Sunday, February 14, 2010

Birth Story - Baby Khadija

Birth Night by Onur YILDIRIM (Shadov).
Birth Night by Onur YILDIRUM

The following is a birth story from a mother who had had two previous hospital births, this was her first home birth. Sara is a new mother with a full home schooling schedule,which doesn't leave her much time to write out her story! Therefore, we have decided to collaborate on this birth story, which is written from my perspective with encouragement and permission from Sara. Sara’s impressions about the differences between her hospital birth and her home birth are below in italics.

Having a home birth was such a beautiful experience for me. Before my home birth I had two hospital births. Having a home birth for me was relaxing. I didn’t have to deal with all the needle poking that you do in a hospital. I was able to have everything natural, no drug interferences. Being at home I can be free to do what I want, to be comfortable. In labor, I was able to get into any position that was comfortable for me. There is a special bond that you feel with your baby when you have it at home. This bond I didn’t feel with my other two. I feel this extreme attachment to my baby. My husband experienced the same feeling as well. I felt secure in my house, not having any disturbances, being able to eat my own food and to have my family with me.

On Thursday night Sara called. She said her contractions were every 15 minutes continually throughout the day. This was her third baby, first home birth. And of course, this labor was shaping up to be completely unlike the first two.

“Take a nice, warm bath. Relax, unwind, and then try to get some rest,” I told her. “You could have your baby on jummah” I said, “or on Sunday. It’s best to just ignore these types of contractions. They often happen the more babies a woman has. They could go on for days, or you could have your baby tonight. We never know, but it’s wise to conserve your energy for whenever the hard labor arises.” Sara sounded reassured and so we hung up. I slept a full eight hours. In the morning I called Sara to check in.

“I had the best nights’ sleep I’ve had in months!” she exclaimed. I asked her if it was the shower. Sara explained that after her shower she laid down on the bed, not expecting to sleep. Her husband was reading the burda and she lay quietly, turning inward, and listening. Soon, it’s notes and cadences lulled her into a blissful, uninterrupted sleep. She didn’t even wake to readjust her pillows, something she had been doing for months! What baraka our Prophet (peace be upon him) has!

A sunny Friday came and went, and that night I called to check back in with Sara. She sounded discouraged, not like her normal cheerful presence. When I enquired about her state, she said she was frustrated and had had the same on again off again contractions all day. She just didn’t know what this was, it was so different than her other labors. We talked at length about never being in control of the process of labor, and that each labor is different just like each child is different. Although I think that the most reassuring advice to Sara was that, all of this was not for naught. That something was happening with every contraction or cramp she was feeling. It was maybe not measurable progress, but a sign that her hormones and their receptors were working just fine and that her uterus certainly knew how to contract, a sure reminder of the perfection of the process.

Now, I had the best night’s sleep! The trilling of my phone did not punctuate my sleep! I was sure it would because I had something I really wanted to do the following day. We had planned a nice hike for the day. Alhamdulillah we were able to go and it was beautiful, long, and muddy.

At 7:56 Saturday night, my phone rang. Before I picked it up I knew that this was it. “Shannon, my water just broke!” Sara said. We celebrated over the phone. Now this was like her other labors, she was on seemingly familiar territory. Eat, sleep, and be happy I advised. Call when you need me or when something changes.

3:45 a.m. Sunday morning Sarah calls to tell me her contractions are now 4-5 minutes apart and that she is calling her doula over. She doesn’t need me yet she says. I listen through a contraction or two, she sounds like a professional, no tension or anxiety, just pure acceptance. It sounds like it’s on the early side of labor as well, so I stumble back to bed, proud, and reassured by Sara’s new calmness.

5:00 a.m. Sarah’s doula phones me. She sounds excited and explains that Sara’s contractions are now 2-3 minutes apart lasting for a minute! That was so fast. I throw on my birth clothes and jump in the car. It’s beginning to drizzle and Sara lives 20 miles down the highway from me. I don’t want to speed, but her labor has already flown through it’s ‘stages’, and the calls keep coming.

“She’s singing through her contractions now.”

“She’s feeling pushy at the peak”

“Drive careful, but are you almost here?”

It’s always better not to speed, to arrive in one piece, but it’s so hard when the adrenaline is rushing and you really, really don’t want to miss the birth. I had already phoned the midwife who is assisting me and told her to leave as soon as possible. I am making urgent du’a that it all goes well, and that I’m present for the birth. Sara’s exit had never looked so good to me.

I had her husband come and meet me. I brought up one bag which has an emergency delivery kit, just the basics you need to deliver a baby, which in reality, is not that much. What a contrast Sara’s birthing space was. It was an oasis of calm to my rushed frenetic pace. I took a deep breath and exhaled to attune myself to her birthing energy. I said hello, gave her a hug, and asked if she felt like pushing. She said that she did and so I told her to go for it… after I got my gloves on and listened to the baby's heart rate!

Alas, there was no need for the rush after all. The night became day. We opened the blinds, snacked on bagels and dates from Medina, and drank Zam Zam. Meanwhile, Sara went through second stage, all two and a half hours of it. For all of that pushing, not once did Sara utter a complaint, not once did she ask when it would be over, not once did she grumble even. She took each contraction as it came, she took our suggestions with grace and compliance, and when the miraculous moment of birth came, she was fully present to receive her little bundle. All of those days of contractions did make a difference after all, maybe not in the length or speed of the labor (or maybe so!), but in Sara’s willingness and preparation to take each contraction as it came, and not to anticipate anything. By the time the hard part of labor found her, she was ready.

It was a joyous birth, still and hopeful. Sara’s older daughters were milling about downstairs. And the rain was just beginning to pick up. Little Khadija had arrived and brought with her the rains. Which was just fine with her family, because all they wanted to do was stay indoors and adore her anyhow. Welcome little Khadija!!

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