Day 13 – Showtime
Last night we wound down with a very relaxed but also exciting evening of Henna tattooing. Sofia had said we need to be home by 6.30 because someone was coming to paint her belly. In the morning we had been ‘ooing and arhing’ over all wonders of artistic designs on pregnant bellies which Sofia found on the internet. I was expecting a grand artist to be coming, so was somewhat surprised therefore to find that it was Rumis’ daughter Fatima who was going to be our artist of the evening. Fatima is just 12 years old! I was doubtful that some of the intricate art from the pictures we saw could be replicated by such a young child. However, I have been delightfully surprised by many things about my time in Karachi and Fatima’s artistic skills were just one more such occasion because, boy oh boy, is she clever. The beautiful floral and bird design flowed up around Sofia’s pregnant bump all the way to between her breasts. Sofia was like an excited puppy dancing around showing off her new funky baby belly. We took lots of pictures and no woman could have appeared prouder of herself than this happy mum to be.
And so another day in this strange and interesting country was falling to a close. I felt tired and decided to take to my bed and try to sleep a lot earlier than usual. So 10.30pm saw me winding down and almost ready to fall asleep.
However, day 12 was determined to end on a bang and day 13 to be the ultimate day, the climax, the reason for me being here. The baby was on its way!
The long awaited knock came at approx. 11pm. I jumped up out of bed in a nanosecond and opened the door to find Sofia in a state of nervous excitement, “I am having contractions, it’s just started what do I do?” she asked. I lead her to the sofa and asked her to remember all the talking we had done. I reminded her that this could all stop, that it was early yet and could potentially go on for quite some time. Eventually, after lots of reassurance, I went back to bed, only for her to knock just 40 minutes later to tell me that water was running down her leg! It didn’t take long of observing Sofia for me to know that this labour was coming on fast and I was not going to be getting any sleep. Instead I cleaned my teeth, pulled on some clothes and began to do what I do best. I was once again in my element and supporting a woman in her hours of need.
“The room was filled with positivity, with love, with oxytocin, and with belief.”
All worries about us being in another country, Sofia having had a previous caesarean section, about post-partum, resuscitating babies and shoulder dystocia floated away to the back of my mind to be replaced with calm confidence and strong belief in the process that was beginning. I had done my skills drills in my mind over the preceding days and had all safety plans in place. I knew Sofia was making fully informed choices and we had mutual trust and a strong bond between us. It was going to be fine. There was no room for doubt, no room for worry. The room was filled with positivity, with love, with oxytocin, and with belief. There was only left for a little more love to enter the room, and that love would be bought by the two people yet to know that labour had begun, Azaan and Muna.
As Sofia called to be doused with ice water all over her body, to bring comfort from the heat-filling surges of power that were rushing through her body, I observed that labour was progressing fast. I could see, as she lay over the sofa with her back to me the Rhombus of Michaelis bulging proud, and as I massaged her back I could also spy the telling pink line of progress creeping up between her buttocks. I dialled Muna’s number from Sofia’s telephone and in turn she called Azaan to come too. Sunia, who had roused sleepily from her bed was, as per the plan, filling the pool. However, one glance at the ever deepening water and I was off in my mind arguing with myself about what I thought. The water was not the clear, crystal see through depths I was used to in the UK, but instead it was a murky yellow colour. Did this mean it wasn’t clean? Was this a problem for birthing the baby or was this just normal for here? I suddenly had horrible thoughts of a baby with legionaries disease flitting though my mind. Oh dear what to do?
“The Entonox we had fought so hard to find was some comfort to her.”
Sofia started to get expulsive whilst laying on her side on the sofa at around 01.30, and was just a little distressed. The Entonox we had fought so hard to find was some comfort to her, and she sucked on it during every contraction. Afterwards she said she was glad of the Entonox mask because it muffled the noises she needed to make and that helped her not worry about little Ebo hearing her. Once a concerned mother, always a concerned mother!
The ice cold flannels were giving her lots of comfort and she continued to ask that they be put all over her body. I looked over at the warm pool and thought she probably wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. However, she wanted to try it and so we helped her into the murkiness.
Unfortunately for the doubts and worries in my mind concerning the water quality, she found it to be heavenly. A vaginal examination in the pool found Sofia to be already 9 centimetres dilated. Wow! “I never got past 2 last time” she cried with a delighted smile on her face. She continued to be expulsive and I continued to fret about the water colour. I had taken my birth mirror all the way to Pakistan, but there was absolutely no chance of it allowing me to see if the birth was imminent in the yellow murky water. I was worried the birth was close, and by now the water issue was a high priority in my mind. I wanted to get her out of the pool! Sofia had now been pushing strongly, albeit prior to being fully dilated, for around 2 hours so I suggested “a change of position may help baby come down, so how about a quick walk around the room?” Sofia agreed happily, and out the murky water she got to my instant relief.
"Baby was gently born into my waiting hands at 04.16.”
A supported squat showed baby’s head clearly visible with a black mop of hair. It was now 03.35, and Sofia asked me “how much longer?” That typical, asked a million times over by women in labour, question. I felt confident to tell this brave woman that it would be minutes, not hours, before she would hold her baby. After a few supported squats Sofia wanted to lay on her side on the floor, and did so for the last bit of birthing her baby. As baby was gently born into my waiting hands at 04.16, I noticed a tiny hand up next to a shoulder, a hand that Sofia and I had regularly massaged up and away from the pain it had been causing in Sofia’s pubic bone in the last few days of pregnancy.
As Sofia reached down to receive her healthy baby daughter, her emotion was raw, and I could hardly see for the tears that coursed down my face. Within just a few minutes the placenta was also born with ease. No woman could ask for a more perfect birth. There was no damage to her perineum and no bleeding, just prefect physiology and a whole room full of positivity and love. There were tears and sobs from Muna, and Azaan too wiped his face as he was gazed on in wonder. It was an experience he could never have imagined, especially after the last traumatic birth of Ebo.
What a start to day 13, not unlucky in any form for this delighted new mother, her midwife and her very supportive wonderful mother Muna. We really were the dream team!
“Just like Mary Poppins the wind has changed and I am no longer needed.”
The end to day 13 was somewhat different to the exciting beginning. We all sat around lounging and eating snacks and sweets bought and prepared by the extended family and a few visitors who popped in to congratulate the new family. We let Dr Azra know that baby was born and all was well. She was delighted, and said she had been hoping that it would all go to plan and Sofia stayed home! She has offered to come and visit tomorrow so she can say she has seen Sofia and baby, which means she can sign paperwork and get a birth certificate. So now just like Mary Poppins the wind has changed and I am no longer needed. My job is done and I must think about leaving….it seems strange that after all this waiting and wondering that in the blink of an eye it is over. I don’t quite know how I feel about that.