The surprise unassisted & calm birth of Sasha's second baby
You can’t fight fate
I found out that I was pregnant with our second child, ironically within the first month of taking up a new position for work in KL after returning from abroad. I came home from work one day feeling out of sorts. The familiar feeling of nausea overwhelmed me and I just knew. My husband was over the moon! For me however, I felt really happy that my little boy was finally going to have someone he could share his life with, but I was dreading every minute that lay ahead. My first labor had been a long and traumatic experience. I spent 24 hours at the hospital, trying to birth my son. I had been induced and given an epidural in the process and spent about 8 of that 24 hours, not being able to move and feel my legs. That, by far was worse the worst experience of my life.
I knew that something had to be done. I did not want to have to go through what I had gone through with my firstborn all over again. Someone on the Gentle Birthing Group on Facebook suggested I try ‘Fear Release Therapy’ as part of Hypnobirthing. I was fortunate enough to book a class with Nadine Ghows of Gentle Beginnings Malaysia (www.mygentlebeginnings.com) back in February 2013, 4 months into the pregnancy. Attending the classes gave my husband and I a chance to see that a gentle birth was possible and attainable. I found the gentle birthing videos so inspirational! Having an opportunity to discuss our fears and manage our expectations also helped. The Hypnobirthing sessions lasted about 6 weeks but I continued to practice the techniques and listen to the birth affirmations throughout the rest of the pregnancy. Perhaps the most favourite part of my practice was Friday nights. My husband would come home from work early just to give me the opportunity to light some candles, run myself a bath and practice going into deep relaxation. At this point, I was just so much more at ease with my changing body and I had started to really enjoy my pregnancy all over again.
The doctor had said that it was likely that I might have our baby early as I had been 2 weeks early with my son. At my last checkup and ultrasound on Saturday the 6th of July, at 39 weeks, she wasn’t engaged and was still sitting pretty high. Another cause for concern was that she was in a ‘posterior position’ or ‘sunny side up’ but the hope was that she would turn just before, or at delivery. So with no sign of her arrival in sight, we decided to spend the day out with a movie and a bit of shopping. The very next day, my son had fallen ill with a stomach bug. We took him in to the doctors early in the morning. My poor boy was having trouble keeping in any food or drinks. After the doctor’s appointment, we did the week’s grocery shopping and went home. We spent the day just attending to our boy. It was finally midnight before he was feeling better and tucked in for the night. My husband and I had some simple noodles for dinner and went to bed at around 1:30am.
I was woken up at around 4:30am because I had an ache-y feeling in my back which was new. I had no trouble with my back in this pregnancy as I had in my previous one. I could feel the muscles in my tummy tightening and releasing. I got out of bed to use the bathroom and got a drink of water in the kitchen. Since there was no pain, I dismissed the surges as Braxton Hicks contractions but proceeded to use a contraction tracker app to track them as a practice for the ‘real thing’. It was really more to test out the app I had downloaded more than anything (I am a software tester by profession so I suppose old habits die hard). I switched on my usual relaxation music and proceeded with recording each ‘surge’. I also took it as an opportunity to practice my breathing technique. After about an hour, the app summary section showed that my ‘surges’ were 4-1-1 which translated as Active Labour. What? I could not be because there was no PAIN. At that point, I just concluded that the app was utter rubbish and a complete waste of time and slipped back soundly to sleep.
Or the real McCoy
It was 8:30 am before we all woke the next morning. My throat felt really sore and scratchy. Thinking that I was coming down with the flu, I signed on to my Skype work account to let the team know that I was down with the flu and would not be working that day. I got up to use the bathroom soon after and started to feel the ‘surges’, again. They had doubled in intensity, as in I felt more pressure but still no pain. The ache-y feeling in my back had also intensified but was still bearable. I thought to myself that this just might be the start of the real thing and my husband and I thought that it might be a good idea to go in to the hospital soon to get it checked out. He called his mum to say that I might be in the early stages of labour and that she should start coming in. I was resolute in not going into the hospital too early again this time around. Thinking that I would first labour in our bathtub, I started running myself a bath. I lit some candles and climbed into the warm waters. I felt calm and collected as I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. Suddenly, the ‘surges’ changed and I started feeling an intense push downwards. In the dim light, I could see bloodied streaks clouding the water. I had just lost my show.
I called out to my husband and walked unsteadily out to the bedroom. He helped me get dressed because I still felt a little weak in the knees. ‘We really ought to go now’ he said. That was when I felt the next surge and my waters spattered with intense force all across the bedroom floor. ‘I don’t think we’ll make it. I think she’s coming now’ I said. A moment of panic ensued as he helped me onto the bed to check. Our baby’s head was already crowning!!! With the subsequent surge, her head had made it through and she was amazingly still ‘sunny side up’! ‘Push babe!’ my husband says to me to which I responded in the most matter-of-fact fashion ‘I think we should wait for the next surge’. It struck us as really odd, after, how our exchange had seemed so much like a regular conversation! With the next surge, her whole body emerged, straight into her daddy’s arms. My husband (the love of my life, my hero!), held her up for me to hold while he uncoiled the umbilical cord around her neck. She was still blue and wasn’t breathing. I held her up to my chest. The both of us held our breaths for what seemed like eternity! Finally, there was a little splutter and a cough and our little baby girl let out her first cry. Our son, waiting anxiously outside our room had heard his little sister’s first cry too. It was the most beautiful moment! Our baby girl, Anya Prakash (meaning strange and extraordinary) had arrived, on her own terms, at 9:30am on the 8th of July 2013, weighing 6pounds 15 ounces.
The emergency services team arrived shortly after and assisted in the delivery of the placenta. A short ride on an ambulance to the hospital (we live 5 minutes away can you believe?) later, the doctor confirmed that both Anya and I were doing fine. It was then that I got to breastfeed Anya for the first time.
In retrospect, there were a million possibilities of how things might have taken a turn for the worst but we praise and thank God that things had gone as smoothly as they had. We feel like we definitely had God guiding us and watching over Anya every step of the way. We are truly grateful to have had the opportunity to have experienced a calm and gentle albeit unplanned homebirth. Most of all, we are truly, truly grateful for our precious Anya.