There’s something about pregnancy that causes an anomaly in the time / space continuum. One minute your pregnant and then suddenly your not, but the 40 weeks in between seem to be the longest and the slowest you’ve ever experienced time. Yet here we are, 285 sunrises later, and I’m now a mum of three.
I know I haven’t even announced this pregnancy on the blog, I’ve been meaning to but honestly it’s been a tough one, especially the last 6 weeks, during which I’ve been essentially horizontal and or vomitting my insides out. I don’t know if it’s age (I’m 36) or if it’s because I’ve had three back-to-back pregnancies or if it’s something else entirely, but this third trimester has been hard work on my body. I always knew this pregnancy would be different as I had two small children to take care of and we had just moved into our house so I had no one to leave the kids with. We had to freestyle our daily routine to suit my ability that day and any parenting (and life) rules we had became very flexible to accommodate our situation. Which essentially I think is the key to parenting… Flexibility.
We went for our 38 weeks midwife appointment on the 28th of June. I was already feeling a little unwell that morning but by the time I was seen I was ready to eject some of the food I’d had for breakfast. My midwife was lovely and ensured me that all the nausea was a good sign. She checked me and said the baby was engaged, the head was low and that hopefully things would start happening soon. As both my previous two were born at 41 weeks I didn’t want to get to excited but I had been secretly praying this one would arrive by 40 weeks as this trimester was taking its toll. That night I experienced my first ever Braxton Hicks contractions. I was watching something with the husband and my stomach suddenly went hard. Like HARD. It wasn’t painful but it was weird and slightly uncomfortable. Since I’d never experienced anything like it before I did panic, I thought something had happened to the baby but while googling my stomach relaxed. A cold glass of water and a short lay down later I felt the baby move and realised it was Braxton Hicks.
In the following days I had more nausea, diarrhoea and more Braxton Hicks but still no signs of the baby coming. I’d basically resigned myself to the fact that I’d meet my baby in 3 weeks. I’d done 38 weeks, what’s another 3?
Idris woke me up on the morning of 39 weeks plus 5 days or Tuesday 9th July as it’s often referred to, around 6.30am. He wanted milk and a banana. Ordinarily I would have sent Jay to go down and get it for him but for a change I was feeling quite energised so I went. After that I popped to the loo, as you do, and that’s when I felt something a little strange. I spent about 10 minutes assesing the situation but I was pretty sure something was stirring up in me. I called out to my husband and we started prepping for the hospital. The contractions came on suddenly and very intensely. I thought I would have a couple of hours at least to organise the kids but I called my sister around 7am to come over as we’d probably have to go to the hospital very soon.
We left for the hospital just before 8am after calling them. My contractions weren’t unbearably painful but they were coming every 4 minutes and lasting just under a minute. As this was my third baby the midwife wanted to check me as she said it could progress quite quickly. The most amazing thing about this labour was how calm I was. With the previous two I was really frantic bordering on angry due to the pain, but this time I had time to pray and make lots of dua. I felt really emotional about leaving Aasiya and Idris and I think because they were so aware I couldn’t show them anything other than my happy face, which during contractions was quite some feat! Even the car journey was reasonably calm. We decided to have this baby in Queens hospital, Romford, so it was a little over 10 minute drive. Our previous births had been at the Royal London in Whitechapel, and the journey was always a long expletive fueled nightmare.
My birth plan basically consisted of one thing. An Epidural. I didn’t care where, how or when they cut me, as long as I couldn’t feel anything I would be happy. I still have very vivid memories of Idris’s birth, when the epidural was administered too late and I felt everything. The “ring of fire” doesn’t describe the pain aptly enough. When we arrived to triage I was checked by the midwife, she said I was only 2cm so should go home and walk about and try and relax and when the pain got more intense to come back. I said I was pretty sure the baby was coming and that I didn’t want to go home but the midwife, who was really sweet, assured me it wasn’t. We left the hospital really slowly as I was getting really intense pains now and they were close together. We got outside the maternity unit and I told Jay that I couldn’t go any further. The pain was real now. I was losing composer and just screaming out to anyone who’d listen to get me an epidural. Jay called triage again and said we were coming back up at 9.27am.
The journey back up was horrible and I must have put the fear of God in all the other expectant mothers in triage as the midwives checked me really promptly. I was now 4cm and ready to go into the labour room. Trust me, I never miss an “I told you so” moment but at this point the contractions had taken over and the pain was so intense I was leaving my husband instructions on what to do with our children after my inevitable death. As soon as I got onto the bed I asked the midwives for the epidural. They were really wonderful and very honest. No chance boo, this baby coming! I felt the urge to push instantly. One of the midwives, Lauren, was essentially my birth partner, she helped me breathe through the following four contractions and continuously assured me of how well I was doing. My waters broke after the first contraction on the bed. The second contraction was so painful I was banging my head on the side of the bed while jay held up my left leg and wonderful Lauren held my hands and rubbed my back. With the third contraction the babies head came out and then I was told to pant and push as my beauty baby boy was bought safely into the world at 10.46am after my fourth contraction.
As I’ve always had the epidural I’ve never had to deal with the unpleasantries post baby. Unfortunately this time was a different matter. My beautiful boy was passed to me and I expected to instantly forget the trauma of the past hour, just holding him against me I forget about the previous almost 40 weeks. However moments later I was told I needed to get the placenta out. Having just pushed out a tiny human you’d think the placenta would just pass through like air, but no, pain wasn’t done with my body yet! The joy of holding my little man helped to some degree but unfortunately euphoria is not pain relief. Once the placenta was out I was told that I had torn (again!) It was a second degree tear and I’d need stitches. Legs up in stirrups (which is also freaking uncomfortable without the epidural!!) my midwife stated the unpleasant job of stitching me back together. Unfortunately this process involved more needles: injecting and sewing! I said to my midwife as she butchered away at my lady parts that if men gave birth there would be all sorts of pain relief to ensure they didn’t feel a thing. She humoured me for the next hour while I went on an angry rant against men.
And just like that I was put back together, with my handsome boy in my arms. They took him off me shortly after the stitches to weigh, clean him up and give him his vitamin K injection. As is the Islamic tradition my husband read the Aazan (call to prayer) in his ear. Even with all the pain and all the needles I would live that day a hundred times over just for the joy of holding my baby. He is worth every ache and pain, every needle, every contraction and I’m so blessed to be his mother. Children are blessings from Allah and the last 4 years have seen us blessed beyond our wildest dreams, Allhumdulillah. Another blessing we must never take for granted is the amazing NHS. To think I was able to get the best service and the best care in the world free at the point of service. The staff, from porters to the midwives to the consultants who we saw throughout this journey have all been exceptional and I’m so eternally grateful to live in a country where that’s possible.