Contractions started while I was watching a standup comedy for Trevor Noah Sunday night, I was 40 weeks that day and was feeling disappointed that nothing was happening yet and that I might up end up getting medically induced.
I didn’t realize I was having contractions while watching the comedy. I just thought the baby was putting himself in weird positions and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable as space was getting really tight in there.
Only when I went to sleep as I thought I was really tired and I needed to rest, then I realized I was forming a pattern (I suspected that something may have happened and I even told my husband to pack his bag but he took it lightly and told me "yeah, right"). These weird positions turned out to be him reacting to contractions and me confusing the pain of contractions with discomfort from his positions, so it was confusing up until I found some blood in the middle of the night and we decided to go to the hospital. They checked me there and found regular contractions but because I was only 1 cm dilated, they advised me to go home and rest until they become more intense.
I went home and decided to do some of the suggestions that I learnt in my Hypnobirthing classes with Ana Piera: get some sleep and watch something funny…during my sleep I woke up to a gush of water that threw me off the bed, thought someone throw a bucket of water at me! it took me a minute to realize that I was actually pregnant, and this was my water breaking, lol.
We went back to the hospital as they requested so if my water broke, and I was admitted to the ward to wait for contractions to be shorter apart in order to move to the actual ‘labor ward’. I spent from 12pm to 9 pm in that waiting room, we set up our light and electric candles, bounced on the ball, did all the breathing techniques while doing the birthing positions Ana taught us.
I actually cried a bit which Ana told me might happen during labor because of the hormones; as I felt confused and not sure if I was handling it correctly and what should I do exactly. It was overwhelming for a moment I guess that I was in labor. My partner calmed me down and
I tried to take a minute to listen to what my body actually needed rather than making sure I am just doing all the hypnobirthing techniques and using all the tools.
So, I did some breathing and started moving on some dance music with the hubby, handling contractions while leaning on the wall and using pressure points with him, which worked nicely for a while. It got really intense though quickly with contractions coming 4 times per 10 minutes but they still didn’t want to admit me to the labor ward as they weren’t close enough, I decided to take up the stairs and walk around the floor, got back and used the rebozo with my husband, until I reached 9pm and was getting too tired and wanted to use the gas and air.
So finally, they moved me up, and the midwife filled the big tub with warm water, and filled the bathroom with candles and we put my playlist on. It worked great for an hour or so handling the contractions minutes apart in the warm water was so comforting.
They then decided to check the baby’s heart beat and intensity of contractions around 2 am Tuesday the following day, which turned the birth into a different direction; his heartbeat was dropping with each contraction then picking up again, so they flagged me as high risk as they weren’t happy with his behavior and decided to keep me on the monitors for close supervision.
Unfortunately, that was very disappointing for me as I wasn’t able to move as I wanted, or use any of my plans handling the pain without medications. Moreover, I felt the contractions 10 times more intense lying on my back on the bed than while moving.
After a while waiting in this situation, I decided to standup next to the bed and use the ball as much as I could, it was very challenging as both of my hands were hooked to IV drips and monitors on my tummy so lots if wires. My partner was also using the apple shaking technique and the figure 8 technique with the rebozo which helped greatly.
That continued till 6am, but I was in severe pain and I wasn’t free to move so I opted for morphine, which didn’t help just made me sleepy but felt every contraction, which they warned might happen with some people.
Eventually, they decided to measure how dilated I am to check my progress and it turned out that I am only 2cm. That was very disappointing to hear after more than 24 hours of labor, but the midwife kept encouraging me, explaining that first birth takes time, and reaching 4 cm will be the big milestone as after that it usually goes fast.
However, as his heartbeat continued to drop and my small movements sometimes made the beats not highly readable on the monitors; they decided to insert a very small device on his head that measures his heartbeat more accurately and do a manual hand stimulation to his head to nudge him to move down (that was really painful but it happens so don’t be afraid if you need that).
Reaching 12pm with the same situation; another shot of morphine was not working, I was getting extremely tired, with 7 cm dilation I decided to opt for an epidural as contractions were 30 seconds apart and felt I still have some time to go with the labor.
It was challenging to stay still with contractions, but while practicing the breathing techniques you can manage with the support of your partner don’t worry. Epidural calmed the contractions down to 50 %, made me sleep for an hour but I wasn’t progressing fast enough with his heartbeat still dropping so at 3pm they wanted to measure his oxygen level, they did this by taking very small skin particles from his head and measure the level of oxygen in it.
10 minutes later results were positive; oxygen level was good, but that only lasts for 30 minutes then changes so they gave me that duration to push him out or else they might need to interfere to help him, if that doesn’t work, they can opt for c-section.
With this information, I was determined to continue and not end up in the OR after all this effort. Luckily, with the epidural being light, I felt my legs and used Ana’s birthing positions on the bed: on my knees while kneeling on the end of the bed, squatting on bed and side lying.
20 minutes of pushing and I witnessed the most amazing thing happening to my body, he was pushed out, I grabbed him with my hands immediately and lied him on my chest, I even did the breast crawl which was amazing to witness that a newborn baby can do that". Hajjar - Happy mom to baby Rawy
My take away and advice :
Listen to your body when you get overwhelmed during labor, it’s completely okay to rest on the bed during labor even if you feel you can do more to help it progress (I felt guilty sometimes in the first half of labor)
Practice all rebozo techniques with your partner from early on, we both were skeptical about it when practicing during pregnancy, but during contractions it actually works great, and you try and test then which one you prefer, so practice as many as you can.
Have lights & candles with you it really helps with hospital lighting.
Don’t worry of epidural insertion pain if you decided to opt for it, you barely feel it, and don’t feel guilty if you decided to take it.
Use warm tubs if you have access to them, they work wonderfully.
Don’t be discouraged with dilation, it really goes fast all of a sudden, so don’t focus on it and don’t measure frequently.
Hajar, Allam & baby Rawy
Abu Dhabi, January 2021