labour ward with Dad. Her surges are clearly more intense, longer and very close together.
“Very good!” I say. She doesn't respond. She is so focused.
She asks Dad to massage her back. She is uncomfortable in any position. Finally she lays down on her side. I take over from Dad and massage her lower back.
Dhikr... “Allah!”.. Mom cries.
Mom's mother and younger sister come into the room and hold her hand. Younger sister tears up seeing her sister in such a state. Grandmother gives Mom words of encouragement. The whole family is lovingly supporting Mom. What love!!
“Rasa macam nak berak” Mom says.
I keep quiet and continue to press Mom's back... heh, maybe baby'll come soon here, I think to myself.
But Grandmother notices how close the surges are to each other and calls nurse to check on Mom. Mom refuses a vaginal exam. So the nurse pushes her to the delivery room as the surges are intense and close together. In the delivery suite, Mom musters every ounce of energy to tell the nurses that she wants me in there too. The nurses are put-off, saying “Only one person – either Dad or doula”. But Dad tells me to just stay there and I continue to apply pressure to Mom's lower back.
Mom lays on her side and nurse does another CTG. Once the nurses see I'm quite harmless, they are more relaxed. Dad happened to bring in the Amani textbook with him; and one of the senior nurses flips through it and is actually very interested. She asks me where I trained and asks me whether we have a birth centre! I chat with her for awhile and she leaves us alone.
Grandmother, Dad, Aunty and I are alone in the room with Mom. Mom changes position to a modified all-fours position - kneeling on the bed, resting her upper body on the inclined bed-head. When a surges comes she'd say “Tekan!” and I get on the bed and press hard on her lower back. It gives her obvious relief. Dad is at Mom's head reading Qur'an and zikr to her. Mom grips his arms tightly through the surges.
We all chat and joke around. Grandmother has had six babies herself and has much wise words to say and comfort to give to Mom. Her jokes lighten the mood and bring calm to Mom.
Mom's surges seem to slow down.. and I'm thinking baby might be near. I pray baby comes soon while everything is quiet and calm.
At one point, Mom goes into a monologue “Allah ampunkanlah dosa Farah. Farah banyak berdosa. Farah tak sanggup masuk neraka” (Allah please forgive me. I have sinned much. I can't bear your Hellfire”.... I can't help but tear up slightly at hearing this..
She goes on, “Abang, maafkan Farah ye. Ana (her younger sister) maafkan Farah ye. Ibu, maafkan Farah ye” We are quiet and making our own silent du'as (prayers).
“Kenapa baby tak nak keluar ni?” Mom asks, exhausted.
“Babies do things in their own time” Grandmother and I say, smiling at each other.
“Tell her its ok to come out” I whisper.
Mom talks quietly to baby.
After sometime, nurse comes in and wants to do another CTG. “Kalau kita tak buat VE, tak tau setakat mana dah bukak.. Kalau dah bukak sepenuhnya kita boleh tunggu 1 jam sahaja sampai baby keluar, takut baby distress”. I scowl inwardly and pray baby comes soon.
Nurse asks Mom to lie on her side, so she can do the CTG. Mom refuses “Tak nak!”
Grandmother tries to get Mom to listen to nurse, but Mom shakes her head.
Mom apologises to the nurse, “Sorry ye, tapi saya tak nak!”
Grandmother asks me “Is it OK to be in this position? Shouldn't she be lying down?”
“Well, it depends on her – what she feels.” I turn to Mom, “Farah, are you OK in this position? Do you want to lay on your side?”
“No I want to be in this position!” Mom says firmly.
I smile inwardly, so proud of her. Grandmother realizes I've made my point, and is quiet.
Mom is emitting pushing sounds, although we tell her to breathe. And the nurse is getting very uncomfortable at this point. She calls in another nurse and they are standing by the side of the bed, looking on at me still applying pressure to Mom's lower back.
At one point, she looks at mother's perineum and baby's head is slightly visible. She rushes to phone the doctor to inform her.
She comes back into the room and again says to Mom, “Kalau tak baring, macam mana kita nak sambut baby”.
Mom says “Tak pe, Kak Nadine boleh buat” (!! oops). I smile at the nurse and say “Ayah dia boleh sambut” and motion for Dad to come to the perineum.
When she hears me say this, the nurse runs out of the room in panic. She gets on the phone with the doctor. Within minutes, the lights are switched on and the doctor arrives with a small army of nurses, all of them decked in scrubs and gloves!
Oops! bad move on my part...sigh..
The doctor takes one look at me applying pressure to Mom's lower back and says “What's this??”
She turns to Grandmother and says “We cannot have this. If you want this, you should have chosen a homebirth!”
Here we go, I thought.
Grandmother doesn't know how to react. “I'm torn at the moment”... I can sympathise with Grandmother who I'm sure is torn between listening to the hospital and respecting her daughter's wishes. Allah bless her for staying calm.
Dad quickly gets on the phone with his mother, the Director. And tells her that his wife is comfortable in that position and should not be made to be in a position where she is not comfortable. He passes the phone to the doctor. After the doctor and his mom talk, the doctor passes the phone to Dad. She tells him "I've told your mother that we have to do what is right and she agreed."
At this point, baby's head is bulging and almost crowning! (Alhamdulillah!) So I move out of the way, near to Mom's head and motion to Dad and also doctor to come close to receive the baby. I tell Mom baby is almost here! In just a few seconds, Mom has a big surge and pushes and baby is born in a couple of surges!
I have no idea who received baby, though there was a "plop!" and from Mom's expression I knew baby was out. (It was between Dad and doctor who received baby). "Baby's here! You did it!" I tell Mom.
Mom cries relief “Ya Allah!”
All the six nurses are looking at the baby, while doctor is not sure of what to do. Mom just birthed on a semi all-fours position and baby is on the bed. Doctor is fixed to the spot not really doing anything. One nurse (the one who asked me if I have a birth centre earlier) then asks “How does she take her baby?”
So I tell Mom to lift her leg and turn over. Mom does so, all the while screaming with delight “Ya Allah, betul ke ni??!!”
She is so full with emotion, incredulous that she had just birthed her baby. "Betulke baby dah sampai?!!"
MasyaAllah...a beautiful moment!!
Dad and Grandmother are in tears!
And the shocked nurses and doctor also get swept in the moment and start smiling.
Baby is passed to Mom and put on her chest “Ya Allah!” Mom keeps saying with sheer Joy!
The cord is clamped after a few minutes. Baby has some fluid and the doctor somehow persuades Mom to consent to suctioning baby. Then doctor asks Mom if she wants pitocin to expel the placenta. “No!” Mom says. So doctor massages uterus and placenta comes out soon after.
Doctor examines perineum “Minimum second degree tear” she exclaims, “Do you want me to stitch?”
“No!” says Mom adamantly again. (I'm beaming with pride!)
Doctor resigns herself “OK" she smiles "..unnconventional.. but ok”. She bids farewell to the family (and even me!) and the family is left to bond.
I leave shortly after feeling very proud of the Mother and Father that they called the shots in their baby's birth. And so happy it all worked out well. However, I'm unsure about how the nurses and doctor's attitudes towards doulas has changed after the birth... but I pray its for the better.
Mabrook to the new parents! You overcame the odds even with a non-supportive doctor and got the birth that you wanted.
May little Khansa grow up to be solehah and the coolness of your eyes!