As Mother’s Day is coming up, both Lisa and I decided it was time to tell our birth stories. Both very different experiences but the same outcome, two healthy boys. I do not know about you but I love reading other mums tales of bringing their children into the world. I can sit and read these stories for hours on end (when I have time), mostly shedding more than one tear. Birth is magical and I love the magic.
Elijah Micah was very planned. Darrell and I had been trying for quite some time, with quite a bit of loss and quite a lot of heartache, when our miracle, rainbow baby was conceived. I could not quite believe I was going to have a baby even though up until 13 weeks I had weekly scans, starting with week 5. I was madly anxious and paranoid and am so grateful to the medical team I had looking after me who would answer their phone anytime to me to try and calm me down. I would cry and beg to my FET specialist to prescribe something for my anxiety but he refused every time and persuaded me that not medicating myself was best for baby. I am so glad I listened to him as it is only 9 months of your life and I had such a sense of accomplishment that I had not taken anything.
I was mildly nauseous for my whole pregnancy. The type of nausea where you just want to constantly eat white, refined carbs(ta ta Banting, nice to know you) as that is the only thing that settles your tummy. Hence I put on 7kgs in the first 3 months! But only 9 in total in my whole pregnancy. Being the very paranoid person that I am, plus living in a tiny village nearly an hour away from the hospital I was going to give birth at, I would take myself down weekly to the local clinic at the pharmacy in town for a little check up.
At 34 weeks pregnant, a Friday, I took myself down to Sister Kotze so she could do my weekly tests. I have always had slightly low blood pressure. She took my blood pressure and her eyes got a little bit wide and she said she thinks I should just slowly lie back on the bed. She asked me to phone my gynecologist who told me to go straight to hospital and he would book me in over the phone.
Off to Paarl Medi Clinic we go. Darrell was still away finishing his winter season of aerial firefighting up north in Stutterheim, over 1000 km away with the closest airport a few hours away. Eunice, my mother in law, had offered to come down to South Africa from their missionary work in Tanzania to help with the new arrival which we had eagerly accepted and asked if she would possibly come a few weeks earlier as I would be all alone in Tulbagh and nearly an hour from the hospital. I am so grateful that she said yes and was therefore on hand to drive me to the hospital and keep our home running in my absence. We arrived at the hospital and I was whisked away to a bed and all sorts of tests started. The baby’s heart rate was fine but after a 24 hr urine test I was found to have pre-eclampsia. I am really not sure why it was such a shock to me as my fingers, toes, face and even my nose was so swollen. My amazing gynecologist Dr Andre Van Rooyen would sometimes come check on me three times a day and had told me that they would keep me in hospital until they performed a Caesar me at 37 weeks pregnant. My eyes were really opened to how dedicated the medical profession is. It really must be a true calling to be a doctor as they sacrifice so much time away from their own families for the sake of others. Dr Van Rooyen told me that if he had to Caesar me earlier it would not be an emergency and Darrell would have enough time to get to me in hospital as his work would not let him off.
So started two weeks of bed rest, four hourly monitoring of the baby and countless blood tests etc. I was on blood pressure medication but my blood pressure was all over the place, very high one minute and low the next. At 36 weeks after being in hospital for two weeks Darrell got the good news that the clients wife in Stutterheim had intervened and demanded that Darrell be allowed home to his wife. I was so excited as he called me to say he was leaving at 5 am the next morning to come home. At my 10 pm monitoring of baby’s heart rate the sisters face looked a bit concerned and she rushed off muttering she was going to call another sister, who came in and brightly told me she was going to phone my doctor. Obviously I was hysterical. I did not want to phone Darrell as he needed to be well rested for his long journey home the next day. I was monitored every two hours that night ending when Dr Van Rooyen arrived very early the next morning. He apologized to me and said he knows he promised he would not do this to me but they were going to caesar me in two hours time as the baby had gone into distress. By this stage Darrell was on the road, some 10 hours away still. I phoned him to relay the news and asked him to please not panic and speed as there was absolutely no chance that he would make it and that we would see him in due course. WE! It had just hit me that I was about to give birth. I was so nervous as Elijah was in distress and I was not really sure what that would entail. Darrell phoned his mum who rushed through to be with me and I phoned my sister Linda. I asked her not to tell anyone as I was so very scared and not thinking straight. She jumped into her car and raced through to Paarl from Cape Town.
The nurses came in to prep me for surgery and when they were gone I remember going into the bathroom and dropping to me knees, praying harder than ever before to God to keep this precious miracle baby safe. I was then wheeled into the recovery room to wait while they readied the theater for us. Most of what happened next is a blur. I was put on the operating table, the anesthetist asked me to curl my spine away from him while I was sitting on the edge of the bed so he could perform the spinal block. My years of doing yoga really paid off as I did not feel a thing from the needle that I had heard so many horror stories about. As I was lying down Linda came flying into the theater dressed in her hospital scrubs, ready to be with me. A few cuts later, one big big cry, tears of relief and our beautiful Elijah Micah Rea was born. Perfect. So healthy and strong. He latched immediately and hence started a new love affair. From that moment he was by my side and still is. Doing life together. His Daddy got to meet him later that afternoon. I have never seen a bigger smile on Darrell’s face, as tired as he was after driving all that way, than when he got to hold his son for the first time.
We would love to hear your birth stories too! If you would like to share yours, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org along with a photograph.