Syazana & Harun's gentle welcoming of their first baby
When I first I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t really think much about it. Later on as my pregnancy progressed, it made me realize that I would eventually have to give birth to this baby! I got panicked thinking about labour and all the gory stories I’ve heard of or seen in the movies. It didn’t help that my mom went through cesarean for both my sister and I and how people always associate how your mom gave birth to you with your very own birth.
I know for a fact that I want to birth our baby naturally and went through the net searching for antenatal classes that would support us doing so. Then I remembered my husband, Harun, whose friend talked about HypnoBirthing before and I started googling about that too (thank you so much Adam!!). Talked to Harun about it and he instantly agreed to attend the classes with me. It was such an eye-opener after attending just the first session and how engaging the session was, it made my chatterbox husband overly excited as if he was pregnant too.
Fast forward to the 39th week of my pregnancy. We went for our monthly checkup with Dr. Idora and she said it should be anytime soon now. She issued a one-week MC for me to rest at home. Honestly, I needed it. I didn’t want my water to break at office and people panicking and send me straight to the hospital in an ambulance. I kept telling my team members that if anything were to happen, I would either wait for Harun to pick me up or I’d just uber home. At home, I was mainly resting, did some squats, light exercises and stretching with the gym ball, packed my hospital bag and practiced all the things I learnt during the HypnoBirthing classes.
Reached 40th week mark and guess what? I was still heavily pregnant. Good thing was we managed to attend all the events that were around the same time as my due date – our friends’ engagement, a wedding, and triathlon event cheering and supporting our friends. Still, there was no sign that baby was going to come out any time soon. I did almost everything to induce labour naturally – stretches, squats, sex, bumpy car rides, walking, eating spicy food and bouncing on gym ball, you name it!! We then suddenly had a light bulb moment and realized that we have not tried one thing – acupuncture. So we went on Monday evening (4 April) and I told Harun that this might be our last resort to get things moving along naturally. At first, the guy at the acupuncture clinic wanted to turn us down as we didn’t fix any appointment, but after hearing what we were there for, he immediately called up his wife to help us out. After about an hour, I was done with the treatment and both of them kept saying, “You’ll probably feel it tonight or tomorrow. If not, do come back for another session.”
On Tuesday morning (5 April) I still felt nothing, just the regular Braxton Hicks and tightening sensation. Around lunchtime, Harun came back with a packet of Nasi Ayam Kunyit EPF (which is known for its super spicy sambal belacan). Had the whole packet of it and rested the entire afternoon. After Harun got back from work, we went to visit our friend at a hospital as she had just underwent a knee surgery. We were just chilling, watching a movie, and there I was, enjoying a burger, secretly taking big gulps of Coke and at the same time I was also timing the tightening sensation that I felt ever since we reached the hospital. “Hmmm, 10 minutes apart. Lama lagi kot..’, I said to myself. Harun went down to have dinner with the lads and as soon as he was gone, the sensation became stronger. I went out from the room and was just walking about at the waiting lounge, sat for a bit at the couch, even called my sister to distract myself from the surges that kept getting stronger. I then felt like passing motion and basically stayed in the bathroom a little bit too long that when I went out from it, everyone was asking whether I was alright. I just replied them casually “ohh I’m okay, sakit perut je.” I quickly texted Harun saying this might be it. He came back up not too long after that and I got this really strong sensation that I had to bend one of my legs up and leaned forward onto the couch. Reached home and told Harun to be prepared and went through the list of things to be brought to the hospital. I performed my Isya’ prayer and went to bed straight. Boy, I thought I could still sleep! I kept on tossing and turning too many times, trying to sleep it off but the surges kept on coming, stronger each time. I took deep breath in every single time there were surges, recited zikir Nabi Yunus and imagined flower petals unfolding beautifully.
Around midnight, I couldn’t lie down in bed anymore as I’ve started sweating despite being in an air-conditioned room. Started walking about in our living area and leaned onto the wall whenever surges came. Told Harun that I want to head to the hospital now and his reply was, “hmm..belum lagi kot sayang. Go take hot shower first lah.” I refused to initially but after texting Nadine and telling her my condition, she suggested hot shower too. She also said, “go easy on the pressure” (which I was unsure of what she meant at that time). By the time I got into the bathroom, there was already a blood show but I took my own sweet time enjoying my hot shower and somehow the surges became milder and more bearable. Headed out of the house right after I got ready and whilst I was walking to the lift, I could feel this great pressure down there. For a moment I really thought the baby was going to pop out there and then hahah!
Surges were 3-4 minutes apart now. Mind you, it was 1ish almost 2 in the morning so you can imagine how empty the road was and it didn’t take that long to get to the hospital from our home. But it felt like the longest car ride ever. We parked right next to emergency department and I managed to walk inch by inch and the nurses brought me the wheelchair. Harun being Harun, he told me to walk by myself to the labour room but I just ignored him and sat on the wheelchair quickly. He, on the other hand, had to carry the hand luggage, a stool and a gym ball. The nurses there probably thought that we were nuts for carrying all those stuff just for a birth. Once in the labour room, we were greeted by a few of midwives and were immediately asked whether we brought along our birth preferences. Passed a copy to her and I quickly changed into my own clothes. I’m not sure about other people, but I personally felt it was difficult to climb up the bed whilst you were having the surges. As I struggled to get on the bed, Harun was busy setting up the room – dimmed the lights, switched on the diffuser and turned on some light music. The midwife then performed a vaginal examination on me and told us I was already 7cm dilated. We were so glad to hear that and were informed that doctor will be on her way here. I was then strapped onto the CTG for 20 minutes or so which felt like forever, I could barely lie still in one position and that made it harder for the midwife to check the baby’s heart rate which resulted to me being strapped on longer than usual. When I was finally done with the CTG, the midwife then raised the head of the bed so that I could change to squatting position.
Doctor reached not too long after that and I was just slowly breathing down the baby. Harun was constantly bringing me water and dates. You definitely need a lot of energy to give birth; I highly recommend bringing some light snacks and drinks. I was in that position until I felt tired from all that squatting. I lied down just to relax for a bit and Dr. Idora started pressing on my tummy. That immediately turned Harun into a defensive and overly protective papa bear as he wasn’t keen with the idea of pressing my tummy just to speed up the process. He told the doctor off and he then coached me to change into other position instead. I was then at the other end of the bed, leaning onto Harun’s shoulder, hugging him, with one foot on the bed and the other on the foot-end board. I was progressing better in this position and only then I understood what Nadine said earlier about the great pressure. Every surge came with a great pressure down there and you’ll be somewhat tempted to just push instead of breathing down your baby. At this juncture I kept on asking how the baby was doing and tried feeling what came out from my body. I couldn’t feel the baby’s hair and it was apparently because the sac was still intact. Harun actually wanted to tell me that it looked as if a dinosaur’s egg was coming out of me (!!!) but was afraid that I will be pissed off. Soon after, I whispered at Harun’s ear hinting to just give in to vacuum extraction as I was feeling very tired and felt like giving up already. He plainly ignored me, not too sure whether it was intentionally or unintentionally (pfftt).
After I failed at persuading Harun on my vacuum idea, I mustered all the strength I had, took a short breath in and exhaled a long breath out channelling down the energy to breathe the baby out. And there she was at 3.12AM, finally out from my body, entering the world for the first time and wailing her lungs out. Midwife sucked some secretion from the baby’s nose and I held her for the first time – it felt so surreal. We finally get to meet our baby! Harun took her and recited azan. Not too long after that I started feeling the surges again and I expelled the placenta naturally. Doctor then suggested Harun to have a skin-to-skin session with our baby while I was being stitched up. After that was done, the baby was placed on my chest and she latched on me for the first time. This tiny little human kept staring back at me with her big round eyes - the feeling was unexplainable. I could feel this rush of emotions, almost as if I was on a rollercoaster ride. At the same time, the doctor asked Harun to clamp the cord and everyone left the three of us alone for an hour or so to bond. They only came back later on to weigh and measure our newborn. Once everything has settled down, we then started texting our family and friends. This was intentional as we were unsure of the progress and wouldn’t want people to feel anxious and keep on asking us “is the baby born yet?”. I totally understand that their intention is pure. But we needed to keep our focus on giving birth to our baby first and only then announcing it to the rest. At about 5AM, we were sent to the postnatal ward. I remember, we kept on snuggling with our newborn taking turns to continue our skin-to-skin bonding session and I wasn’t feeling tired or sleepy. I could not contain my happiness and am pretty sure I was high on oxytocin.
It has been a year and a half since our daughter, Hana, was born. But I can assure you, I could still remember every little detail that happened and how I felt before, during and after the birth. It was a memorable one and til this day, I am still amazed at how much our bodies can withstand the entire process and how they are made to give birth. SubhanAllah. We are more than willing to share our story with others and this story was repeated too many times whenever we had visitors at hospital and home (poor them visitors had to bear with our story haha). Thank you Harun for being an amazing birth partner and for believing in me throughout the entire labour process. To Nadine, million thanks to you for imparting your knowledge, for making us feel empowered and kept on assuring us that everything will turn out alright, to Adam and Wan for sharing your experiences on giving birth to all of your kids, to family and friends for being understanding and gave us a helping hand throughout my entire pregnancy and during our first few weeks after entering into parenthood, to Dr. Idora and midwives for respecting our birth preferences and allowing us to have a firsthand birthing experience ourselves, to my chiropractor, Dr. Sharon for always releasing my backache with spinal adjustments.
Some tips to all soon-to-be parents that desire for a natural gentle birth: