I’ve struggled with whether to write out my birth story this time around or not. So many people tell me how brave I am for having a home birth. I’ve never thought it was more brave than giving birth any other way. Simply, I trust my care provider and whole heartedly believe that if there are warning signs, we will head to a hospital. I also trust in Allah and know that no ailment will reach us that was not intended for us. We are told to “trust in Allah, but tie your camel” and so I do my due diligence to make sure the safety measures are in place, and put my trust in Allah for the rest.
I hesitated writing my birth story, because when things got real, I didn’t feel brave. But then I thought, I don’t want to hide.
There are times that all of us lack bravery, and that’s okay. I’m working on letting go of the shame of being vulnerable and exhibiting it, and realizing that I had a support team there for me for just that reason – to support me. And they did.
I mentioned in my previous home birth story that I had some expectations of what labor and delivery would be like, and I was met with an experience I didn’t anticipate. And still, this time I had expectations. I fully expected labor to be fast. Like so fast that I wouldn’t drive more than 30 minutes from home by myself, just in case. It seems every person comes into this world in their own unique way. Sometimes I wonder if how they enter the world speaks to what their life will be like on this Earth. Allahu alim (God knows best).
I woke up around 4:30am on Saturday, January 24th, with a contraction. I had been getting Braxton Hicks for weeks, and each week they would get stronger and more frequent, usually in the evening. This also led me to believe that labor would be extremely fast, because those strong Braxton Hicks couldn’t be for nothing, right? Never had I woken up with contractions before, but it wasn’t until I was woken up many times over the following hour that I thought it could be something real. I got up, cleaned the kitchen, and the contractions went away. I laid back down and the contractions came back.
I knew that if contractions went away when you changed positions that it likely wasn’t real labor, but I had never had such strong contractions and not been in labor. So, I called my midwife and let her know what was going on, just so she was aware, it could be today that our little one joins us.
Now, Kira sleeps at her dad’s house a few nights a week, so I was anxious to have her come over soon, but didn’t want to call too early to have her dad bring her over. I tried to get some sleep, but the contractions kept coming, and were too strong to sleep through. Around 6am, I called Kira over and over without success, and then called her dad, waking him up, to have him bring her over. Before laying back down, I woke up Hubby enough to tell him I thought today would be the day, so we may need to start setting up the birth pool, and I wanted him to get our little girls breakfast when they woke up.
To my surprise, I slept until 8:30am when Hubby woke me up with a phone call from the midwife. Neither of us felt sure whether I was really starting labor or not, but just figured we would keep in touch throughout the day. Since baby was facing “sunny side up” as my midwife calls it, she thought maybe the contractions were moving the baby to the right position.
Contractions came and went without much rhythm for basically the rest of the day, but we slowly got more things ready, just in case. We (finally) got the right fitting for the hose to attach to the shower head, topped off the birth pool with air, and made sure towels were easily accessible. Throughout the day I would have an hour or two with no contractions, and then five in the next hour. I tried to keep busy since the unknown drives me batty. I kept saying, “This better be labor because otherwise this just sucks.” Haha! In order to keep me busy, Hubby and I went to the store, plus I could walk around a bit more, and on the way home made a stop at a local park so I could walk around the path circling the pond.
This is probably my favorite memory of the labor. When I had Aamina (Hubby and my first daughter together), I walked around this same pond in early labor. It was fun to reminisce how far we’ve come in our marriage, what things are different and what are the same. Hubby was cold, so I don’t think he enjoyed it as much as I did, but hey, I’m the super pregnant one, so yay for me. Right?
Given how my sciatica and pelvic pain came back with a vengeance in the afternoon (pain I struggled with in my previous pregnancies), I think my midwife was right that the early contractions were moving baby around to the right position. It reminded me how thankful I am that those pains weren’t as prevalent this time around. With all the hip and back pain I was experiencing already, I would have been one crazy pregnant lady if I had the other pains on top of it all.
Around 7pm I texted my midwife that things seemed to be picking up a bit. I no longer was having long breaks between contractions, and they were no longer going away if I changed positions or activity. We started to watch a movie as a family and about halfway through, I decided I should lay down and get some rest because it didn’t seem like these contractions were going to go away anymore. For a short while, Hubby laid down with me so he could rest as well, and it was a nice time to just have quiet moments together. One thing about a longer labor is we had time to really bond in the hours of early labor.
With labor going much slower than anything I’d experienced before, it was hard for me to decide when I should ask for the midwives to come over. One contraction really hit me around 11pm though, and I called her and asked both midwives to be on their way. I asked Hubby to start filling up the pool with water, and it was go time.
This was the part I was really glad to be home, alhamdulilah. It was late, the kids were sleeping, and I was so thankful I didn’t need to pack up and go to a noisy hospital. I was able to turn off all the direct light in our room, and we had peace and quiet. It was just me, Hubby, and Kira was in the background, helping out where we needed her. It felt so old fashioned as we were heating up pans of water, because of course the birth pool is far larger than our water heater, and everyone was just puttering around the house getting ready for baby. The world seemed to stop with every contraction.
SubhanAllah,this is where it gets less grand for me. I knew before going in labor that I had fears of birthing again, for no real reason other than the memory of the pain of labor hadn’t completely left me. I didn’t want to do this again, even though I wished for this child so deeply. I did not want to give birth. I did not want the pain. Yes, I know I could have gone to a hospital for drugs, but I still wanted to be home for countless reasons.
After I got in the pool, it got more real. I was just waiting for the pain of birth. Looking back, I was tensing up during the contractions because I did not want to do this. It felt like she was crowning, or close to it, for quite a few contractions. I moaned, and groaned, and did not feel brave. I asked after one contraction, “Why isn’t this over yet?!” I just wanted this to happen without me having to do anything. That wasn’t really working. I changed to sitting on my knees and leaning over the side of the pool and felt my water break shortly after.
I can’t remember how many contractions I had in that position, but it wasn’t many. As soon as I felt her crowning, I left all pride behind and screamed like a baby. Hubby says it wasn’t that loud (which I’d like to believe, especially since I didn’t wake my child sleeping in the next room), but Kira says I was. I’ve come to terms with the fact that overall, I do not enjoy being pregnant. The pain I feel on an every day basis wears on me. I wanted this to be easier. I had put in my time of pain already, but that’s now how birth works. I had one more stretch in this race, whether I liked it or not.
After her head was born, I arched myself over the side of the pool too far, peeking her head out of the water. I’ve read in other birth stories how swift midwives are when they need to be, and this was one of those times. They told me it was time to stand up, grabbed me under my arms and stood me up immediately. With the next contraction they told me to push, and I looked down, and there she was, mashaAllah! Hubby helped catch, and I sat down and held my fourth daughter, who was still unnamed at the time of her birth.
Our little baby took a bit of encouragement to take a nice, deep breath. Shallow breaths aren’t enough when you’ve just come into this world. I’m so thankful for midwives that are gentle, kind, and let nature take its course, but also have medical equipment to help us along if we need it. We cut the cord before it stopped pulsing so our little girl could be taken to the side and helped to get her first big breath, and she was brought back to me within minutes, alhamdulilah.
By the next morning, we agreed on a name: Salihah. As with our other kids, we wanted a name that really means something, not just a pretty sounding name. In sha Allah our Salihah will live up to her name, a pious and virtuous woman. Recovery took some chiropractic help to get me in the right direction, but we both have been doing great so far, mashaAllah.
I’m so thankful for the people we’ve had around us to support our sweet new addition, and how they’ve supported me in my crabby and sloth-like pregnancy. My husband has really become a great support and has come to new levels of empathy through this time, creating a stronger marriage for the two of us.
I look forward to the days and years to come with our new family of 6, in sha Allah.
Holly Garza says
thank you for the sharing this! It was very interesting and the pictures are adorable barakAllahu feeki
Shannen Espelien says
Walaykum assalam, I’m glad you enjoyed the story of Salihah’s birth. 🙂 Jazak Allah khair!
Congratulations! She is beautiful, and your birth story sounds like it was a wonderful experience. I haven’t been privileged to be at a home birth yet, but I have seen a few peaceful waterbirths in the hospital I work at, and they are magical experiences.
Shannen Espelien says
Thanks! It was a great experience, and it’s amazing how much a woman learns about herself through childbirth. I dream of being a doula someday. 🙂