I have a confession to make. I am a sucker for birth stories. It started with my own pregnancy. I would watch tons of birth videos every day and would never get irked or grossed out by anything. I enjoyed them so much that I decided to record my own birthing experience. I find childbirth absolutely fascinating. A human’s stomach just feels like a small confined space. So the biology that is involved in how another human can live and thrive in that small confined space for up to 42 weeks is beyond interesting. They live, eat and breath in a small sack full of water.
Come on people! I can’t be the only person that thinks so.
So I was happy when I was able to put together footage of my own birthing experience and put in on Youtube. A lot of people thought I was crazy for doing that, but we are 42 000 views in, and going strong. The comments are heartwarming. So many expecting mothers have been empowered by my birthing experience, and that alone means the world to me.
So, back to my obsession.
My longtime friend, Nthabi, recently shared her birthing experience of her second child with me. Hectic does not even begin to describe her experience.
Her second pregnancy, compared to her first, was planned. So she and her partner had all their ducks in a row this time around. So you would expect everything to go right, right?
Well, no. This has a lot to do with how we always have to plan for the unexpected, and how every birth is different.
Rather than her first pregnancy, she hated being pregnant this time around. She never had struggles with morning sickness and other pregnancy-related illnesses, but she had terrible mood swings. They were so bad that she hated being around her partner. She became so intolerable that she had to go sleep in the guest bedroom at 6 months pregnant. Everything about her partner would annoy her. So, for the sake of their relationship, and that poor man’s sanity, someone had to move. She volunteered.
Her expected delivery dates changed at every prenatal visit. It moved from the 6th of June 2019 to the 11th of June then the 16th of June.
On the 6th of June, Nthabi went into a nursing mode. So many people put their best foot forward when preparing a Sunday meal. We call it “7 colors”. This girl suddenly had the urge to prepare a Sunday meal on a Tuesday. She did not think much of it.
At around 6:00 pm that evening, her neighbours decided to come for a visit. They were pulled by the amazing smell of the meal she had prepared. An hour and a half later, the couple left her place and she decided to run a bath for her son. She finished his bath at 7:50 pm and suddenly felt period like pains. 10 minutes after these started, she experienced some back pain. She then concluded that she was experiencing contractions. She started timing them and they were five minutes apart.
She went to notify her partner that they are having a baby today.
Here is where the story goes sideways.
Her partner encouraged her to go to the hospital right away, but she was convinced that she was in the early stages of labor. This confidence was based on it not being her first rodeo. Remember, she was having consistent labor pains every 5 minutes. Her stubbornness won so she decided to progress further at home.
The baby’s bag was already packed, but she had not yet packed hers, so she decided to do this while she progressed.
Nthabi continued to ignore the consistency of her contractions, which were now at around 3 minutes apart at 8:30 PM. She was in a lot of pain at this point.
She quickly went into the kitchen to fetch some food, and her pains became worse. She told her husband to get ready to go. As her husband was going to fetch the bags, she felt a sudden urge to pass stool. That’s when it hit her! The sh*t is about to hit the fan. She slowly walked to her son’s bedroom, and her water broke as she walked into the room. Her level of panic was nothing compared to her husband’s.
The husband was urging her to leave for the hospital, and she immediately took her underwear off and said she can feel the baby’s head crowning. In absolute panic, her husband ran out to go call the neighbors that indulged in the 7 colors earlier.
That poor woman arrived and had no idea what to do. She is not a nurse and has never assisted anyone to give birth before. She went to join the husband in the other room to make some calls. All this while, Nthabi is left in the room by herself. She fought so hard not to push but this is what her body was telling her to do. She was laying on the bed at this point.
She experienced one big contraction, and without being able to control it, she pushed once, and the baby was born. This was a little after 9:00 PM. The baby lay quietly on the bed, but after a minute or so, she started crying. She was relieved when she heard that cry, rightly so. Her husband came into the room and was shocked to see that his wife had given birth.
The neighbor wrapped the baby up with some blankets. 20 minutes later, an older more experienced woman in the neighborhood came and helped them cut the baby’s cord. She also helped her push out the placenta.
She started bleeding out and feeling quite weak, so they made her some soft porridge to drink while they waited for the ambulance. The ambulance arrived 2 hours after the birth. She passed out as they wheeled her into the ambulance on a stretcher and she arrived at the hospital at around 11:40 PM.
Both she and the baby got checked, and they were both well, except for the baby having a low birth weight of 2.4 kg. She was not full term yet at this time.
Turns out, Nthabi already started feeling mild contractions during dinner but did not tell anyone.
Her lesson from this: If you are not a qualified healthcare professional with maternity experience, never think you are an expert because you have done it before.
Every birth is unique and even if you are on your 5th child, you never know if your next birth will be 24 or 2 hours. Always contact your Dr at the realization that you are in labor. They are part of our birthing journeys for a reason.
If not, you will end up being your own gynecologist, midwife, and doula, like Nthabi was. She is an absolute champ though, and both her and the baby are doing very well.
Karabo Motsiri is a first-time mom, over-sharer, lover of life, chronic napper and married to her best friend. She loves a good party because the dance floor is her happy place. She enjoys good food, good conversations, laughs a little too hard, and cries during every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. She started her blogging journey because she wanted to share all the ups and downs of being a young modern mama in South Africa. Her blog Black Mom Chronicles has been featured on Ayana Magazine & SA Mom Blog. She has enjoyed airtime on Power FM and frequently writes for the parenting section of Saturday Citizen She also works with MamaMagic on their Product Awards, Milestones Magazine, Heart to Heart blog, and the Baby Expo, which is South Africa’s biggest parenting expo.