First post of 2018 and I wanted to start it with my natural birth story. When I asked some of you last year if you wanted to know about my home birth, so many of you said that you did. And so here it is! It's a bit of a long post, so make sure you get comfy!
As you may know from my last post, I had a pretty tough pregnancy (if you have no idea what post I'm talking about, you can read it here). This time was unlike all my other 3 pregnancies as I usually tend to feel much better towards the end. However this time around, I was super emotional and exhausted for the entire pregnancy. I hardly had any physical strength left, and I wasn't mentally prepared to face the labour, AT ALL.
I had been experiencing practice contractions (which are called Braxton Hicks) since the beginning of my second trimester, which by the time I had 3 weeks left of my pregnancy, had turned into contractions, but they weren't regular or painful, just intense. So nothing to write home about so to speak.
I spoke to my midwife about my birth plan during the last few weeks of my final trimester and because this was baby number 4, I knew that birth plans never really go according to how you think they will (at least that was the case in my experience). I've always wanted a water birth with all my babies, but since I tend to deliver quickly I never have the time to actually give birth in a birthing pool.
I had real concerns about whether or not I was going to make it to hospital in time, it was just a gut feeling that I had. So I was really torn between whether I should have a home birth or go to the Birth Centre (which has a home away from home type of vibe in hospital and is led by midwives - you can only go there if you have a low risk pregnancy, which I had at the time). But I was so tempted to have a home birth because of this gut feeling that I had that I was gonna have a quick labour, and also because the prospect of giving birth and then going to sleep in my own bed, eating my own food and not having to be stuck in a hot postnatal ward with 6 to 8 different women with their screaming babies seemed like the perfect ideal.
On the other hand, the Birth Centre seemed tempting because you never know when a baby is going to arrive. And the last thing I wanted was to give birth at home surrounded by my children coz I know that it was going to freak them out. Yes, yes I know there's a lot of women out there who allow their children to be a part of their birthing experience, but I know my kids and they're quite tender and wouldn't respond very well. Besides, I'm the type of person where if I'm in labour, I want my own space so that I can focus on pushing and not have to be worried about my children.
The other reason why I didn't want to have a home birth is that I wanted to have access to pain relief other than gas and air IF I NEEDED IT. I didn't want to create strict rules about whether I should use pain relief or not coz when the pain comes - and it's REAL yo - I wanted to have the option. I'm not crazy about using drugs and would rather avoid them if I can, but using them for a rare occasion like labour poses a lower risk and is reasonable in my opinion.
I also wanted the safety of knowing that in case anything goes wrong or there are complications, that I would be at the hospital surrounded by medical professionals who can help me immediately and not have that extra time of having to get into an ambulance and be transported to hospital. I just personally didn't want to risk it.
After considering the pros and cons of each side of the argument, I decided to go with the Birth Centre option in the end.
So I got my hospital bag packed and ready and that was my game plan.
Now if any of you have experienced pregnancy, you will know that the last two weeks of pregnancy feel like a LIFETIME. And since I was aware of that, I wasn't going to just sit around and wait. I kept myself busy with baking, cooking and freezing snacks and meals so that I wouldn't have to worry about it for the first couple of weeks after baby arrives.
My due date was 19th of November and of course, baby girl didn't arrive. Typical.
Day 2 comes and goes. Nothing.
Day 3 comes, nothing.
Day 4. Nothing again.
At this point, I was starting to feel like I was going to be pregnant forever.
By the time Day 6 came, I woke up that morning and I broke down in tears. I felt so low and dejected coz I was starting to think that I was going to be induced in a couple of days (that's what medical professionals recommend if you don't naturally go into labour and are overdue) and I REALLY didn't want to experience being induced. Again (happened with my last baby boy Raphy).
So I spent some time in prayer that morning, as I realised I was totally overwhelmed. All my fears just crashed in on me that morning. I was stressed about being induced. I was stressed about how I was going to cope with looking after 4 kids under 6. I felt like I wasn't going to be able to cope with life full stop.
As I gave all these things to God, I immediately felt peace and a sense of relief. God made me realise that I didn't have to be in control and that everything was going to be ok. A HUGE weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Later that Friday evening, Andrew (my husband) and Julie (my sister in love who had moved in two weeks prior so that she could be with the children in case I went into labour) had had enough of waiting around for baby girl to arrive and decided to go about their business and they both went out coz they had stuff to do.
So I went to bed early (that was something that I had been doing for the last week to save my strength for labour) at around 10:30 p.m. I was home alone at that point.
Next thing I knew, I woke up at 1:05 a.m. feeling pretty gassy. By then, Andrew was back home and asleep next to me, while Julie had just walked in and was downstairs in our kitchen making herself a cuppa.
In addition to feeling gassy, baby girl was kicking frantically in my womb which made me very alert. You see, midwives constantly tell you when you're pregnant to monitor your baby's movements. So I was aware that this was not normal. I wasn't sure if she was distressed or not. I decided to stay awake and just keep an eye on her movements in case it gets worse and I need to call the midwife. Now in hindsight, I think she was trying to tell me Mama get ready! I'm on my way!
Then I got a contraction that felt a little bit sharp.
I thought to myself Ouch! Ok this felt like something serious. Let's see if I get another one.
And sure enough. After what seemed like no more than 5 minutes I got another contraction, with the intensity kicking up a notch. Ok this is a real contraction! I thought. So I turned over to Andrew and said "Babe! I just got a real contraction!"
Bless him, he was so tired when I told him that he just said: "Oh ok, we should sleep so that when the real thing happens we won't be so tired."
Typical man response.
I thought ok this dude is clearly tired, let me deal with this for now. So I got up to go to the bathroom coz I felt like my body just needed to flush everything out (sorry I know, TMI), which was a sign to me that things were about to kick off as my body has a tendency to flush everything out before labour to make way for impending baby.
So I go to sit on the toilet and then I get ANOTHER contraction. My hands all of a sudden started to shake uncontrollably, I just thought it was due to it being a cold November night, but later on, the midwife informed me that that was actually the adrenaline kicking in.
Then what felt like a few seconds later, I got another intense contraction!! Alarm bells started going off in my head and I started to panic as I realised OH MY GOD I'M IN LABOUR!!
As soon as I was finished with the toilet, I quickly washed my hands and then I got another contraction. The pain of this one forced me to my knees. I leaned against the bathtub and I had to breathe (more like pant). Why are they coming so close together??? I thought. As soon as that contraction was over I stood up and yelled across the hallway to Andrew in the bedroom "ANDREW! HELP! HEEEEELP!!".
He stumbled out of bed in a stupor "Huh? What's happen-"
"CALL THE MIDWIFE NOW! I'M IN LABOUR!!!!!", I interrupted.
Next thing I could think was, I need pain relief NOW! So I ran the bath and jumped in.
At this point, Andrew was on the phone to the midwife and she asked to speak with me. Andrew put the phone to my ears, "Mummy what you feeling?". I was right in the middle of a contraction "Woooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!".
She then tells Andrew, "Right! Sounds like she's right in the thick of it. Get her to hospital ASAP.".
I got out of the bath since I was supposed to get dressed, but instead, I was pacing back and forth coz I was in a panicked state. I was trying to calculate whether I was going to be able to make it to the hospital or not.
Meanwhile downstairs, Julie could hear footsteps upstairs and she thought it was one of the kids coming out of bed. So she came upstairs to check out what was going on and found me running back and forth. Andrew then gives her a super quick update of what's going on and she went into full midwife mode (she's just awesome like that, if you want anybody to be there when anything goes down, Julie is your woman).
"It's ok babe. Let's get you ready and take you to hospital.". She then proceeded to help me get to the bedroom.
I threw on whatever dress I could find, as long as it was something that I could push a baby out in without any hassle. And as soon as I did that, I felt a contraction which then brought me to my knees again. This time, I could feel the head was coming!! I then yelled at Andrew and Julie. "IT'S TOO LATE! WE'RE NOT GONNA MAKE IT! WE'RE NOT GONNA MAKE ITTTTT!!! CALL THE AMBULANCE".
I took the dress off and made a run for the bathtub.
Julie followed closely and began to pour warm water on my back to alleviate the pain.
Next contraction comes and I feel an urge to push. There was no stopping it. My body was doing its thing and I had no say in the matter. Baby girl was coming whether we were ready for her or not.
Andrew managed to get the ambulance on the phone and there was a woman on the line who began to coach Julie (who was totally freaking out on the inside, bear in mind she was having a cuppa a few minutes ago and now she was about to deliver a baby for the first time in her life with no prior warning) on what she needs to do.
The contraction came and as I pushed, I ROARED at the top of my lungs what must have sounded like an animal howl.
I feel something soft come out. I'm thinking, Did I just squeeze the baby’s organs out? Did I deliver the placenta????
I say to Julie "What the heck was that?!!!! What did I push out??".
Julie's like, "I'm not sure! It's white?! Oh! Oh! I think it's the sack!".
And sure enough, a few seconds later my waters broke OUTSIDE my body.
Ambulance lady is now on loudspeaker: "Ok you need to make sure that you apply a bit of pressure with your hand so the baby’s head doesn't come out.".
"MOVE YOUR HAND JULIE! BABY IS COMING NOOOOWWW!" I say as I feel another contraction coming on.
Lioness Roar. Baby’s Head is now out.
Julie to Ambulance lady: "Ok it's too late, the baby’s head is out and is facing me."
Ambulance lady: "Ok, you need to make sure you keep your hand on the baby’s head, and when the baby comes out you need to catch the baby, as they tend to slip out quickly and we don’t want the baby to be injured."
Julie: "Catch the baby??? How do I -"
Me: Lioness Roar.
Baby comes shooting out.
Julie grabs her under the arms and lifts her up while shaking.
Julie: "I CAUGHT THE BABY!!!!"
Ambulance Lady: "Well Done Aunty!! Does baby look okay, is baby breathing?"
We all look at baby girl, praying, hoping, that she is ok, coz none of us know what we’re doing.
And then she gasps in the cold air, and starts to cry. We all let out a HUGE sigh of relief.
Julie: "Yes she’s ok!"
I quickly turned over in the bath to lie on my back so I could hold my baby girl, while Andrew and Julie grabbed some towels. Julie then wiped her down, passed her over to me, drained the bath (the water only made it to my hips) and then covered us both with a blanket.
Ambulance lady: "What time was the baby delivered?"
Andrew fumbled around to find his phone. It was 1:30am.
That’s when it hit us. OMG this labour took 25 mins at most from start to finish!!!!!
Ambulance lady then instructed Julie and Andrew to tie the cord (they just grabbed the first thing they could find and found my 6 year old's bathrobe belt/tie. And then we waited for the paramedics to arrive. I was still shaking. And sore.
Julie was shaking, and Andrew rubbed his sister’s back, "Well done midwife Julie. You did real good!"
The paramedics must have arrived around 5-10 mins after that. They asked me if I wanted gas & air, I thought YES I WANT GAS & AIR! GIMME THAT BAD BOY!
I said "Yes".
They cut the cord 6 inches away from baby girl's navel, mind you I still hadn’t delivered the placenta. So we waited for it to come out for like 20 mins but nothing happened. So we all thought it would be a good idea to just get going to the hospital. I was quite eager for the midwives to make sure that baby girl was healthy and well.
So I passed baby girl to now daddy of four, Andrew, to hold and he was already smitten with her, while Julie and the paramedics helped me get dressed and out of the bath (while I was holding onto the gas & air, I wasn’t prepared to ever let it go). I started to slowly make my way down the stairs, and I felt a dull contraction coming on. I knew exactly what was gonna happen next.
Me: "Um, Julie, placenta is on its way, grab a towel."
Julie, who was behind me, did exactly that. I could feel it coming out. And as I looked down to see what was happening, the paramedic had already prepared a bag and caught it as it came out. And that was that.
Baby delivered in bath tub, placenta delivered on staircase. Hollywood ain't got nothin' on me, you couldn’t even make this stuff up!
So off we went to hospital. Baby girl, placenta & I in the ambulance, Andrew and hospital bag by car. We arrived at the birth centre, and we were received by midwives who were in disbelief at how quickly she arrived, so much so that they named her ‘Baby Hurry’.
We were both well and healthy, I didn’t need stitches (say what?!!!) and she weighed 8.58 lbs. Andrew then cut the cord properly, while the midwife finished off examining me.
Midwife: "What’s baby girl’s name?"
Me, beaming: "Elise Sara Ayebale"
They gave us the all clear and left. We then all lay together in the cosy birth centre room, still in shock and disbelief. My shaking had stopped at this point but my mind kept racing, still trying to process what had just happened to me. I was excited, tired, elated and HUNGRY! So I had a little nibble on some fruit, yoghurt, tea and toast and rested. It was now around 3:30am.
We woke up early the next morning and called our family to share the good news. Needless to say, everyone was excited and just as shocked about how it all happened!
So this is how our little Elise decided to enter our world - with a bang. I got to have my homebirth AND go to the Birth Centre. My kids slept through the whole thing miraculously, and best of all, Julie and Elise both share the same name Ayebale which means thanks be to God. So Julie delivered her little namesake which is the sweetest thing ever!
I wish we had some birth/labour photos to share, but she came out so quickly that we didn’t get to take any until she arrived! So I put up these studio photos instead, taken by Kairos Creative (a.k.a my awesome Andrew).
She is such a happy baby, and her siblings absolutely ADORE her. She was the last piece of the puzzle and has completed the Twesigye family. We are so thankful to God for four beautiful, healthy children and we have the rest of our lives to enjoy them!
One thing that I wanted to point out is that I've noticed that we women have a tendency to put women who have given birth naturally and without meds on a pedal stool, and anyone else short of that is not good enough in essence. Which is totally ridiculous!
I remember being pregnant for the first time and all I wanted was to have a quick, natural birth, sooo bad. I did end up getting what I wanted, but imagine if I hadn't? I would have walked away thinking that I was a failure, instead of celebrating the incredible gift of motherhood!
Giving birth in any form is a blessing, as it's the newborn baby that makes it special in the end, not whether you have a c-section or not, pain relief or not, homebirth or not! So if you are pregnant, or hope to be one day, I hope that reading this will empower you to believe that your body can do this. This was my experience, and it really doesn't have to be yours.
Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed telling it!
I’m such a sucker for birth stories. I'd love to hear yours! Feel free to share your story below.