Little baby Aisha isn't very interested in solid food. Usually I give her toys…
This Is What It’s Actually Like To Give Birth To A Baby. It’s Very Painful.
Labour is the single most physically painful thing I have ever been through. The pain is intoxicating. It spreads from your center, through your body, til you feel it in your arms and legs. It feels like a torrent of hurt that flows in, wave after wave, with each wave more painful than the last. Just when you think you’ve reached your pain threshold and your brain is screaming that you can’t possibly take it anymore, the next wave hits and pushes that pain to a whole new level.
And it all centers at your uterus. You can feel this enormous force pushing downwards as your cervix attempts to dilate wider and wider. It’s like forcing an 8 pound bowling ball through a 10 cm gap. That gap being, you know, your soft sensitive vagina walls.
This is the story of giving birth to Aisha.
“Take a nice picture of me tomorrow ok?”
That’s what I told Mr Ninja as I stood before him looking like a happy whale in my jammies. I had been having light contractions for the past two days and I knew the baby was coming soon. I didn’t have a single picture of myself pregnant. I wanted to remember. Looking back it’s probably for the best there aren’t any pictures. I’m an ugly pregnant human.
We settled into bed and watched this unfunny Tina Fey movie when my tummy started to hurt.
“Is this food poisoning or am I in labour?”
I had a really bad stomachache. It was 10pm. I was sweating and in pain and my tummy was feeling all kinds of horrible. I don’t know if I ate something bad or if it was just a sign that the baby was on her way. I don’t know if it was a sign that the baby was on the way or the cause of the contractions that would later come.
Whatever it was, I had a really bad stomachache at 10pm. For two hours I was in and out of the toilet with a runny tummy. Very runny. Gross. Pain. No sleep. Mr Ninja on the other hand stopped watching the movie, rolled over, and fell asleep. Much help. Very use.
The contractions came full-on and fast
I dozed off after another purge in the toilet and woke up with intense pain a few minutes later. Is this food poisoning or am I in labour? I went to the toilet to be sure it wasn’t the remainder of the maybe-possibly-food-poisoning. Nope. Definitely the baby. Not food poisoning pain. The-goddamn-baby-is-on-the-way-pain.
Lay down in bed on my side. Closed my eyes, tried to breathe through the pain, tried to sleep in between contractions. It was midnight.
Early contractions for me are longer but not as painful. I tried to time them but they were all over the place. It was so incredibly uncomfortable. I would let out small moans during contractions that were particularly bad. I changed positions. From my side, to all-fours, to sitting up. Standing was far too painful. I tried kneeling forward with my hands holding the headboard of the bed. Mostly I lay on my side.
Mr Ninja was sound asleep with his useless womb-less body. I focused on turning my pain into bad vibes to infiltrate his dreams. I considered waking him up so that he could suffer alongside me. Then I realized if he tried to touch me I would probably punch him. And if he tried to console me with words I would definitely punch him. I let him sleep.
I don’t know why, but all my babies just love putting me through labour through the night. It was 5am and I had been awake for close to 24 hours by now.
Heading to the hospital early just to avoid morning rush hour
I wish I could have continued labour at home for longer. At least 2 more hours. I hate hospitals. I hate being in labour at hospitals.
Me: Bb wake up please.
Mr Ninja: …
Me: Bb you have to take me to the hospital now.
Mr Ninja: …
Me: BB THE BABY IS COMING OUT NOWWWWW.
Mr Ninja: !!!!!!!!!!!
Mr Ninja became Ayub and Sulaiman’s dad when they were 5 and 2 years old respectively so he missed out on all the fun of pregnancy, labour, and birthing that comes along with new humans. He freaked the eff out. The entertainment I got from watching him scramble and menggelabah all over the house that morning made the contractions a little more tolerable.
The adorable Mr Ninja
He jumped out of bed and took a shower then went downstairs for unknown reasons. He came up again and went to the toilet again then went downstairs. I could hear him bing bong bing bong in the kitchen and the dining area like what was he doing? I asked him what he was doing when he reappeared and he answered I DON’T KNOOOWWWW! Lol.
I sat at the edge of the bed waiting for him to help me get dressed. He didn’t help.
My mom heard all the commotion and came into my room. “Is your baby coming?” I nodded. She helped me get dressed and rubbed my back and said all the right things while we giggled at Mr Ninja who was still faffing about all over the house. When we realized he was truly of no use, my mom helped me up and walked me downstairs to the front door. She put on my shoes and helped me in the car. Mr Ninja was halfway out the house when he did a sudden U-turn and went back in. He went to poop. He claims he pooped 6 times from the moment I told him the baby was on the way til the moment she actually arrived. Literally scared shitless.
Getting to the hospital
With my mom staying home to look after the two boys, it was just me and Mr Ninja in the car. He kept asking me directions to the hospital. I glared at him. He tried to put his hand on my leg. I dagger stabbed him with my eyes.
After all his headless-chickening in the house we finally left at 6am and reached the hospital 20 minutes later.
The nurse at the reception desk saw us walking in and called for a wheelchair. That was the last I saw of Mr Ninja. Don’t worry. They wheeled me away, not him. He was left in the waiting area freaking out by himself.
A nurse helped me change into the hospital gown. An ultrasound. A fetal heartbeat monitor. A drip in my arm. A doctor stuck her fingers up my vagina. I was at 6cm. ONLY SIX BLOODY CENTIMETERS?! After more than 6 hours of active labour. Kill me now.
A doctor pushed what felt like a metal spike up my vagina to burst the water bag. I tensed up. Relax, she said. Easy for you to say, I thought. Hot liquid came pouring out between my legs.
They brought me to the labour room with two intern (?) doctors and one very serious nurse. Every so often someone would stick their fingers up my vagina to see how far more to go. Still 6cm.
The baby was bearing down. It feels like you really really really need to poop. Don’t push, the nurse said. Every time you feel a contraction, your body naturally feels the urge to push. It’s such a strong urge. You hold your breath and you feel like pushing. I just breathed through it and kept my legs together.
All the pain and discomfort
A nurse stuck a catheter up my urethra. I screamed. She asked if it hurt. Yes, it fucking hurt. She paused. I asked her to go away. She pushed down on my bladder to force whatever urine was in there to come out. I screamed even more.
A midwife or matron (I honestly don’t know), pushed her fingers up my vagina. That hurt. The contractions were insane. She tried to spread my cervix by pushing in hard and moving her hand up and down. I yelled at her. She said it would make the labour go faster. I told myself to never get pregnant ever again.
As the pain gets more intense and the contractions feel like they’re building up on top of each other, I’m totally exhausted mentally and physically. I fall asleep between contractions. Deep sleep for less than a minute. Then forced back into reality when the next contraction hits. All the movements from the doctors and nurses are a background blur.
A nurse walks in to do something. The nurse that’s been sitting by my side asks her about a lady and her baby in the other room. “We couldn’t save him, the baby died.” The nurses are sad, they speak in low whispers. Buried in the fog of pain my heart is breaking for the lady too. Innalillahi. Alhamdulillah. I am blessed. Thank You for this pain. I am grateful.
Pushing out the bundle of angry joy
It was 7.30am. I must be 10 centimeters by now. The doctor checked. 8cm. Almost there. She smiled. I died. Told myself to never have sex again.
Another 15 minutes. Another doctor. You’re almost there, she said. Bear down but don’t push. Help the baby. Ok. I bear down. Bear down. Bear. Down. Down. Bear. Nope, I’m pushing. I am totally pushing when I’m not supposed to be.
The intern doctors are suddenly freaking out. I think I’m their first birth. They don’t know what to do. They’re staring at me as I’m delivering the baby. I think they’re talking to me. I’m pushing a human out of my body. One of them runs out. The midwife/matron comes in. She gives them orders. They scuttle around. She spreads my legs. I am ready to fucking push this baby out. She shouts at one of them to get Mr Ninja.
PUSH! she says. I push. It feels SO GOOD to push. I push hard. Lying on my back, head forward, hands holding my legs. The intern doctors look horrified and mesmerized and are all excited. They start cheering me on. ONE MORE! the nurse says. I push.
I feel a slippery blob slide out. Instant relief throughout my body. The intern doctors are saying stuff. The room is filled with the screams of a newborn. Mr Ninja runs in looking bewildered.
You’re late, I say to Mr Ninja. He’s smiling and kissing me. I can’t see what’s going on between my legs, my tummy is deflated but still so big. Is it a girl? I ask. The midwife lifts up a tiny creature in her hands, “GIRL!” She’s smiling. I’m smiling. I lift up my top and she places the slippery blob on my chest. “Hi Aisha.”
I’m kissing her head and the tiny hand that’s clasped around my finger. “Hi Aisha.”
She’s soft and warm and squishy and I’m choking up. “Hi Aisha.”
The midwife is trying to pull out my placenta by tugging on the umbilical cord. It’s stuck. Cough, she says. I cough. Cough harder, she says. I cough harder. I feel it plop out. It hurts. I’m still holding Aisha. Tiny, wriggly, pink Aisha. The cause-of-all-this-pain Aisha. “Hi Aisha.”
I stroke her tiny arm and rub her tiny back. I count her tiny fingers on her tiny hands. Then feel her tiny toes on her tiny feet. Her face is tilted up, all red and frowny and confused. I love her, I tell Mr Ninja.
I love you, I tell Aisha.
I’m skipping past the gory details. I’ll leave it for another day. Once Aisha and I were settled in our room, we tried to get to know each other a little better. She was not impressed by me.
This is Aisha, aged 4 hours:
And that’s the story of Aisha’s birth.
If you read this all the way til here, please hug your Mama. Aisha was the easiest of my three births. Your mom probably went through worse with your stupid big head.