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Motherhood

What You Need To Focus On During Labour

📷: @wacuwamahiu 💄: @makeupbywamuyu

“This is how we take the fear out of birth: by honouring and embracing all the many possible variations that birth encompasses. In this way, every birth is a natural birth: each of us is part of nature, not separate from it, and nature is always stunning in its variety. Your birth, then, is part of the natural world, however it unfolds.”

— Lauralyn Curtis

“There is a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.”

— Laura Stavoe Harm

Labour and birth are a sort of second coming. No mama in waiting knows exactly the day or time they will be born into a mother, or when the baby fully baked in her womb will open their eyes to see the world for the first time. The due date couldn’t be more ambiguous. Baby can arrive two weeks before your due date or two weeks after, they say. By the time you’re 36 weeks pregnant, “Any day now,” will replace every hello and goodbye.

I wanted our baby to be born in March. It coloured my prayers for months. She was due sometime April and a tiny part of me didn’t want to share birthdays with her if the two weeks after part proved true. Seems selfish, but I wanted March to be her special month and April mine.

At the time I was 37 weeks, I printed a fresh batch of books and ran a book sale campaign on Instagram.

Your girl was busy and loving it! I loved it so much, I didn’t even care if she came in April. But it was birth and motherhood jitters wearing the see-through mask of busyness. It’s almost like a part of me knew the day was drawing closer, yet I tried to remain clueless.

On Thursday the 28th of March at around 5 AM, I woke up for my routine every-so-often pee in the night. I normally don’t bother putting on the lights but when I wiped, the tissue looked a little different. I turned on the lights and saw a light pinkish-red stain on it. “Okay. This must be a bloody show,” I told myself as I went back to bed.

While I Googled how soon labour can start after a bloody show, my contractions started. I had experienced Braxton Hicks before on my 34th week the morning of my baby shower but these ones felt different. I tried to go back to sleep as I monitored the contractions. 3 hours later and they didn’t let up.

I told the hubby around 1 PM what was going on and we measured how close together they were. They were close. I figured since I’d been feeling them from 5 AM that I was probably in early labour. I decided to ride through them and go to the hospital much later to get checked.

At 6 PM on the second day of Kenya’s Corona Quarantine/Curfew, we went to the hospital. I got checked and I was only 1cm dilated. 13 hours of riding it out and I only pulled 1 cm? That didn’t settle well for me. I decided to go back home and return the following morning since it looked like it’d be a while.

Back home, Dave and I ate dinner and caught up on episodes of The Blacklist. By the time we were in bed, the contractions got worse. I tried to ride them out but when the baby was moving and a contraction came on, it was unbearable! At 3 AM I was willing to walk back to the hospital because I couldn’t bear it. I got checked and was only 2-3cms dilated. I just about cried right there. All the same, I got admitted and was able to have relatively comfortable awake-sleep (that is to say that I was lying down and sleepy but not sleeping, but also more comfortable lying down during contractions).

Early the next morning, the nurse checked me and I was 4cms dilated. I was so done at this point. Like, why was it taking so long? Other ladies who had checked in earlier in the morning were dilating much quicker and some even gave birth 10 minutes after having their waters broken at 5cms dilated.

That’s when I lost it and quietly ugly cried. I was done. It was taking so long and the contractions were getting heavier. I was even madder because I had gotten my hands on the book Supernatural Childbirth in 2016 and had internalized it like it was Bible for years and did a refresher that same week. I wondered why I was in pain. Why weren’t my results like those in the book? I mean, I’d had a headstart and I’d prayed the prayers and some variation of them years before and through my pregnancy.

At some point, I couldn’t even sit down. I had to stand on my tiptoes when I felt a contraction coming. I got discouraged. When would this end? As I kept dilating, I had a conversation with God where I seriously considered a world where Dave and I were a family of 3 because I couldn’t imagine how I’d go through this all over again a second time around. That’s when I caught my line of thinking and stopped it.

In retrospect, it’s that moment that birthed the backbone of this post.

As you probably can tell, our baby is already here. She has been for almost 6 weeks now. And that was its own journey after everything I shared above. But this is how I redeemed the disappointment I faced while in labour and turned it right around. And you can too, long before you get to where I did.

1. You can go for Lamaze classes, you can prepare for labour and birth, you can envision the outcome you’d like before then, but only you can decide how you experience your experience during labour and birth and shortly after

Expectations can quickly become demands in the thick of the moment before we even realize it. Yes, you can read through Supernatural Childbirth or go through the best Lamaze classes and still have an other-than-what-you-expected experience.

I was so mad at God. I was like, “Had I not prepared for it? Prayed through it? Believed I’d experience supernatural pain-free childbirth during pregnancy and long before? Why am I experiencing what I didn’t pray for?” It felt like the enemy was bringing up familiar emotions and questions I had through my miscarriages. You know, that I had prayed, believed and hoped, yet my experience was other than that.

It was evident that after months of joy during pregnancy, the enemy was seeking to steal my joy, kill my trust in God for anything I pray for Him to do, and destroy my motherhood experience by hijacking it at a very crucial point — the entry.

I even asked myself, “Koki, do you really want to spend today and the early days of motherhood, maybe even longer, interrogating God for answers on why He didn’t come through like you expected Him to or do you just want to hold your baby?” I knew the answer to that. With the miscarriages I had experienced before, I learned that answers are not always given to us as quickly as we like, if at all. God doesn’t owe us answers. It’s no use dwelling on why instead of asking better questions like, “God, how can you help me now to redeem this experience/moment?” See that shift? It makes all the difference.

Which gets me to the next point.

2. You have to choose to be happy and hopeful no matter what

Many times when things don’t go as we hoped, we take the negativity route. The only problem is that this perspective colours everything else that may be going right and highlights only what is going wrong.

In my case, I was mad that I was slowly dilating and not realizing that I was dilating in the first place. It may have been slower than others in the maternity unit but baby was coming for sure.

I was angry that the process was taking too long that I didn’t hold on to the nurse’s words every time she checked me. “Baby is fine. Heartbeat is fine. Baby is descending quite well.” I was so focused on the results I wanted that I missed what was already given to me.

And since negativity only breeds negativity, you’ll only focus on and attract more negative thoughts amplifying your experience to a much more negative one than it really is.

You have to fight to count the good things during the hard because they’re there. They always are. All we need to do is quiet the noise to see them.

3. How you enter into motherhood matters because how you experience your experience can shape your view of yourself as a mother or motherhood long term

This was the epiphany I had when I was giving up. I asked myself, “Why are you making decisions about the next baby when you haven’t even had this baby?”

The vows and decisions you are making in your heart right now (no worse timing if you’re stuck in a negative spiral) will affect your future and you might not want that. You’re not in the right mind to decide that right now unless you’ll be open to change your mind later on.

4. Letting the middle part of something determine how you see the whole picture (pregnancy, birth, and motherhood) is unkind to yourself

A review is done once something is completed, not during when everything is not fully determined or established.

I realized at that crucial point that I hadn’t even given birth yet, but with where my heart and mind was during labour, I had already deemed my experience negative and didn’t strongly believe much else would be different with the birth of the baby.

And that’s when I called myself for an emergency conference call. Now, I don’t know exactly how and why mothers go through postpartum depression, and I’m no expert here, but I saw myself heading there if I didn’t catch myself when I did. I was drowning in disappointment and feelings of failure and powerlessness during labour and without realizing it, I was letting it colour how I perceived myself as a mother.

But I changed my line of thinking, hard as it was, and focused on getting to hold my baby.

My birth experience was much better. Still scary, coz how in the world did I push our 3kg girl right through me? Women are MVPs let me tell you! It was different from anything I ever watched, read or heard from other’s experiences, but the nurses and midwives at the hospital did a stellar job. Birth took less than 7 minutes mostly because the midwives helped a tonne. I had minimal external tears and baby was healthy.

Well, actually, baby was doing good in my womb until I went on an emotional trip like I shared. When the nurses checked me, she had pooped in me, so when I was 8 cm and baby was putting pressure on my cervix with her descent, they rushed me to the delivery unit and helped me birth her quickly. They intervened in the nick of time and baby was born. Right there and then, the pain of 31 hours of labour and delivery just vanished like every mother who’s gone before says. And every negative thought I had before vanished with them.

And let me tell you, the moment I first heard her cry and when they brought her to my face to see her, that was the most beautiful moment. I could swear there’s no beautiful sound like her cry. I love it to this day (and it fills up my boobs with milk any time she makes a sound or cries). After I saw her and heard her cry, I started crying too. It was so natural. A tearful hallelujah and thank you to God. It stunned the nurses but I told them I was so happy. And I was. So baby and I kept crying as she was getting cleaned and I was getting stitched. But we were both born that day. Our journies were similar. We hadn’t had the best start (I was depressed the first three and a half months of pregnancy and the first part of labour was long and gruelling) but we made it to the other side with running-over joy.

And this sense of perspective has helped us during this Quarantine/Curfew period as it’s just the hubby and I (plus baby) in the house. No help and a new kiddo is a crash course in marriage and parenthood. But our hearts have been full and running over ever since she came into our lives.

I really felt strongly in my heart to share this. It’s important to decide and determine how we experience our experiences. We’ll be so much better for it. So even if your entry into motherhood wrecked you with actual physical pain and disappointment, please know that it doesn’t have to remain that way. Anything we go through is not meant to end in ashes. Your difficult labour and postpartum journey are redeemable. They really are.

So if you know a mama that’s about to give birth and think they might find this article helpful, please send it to them.

All the xos,

  • Reply
    Susan
    May 7, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    Awesome article, thankyou! I am about to give birth and this perspective really helps. Thanks again.

    • Reply
      Koki
      May 10, 2020 at 11:02 pm

      So good to hear this Susan ❤️

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