Birth Story 2

So, there we were. Back in South Africa. Back in Cape Town living in a duplex in Parklands. Noisy duplex. And small. And pregnant with baby number two. Bittersweet timing. My first would only turn a year old a month before she was due. Too close together for comfort, and unexpected. After all, we were told we were infertile, and more importantly, had planned on only having one biological child so that we could adopt. (Husband believed that a single income family would never survive more than two children.)

Her coming appearance was a dream for me because I had wanted to give birth to four children, not only the one we had agreed on. But it was sad because I was told we could never adopt.

How did I find out? One morning, day ten of my cycle, my husband woke up and with a groan told me, “God told me you are pregnant. I’m not even employed. What are we going to do?”

Let’s back up! I’d been back in the country with my infant while he was shutting off a business he and his brother had tried to start in Kenya, where- as you know-my son was born. I’d come ahead first, staying in his friend’s flat. The three of us when husband returned, were sharing the two bedroom flat with a friend of mine and her little sister. My husband was still job hunting. I was full time mom and studying my Psychology degree.

Needless to say, this is not the kind of greeting you get every morning. I asked, “Do you mean you dreamt that God told you I was pregnant?”

The answer was an emphatic, “No! He just spoke and told me we conceived last night. And that you would have a baby.”

Me, “How do you know it was HIM? Why doesn’t He speak to ME? Are you SURE!?

But yesterday was day nine! I haven’t even ovulated and am about four to six days away from doing so! That’s not possible. we’ve BEEN charting my cycles for over two years now. I’ve NEVER gotten pregnant naturally, and certainly not when I’m not even ABOUT to ovulate… This is weird.”

Day ten. Do you know how many days there are till day 28 when I would find out?

On day 28, the earliest I could expect my period, I went to buy a test.

We all know the answer!

Just once, just once I’d have loved to be the one revealing to my husband that I was pregnant!

I told God, “Ok, YOU obviously made this baby because we’d been chastibf so that we don’t DO anything on my fertile days while awaiting his vasectomy appointment. Now this!? It had better be a girl. She had better be beautiful. She had BETTER sleep better than her brother does, otherwise I will die!”

She didn’t sleep better. But I’m not dead.

This time we found out the sex. Husband got a job and we started saving for a home birth and private midwife-VERY affordable. I think it was less than R10 000 back then. Not only because it’s what I wanted, but because private hospitals were expensive and we didn’t have medical aid. My husband was not a fan of public hospitals as he’d heard many nightmare stories. (I had too. A doctor friend later told me of a hospital where there was not a single pain med in the entire hospital 😭😭😭They as staff got together and bought Panados and bandages! Imagine!!)

We told my parents who lived nearby, that we weren’t going to any of the hospitals they were asking about. They thought we were crazy. They said the baby would die. They said I would die. They said I would regret it.

Then, my dad softened first, saying one of his siblings had been born at home and had not come to any harm. Mom then kept quiet after that.

Three weeks before due date, we were moving from the duplex to a quieter flat. We’d be on the ground floor, just one flat would be above us. As I carried chairs down the stairs of our duplex, the contractions started. Talk about pathetic timing! We’re trying to move here! Moving to a totally empty home! And it was winter and cold!

I started holding onto the walls as the contractions came, then letting go and carrying each item to the car boot. I was cool with the arrangement-remember, active birth!-but my husband told me to stop, as neighbours in the complex would think he was abusing me and forcing me to work while contracting.

It was actually great! I could stya on my feet and be useful. I carried things up and down the stairs and set them by the door. Our one year old was getting under our feet. So we decided to ask my parents if they could take him and have him sleep at their place so we could pack and unpack in peace.

They agreed.

They live about 40 minutes’ drive away- when there’s no traffic- so we quickly went to Babies R Us to buy pyjamas for my son to sleep in. His clothes were all over the place and he only had one set anyway. My mom called to ask if they should leave right away or wait. Now, I had been contracting for probably an hour at this point but I did not want her to know. I was scared that if she knew her grandchild was coming, she’d panic and try force me to go to a hospital. So there we are, roaming the shop, not knowing where they keep pyjamas, all the while I’m holding the phone away from my mouth when a contraction comes, and then trying to answer her.

Didn’t help that my husband kept muttering, “If your water breaks in here, I’m running away and you’re mopping it up YOURSELF!”😂😂😂

The call was finally done, with my parents assuring us they were on the way right away. We walked out with the newly bought pyjamas, only to be stopped on the pavement by a blonde staff member, “Excuse me! Sorry to bother you… But you haven’t paid!”

Both of us were so distracted and confused that we said, “Pardon?”

She said, “You have pyjamas but you haven’t paid for them! You just walked out…” Oops! Told her were not shoplifters, but thought the baby might be coming and were distracted. She quipped. “Oh, we ALL know that baby is coming today! That’s why I felt bad calling you back! We can see it in the way you’re walking!”

We decided to buy some Chinese food for the midwife as I now wasn’t feeling like cooking for her and our plates weren’t even in the new flat anyway! I also bought spicy food as I had heard that it speeds labour up. Remember, I’d had a 21 hour labour. I knew we had a long night ahead of us and would do ANYTHING to make it go a bit faster.

My parents arrived at the new flat just as we did. I saw the wave coming over my belly and quickly picked my son up and held him in front of my belly before my mom could see the huge contraction squeezing my entire body. I tried to talk normally. Then ran into the next room ostensibly to look for my son’s socks. Really to breathe through a contraction.

Do you notice that I hadn’t yet started timing how far apart the contractions were? Notice how I don’t seem to have been getting much of a break from when they began?

I didn’t notice.

Parents happily left with my happy son.

Husband went back to the old flat to pick up more furniture. When he got back, I told him in no uncertain terms that he wasn’t to leave again. These contractions weren’t like the first time. It was much harder to just breathe. I was moaning more and was scared I’d start shouting or yelling, and would disturb our new upstairs neighbours. I didn’t want their calling the police to be the first time they meet us.

Husband grumbled, “But there’s so much more to do! And you said you wanted us to serve the midwife tea. But the herbs are still in the other kitchen.”

We had a bean bag that I’d bought to labour on. We had the main bed. We had the Chinese take out for the midwife. I let him go back to go get a kettle and the tea bags. Then I got upset with him for turning his back to me while putting the kettle in the plug.😂

While he was gone (The homes were in the same suburb so it wasn’t long trips that he took,) I phoned a doctor friend to come check how many centimetres I was at. Note. We had a midwife. But with our history, we didn’t want her to come and have to watch me for another 18 hours. Im6an introvert. Trying to labour with someone watching me was not my idea of peace. I figured we’d call her when my friend finally would tell me I was at a minimum of 6cm. After all, midwife lived 30 minutes away.

Friend came. She lived two blocks away. She checked, noted I was calm and didn’t look like I was in active labour. But 5cm! Woohoo! I had been in labour for about 2 hours and 45 minutes. And it was definitely active. So I figured we’d call the midwife in another hour. I thought maybe I’d been at 2cm the previous week when I had false labour, and maybe moved another centimeter again on yet another day when I had false labour within that other week. So really, I had probably only advanced one cm today. But at least I was moving forward!

Women in labour don’t always think rationally.

Friend left after telling me she’d return in two hours to check if I’d moved any further towards delivery. I asked my husband to run the bath, hoping the water would help me cope with the back to back contractions.

The contractions.

I couldn’t breathe! They were on top of each other! No break. I told my husband I wanted to jump out my body just to get a break from the waves that enveloped my entire body and squeezed so tight that I thought I couldn’t survive another.

As I ran to the bath, I told him he needed to call the midwife and ask her to time how far apart the contractions were. He was still unpacking, and I couldn’t time anything. The pain wasn’t letting me think. I couldn’t tell when one contraction ended and the other began, it felt like one long contraction, so I was OBVIOUSLY doing it wrong. Everybody knows there’s a peak, then it gets a bit better and you can talk, then it starts building again and you brace yourself. But I couldn’t get the beginning and the end. The contractions were affecting my ability to think properly. (I did think to put a shower cap on before I got into the bath😝.)

As he spoke to the midwife, she asked how long ago it had begun. My husband asked me. I said, “Just over three hours ago!”

She commented that it was still early then. But wanted to know if I wanted her to come,I said to him while he passed on the message, “I don’t know! It’s really early! But I can’t count! I don’t know if I’ll know when she must come. Maybe she can come then go back ho…”

Midwife interrupted, “I can hear her voice.

I’m coming NOW!”

As she said that, I felt as if the baby was coming and that her head would smash into the bottom of the bath tub. I had NOT planned a water birth, just a home birth. On my bed! Not in some bath tub!

I yelled at my husband, “Oh no! She’s coming! Come quickly! Put the plastic sheets on the floor and bed!” He ran disbelieving behind me, saying my hugely pregnant body looked like a cute baby elephant.

Also saying he’d never seen me run that fast!

As I ran, blood sprayed on the door jamb. Hey, I gotta keep it real!

I clambered on all fours onto the bed and my water broke with one huge gush.

My husband was looking around for more plastic and I told him, “Noooo! She’s coming NOW!” And I started to push still on my hands and knees, butt towards him.

One push.

He told me, “You have to push again. Her head is out but her body is still inside you!”

What!??? I thought pushing would take another 35 minutes like last time! Why didn’t I feel that painful ‘ring of fire’ they say always happens when the head comes out!?

I pushed again.

So easy on all fours!

And she was out. Two pushes!

We phoned the midwife but she was still on the road.

We phoned my friend. She thought the tension was confusing my husband, “But I barely got back home, what do you mean the baby has been born? Do you mean she feels like she wants to push?? But..I was just there! She was only at 5cm!! Ok…I’m coming!”

She cut the cord.

Midwife arrived. Turned out she was late because she saw a guy having seizures as she was driving past so she stopped.Except he was just drunk and not having any fits.

She charged us full price. My husband told her that seeing as HE delivered the baby, and not HER, he was taking away the delivery fee.

My girl had arrived safely. No complications. No need to rush to hospital or call an ambulance. Great but sarcastic substitute midwife in the form of her dad.

She was healthy. We got warm. midwife laughed at me sitting naked in bed with a shower cap on.

Phoned my parents.

They hadn’t even arrived at home yet.😂😂

“That’s not possible! We were just there! Thandi wasn’t even in labour! What do you mean the baby is here!? Are you serious or are you joking? Must we turn around and come see!? You’d better not be joking. This is not like you to joke about something so serious… But how? She wasn’t in labour!”

Remember my prayer asking that it be a girl, beautiful, and a better sleeper?

At first, my mom kept saying, “Well, it’s now a good thing you gave birth at home! I’d not have accepted that you could give birth to a child who wasn’t beautiful. I’d have said they swopped the baby with someone else’s.”

I’m one of those moms who’s thinks her children are adorable. She wasn’t. Not until she was about two years old. Then suddenly she stopped looking like we’d frozen her in the birth canal and she hated us for it, and her features came together to make a happier looking baby. Some woman even asked to pain her portrait because of how beautiful that woman also thinks she is. Same with another friend. So it’s not just me thinking she’s pretty.

Guess my answers were “Yes, wait, and NO!”❤️😅

I never did eat my spicy Chinese veg stir fry! And I never did make tea for the midwife.

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