“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice.” – Bob Marley
Birth almost never go according to plan. Leanne had a totally different plan for her daughters birth but unlike my previous post her birth didn’t change from a planned natural delivery to a C-section. It changed in the way she planned her natural delivery to go. This mom was strong and courages! Her story reflects truth of not only the pretty parts of birth but also the very, very hard parts.
“We were very lucky because I fell pregnant only a month after I stopped with contraceptive. I had a very good pregnancy as I didn’t have any morning sickness. I did however suffer from hip and back pain.
So with an awesome pregnancy almost over, we “patiently” waited for Cara. I am saying “patiently” because Ristian and I are control freaks. So this “can’t plan for anything” was a huge adjustment for us but taught us that you can’t control everything and it’s difficult to plan ahead (it was good that we got used to it, especially with a new baby on the way 😊)
I wanted to give birth naturally,
not just because it’s the best for Cara, but I wanted to experience everything. I wanted to know what it felt like to push. I also liked the idea that God, and not a doctor, will decide when the right time is for her to come. In short, Cara chose her own birthday.
That being said, I didn’t think that it will give birth naturally. I thought in the back of my mind that the gynaecologist will say that Cara is too big or that she is bridge. You hear of so many stories where women want to give birth naturally but then something goes wrong and they have to get an emergency C-Section. We didn’t go for antenatal classes, because I thought it might end up being a C-Section anyway and then you don’t need to know how to push etc.
I have a low pain threshold, so I was very scared to go through the whole process. I therefore said that if I give birth naturally I must get an epidural!! Come hell or high water… But, again, you can’t plan ahead and the picture you have of what’s about to happen is far from what’s expected.
I therefore want to tell my story. The whole story, not just to pretty parts.
On Saturday the 9th of September 2017, I woke up at 5:00 with what felt like period pain. I was about 39 weeks pregnant. I went to the bathroom and when I came back I woke Ristian up and said to him that I think I might be having contractions. As we didn’t go for antenatal classes, we didn’t know what to expect. We only watched a lot of videos online of what might happen. So when we realised that the time has finally come, we couldn’t remember anything 😊. We had to Google the timing of the contractions. Ristian used his stopwatch and we started timing.
I am not sure when, but I did lose my mucus plug sometime during the morning. And it’s exactly what the name says… its very slimy.
We had plans with friends later the day and decided not to cancel as we didn’t know how quickly I will progress. They came over for a quick boerewors braai and by 14:00 I said to Ristian that my contractions are closer together and starting to get really sore. He said that he will see our friends out and that I should take a shower in the meantime and pack my last stuff for the hospital. Cara’s hospital bag was packed a month before ☺
It’s difficult to explain how a contraction feels, but if I have to say, it feels like very very bad period pains. I started to feel the pain in my lower back as well.
By 17:00 I could not stand while a had a contraction and had difficulty talking through one.
We greeted our animal kids and we were off to Olivedale Hospital. On the way there I started to get very emotional as I was scared of what’s about to happen. I prayed so much and knew God was with us to whole time.
We arrived and I were booked in immediately. I had to do a urine sample and undergo all the checks etc. They took my temperature, blood pressure and they had to see how far dilated I am. I was very nervous for this test because the stories I heard were shocking!! Before the midwife did the test, I told her that I am scared and she should be gentle on me. She instructed me to take a deep breath and open my legs so that my knees are flat on the bed (you almost look like a chicken flatty) and I must be honest, it was sore and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t as bad as expected. The contractions were much worse…
At around 18:00 I was only 1cm dilated.
Ristian looked at me and I said to him that this is going to be a long night. He made himself comfortable on the lazy chair next to me. They gave me my supper and then Ristian went to eat something and the midwife came in and started to explain everything to me and what I can expect.
She explained how to use the pain medication. I was very relieved that I could get some pain relief with every contraction. They gave me Entonox. This is a 50/50 mix of two gases – nitrous oxide and oxygen and is breathed in through a mask or mouthpiece.
She also showed me how to use the exercise ball. This however felt very uncomfortable and it didn’t do anything for me.
They also gave me a Pethidine injection for the pain.
The midwife informed me that my gynaecologist was not on call that weekend. I was a bit upset as I really wanted my gynea there because he was very supportive and had a relaxed atmosphere. But she assured me that the gynea on call was brilliant and she is awesome with natural birth.
It then began to sink in that I’m actually going to give birth naturally. I told the hospital staff numerous times that I really want an epidural, but they kept on saying that I wasn’t dilated far enough.
The contractions at this stage were almost unbearable.
I kept on using the Entonox just to get some relief. I must admit, I started to feel dizzy from the pain medication, but I just kept on using it.
At 23:00 the midwife checked again to see how far dilated I was and I was at 4cm. They said they are going to break my water and things might move quickly.
It wasn’t sore when they broke my water, just an uncomfortable pinch. They used a tool that looked like a knitting needle. Once they broke my water, there was water everywhere. After this, they moved me to the labor ward.
I kept on asking for the epidural and the staff finally said that I can get an epidural.
They called the anaesthesiologist and he was on his way.They checked again, and I dilated to 9cm in 30 minutes! The pain was unbearable at this stage and I kept on using the Entonox. The midwife said that because I dilated so quickly, I can’t get an epidural anymore…
They therefore cancelled the epidural and I was furious.
I think it’s just because I was in so much pain and I didn’t think I could pull through without it. I then had to wrap my head around the fact that I’m actually going to give birth without an epidural.
I started to feel very dizzy from the pain meds and my whole body was pins and needles. It felt like nothing worked anymore and the mask was almost permanently on my face. When the midwife checked on me, my eyes were seeing double. She told Ristian to keep the mask away from me and I’m not allowed to use it anymore ☹
In the meantime, Ristian contacted Sam and said she should come as soon as possible because I progressed very quickly. Luckily, she made it in time 😊
The gynae on call arrived and I knew that its going to happen now. She seemed very calm and collected and had a calming effect on me.
The midwife then explained how to push. She said that with every contraction, I need to pull up my legs and imagine I am diving into a swimming pool. I need to hold my breath and push hard for 10 seconds. They will do the counting. After 10 seconds and I can take a breath (as if I am coming up for air in the swimming pool) and then I need to dive in again and hold my breath for the next 10 seconds and push.
At first I did it wrong.
I didn’t hold my breath and breathed as they do in the movies 😊. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t actually listen to what the midwife said. I eventually got it right, but I was very tired and my legs felt like jelly. I couldn’t hold it up anymore, so Ristian and a nurse had to help me. In between Ristian kept on giving me water and Powerade and he also wiped my face. I was eventually so hot and sweaty, that he took a wet towel to cool me off. He was very supportive.
I pushed for almost an hour and Cara was still not out. I saw the look the gynae and midwife exchanged, and I realised that its now or never. Cara’s heartbeat started to change and she needed to come out as soon as possible. The gynae then also said to me that I really need to give it my all. Sam told me afterwards that Cara’s meconium (black poo) was in my amniotic fluid. Meaning that Cara started to stress as well.
They then gave me an injection in order to cut me (episiotomy) and also used a vacuum suction on Cara’s head to help her out.
I then gave one final push and felt extreme pain and then it was gone immediately.
Cara, my world, my beautiful baby daughter was on my chest. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe everything is over and she is okay. We made it!! I felt instant relieve!!
Ristian was next to me with a huge smile on his face. Our daughter is born 😊. He gave me a kiss and I knew we were safe. He was with me every step of the way and I will always be grateful for that. With Ristian next to me, Cara in my arms,
I felt LOVE!! Love and peace and joy!!
After I held Cara in my arms for a while, they asked Ristian to cut the umbilical cord and the nurse took Cara to weigh her followed by all the checks. Ristian stayed with Cara the whole time. They then injected me with something that helps the placenta to come out easily. I can remember telling them that I can’t push anymore, and they laughed. They said everything is over, I can just relax. They will pull out the placenta after which that they stitched me up (this wasn’t sore at all).
When they were done with me and Cara, I could finally breastfeed her. This was an amazing feeling! She latched immediately, and it was awesome watching my daughter while she gets in all the liquid gold.
We had wonderful family time talking about the whole experience while Cara slept in my arms. Sam continued to take awesome photos.
They then took Cara to the nursery so that I could get some rest. Ristian took all our bags to my hospital room. The midwife asked me to stand up and I should be careful because a lot of blood will spill out of me. I’m glad she warned me, but I still wasn’t prepared because when I stood up, A LOT of blood spilled on the floor.
I felt so embarrassed but also grateful that no one else was in the room with us. After she cleaned me up, she said I should walk to my room.
Half way there I felt very dizzy and I can remember I saw Ristian close by and then it went black. I fainted in the middle of the corridor on the way to my room. I woke up almost immediately and they helped me to my room. The midwife brought me tea and salt & vinegar popcorn 😊, I appreciated that a lot. I was exhausted. I could get some sleep for about 2 hours when they brought Cara for her next feed. It was such a special time because it was just us. Mother and daughter. I can’t describe the love you instantly feel for that precious little bundle in your arms. Your flesh and blood. It’s actually overwhelming 😊
The gynaecologist and midwife were awesome, and it was amazing how everything worked out perfectly 😊.
I never knew I had it in me and I praise God that He gave me the strength and that He showed me what I am capable of.
I thank Him that He was with us every second. I also realised that God will never put a mountain in front of you if He knows you cannot climb it. And sometimes God will put a Goliath in your life, for you to find the David within you.
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Cara was born at 1:52 am, weighing 3.38kg and 53cm long.
I didn’t know how everything will go with Sam and if the hospital staff will allow her to take pictures while I give birth. Luckily the hospital didn’t have a problem at all and I felt so comfortable with Sam. On the one hand she was so discreet and on the other she stepped in when needed. She encouraged me along the way and afterwards she told me that she kept on praying for me and Cara because she could see I was struggling. That meant the world to me 😊 and now I can look back at awesome photos and a very special video of the birth of Cara.”