Lisa's note: I recently received an updated birth story from Mama Laila to share with you all, soon after Ayan's 1st birthday. For those reading this at the time of posting, Happy New Year!!!
We welcomed Ayan to the world on 12/08/16. He entered the world at 8lbs and 21 inches, and I had a natural, medication-less birth at Lenox Hill Hospital.
Four days before my due date, at 6pm, my doctor told me the baby was low (engaged), but I was not dilated at all, so I would probably be a bit late. At 7pm, I had dinner with my doula and best friend, Anna. (I also had dinner with her the night before I found out I was pregnant - a lovely bookend to my birth story. Our bond is probably a bit different than the regular doula/pregnant woman relationship). At 1 am, after waking up to pee, I was trying to go back to sleep by practicing imagery I hoped to use during contractions - water rushing in and out of a cave leaving it slightly more open each time. As I was meditating, as if by magic, my waters broke. First a little, then a big gush...I thought maybe I peed again (it happens when you are that pregnant), but by the time I got to the bathroom, it was very clear that it the baby was coming. I was shocked.
I woke Alex, but thought I had lots of time (my friend Nicky’s birth took 60 hours!), so urged him to go back to sleep. I texted Anna, who also suggested that we rest. Within an hour contractions were coming every 4 or 5 mins. We started to pack final things up, and my body started to expel everything - I even threw up twice. At 3am, my mom came into my room to see what all the commotion was about - everyone was surprised because the doctor has just said I was probably going to be late. By 5am, Anna had arrived (my mom was so thankful because she took charge and told everyone what to do), contractions were coming every 2 minutes and I needed Alex pushing on my back (thanks for showing us how, Lisa) and my Anna breathing with me. I got on my knees, constantly moving my hips (like the belly dancing video), and asking people to distract me with stories.
By 6 am-ish, we were at the hospital. I had 6 contractions in the car, 2 contractions while walking to the birthing unit, and 3 contractions waiting for them to get me into triage (it was a busy night). Great news - I was 7cm!!! This reinforced my decision not to request an epidural. (I only found out after that 90% of mothers get an epidural - thank goodness I didn't know that before). Later also realized that most women were arriving at the hospital waaaaaayyy before they were even in labor!
Helpful hint - have your husband or doula attend your last few regular check ins with your doctor. My doula attended my last doc's appointment with me. This was SUPER helpful because she could answer most of the questions in triage - for instance my weight, blood pressure, etc, etc! (Obviously, I wasn't able to answer during contractions - nurses were kind about waiting, but Anna just took care of the questions for me).
Anyways, in the birthing room, my doula, sister, and Alex were all hands, helping me through each contraction. (Hilariously, Zoya had put her phone on silent, so she didn’t make it to the hospital until early morning). It was hard and painful, but also fabulous. We were on team, and I couldn't have done it without them. I got SUPER tired, and only had 2 mins to rest between contractions... I was resting on my side or sitting, but getting on my knees for the contraction. At 9am, I told Anna that I was scared of transition (the doctor on call didn't even know what that was!!), and she helped me see that I needed to go through it with an open mind in order to get to pushing. (As it turns out, I don’t think transition was any different for me - I might have even already gone through it without knowing). By 9:50 am, I was ready to push!
Helpful hint: pushing is VERY different from breathing through a contraction.
Thank God the nurse was able to talk me through it... when contracting, you can use your breaths to release the pain. When pushing, you have to channel everything you have (and I mean every last ounce of breath, energy, and faith) DOWN into the pushing. I felt like I had to learn how to do it right then and there, and asked for a lot of feedback from the nurse ("How did I do this time? Did that work?") I was on my back, with Alex and my sister, Zoya, pushing each leg, and Anna helping me breath and push. Everyone got so excited when they could see the head... my sister got SO excited and Alex was teary-eyed.
The best part of the birth is when the baby finally slides out. After the head, the rest of the baby just gushes out. Everyone was yelling, do you see him? Can you see him? (I couldn’t! It all happened so fast). The doctor handed the baby to me, and I think he was crying. Then he calmed own and just looked wide-eyed at everyone, including me. It was amazing.
We're home safe and sound - celebrating poopy diapers, rare glimpses at Ayan's deep blue eyes, and resting whenever we can.