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Journey to the Labour Room and Back

- The second time around wasn’t a bed of roses

Childbirth! It is better experienced than imagined.

Late 2011, just a few weeks after my first marriage anniversary, we were excited to learn that we were expecting out first baby. We had decided to wait a year after marriage before trying for a baby and that was what we did.

As a family, we wanted to have a daughter first. That was what we communicated to God. I had also learnt about gender selection, understanding one’s cycle and ovulation to know the right time to conceive a boy or a girl child. So I put my knowledge to test and God honoured the desires of our hearts.

I would describe my pregnancy with my daughter as a bed of roses. Yes. It is one of those nine months any woman would love to have. It was symptoms free. Except for a few days of excruciating abdominal pains in my second month which the doctor described as my body trying to abort, and placing me on one week of bed rest, every other day, week and month was a wow. I didn’t show early and I came through nine months without a stretch mark on my belly.

I was about to begin attending antenatal clinic at the private hospital we were registered at when a friend who was also expecting, visited and convinced me to try Ifako Ijaiye General Hospital. She had her first child there and was using it again. I was concerned about comfort and all the negative stories we hear about public health facilities but she waved them away. Number one, I won’t be staying there forever. Number two, they had professionals and I am sure of qualitative care. Number three, antenatal clinic was free, save a few thousand naira you pay for delivery pack which contain some items that will be given to you on the day of delivery. Number four, delivery plus hospital stay fee was cheap. After calculating the cost, I saw it was cheaper than what I was going to pay for antenatal clinic alone at our registered hospital. What’s more, the hospital wasn’t far from me so to Ifako Ijaiye we went and I wasn’t disappointed. Besides, the hospital is well known for mother and child care.

As stated earlier, my pregnancy was good. I was also confessing God’s words about me and my seed and had prayed for a supernatural childbirth, using Jackie Mize’s book. All 3.6kg of my daughter came screaming into the world three days before my expected date of delivery (EDD). Wow. What a joy.   

Fast forward three years later and again with calendar for calculation, God answered yet another prayer request.

But, from the beginning of my second pregnancy till the end of it, it was one discomfort after the other. Although morning sickness didn’t come with vomiting (thank God), it was nonetheless, discomforting. I kept looking forward to the end of the first trimester not knowing other forms of discomfort were waiting along the way. For the duration of that pregnancy, I doubt I left the house more than ten times. Save for antenatal clinics and sometimes the market, I was home all through.
As I crossed 30 weeks, I began to find it difficult to stay on my feet or even walk. Thankfully, the walking stick my husband used on the day we got married came in handy and was my support for movement around the house. And then it happened. My husband was the one who noticed the first few stretch marks on my belly which sent me bawling, like seriously, on top of all I was going through?

At 36 weeks, my doctor sent me for a scan and the tech told me my baby was approximately 3.1kg. Oh my goodness (at that age of gestation, my girl who came out 3.6kg was approximately 2.8kg). After his calculations, my EDD was moved two weeks ahead.

At 38 weeks 5 days, I told my doctor I hadn’t felt significant baby movement since that morning and she sent me off immediately for a scan, which now put my baby’s approximate weight at 4.1kg and that scared the hell out of me. How was I going to push out a 4+ kg baby? Thankfully, I didn’t allow the fear to get a hold of me. I remembered I had God and I could do all things through Christ who strengthened me. I remembered the words I had been confessing and placed my total trust in God. Though I was physically tired of being pregnant, I knew my baby would come when it pleased God to separate him from my womb. So I waited.

39 weeks and 1 day pregnant at some few minutes before 10:00PM, I understood the meaning of contractions. (I didn’t really experience it naturally with my daughter as I was induced when I only dilated from 5cm to 7cm in four hours and no signs of contractions). At first, I told my husband we could wait till the next day because I was concerned about my daughter who was sleeping. But when the next contraction came, there was no waiting. With my daughter dressed, the three of us left home at 10:40PM for the hospital.

Some few minutes gone past 11:00pm, the same midwife who delivered me of my daughter three years earlier was attending to me again. She examined me and I was 6cm dilated. Off we went to the delivery room. The doctor was called in and he broke my waters. By then I was 8cm dilated and the contractions were coming in close successions. I felt my baby coming and boy, was I screaming for the midwife. She and the other attendants were seated not far away, chatting and watching us (another lady came in after me and was also in labour). If I screamed my baby was coming, she would remind me that was why I was there, for my baby to come and lean backwards from where she was sitting, look into me and return to her chat. Immediately she saw that my baby had crowned, they were by my side. And as the next contraction came I was asked to push. And once his head was out, I stopped pushing and he was pulled out of me and I heard the three women exclaim at his size. My little giant was 4.45kg. He was born at 12:30am, almost an hour and a half after we arrived at the hospital.

Unlike my first time, I wasn’t cut. I didn’t tear after my baby’s head came out, but the rest of his body coming out tore me up and I had to be stitched again.

That same day, we were discharged from the hospital because we had no issues and they were admitting more mothers so the hospital needed all the space they could get.

Aside my legs that were still swollen from water retention and the discomfort of the stitches, I was fine. Many wondered how I was able to push out that size of a baby and what I was eating. Well, I wasn’t eating anything special or different from what I ate regularly before getting pregnant. And about having a vaginal birth, no other option crossed my mind. I am sure had the midwife on her examination of me felt my pelvic wouldn’t do the job, she would have said so.

Post pregnancy came with its own bag of disillusionment too. I nursed my swollen feet for another six days after we left the hospital. The start of breastfeeding was different from the experience I had with my daughter. My son didn’t learn to suck properly for the first few days so was busy chewing my nipples senseless. And as I cried through that pain, I still had to feed him as I was told it was the constant nursing that would heal the cracked nipples; it was true. Silt bath was okay but this time around, my belly couldn’t be pressed with hot water neither could I tie it properly to help the uterus shrink faster. I still felt very sore from above my navel down the pregnancy line. It was as though it was completely torn apart inside. The soreness started long before I put to bed as my baby grew. Four months later, while looking through the web for abdominal exercises to help me get back my abs pre pregnancy, I read about diastasis recti and understood the state of my belly.

Two journeys, two very different experiences. If I had a choice would I have chosen to go through them to have my babies? Oh definitely yes as I cannot imagine what life was without them.

And these are my journeys to the labour room and back. You can share yours also.

Uzezi Adesite is the founder and team lead at Zayzee Writes, publishers of the free e-magazine, DRIVE. She is also the author of two e-Books, The Call of Ciri, a novel and Entangled Affair, a collection of stories.