So… Xaia is 4 months as of writing this post. She’ll be 5 months old in about 2 weeks.
Finally. Finally. I am dusting off the cobwebs and will try my hardest (with my sleep-deprived memory) to recall the beautiful birth story of our firstborn, Xaia Axelle.
It all started around 1-2am on January 11, 2015, a Sunday. My due date was January 14th so we were already expecting it to be anytime around that date. I was woken up by a weird kind of abdominal pain but it wasn’t like the Braxton Hicks contractions I felt before. There was also that hint of pelvic pain and back pain that came with the contractions that night.
I didn’t want to wake my husband up because it just might be something else. I waited for a few more hours with a few contractions here and there but it wasn’t until around 4-5am that the pain levelled up a bit. I woke him up but only to inform him that it might just be THE big day. I wanted him to be well-rested so he could assist me later on for the more intense stuff so I let him go back to sleep while I timed the contractions myself. It was still bearable and spaced far apart and I was able to breathe through each one at that time.
Morning came and still I was experiencing the contractions so we thought this is it. I took a bath and even put on some make-up through the contractions just to take my mind off what would come next. It was still pretty bearable and the timing of the contractions weren’t really that consistent. But being first-timers to this, my husband decided to go to the hospital to have me checked out. Since it was a Sunday, the hospital wasn’t packed so we were immediately assisted by a midwife and checked by a doctor.
Unfortunately, we were sent home with our bags because I was still 3cm. dilated and apparently I had a long way to go before they would consider taking us in. I was more stressed out by the fact that I already prepared everything, we were already there but we had to go back home and return only if the pain was too much for me to speak or walk straight (the doctor’s order). I was in pain and I had to pause and brace myself for each contraction but definitely not in the cannot-speak-nor-walk-straight category. That only made me more anxious because how was I to deal with all that at home and then know that it is time to go back to the hospital without being sent back home again.
But as the day progressed, so did my contractions. They were getting really painful and more frequent. It was getting stressful for me to time each one so my husband did that while I concentrated on breathing through each one and managing the pain the best way I know how. On hindsight, I think it was the best thing for us to be in the comfort of our home while I labored through the early phase because of familiar surroundings. I straddled a chair facing the backrest while my husband massaged my lower back and pressed on my pelvis. I thought I would just die from the back labor, not much pain from the abdomen really but for me the action was all on my lower back and pelvic area. What also helped me deal with the pain was a soak in the tub. By late afternoon, my toes would curl up in pain every time I had a contraction but the warm water would actually do wonders for me when straddling a chair and my husband pressing on my pelvis could not anymore.
At around 9 in the evening, my husband made the decision to go back to the hospital even though I was insisting on staying at home because I really could not deal with the stress of being sent back home again. By that time, I couldn’t lay down on the bed because everytime I had a contraction, my pelvis would tighten up and get way too painful for me to be still. Being on all fours did not help out and the only thing that worked was gritting my teeth through it.
He made the decision to go to the hospital because we couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat through a doppler we bought. So just for peace of mind, we went back to the hospital without our bags this time.
They finally admitted us this time because I was already 5cm. dilated. The baby was doing fine and her heartbeat’s all good. She’s doing so much better than her mama. I just felt relieved because finally they would know how to deal with me, the pain and what would come next (or so I thought).
They brought us into a room where I was supposed to stay in and labor through with my husband. The ward had a separate toilet area so I had to walk across from my room to the toilet, not really that far but for a woman in labor, it was like torture.
There in that room I waited, prayed, gritted my teeth to pieces, pounded on the walls, curled up in a fetal position and experienced the most painful thing ever in my whole 33 years.
Because it was my first time to labor and give birth, the doctor said it was normal for me to dilate slowly and for the labor process to take that long. I understood all that with my brain somehow but my heart and whole body just could not take any logical explanation. By the time I was 7 cm. dilated, it felt like forever for me to get to 8 then to 9. The midwife who attended to me was kind enough to help me get along to 10 because I was imploring for her to do something or if they had no drugs to give me, I would settle with just an oxygen mask, just anything to “help” me manage the pain. I was even talking crazy and imploring my husband to have them cut me open and do a CS instead. Thankfully, the midwife responded with a firm NO.
She told me to stop thinking about managing the pain because there really is no way to do that when you have a natural birth. Just let it be and ride through it. My water finally broke at around 9 cm. and the midwife checked and promised me that after 30 mins, she would be back and I’d be ready to push the baby out by then.
Three things that really gave me the will and strength to keep going:
One is playing a streaming channel of praise and worship songs in my room. I had to chant through the song and declare the words of each song that promised me God’s grace and presence through the pain. Second is my husband’s all-out support that time. He didn’t get any sleep that night because he gave me back massages and assisted with toilet breaks and even cleaned up after me. I was too delirious at that point to even put on my undies whenever a contraction came. TMI. And last was that reassuring thought that there is a light waiting at the end of this very dark tunnel- finally having Xaia in my arms.
Finally at 10cm., they told me to walk to the other room where I would huff and puff my baby out to this world. It felt like I won the lottery at that point. The 10cm. mark made me forget about what’s to come next. All I cared at that point was I finally had the go to push because that’s all I wanted, to relieve the pressure from my lower back, pelvis and rectal area.
The delivery part for me was much easier than the laboring part. Personally, having gone through an unmedicated labor and all-natural one, what’s next would simply be a breeze. Thankfully I was blessed with a doctor who stepped in and gave me some tips when to push and HOW to push. He even gave me a pattern and the go when to start huffing and puffing- exhale once, inhale and hold then push. Coupled with a midwife who was so kind and a husband who would huff and puff with me and still praise me for each failed attempt, I finally gave that huff and puff and push which released Xaia into this world. The delivery part only took about an hour and a half, less than two hours.
At 6:00 am on January 12th, we welcomed Xaia into our arms and marveled at God’s beautiful creation and gift to us. There were no tears, no sobbing. Only huge smiles, skin to skin cuddles and loving stares for our family of three.