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So this is the birth story of our second child, Muhammad Zayd Harith. He was born in the comfort of our home, in the same pool his sister was born, in god-blessing Friday morning calmness, safe and fast onto my palms.
It all started when my wife peed on a stick after finding up her cycle wasn’t come as usual. At first we thought this could be breastfeeding effect. But no, it was another gift from god that we instantly embraced and thankful for.
Chapter 1: The decision
When she reached 3rd trimester, we hadn’t decided where to deliver the baby. Our parent insisted on having it delivered in a hospital. We were like “Okay, let’s do it in a hospital, but we will fight against unnecessary intervention (Dear Doc, take a deep breath, we are not against you. When we said unnecessary, it really meant unnecessary until it medically required for the safety of the mother and the child, we know that and I hope you respected that, too. Yes, episiotomy and AROM, Pitocin, and pain-management medication MAY help, but we don’t want that until needed, put the frown away please).
So we went shopping for hospitals that offer mother-friendly birth environment (and pocket-friendly for the fathers too). KPJ looks promising, Columbia and Pantai too. But none of those near to our place (except KPJ Kajang, notoriously known for medium-high cesarean rate), and others are handled mostly by male doctors
(Dear Docs, I know what darurah meant, we still have options, so we put our options into consideration. No it’s not about aurat, it’s about letting other guy seeing you wife butt-naked, when you know you can actually find a woman to do the same. Plus my wife would rather have a female doc looking at her vajayjay, let’s just respect that.)
We also put government hospitals into our consideration, but judging by the “habitual” intervention most women endured
(Not to disrespect you Docs, but it really does happened, just maybe not on your watch, or maybe it became too habitual you subconsciously find it helpful and necessary to do so, and i find it rather ‘normalcy’ about it, no big deal), we have to cross the hospitals from our list.
So we decided, if everything is alright (I meant brightly excellent clear cut alright) for example the baby position, the cord, the amniotic fluid, the heart rate, the growth, the mother’s BP, HB, no GDM, no protein trace in urine samples, no weird pain and complications, we decided to do homebirth. If there is a slight chance of complication, we will not put ourselves in such risk, and we will get admitted in a hospital, no compromise.
You might say second attempt should be easier because we have experience doing it. WRONG. You are dead wrong. Remember, every pregnancy is different. The food intake, the environment, the exposure to stress and state of minds, those are external affluent to the growth of the baby and the end result of a birth. You don’t eat the same food as you did, or having the same environment, or developing self management for stress and stuff, on your prior pregnancy; then how could you say the pregnancy would be the same for all your babies? That partly explains the 5% rate of giving birth exactly on your EDD.
Anyway, the decision has been made, after we find out that we are really ‘qualified’ to do the homebirth. The baby was perfectly fine, Alhamdulillah, no lead of complications (that our doc could think of), Alhamdulillah. And the mother was also in good state, despite the relentless control freak, which is good for a laidback-but-ready-to-strike husband (me). But, I drew the borderlines; which means whenever I sensed prolonged labor, or a slight sign of complication (fresh blood, baby not moving, rising body temperature, stress, fatigue, cramps, shivering, and fatherly-intuition) I will not hesitate to call it off, and admit her to hospital immediately.
Before we reaching to our decision, we took a birthing class, famous-amongst-the-hippies-or-birth-junkies, hypnobirthing. It was a good class. It was the practical class of managing pain by self-hypnotizing. And honestly no, it was not as it claimed self-hypnotize. You, the husband is the one who hypnotize your wife by channeling and diverting the wife’s mind to think of other thing while she subconsciously handling the pain. And you might ended up hypnotizing yourself to sleep (happened to me most of the time, and boy, it was a good afternoon nap). The book of Mongan Method teaches us a lot of breathing and birthing techniques, which really helps you to keep calm and birth the baby out (I really meant it, I made myself to sleep by doing the breathing technique, and it works like a charm, every single time. Oh and if you are doing it right, you’ll sleep like a baby (air-liur-basi kind of baby)).
Chapter 2: The plan B
We took out the pool from our storage room, inflated it, and place it in our room. We start imagining the situations, and come up with the list of required items. We were 50% ready for it, until I received a phone call of my mom telling me that she is coming over and stay with us until my wife give birth.(oh wow, mother instinct, I think she knew her son is doing it again) “Mission abort. Mission abort”. We deflated the pool, hide it, and clean up the house to make it looks like normal. So we revisit plan B, hospital birth. At first the wife looks like an impregnated cat looking for cupboards. The husband keep it cool by persuading his mom that everything is working as planned (in reality, we don’t even know which hospital to go to). The wife’s acting was the key my mom decided to return back home. She acted like she’s not pregnant at all (by climbing up and down the staircase everyday, doing the dishes, laundry, and taking care of our first daughter; made my mom to believed that ‘oh okay, they seemed fine. I don’t need to stay then’. So my mom return to hometown.
Chapter 3: The day
17 Dec: I was still hoping that the baby will be born in January 1st. but the wife have weird feeling that the baby is coming sooner (currently on week 38). We haven’t bought those item in the list, so my wife decided to not waiting on me, and called up her friend to accompany and help her buying those stuff. She managed to complete the required item. That night, she felt heavy pressure on her pelvic floor “the baby is engaging further”, and she felt the slow leaking on her underwear. What did I do? I got back to sleep “people leaks for weeks honey, relax..”
18 Dec: the birth show. The streak of brownish mucus. And the leak becomes frequent. Again, “relax, it’s just birth show and you don’t feel the contraction. it could be next week. Drink a lot of fluid honey”, and went back to sleep. But this time she was in anger and insisted me to get all the equipment ready. Judging by the angry-mother high pitch, I knew she was not goofing around. So I lay the “Dexter sheets” on the floor, wrapped the bed with plastic sheet, inflated the pool, and getting ready for everything, but leave the pool emptied for the safety of our daughter, Hannah.
19 Dec: exactly the moment the muazzin reciting adzan (5:45AM), she woke me up and telling me she felt the contractions. I asked her if it is strong and she said it’s bearable. So I offer her the birth ball and ask her to hug it and start practicing hypnobirth. She started with calm breathing, eyes closed, and swayed away on the ball. Then I started my ‘half-marathon’ by boiling 2 medium-sized pots, 1 electric kettle, and a 4 liters hot water dispenser; which will accumulated for a half pail of hot water. To make the pool water warm, I need 2 full pail of hot water. I boiled the first round then we went for subuh prayer afterwards.
6.00AM: Hannah awoken from sleep. She was a bit fuzzy of what happened but she is in the positive mood. I asked my wife to lay back and breastfeed Hannah. The moment Hannah happily had her breakfast, the contractions kicked in strong. Which is good. She did the calm breathing for a while, and I offered her to eat the dates. The water is boiling, and I’m doing the second half-pail round for the pool. Then I played the recitation of surah Maryam from youtube, the ambiance sound of calmness fill up the room immediately. My wife’s friend had lent us a burning set of aromatherapy and ylang ylang essential oil. The scented oil is said to provide a deep sense of intimacy scent (the required hormone for birthing). So then we clocked in the time she had contractions. It was 7 minutes apart with irregular contraction length. So I went down and made a mug of hot raspberry leaf tea. She sipped it in between her contractions. She prostrated down on all four position, I started to hypnotize her by leading her deep into the imaginary of the baby working his way thru the birth canal. The wave is getting closer and intense. She managed the pain by focusing on breathing. Then she barfed.
6.40AM: I’ve completed round 3 of hot water, and she went into the pool. Alhamdulillah it wasn’t cold, neither it was warm. Just nice, yep that’s the word. She let herself rest freely into the pool, and the pain was literally more bearable. Our little munchkin, Hannah saw it and happily went by the ridge of the pool and having so much fun slapping and splashing the water. Her act made my wife smile and forgot that she was in pain. Hannah is getting eager to get into the pool. Instead of intense moment, we enjoyed her presence and the cheering voice of her.
7.00AM: the contractions were now regular 5:1:1. She closed her eyes and hypnotized herself. I asked her to always remember Allah by chanting His name all the time. She moved from a position to another positions every now and then. The frequent move helps the mother and the labor, trust me. I offered her dates but she refused, I know at this moment we are getting really near.
8:00AM: the contraction becoming stronger and stronger, controlled breathing does not help her anymore. I passed the leftover of the raspberry leaf tea to ‘induce’ more stronger contractions. I asked her to change the breathing technique, the J breathing. The contraction is getting closer that we didn’t bother to clock it anymore. The environment is so calm, in fact very calm. Hannah is in her world of splashing pool.
8:30AM: it was back to back surges. the contractions were strong and super close together. She screamed for affirmation “say something nice baby!” I was stunned, at first. We don’t really practice affirmation, and there’s literally nothing nice to say to a screaming mother in labor. And I asked “like what?”. If you saw her eyes at that time, you’d run screaming for your momma. The eyes of Sauron. “I don’t know! anything! Oh please please please” she screamed, again. I remembered a scene in Finding Nemo “there..there..there..don’t worry you’re gonna be fine” while scooping the water and let it slowly flow over her waving belly. Yep, it does helped.
8:45AM: what I saw was a thing that is otherworldly. The membrane burst and sprayed white particles into the water. Like, like, like a male squid bursting out their sperms deep in the sea (I saw in in geography channel!). the contractions were back to back. The canal bulged with pressure. And I tell her that we are really really nearing, remember Allah. She did J breathing all the time, and instead of pushing she breath the baby out.
8:55AM: the head was out entirely, and she kept breathing the baby out. The baby twisted in the water and let his palm out. Another surge made the baby move further into the pool. Alhamdulillah the cord wasn’t tangled at all. At 9:00AM, the baby was out entirely and I hold him and take him out of the water and put him on his mother’s chest. It happened briefly. She hold the baby sideway and let the mucus flow out of the baby’s mouth. He caught his first breath and cried. The baby was fine. The mother cried and kept chanting Alhamdulilah. However, she had cramps! Her fingers folded hard against each fingers, and she was panicking. So I read a verse while slowly massage her hands. Eventually, she calmed down and she regained the movement of her fingers. “awh cute penis”. Yep, that’s what she said.Then I adzan the baby and leave the mother to rest. Oh, and Hannah was crying, so I picked her up and hold her all the time.
9:05AM: She rested against the wall of the pool while waiting for surges to birth out the placenta. Mostly during this moment, in a hospital environment, the nurse will add pitocin to ‘induce’ the contraction again. What we did was, we let the baby latching on her nipple and feed the baby. The effect is the same, the contraction begins, which is stronger than ever. But the placenta was not out yet.
9:15AM: I put a very cleaned bowl into the toilet bowl, and brought my wife to the toilet and let her sit on it while the baby is feeding on. During a strong surge, the placenta was coming out slowly but steady into the bowl. It was intact, alhamdulillah. No tear or weird blood on it. She was shivering a bit as the blood started to flow out. I give her a drink and let she rest on the toilet for a little while.
The end of the story is my journey of running the show from 9.30AM till 7PM. Starting by wrapping the baby, wrapping my wife, feeding Hannah, send her to babysitter, cutting and clamping cord, cleaning the scene, sending both to hospital for post natal checkup, buying clothes for wife, calling our parents, taking pictures, bury down the placenta; which is not as interesting as the birth story.
And kudos to my wife, she had her perineum intact, for a second time!
Everything happened is in control of Allah SWT, and we could never did this if it’s not of Him who allowed this to happened. La haula wala quwwata illa billah…alhamdulillah.
p/s: We never advocate homebirth, neither do our certified birth educators. It’s a huge risk to take it lightly. But we advice you to learn to know your body, know your role as husband and wife, know the basic obstetrician, and read and read and read.
The father of Muhammad Zayd Harith
31 Dec 2014