Part 3 of 3 – A Woman Is Never So Beautiful As When She Becomes A Mother

21 Jun

The first of November 2010 had come and gone and there was still no sign of impending labor. My weekly visits to Ruwaida were unremarkable. We were told to wait one more week and then discuss how to induce labor as naturally as possible.

With each passing day, I would wonder if my body had become a prison for my son or if it even knew what it was supposed to do. My mind was running wild with reasons why nothing was happening. You hear the scary stories of how an incompetent cervix causes pre-term labor but I started to wonder if perhaps the opposite had occurred, a cervix that refused to open. Ruwaida reassured me that a normal pregnancy could go on for up to 42 weeks and that at 41 weeks, I was still considered normal, to which I obviously burst out laughing because there was noting normal about it, to me at least.

My supposed last check-up at a whopping 41 weeks was on the 8th of November. We had decided that 8 days was a long enough wait and we eagerly awaited the induction. Inductions in hospitals usually begin with a gel that’s placed on the cervix to get it to dilate and if that doesn’t help then your waters are broken and you go from zero to one hundred (in terms of contraction strength) in 0.2 seconds so most  women opt for an epidural because your body isn’t given the chance to pump out its endorphins fast enough. By now I’m sure you can tell that I’ve done a thorough job on all my options so I know what I want! Knowing that I’m a ninny when it comes to pain (and I can hear you ask why then am I opting for natural birth) so I wanted a gentler approach if that even existed.

My last check-up was first thing in the morning and I was given a 200ml solution of synthetic oxytocin (the hormone that kick stars labor, mine needed a swift one in the pants at that) to drink hourly over the course of the day. I was home by 8:30am and lying in bed just relaxing. Lester’s students had an exam that morning so he come home as soon as they were done which was around 10am. My lower back ached slightly but it was at irregular intervals so I dismissed it but kept in contact with Ruwaida to let her know how I was doing. By 3pm, all aches and pains were gone which worried her so we packed the car (just in case) and headed to Genesis to monitor Samuel. My poor car. I laugh thinking about it now. I had a bag for Samuel, myself, 2 for labor (1 contained candles, music, aromatherapy oils for labor and extra towels; the other was the snack bag filled with energy giving sweets and drinks – you’d swear we were driving to Durban for the comrades or something), Lester had his bag (dads got to sleep over free of charge, yay ) and then the equipment (I’m ready to roll on the floor with laugher) which had my tens machine (for pain control) and a gym ball.

We arrived at Genesis at around 3:30pm and went to get strapped up to the fetal monitor. Ruwaida arrived shortly after us and had a look at the results, she looked at me sternly and said that Samuel’s heart rate dropped every time I had a contraction and that concerned her. She advised that I consider the possibility of having a caesarean section to be safe. Tears filled my eyes and streamed down my face. I couldn’t believe that we had come so far, waited so long and now I could get cut. I remember asking for a moment to be alone. I spoke to Samuel and lovingly told that he and I would be going through this together and that if, for one moment I felt that his life would be in jeopardy, I would put my desires and plans aside because he was the most important thing to me in the world. Amazingly, minutes later, his heart rate grew stronger with each contraction which meant that he would be able to withstand the forces of labor. Ruwaida came back to examine me and lo and behold, I was already 3 centimeters dilated.  From  there we were booked in and shown to our room, Geranium. Geranium has a balancing effect on the mind and nervous system, relieving anxiety and depression and especially stress. Fitting! Lester got our bags out the car and called Hailey to make her way over to us.

As I was walking down the passage, I got a sudden twinge in front of my abdomen that almost took my breath away.  Lester joined me after a few trips to the car, as did Hailey and Ruwaida. Soon I realised that the twinges were 10 minutes apart and Ruwaida gladly announced that we were now in the active stage of labor, this was the point of no return. The curtains were drawn, the lights put on dim, rose-scented candles were lit and classical music played softly in the background. You would swear we were on a romantic trip but then I figured if this stuff got us into this predicament, at least we can use it to help us out! And let me add that from then on, my concept of time was shot so I couldn’t account for the length of time it took for each pain-relieving remedy to wear out. First, I got on to my gym ball and started my breathing exercises, it became a way to manage the pain. I did circles, then bounced a bit and eventually went on all fours and just rested on it while who ever was on back duty (I had a difficult labor because all the pain was felt in my lower back, it was the way Samuel was facing hence the urgent need for rubbing or hard pressure placed on my lower back) saw to me. Hailey then advised we go on a tour of the gardens, being upright forced Samuel’s head against my cervix and that was a way to move things along. Three quarters of the way through the gardens I started to sing my birth song – that’s just a fancy way of saying that I started to moan and groan in pain.

When we got back to the room, it was back on the ball until I needed to go up a notch on the pain-relieving remedy scale. The tens machine was next. This little machine is used to send electrical signals to your brain via your fast nerve synapses while during labor, your body uses the slow ones (sounds sadistic) so the faster signal gets to your brain and registers first to ultimately “dull” the signals sent by the slower synapses. I had attempted to use the machine while I was on maternity leave as a practice run and could only tolerate a stimulus of 3-5 volts, a little pathetic, but in the middle of one of my contractions I looked over at the little machine putting out 35 volts per second and searing my skin. Ruwaida then did another check and reported that I had dilated a further  2 cms. It was time for the bath so I changed into my bating suit top (that’s all – I was not in the least but interested in being decent as I was out of my mind with endorphins).

Being submerged in warm water was like being in a vacuum and then suddenly having the air let in; I could breathe a little and even participate in the conversation; and crack a joke or two between contractions. I moved around quite freely trying to find a comfortable position and remember trying to use visualizations; picturing in my minds’ eye how my cervix would dilate like a flower. Trying was the operative word! Lester tells me that somewhere along the way he stepped out to have a breather and met another dad-to-be in the reception area; he said they looked at each other and quickly realized they were in the same boat, wives in labor and them worn out! I didn’t even know he was gone. Back in the room, while still in the bath, I looked up at Ruwaida and said: “That’s it! I’ve done all I can do, bring on the strong stuff! (while I flicked my Brachial artery getting ready to mainline). What have you got for me because I don’t think I can do this anymore?”. She then did another check, told me I had dilated to 8 cms and that she could break my waters to move us along. All that went through my mind was that breaking my waters would make the contractions worse so I opted not to but I did want whatever drugs she was offering. Hailey helped me out of the bath, got me dressed (in to my maternity bra only, not much help needed there) and on to the toilet. Another hilarious scenario: I was sitting facing the toilet because it was one of the only comfortable places I could find and begging whoever was on “back duty” to push as hard as they could – my poor husband found ways and means to make me happy! While I waited for the dispensary to get the drugs to me, I used the gas mask. The trick there was to start inhaling the gas just before the contractions started so that it could take effect by the height of the pain but as it would go, I eventually broke the push button because the gas was just not coming out fast enough for my liking. It wasn’t so funny at the time. I was walking around like a raging bull angry because it was taking so long for the medication to arrive. With two pethidine injections and more synthetic oxytocin, I was able to “relax” a little, it just took the edge off  (a friend’s husband wanted to know what’s “the edge”) but I would still have taken more.  Let me give you a snippet of a conversation that I had with Ruwaida around that time. “Ruwaida, you must call the gynae now because I want him out and I didn’t want to push, I don’t want to do this anymore (like I could come back and start again the next day!)” to which she sarcastically replied, “But you know that wasn’t part of the plan. Come lie down and let me check you again. Oh my word, you are doing fantastic, you’re nearly fully dilated, just a little while longer sweety.”

A little while longer (could have been 2 minutes for all I know) I say: “Don’t make me a fool hey! If you had called the gynae when I told you to, I wouldn’t be in this pain.” She then says something like: “You’ll be fine” and the room goes silent. Later Lester told me that they looked at each other and smiled, the nerve, they were so lucky I didn’t see that! Here’s where I think I’ve earned the right to be slightly gory (to cut a long story short): with lots of pushing, heavy breathing, feeling my pelvis dislocate, enduring the ring of fire (there’s a very good reason they call it that) and touching my baby’s head as he crowned, I have never felt such joy and utter relief as when he was born.

Eight hours from the first contraction of active labor (which is considered normal) and we were holding our bundle of joy. Lester had a chance to bond with his son while I got into the shower and relished the fact that I could now touch my neglected feet. Failing to breast feed, we decided to call it a night at 2am and all three of us lay past out in the king size bed, we were now a family.

I was really proud of myself for going the whole hog and more grateful to the people who were by my side every step of the crazy way. I wouldn’t change a thing that happened, God really took care of us. My husband was a team player and a star at that, he was there to hold my hand, wipe my sweaty brow and most importantly, encourage me when I felt I couldn’t go on. Thanks babe, I’ll do it again (once more only) as long as I have you by my side. Even Ruwaida said that he was brilliant. Having Lester stay over with us was a real bonus because truth be told, I was a little intimidated to be with Samuel all on my own.

By the way, all of the photos were taken by my husband and doula, the day was just as you see it. Perfection. To my right, Samuel was two days old and the following day we were home and joined by Hailey (bottom left) and Brenda (bottom right, the lactation consultant, God bless her).

Let me end with a fitting piece from a fellow blogger, and a man at that. When a mother hugs a child, energy is flowing. That energy is invisible — we have called it love, warmth. Something is jumping from the mother to the child, and not only from the mother to the child, from the child to the mother also. That’s why a woman is never so beautiful as when she becomes a mother. Before, something is lacking, she is not complete, the circle is broken. Whenever a woman becomes a mother, the circle is complete. A grace comes to her as if from some unknown source. So not only is she feeding the child, the child is also feeding the mother. They are happily ‘into’ each other. And there is no other relationship which is so close. Even lovers are not so close, because the child comes from the mother, from her very blood, her flesh and bones; the child is just an extension of her being. Never again will this happen, because nobody can be so close. A lover can be near your heart, but the child has lived inside the heart. The mother’s heart has been beating, and that was the heartbeat of the child, he had no other heart; the mother’s blood circulated in him, he had no independence, he was just part of her. For nine months he remained as part of the mother, organically joined, one. The mother’s life was his life, the mother’s death would have been his death. Even afterwards it goes on: a transfer of energy, a communication of energy exists. (the piece was taken from http://sureshg.wordpress.com/2006/11/23/whenever-a-woman-becomes-a-mother-the-circle-is-complete/)

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