Sunday, February 28, 2010

Birth Story - Rahma

rain's romantic pour #316 by ashley rose

This birth story comes to us from a lovely mother of two. This is the story of her first home birth.

How did I subconsciously soak in the meaning of her name ever since she rested in my womb? Rahma. My whole pregnancy was spent in the type of inner turmoil that comes only with self discovery. She taught me to finally have some true compassion for myself. Rahma. She continued to teach me to overcome my fears, to reclaim myself, to strive for my dreams and to stand strong for what I truly believed in. Rahma.

I had no idea that in the last trimester of my pregnancy, she would teach me that a beautiful birth means an empowered mother. That the only way she wanted to enter this world was if I felt ‘at home’ enough to submit myself to one of the greatest tests of perseverance, birth. And that in return, I would experience spiritual ecstasy. Ahmad, my husband, realized the value of my personal choice and despite his doubt and fears, supportively agreed to have a home birth. Soon, I even heard him convincing family members of its success rate!

We hooked up with ‘Birth Awakenings’, the midwifery group that a couple of friends swore by. Dana, Deborah and Julie became a part of our lives when we most needed them. The cold, stark, specimen-like ‘pre-natal appointment’ as I had known with my first daughter’s pregnancy became an afternoon cup of tea at home. They carried out the heart beat and urine checks, discussed my fears, played with my oldest daughter and let her listen to the baby’s heart beat with their Doppler. Their prescriptions were nettle tea and protein shakes. They helped me to realize that the weight of inner turmoil might tip the scales against the success of a home birth; they urged me to establish harmony within prior to the birth.

Ramadan came and shone forth with its beauty as we sighted the moon with a few families. I fasted. In the evenings we took turns with our oldest while praying taraweeh.Then the surprise came that Ammi and Abba were flying in. Yet again, I was forced to stand strong yet maintain gentleness. I really wanted to have the baby before they arrived as we weren’t sure if they were comfortable with our plans to birth at home. I prayed and prayed to have the baby prior to their arrival date and took castor oil in the hopes of stimulating my labor - despite the caution of my midwives. We were a week away from their arrival and two days from the due date. I woke up every midnight interrupted by the stormy rain and whistling wind outside coupled with the false contractions within. As much as I hoped tonight would be the night, the contractions were as calm as the bright sunny day the next morning.

Now two days from my due date, we found ourselves greeting Ammi and Abba at the door. It was not as I expected. All that tension which I had dreaded was replaced with easy, light hearted warmth, and time spent together at home. There was almost no discussion regarding the birth except a motherly concern about whether the check lists were implemented and support for the big day. How Merciful is Allah? I slept that night and woke up as usual around midnight, but this time the contractions were slightly stronger and then the instinct that this was it. I woke Ahmad up to give him a warning and he reminded me that Dana, our midwife, had said to go back to sleep to conserve energy for when the real thing begins. I bore the slightly uncomfortable intermittent pain as he hugged me snug. Before I knew it I had fallen asleep. A few hours later I woke up again and told him that they’re getting stronger. He got busy getting the pool ready. The sound of the gushing water reminded me about the contractions coming full force now. He lit our favorite incense to welcome the angels as they awaited the coming of our baby. He timed the contractions and realized that they were getting close so I called the midwife.

Dana told me to hang in there and that she would be there shortly. I went to stand under the hot shower since that had really helped me with my first birth. Ahmad played my labor cd and went to inform Ammi. As I quietly sought some strength from listening about my Prophet (peace be upon him), my mother entered the room. She hadn’t been there at this stage with Aisha’s birth and I realized for the first time how much it meant to have a line of support from her. She said in a broken voice “Be patient, it’ll all come together soon”. It meant so much to have my mother’s duas and to know that she had just finished reading Surah Baqarah prior to coming in to meet me.

My labor cd continued as I sat on the chair making dua for everyone that I could think of. Dana sat at eye level with me as the intensity of the contractions peaked and then Ahmad brought in Aisha. My gaze fell upon her and I wept. There she was, my big girl, who I had nourished in my womb just yesterday. I recalled the gratitude I had felt at her birth. And here I was welcoming another. Of course you can do this, I thought. Don’t you remember what it felt like when Aisha made her way out? It helped me move along and soon I was close enough to pushing. Dana signaled for me to gain some relief from soaking in the pool. The relieving power of water, what an immense blessing! Ahmad pulled out the Wird al-Latif and sat at eye level in front of me as our lips moved together in the chanting of those empowering duas, interrupted every now and then by the intensity of the contractions - a reminder about the need for intense submission to my Lord. After hardship surely comes ease! Indeed, hardship is surely followed by ease! I reminded myself about these ayahs which a friend had recommended to read during the labor.

Recharged a bit by the relief in the water, I was now up-right on the birthing stool requesting help from gravity. I never remembered feeling the urge to push with Aisha’s birth so this was all new to me. The contractions were peaking without any breaks now and I just wanted to get this baby out. But the midwives kept insisting to push when the body signals for it, not when I wanted to. And I’m thinking, what?! What’s the difference? Then Deborah, the other midwife, said, “Lubna, just submit to the will of Allah! Listen hard, work with your body! We don’t want you to tear.” That’s all it took. I realized that I had to stop focusing on the pain of the contractions, but rather just completely give up my body to its natural course as designated by Allah. I understood, that I had to know my limits, and with perseverance, to go beyond them. Feeling completely overwhelmed by the intensity, I kept telling myself to focus on the baby that wants to make its way out. Tempted to push even when it wasn’t the right time, Dana knew right away and said, “Just a little big longer, honey”.

Then I heard it, the rain outside. “Open the windows!” I declared in my weakened voice. They opened the one right in front of me. I became teary and bathed in the tranquility that the sound of the rain evoked. This rain that has just been with Allah, brings with it such mercy as it brings to life the earth.

Just like my Rahma. “Ok, the head is out, pussshhhhhhh!!” Dana announced. I grunted with all my strength, and gave one hard push that sent a sharp burning sensation through me. And then that same relief I had felt with the coming of Aisha, followed. After hardship surely comes ease! Indeed, hardship is surely followed by ease! “Ya Allah, protect my baby from shaytan,” I begged. Then she made a slight whimper as they announced, “A beautiful girl with a full head of hair!” I wept and declared, “My baby! My baby! My Rahma!” Ahmad, my companion in life, shared the joy, teary eyed.

Soon I realized that Ammi and Aisha had come in and were leaning over the baby. “Daikha Aisha tumharee chohtee behan!” Ammi cried and told her, “Baby Rahma’s hair is wet, Ammu!” Aisha smiled in amazement and approval. Then Abba ran in weeping and hugged me tight and gave me a bunch of kisses out of relief saying, “Shukr hay, sub kuch teekh ho gaya!!” Then it was just time to sit back as I nursed and enjoyed all the immense blessings that stood right before me. Aisha Aapi, Babajaan Baju, Ammi, Abba and now, my Rahma. How Merciful can Allah be?

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