Anxiety, sleepless nights, and fear.
As my due date approached, I felt all those things and more. I am sure most expecting mothers do. The fear of losing your unborn baby that you’ve carried for nine months is a real fear. The fear of dying and not seeing this beautiful new human is a real fear.
I woke up on April 20th expecting to feel something different as it was my due date. As much as I tried to tell my mind I could be overdue for another two weeks, I was just excited to have reached the actual date I was given. The day had gone by so quick and nothing happened, I sat watching TV in my favourite spot and waited until my body was too tired to continue. On April 22nd at 4:00 AM, a uncomfortable cramping pain woke me up and I could not go back to sleep. I slowly took my pillow and blanket downstairs to try to distract myself with some TV. I had fallen in and out of sleep so many times I lost count as my family went about their normal Friday. By lunch time the pain was more than I could handle and I called a midwife. She told me this was pre-labour pains and I should take paracetamol.
I thought I was having actual contractions. The pain got too much by 7 PM, and I went to sit in warm water. Although it was a good idea to relief pain, it was not such a good idea as when it was time to get out I couldn’t. We laugh about it now. In fact my mother and siblings laughed then too but my thighs were so swollen that they attached themselves to the sides of the bath tub. My stomach was massive, therefore I could not lift myself. Eventually they got me out. This distracted me from the contractions for a while as I laughed at my situation. However, once the contractions got closer in time, I had nothing to laugh about.
As they became more painful and frequent, my mum’s fear of me giving birth at home drove us to the hospital. A nurse checked me and I had opened two centimetres. She told me to go home and sleep. I refused to leave the hospital. My contractions were coming every 3–4 minutes. I could barely walk. The first interaction with the nurse was one of the most uncomfortable and painful experience of my life, so you can imagine when she had to check me again how nervous I was. I cried, I screamed, and all to be told I had only opened one centimetre in the last four hours. After another four hours my body was exhausted. Not having slept or eaten since Thursday, all I wanted was to sleep. The nurse came over and said she will check me one last time, then send us upstairs to a delivery room.
I was given gas and air.
At that point I wanted anything, however, this did not help me much. My thought process before going into labour was to not have an epidural no matter what, but when a new nurse asked me I shouted YES. I honestly do not even remember when they did it. I fell asleep for a while and when I woke up drank water and Fanta. All the pain had gone. All I felt now was minor tugging where the painful contractions used to take place. By 4:20 PM, my nurse told me that I was ready to start pushing. She told me in 20 minutes, I would see my beautiful daughter. I had no consciousness of time. All I kept telling myself was push. After a few attempts, more nurses came into the room and a doctor. My heart started racing. I could hear them saying that her heart rate was dropping when I would push. The doctor said that we would keep trying natural birth but gave me the C-section talk in case we had to take that direction fast. They even tried to assist me with a ventouse, but it did not work and instead split in half.
At this stage I was extremely tired. I felt my body was starting to give up and I was losing consciousness. I just kept pushing. Finally, I felt that sensation of her whole body leaving mine. They placed her on my chest for a split second and took her away.
I did not hear her cry.
She was rushed to ICU. I was being stitched up at this point but wanted to know what was happening. A young man came in to reassure me and said he will be back with more information as soon as possible. When he returned, he said that she had a collapsed lung but is stable and doing well. This is every mother’s fear, being so helpless and your child being in ICU. I did not break down, cry, or close off from everyone. Looking back now, I surprised myself.
In total, she was in the hospital for over two weeks. I was discharged two days after giving birth. Going home without her was the strangest thing ever. I was not even sure if I had a baby and kept asking my family if I gave birth. Every day I would go to the hospital and stay there as late as my recovering body would allow. This back and forth did make recovering much harder. Once she was stable enough, I was allowed to hold her. I held her for the first time exactly ten days after she was born. We were discharged three days later, and as I walked out the hospital with her, I shed a few tears of joy.
This experience has made me see that situations are out of our control. The best thing we can do is mentally prepare for everything including the worst. As great as everyone was during this difficult time, I was not prepared for it.
I am just glad my story had a happy ending.
Author: Naima Elmi
I am a twenty six year old Londoner currently living abroad and loves travelling. I recently became a mother to my beautiful daughter. I have been writing poetry since I was sixteen. My passion is sharing my experiences through words.