I got quite a few messages of people asking me to share my birth story. So, here it is.
To begin with, I should tell you that it was not the calm and natural birth experience I was hoping for. At least not 100%. But this doesn’t mean it was not a positive experience. It certainly was. I should also tell you that I’ve rarely been so disappointed but, at the same time, so proud of myself. And finally, I should tell all pregnant women reading this post the exact same thing that my doula and HypnoBirthing teacher told me during my pregnancy: listen to as few birth stories of other women as you can. Yours will be different, anyway. Focus on writing your own ideal birth story, on how you want it to be, on what is important for you.
I think that’s all you need to know before reading my birth story 😉
So, here you go:
I always thought that Miss M would arrive early. Simply because, I was honestly not resting a lot. Or rather at all. I was constantly running around during my pregnancy, carrying and chasing Luca. I was up late at night and again early in the morning.
Nevertheless, my due date approached… came and… passed by.
I wish there wasn’t anything like a due date really. Maybe a “due week”, a time frame when the baby is supposed to arrive. But certainly not a date. One day. 24h! Cause even though it is an “expected” due date that is obviously not set in stone, you kind of have it in mind all the time. And worse: your family has. And your friends. And basically everybody you have told about it.
So, my due date passed by. I had no idea how hard it could be to actually see it go by! And it got harder every day. To miss someone before even knowing her. To wait for a stranger that you already love so much. To worry for a tiny human being that is part of you and yet so far away… Cause, yes, you worry. As a mum, you worry for your kids even before they are born.
I started to wonder if I had not told our little daughter often enough how much I loved her during the last months. Maybe I was too busy preparing Luca for her arrival. Too busy preparing her room and writing about her every week. Too busy learning how to breathe and relax. Maybe I was too busy to actually take the time to sit down and talk to her…
Why didn’t she want to come?
Some days after the due date, Dr. Anni suggested a membrane sweep – which I refused. One week after the due date however I started to get restless. My doula suggested acupuncture. This felt more natural and less intrusive to me. I can only recommend Martine Nates at the Koster Clinic. She is very calm and professional. I went to see her twice but, even though contractions started during the night, they stopped again. Miss M just wasn’t ready.
10 days after the due date Dr Anni suggested once again to do the membrane sweep – and this time, I went for it. And OMG, did this hurt. I remember thinking how can I even plan to have a natural birth without pain relief if I can hardly stand the pain caused by the membrane sweep. Plus, nothing happened. Nothing at all. Nada. We made another appointment for a second membrane sweep the next day.
I went to bed that night hoping that contractions would start just to avoid the second membrane sweep (pregnancy logic really haha)… The next morning, there was still nothing. My husband decided to work from home regardless. What a wise man he is from time to time 😉
At around lunchtime I started to feel something that I thought might be contractions. I wasn’t sure though. I was joking with our nanny about how I could just “dance through them” while preparing Luca’s lunch and nursery bag. During lunch, the contractions were getting stronger and I actually had to “dance” while giving little L his lunch (don’t laugh at me – the dancing really helped!). When Luca and our nanny went to the nursery I started to time the contractions and remember sending a message to my doula saying “I would say the contractions are coming roughly every 5-6 min. Is that possible??”. I also remember her responding “It’s highly unlikely but yes, possible”. Well. It was possible. They came every 5 minutes – for the next 8-9 hours or so, until Maëva was born…
Only half an hour later the contractions were so strong that I actually called Dr Anni who told me to come over – and not for a second sweep but for a CTG. She sent me directly to the hospital. At that moment, I was so thankful for a) living close to my doctor’s cabinet and b) having chosen to deliver in Al Zahra and not in Healthcare City. The way back from Dr. Anni to our apartment (to get my hospital bag, which we had thankfully packed before) and then the car ride to Al Zahra just seemed endless. Plus, it was one of the busiest times on Sheikh Zayed Road!
My doula was already at the hospital, waiting for us. It was so good to see her! I didn’t talk much during the whole labor but it was good to have someone by your side that you know and appreciate (other than my husband of course, who was truly amazing).
Once in the birthing room (we didn’t get the Hypnobirthing Room at Al Zahra though as I was a VBAC, which I found very annoying at that moment – I even took the time to try to convince the midwife – despite contractions!), my husband made sure everything was prepared as we wanted it to be: dark room, silence (we put a “Hypnobirthing in progress” sign on the door) and so on. Unfortunately, Miss M’s heartbeat needed to be monitored from the beginning – and then constantly for the next 6 or 7 hours… meaning that I was not able to use the birthing pool at all, which was a disappointment. I was really counting on the water to help me relax. Especially because I didn’t want any kind of pain relief.
At the beginning, I had problems dealing with the contractions. They were very painful right from the start – and really close! After some time I felt very sick from the pain. I didn’t think I would be able to do it anymore. There were many moments when I thought I would just abandon now. Funnily, I never thought of getting an epidural. It was just the feeling that I wanted to remove the CTG and tell everyone “Ok, people, that’s it. I’m done here”.
And then, something amazing happened: my doula kept on reminding me to focus on my breathing. And, at one point, it “clicked”. It started to work. I focused on the breathing as soon as a contraction was coming. It still hurt and I remember asking my doula “are we nearly there” more and more frequently towards the end, like a child in the car who is impatient to arrive at the destination. But the breathing helped me deal with it. It gave me something stable and reassuring to focus on. I didn’t need any pain relief whatsoever. No TENS machine, no gas (which would probably have made me even more sick) or epidural. And this is what I am really proud of.
When I was nearly there (I was already 9cm dilated and prepared for Miss M to arrive), our little princess’ heartbeat dropped. Dr. Anni (who was truly amazing!! I can only recommend her! She was close to me for a good part of the labor and such a huge help!) told us that she needed to leave the room to get changed and we thought that she would get ready for Maëva to arrive. But when she came back she switched on the light and told me that we needed to go to the theatre as quickly as possible for an emergency C-section.
Would I have not been able to focus on the breathing the Hypnobirthing taught me for the last hours, would I have not been strong enough to refuse any kind of pain relief, would I have not been assured that I did everything possible to have the natural labor I was hoping for… I guess, this would have been a disaster for me. But it wasn’t. It was a disappointment. It was hard (I was actually sick again during the C-section, which is not a nice experience). I felt like crying. But I did not. I only focused on Maëva at that point. I only wanted her to be safe and healthy.
I remember having been terrified by the fact that they could start cutting before the anesthesia would kick in (which is of course complete nonsense but there was such a rush to get Miss M out!) and I remember that I didn’t want to open my eyes on the way to the theatre and during the whole process until I heard Maëva’s voice.
That was it.
Once I heard her voice, once I was holding her in my arms and she was immediately starting to feed, everything suddenly was forgotten. The pain. The vomiting. The effort needed to remain strong. The breathing that helped me continue and stay focused. The constant beeping of the CTG. Dr Anni’s voice announcing the need for a C-section. The disappointment. The tears. It all belonged to the past. It didn’t matter anymore. Cause she was here, laying on my chest. Feeding as if she had done this all her life.
It was not the perfect labor, nor the perfect birth story I had imagined in my mind. But that didn’t count. What counted was that she was here. And she was perfect. If I had to do it all over again tomorrow, I would. I would do exactly the same.
I feel so thankful towards my husband, my doula, my HypnoBirthing teacher and Dr. Anni for having been the greatest support to me and for having allowed me to live a unique experience. It was one of the strongest experiences of my life. It will always be. And this will always be a strong bond between Maëva and me. It was a battle we won. Together. As a team. One of the numerous battles we will need to fight in the next years.
It made me grow.
And this is what children do.
They make you grow. Every day.
Hi there! I’m Tani De Gregorio. The one behind this little blog. ‘Our big Dubai adventure’ started about three years ago when I quit my job in a multinational in Switzerland to follow my husband to sunny Dubai where we are living now with our two little munchkins, Luca (3) and Maëva (nearly 2).
This blog is not about the glamorous life of an expat wife. There’s just too many baby wipes and too few high heels in my life for that.
Instead, it’s about our daily adventures in the sandpit. About motherhood away from home. It’s about the kids. About fun things for them to do. Things you might not have heard of otherwise. It’s about workshops. And cool places to explore. In this amazing city we call home. At least for a little while…