Fatima – two different births

Amna and Ayesha

When I became pregnant for the first time I was really shocked.  We had only been married a few months and I had it in my head that babies would take a little longer to come along so we could have some time together first.  I had every pregnancy side effect – I was sick the whole time, I developed itchy skin, gestational diabetes, I did not ‘glow,’ I did not enjoy it. 
The week Ayesha was due I began to have quite strong Braxton Hicks contractions (these are caused by the womb doing practise contractions to prepare itself for birth).  The first time we headed straight to the hospital as they were so painful.  My family were not even in the same country as us so could not be there for the birth and as this was the first grandchild for my parents in law I said that my husbands mother could be there but he was not to call her until I was in labour.  Being the good son that he is he let her know that we were on the way to the hospital and so she got a plane and came straight away! That week was hard – I was now overdue and we tried everything to get this baby out.  I remember my mother in law kept making me walk and trying to keep me active to help get this baby out!
Eventually 9 days after her due date we went to the hospital and they agreed to induce me.  It was hard! It was painful. The contractions just never seemed to end.  My mother in law suggested that I walk so up and down the corridors I went to try and control the pain, to try and get this baby out. After ten hours I had had enough.  I asked the doctor for a caesarean section.  When she checked me – after all that time and energy I was only two centimetres dilated! I remember the relief of the epidural and how fantastic it felt to have no more pain but then they discovered that she was going into distress, they had broken my waters to try and speed me up and it was yellow plus her heart rate was dropping and I was whizzed in straight away for the operation. 
It was so hard going through that on my own as my husband was not allowed in the room with me.  They showed her to me very quickly and she then had to go to the special care unit as she had breathed in some fluid.  For the first three days the only time I saw her was for feeding.  We never got any quiet time, any bonding time and I really struggled with that – it made me feel a complete failure.  I had not managed to birth my baby, I was weak as I could not cope with the pain – these were all things that I thought people were saying about me. I could not tell anyone as my husbands family came to celebrate with us in the hospital and there were so many people around us all the time. I just did not have a moments peace to process everything that had happened.
We came home from hospital and everyone had to leave. When I needed the help the most!  For family reasons my mum could not come to me and my sister lives in England so I was left alone in Pakistan with no one. So I thought that I would then be a great mum, birth was not going to change me! I washed, cooked, cleaned, took care of the baby. I did not take care of myself. I stopped eating as I hated the sight of my recovering body (the lovely dress I had chosen to wear when I left hospital did not fit over my still large belly – no one had told me how long that would take to disappear, I thought it went straight away!) I developed an infection in the scar and felt really ill.  I was really low – I truly believed that if I walked away no one would miss me.  I sat on our balcony one night and tried to work out what to do when I heard Ayesha crying and knew I could not leave her.  
Her first year was really hard.   I did not go to any family events (and Pakistani families are large so there were so many I missed) None of my friends had babies so I made excuses not to go out with them, I didn’t know anyone with a child and everyone I met who had one seemed to be coping so much better then me.  It was the loneliest time.
And then her first birthday and it was lovely.  Everyone was so pleased for us, for our family and I realised that it was ok – we were going to be fine.  No one cared about how Ayesha came into this world.  They only knew that she made it a better place by being here.  I realised I needed to open my doors and let people in.
When I had my second daughter Amna we were living in Dubai.  My husband was working in Saudi and I was living with my mum.  I had already decided to try for a natural delivery (VBAC – vaginal birth after caesarean) and no one believed that I could do it.  I started to get labour pains and, at first, thought they were Braxton Hicks again but once we started timing them we realised I was in labour.  That was at 8am and by 10pm I was ready to go to the hospital.  I instructed my mum not tell anyone! Not my husband, not the family, not my friends, no one! I wanted complete control – if I ended up with another c-section that would be ok but I wanted to make that decision.  However I didn’t need one – my doctor kept threatening me with one but I think she was using reverse psychology on me, using my intense desire to not have one to get me to push! And I did! And out she came about twelve hours after I got to hospital and I was having cuddles with my daughter and it was amazing! I felt so in control, so happy, so proud of myself. My husband was so surprised – he got on the plane and arrived that night and we were a complete family.
I breastfed both my girls for two years and they have given me so much strength.  They have motivated me and kept me going when I did not think I could get up.  They have taught me the greatest lessons and I am so thankful that I have them.