This is a documentation of notable events and happenings around my first experience of childbirth. Everything here is from my point of view, it is not necessarily what any other person would experience. I hope that you will find joy and pleasure reading my story.
I fell asleep just as labor was starting, and when I awoke, my brand-new baby was lying next to me in the hospital bed. That would have been quite a super story but things didn’t exactly work out that way.
My nurse had informed me that my baby may arrive before, on, or after the due date. However, I was left with two possibilities since no baby had arrived before my due date.
On the day my baby was due, I woke up around 4 am having some cramps. I felt like peeing but noticed that the tissue was slightly stained with blood after I wiped. Starting to have different thoughts, I decided to wake my husband up. I informed him about the pain and stain. His response was, “just breathe!” “I’m breathing!” I glared at him. Reflecting after the whole episode had passed, I realized that he simply didn’t know what else to say at the time. As it was still dark at that time, we decided to go to the hospital later, around 7 a.m. that morning.
It wasn’t surprising when my husband fell into a deep sleep soon after we prayed. He had had an extremely busy day. I only heard the soft sound of his breath as a rhythm to soothe the pain. Regrettably, I was unable to sleep. I kept reliving all of the childbirth articles I’d read. I had visualized the first symptom of labour being the bursting of the water and afterwards, a dash to the hospital. My mind was not yet made up on having an epidural. My thoughts were that any severe pain was God’s way of telling me, “my daughter, take it!”
I attempted to see if there was a pattern or timing to the pain I was having at that moment, but it appeared to go on continuously. I woke hubby some minutes before 7 a.m. and we finally headed to the hospital. Thankfully my husband was permitted to enter the hospital when we arrived (it was during the covid period and there were restrictions that had prevented him from being at my previous appointments and check-ups).
After an examination, I was informed that my cervix was still one centimeter open. I was told that I could stay put (but not in the birth room) or leave and come back if the contractions were more frequent. We decided to leave.
In the evening, we went back to the hospital. This time, after checking me, I was told that I was ready to go to the delivery room. I was in intense pain. I felt the baby was going to be out at that instant. It wasn’t so. I still had a long way to go. It was then I realized that the epidural was going to be a blessing and when the doctor asked at some point if I wanted it, I looked at her as if to say, why are you still asking me? My husband signed the consent form and an epidural was administered. It worked! The pain subsided. I was relieved!
After I had fully dilated, I was told that the epidural was going to be withdrawn so I could push. They did this and the pain came back in full force. I cried and prayed. My husband asked constantly how I was feeling till I told him to stop asking me. Of course I was in pain! Didn’t he see that already?
After withdrawing the epidural, the doctors left us alone in the delivery room and only came to check the progress occasionally.
Finally, it was time. The doctor asked me to push. I pushed. My husband had read about techniques of pushing so he was doing a great job of guiding me. The doctors were very helpful too. Finally, the said they could see the head. As it was just the head that was seen for a while, an incision had to be made. The baby came out and the placenta followed shortly after.
I remember the feeling I had after hearing my baby’s first cry. My heart leapt for joy. “I have a baby!” I could feel the awesomeness of God in the whole procedure. After the clean-up and check-up, the doctor eventually placed my baby in my hands.
I was happy that the wait was over. I could finally hold my baby. I was relieved of the pain I had felt some hours before. At the same time, I was shocked at what I saw. I had not gotten a glimpse of his face in the ultra scan during pregnancy due to having an anterior placenta(though even if I had seen it, I don’t think that would have been clear enough) but prior to this, I had thought babies came out all cute! I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in any way.
The head was oddly shaped. The doctor saw as I kept checking him and assured me. It’s totally normal, she said. ‘Give it a few days.’ True to her words, after a few days, the shape of his head normalized.
His eyes were big, wide open and shiny. He stared at me as if to say, ‘I am here now, so what?’ He immediately put two tiny fingers in his mouth and sucked them noisily. “What? Your first few minutes in this world and you are already showing yourself”. I thought babies are supposed to have their eyes closed on the first day of birth and they were definitely supposed to be too new in the world to suck their fingers! His skin seemed really translucent and white. His hairs weren’t so full but the whole head had hair. I was okay with that.
I could not stop looking at him. I was in awe. I wondered at how amazingly great God is to have made this small human grow inside of me. Though I was tired, I could not sleep. He slept on. I ignored the hospital bassinet that had been placed in the room for him to sleep in. Instead, I placed him on my own bed and laid beside him. I could not move for the fear of swishing him somehow. I tried breastfeeding him but failed each time as he wasn’t latching properly. I later learnt how to do that properly with the help of a breastfeeding consultant that was assigned to assist me.
We left the hospital and had our baby to ourselves. Our first attempt at bathing him did not go well at all. My husband and I had earlier watched a couple of videos that were centered on how to bathe babies. We gathered all the needed materials for this. My husband who felt he had gathered enough knowledge from the videos had proudly insisted that I allow him bathe our baby. He was ready to replicate what he had watched. Unfortunately, no video prepared him for such reality. The baby was so tiny. He didn’t know where to hold. He was being careful not to have water in the wrong places since the umbilical stump had not fallen off and we had read that we should keep the place dry. We also had to ensure that the baby was not overly exposed to the cold. My own job was to pour water as directed by him. Eventually, he just decided that he had done enough. It wasn’t anything to call a bath. We did better the next time we tried though.
On the seventh day after the birth of our baby, he got named. My husband and I already had names for him long before he was born. In fact, before I got pregnant, we already picked out some names. He is a very special boy to us so we were careful about his names. Our parents had also sent the names they wanted him to bear. This was not an issue as in Yorubaland where we come from, a child could be given as many names as possible some of which even they would not remember later on.
I cannot leave out the fact that at the naming ceremony, I could not hold back tears while my baby’s names were being called. I was crying uncontrollably. Though it was embarrassing, I couldn’t help it. I don’t know exactly why I was crying but I guess I was overwhelmed by the fact that I could see the awesomeness of God in all. My baby slept throughout the occasion which I was thankful for.
A week after delivery, we had an appointment with the breast-feeding specialist regarding our child’s weight. He was not gaining weight as expected because he wasn’t feeding well. He preferred to sleep and all the gimmicks we had on how to keep him awake didn’t work. He was always interested in sleeping more than anything else. He also had some sounds he made. The sounds were really new to me. I never saw any baby make such sounds before then. I did a lot of research on google and saw that it was quite common.
I found breastfeeding difficult. I was guided on having a routine and the measurement of how much breast milk I should give my baby. To me, that was stressful. I had to pump out milk sometime too. I had some low moments. One of them was a time I suddenly felt I looked terrible. I had taken a walk with my husband and son. I looked at my husband. He looked so good while I felt I looked a mess. I was overwhelmed and I remember crying and wishing my mum was with me. My husband was quick to give me a short speech of how the mother of his baby looked amazing even after having a baby.
It was a very interesting period of my life. I appreciate mothers more and cherish all the sacrifices they make.
You need a support system. Never think you can do this alone.
Cut yourself some slack. You are doing great. You look good considering what you have gone through. You will look great again soon enough.
Things will definitely get better, worry less.
Try to enjoy every phase. They won’t last forever.
People will step on your toe. You might get more easily irritated. Don’t take things to heart. Forgive quickly.
God gave you the baby, he knows how best to take care of him or her. Hand that aspect over to God.
If you are not married yet, please consider the fact that doing this alone is definitely a lot. Make the best choice.
The life you have birthed is worth every bit of the sacrifice.
You can’t go through all you went through and refuse to put in your best to raising your child.