Dear Aisha our firstborn,
February 8th, 2018 is one of the most memorable days for Mama, Papa, your Grandparents, and those who love you. This date will be celebrated as your birthday later in the future. You will receive congratulatory messages from your friends, a celebratory family dinner, and sometimes a surprise party.
Mama hopes that at least one-day per year on this specific date, you will recall that you are such a blessing to us. Our life with you started since we discovered your small fetus inside Mama’s uterus and brighter life of ours started when you safely arrived in this world. Praise be to Allah.
This blog post is Mama’s diary to remember the day you chose to be born in this world — Mama and Papa had been so excited (and nervous) when we were waiting for this day.
Thank you for coming to our life, Aisha. We love you.
… one and a half day before
I rushed to the airport because my parent’s flight arrived earlier than its scheduled hour.
“Wait for me in front of Starbucks near the exit door, please.” I sent a message to my dad (whom I called Bapak) but got no reply. So I speed up my walk and it was hard because of my XL-size bump. As soon as I reached the arrival gate, they were there already. Both with teary eyes, especially Mama. She hugged me immediately and said hi to my baby bump, “Yangti — Javanese term for Grandma — knows you will wait for me, Aisha.”
Last picture of mine with my (huge) baby bump
The next day, I found a blood-tinged mucous discharge on my pant. I thought to myself, “the day is almost there. Aisha is coming soon. Real soon.” I texted my best friends through WhatsApp group and they advised me to wait because the mucous discharge was still an early sign, not yet the urgent one to come to the hospital. On the other hand, I preferred to take my parents around rather than going to the hospital for checking my dilatation, haha. I brought them to a nearby dock — approx. 1.5 km from my apartment — at around 10 AM. We rested after an hour of walking then we headed to Belem by bus to meet Prof. Wahyu, a colleague of mine from UMM.
Around 6PM-ish, I felt incredibly tired so I decided to sleep early. I woke up at 11PM-ish to go to the toilet, but couldn’t sleep after because of a backache. I scrolled on my Instagram feed in order to distract my mind from this uncomfortable backache.
Thursday, February 8th, 2018 at 01.00 WET
A pain crept from my back hip to the front. It lasted for a minute then it’s gone, I took a deep breath for a moment, then it came again. After a few minutes of this continuous pain, I woke my husband up asking for a massage. The massage didn’t help at all, so my husband suspected that the day had come already: our baby girl was about to come!
I had been asking my fetus to be born after my parents’ arrival in Lisbon. I wanted them to be here physically because this was my first experience of labor. I was sure if I was mentally prepared to deliver my baby when I hugged them at the airport that moment. But when the time finally arrived… I couldn’t really think clearly. The pain was so excruciating.
My water broke! It felt like a huge balloon pooped inside my body. The ambulance, that my husband called, arrived shortly afterward. Two officers — one male and one female — came inside my room. The female officer checked my dilatation while asking her colleague to count my contraction period. After they were sure that I was nearly giving birth, they took me to the hospital. I was alone at that moment because….my mom wasn’t allowed to accompany me, and when she wanted to enter my apartment, the door was locked from inside and my dad couldn’t open it. As a result, my husband couldn’t accompany me to the hospital.
I remember it was so cold inside the ambulance, I had my regular contraction, and the female officer held my hand while she reminded me to breathe deeply.
I arrived at the hospital when I was 6-7cm dilated. The midwife said, “Why do you come at this moment? You are late.” Ahaha, how would I know if I am already halfway to labor?
I was rushed to the labor room. After she changed my clothes, she asked me if I wanted to use epidural. In between pains, I was in doubt: I heard someone said the epidural injection was awful and she still felt the pain until now, but on the other side, another friend recommended the epidural and she ensured me if an epidural is commonly used in Portugal.
“Yes, I would take the epidural,” I said.
“OK, we’ll wait for the Anaesthetists,” said the midwife while she tidied my clothes. She then infused a kind of liquid into my aorta.
It took a long time until the Anaesthetists came. I didn’t know how far my dilatation was at that moment. What I could remember was: I was alone in the cold labor room and the contraction pain was getting more and more painful, haha. I tried to relax, pray, and focus my mind on my breath.
Before the epidural was injected, I need to sign an informed consent. A midwife held my body in a position so that the Anaesthetists could perform the injection. Honestly, the contraction was more painful than an epidural injection.
My husband came an hour after. I asked him to record my voice and sent it to my mom who waited outside. I imagined her going through this stage four times when she gave birth to my siblings & I. I really wanted to hug her and apologized to her at that moment.
(Maybe) Around 8AM-ish
“I think the epidural didn’t work. I feel my contraction and it is getting stronger. Please call the midwife,” I told my husband.
A midwife, namely Fatima, came within few minutes, she checked my dilatation, then she went out of the room to call her colleagues and the OB/GYN. “You are fully dilated,” she told me.
“When you feel a contraction, tell me. Then, you need to take a deep breathe and push,” she advised me.
The first contraction, I pushed but it didn’t work. My husband was holding my hand beside me.
“Push calmly but strong. Don’t press your chin to your chest. Imagine you want to poop.”
After several failed tries, she then said, “I need to perform another method.” She then cut my perineum.
Another contraction, I pushed. I remembered the OB/GYN said that a part of Aisha’s body was stuck inside so she had to push my belly from above. Her push wasn’t that strong so a midwife took over.
… Another push and …
9.02 AM WET
Aisha was brought into my chest. It happened so fast and kinda blurry. I meant like, between pushing, breathing, pushing again, and suddenly a loud cry of Aisha. “Look at your placenta, Nabila,” Fatima said to me half-jokingly after she took my placenta out. All I care about that time was… OMG! THERE WAS A BABY, WAIT, MY BABY WAS ON MY CHEST!!!
My husband and I were overwhelmed. Tears came down. Praise be to Allah.
Mama’s favorite tiny fingers
Fatima advised me to initiate the first breastfeeding to Aisha, “Take it slow. Your baby is learning how to latch on your nipple. You both are learning… and adapting.” So there Aisha was for about an hour. I couldn’t believe that I finally held those tiny fingers of Aisha, our newborn who used to communicate with us with her kicks from inside my womb. She was here — in this world, in our life!
I had to stay in the hospital for three days and two nights together with Aisha but without my husband. Aisha was put in a crib next to my bed. For me, labor recovery and transition into motherhood are other stories, processes, and struggles (together with my husband).
Although both my husband & I are now lack of sleep, juggling with poo, pee, and diapers, not to mention, spilled breastmilk on my dress ( everyday!) while trying to balance between work and baby; we are now happier than ever. Praise be to Allah.