Amaliya Shalewa Ojo
born July 29, 2012 at 3:13am
7lbs 8oz, 20 inches
The Birth of Amaliya
(full of biological details, you are warned)
Friday was my due date, and I’m now extremely grateful that I spent a peaceful day of quality time with my husband. We walked a few miles to the post office and down to the Olive Market, enjoying the beautiful weather, went out to lunch at our favorite Mexican place, and spent the evening watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (which I’ve waited anxiously for for the last 4 years! Thank you for waiting Amaliya!)
I started losing some mucous on Friday evening, but didn’t think too much of it – I know you can lose your mucous plug days or weeks before labor starts. Still, it was exciting to see something happening! When I woke up on Saturday morning, I had a feeling that it would be the day. There were no specific signs that I can describe, only that I felt different. Tired after 8 hours of sleep, headachy, and more pelvic pressure than normal. I spent the morning cleaning up the house, finishing a few final organization projects, and grocery shopping (SO glad we did this – coming home afterwards to a stocked fridge was amazing). Throughout the day I started feeling more and more pain and pressure in my pelvic region. I wasn’t certain it was labor, because the pain wasn’t coming in any sort of pattern that I could time. It was a constant pressure and felt a lot like menstrual cramps, but sharper.
I was watching a movie at 4pm, on my knees bent over the couch to relieve some of the pressure, when my water broke. Almost immediately I started having contractions that I could time, and they were coming fast – every 4 minutes, lasting about 30-45 seconds. We went down to the birth center to get checked, where the confirmed that I was almost completely effaced but only 1 cm dilated. I was instructed to go home and try to speed up labor through a warm bath, nipple stimulation, etc. The midwife told me to labor until bedtime, take two Benadryl, try to sleep as much as possible, and call in the morning when I had made some progress.
It was a nice thought, but things moved a lot quicker than we had anticipated. We got home and there was no thought about how to speed up labor – it was moving along at its own pace just fine. The worst part at the beginning was the nausea. As soon as we got home I threw up my lunch, and couldn’t keep anything down for the rest of the evening, including water. I honestly don’t remember what we did for the rest of the day, the pain was intense and I was in my own world, dealing with each wave as it hit and trying to distract myself with the Olympics on TV. Kunle was giving me my space, watching me and rubbing my back on occasion but otherwise letting me work through it on my own, which is what I preferred.
At 9pm I tried my best to take the midwife’s advice, popped two Benadryl (which I promptly threw up), and tried to go to bed. I realize I was kidding myself – that my labor was progressing fast and there was no way I could sleep. But at the time, I kept thinking “this is only the beginning, it’s going to get so much worse, I should try and act normal while I can.” I was only able to lie in bed for maybe 15 minutes… the contractions were coming so often and strong, I was literally writhing and arching my back with each one. I got up, told Kunle to try and get some sleep, and went to the living room to distract myself with the TV.
I timed a few more contractions and realized that they were coming about 2 minutes apart, and lasting for a minute each – intense, to say the least. I was walking laps around the living room in between, but when a contraction would hit I would have to stop and bend over a piece of furniture so I could sway my hips. All my focus was on breathing and moaning through each one – vocalizing really helped, trying to channel all that energy into sound.
Around 10pm I called one of the midwives because I was throwing up so much, I was concerned with becoming dehydrated. She encouraged me to keep trying to replenish my electrolytes and listed to me work through a couple contractions on the phone. According to her, I was definitely not going to make it until morning, so she wanted me to hang on until 1am before coming to the birth center. Kunle woke up right as we hung up, which was perfect timing since I was getting to that point where I was having trouble coping with the pain by myself. I would hug him during contractions and pace the house in between. At slightly past 11 I got in the shower, which was soothing to my muscles but I think also intensified the contractions. I managed to keep the rest of my body relaxed, but it got to the point that I was bracing myself against the wall and practically shouting through each surge. I could only keep this up for 20 minutes or so before deciding that I couldn’t hang in there until 1am – we needed to get to the birth center. We grabbed our stuff and headed out at midnight.
I had two contractions just trying to make it down to the car and three in the 6 minutes it took us to get to the birth center. Looking back, it’s so obvious that I was heavily into active labor, but at the time I was so afraid that we’d come too early – I was steeling myself to be told that I had only dilated 3 or 4 centimeters. When the midwife checked me and declared that I was nearly at 7, I felt a surge of energy. I knew I was going through the worst of the pain, and I was able to handle it, so I felt really confident in my body and my ability to continue on with labor.
They had me labor in different positions – laying on my side in bed, squatting with Kunle’s support while he sat on the bed, sitting on a birth stool, on all fours on the bed, and standing. The birth stool was by far the most uncomfortable, and towards the end I really preferred a standing position. I started having this crazy urge to push with each contraction – and “urge” really doesn’t do the sensation justice. I was overcome, my back arched and it felt like my body was literally trying to expel my baby. They checked me again and I was at 9 centimeters, with only a lip of cervix that was refusing to dilate. The midwives had me lie down during the next contraction, and push while they manually tried to move the lip out of the way. This is the only part during the whole process where I lost my grip and was overcome by the pain. I remember shouting, and feeling generally more animal than human in that moment. Finally, FINALLY, I was completely dilated and ready to push.
The entire time I pushed, I was lying on my back angled towards my left side, my knees drawn up to my chin, a midwife supporting each foot, my right hand braced on the wall and my left gripping my husband’s belt. Though it was intense, this was the best part of the entire experience. I felt like I was taking control and doing something productive. The atmosphere was amazing – everyone was perfectly supportive and encouraging, they brought me water and tea between pushes and kept telling me what a great job I was doing. One of the midwives held a mirror for me so I could watch her come a little bit closer with every push. The best part, though, was listening to my husband’s reaction to the whole process, hearing the excitement in his voice telling me that he could see more and more of her head with every push.
And then suddenly, after only 45ish minutes of pushing… she was out. I felt a burning sensation, incredible pressure, and then release. They put my warm, slimy baby on my belly, and I wrapped my arms around her immediately. She was blue and took a few minutes to pink up; they ended up giving her a couple puffs of oxygen using a mask, but after that she was fine. I couldn’t stop staring at her, it was shocking how immediately and intensely I loved her.
The placenta delivered easily, within 15 minutes I estimate. I needed a few stitches due to a second degree tear (she came out with a fist up by her face, naughty girl), but at that point I could care less what they were doing to my body – my daughter was here.
All in all it was a beautiful experience and I hope to reflect on it more in a future post, but no guarantees – it’s taken me 6 days just to get this typed up! If nature was a better designer, women would grow extra arms during pregnancy. Or kangaroo pouches. Anyway. Thanks for reading friends!