On the 2nd of September 2015, was my fourth time in the labor ward. No, I don’t have four children of my own, not yet, maybe someday, by the Grace of God. Twice, I have been there on other people’s account. One thing that has always brought joy and a tear to my face on all the four occasions is the first cry of a new born child. Doctors will tell you that a baby must cry when they land in this world. I guess it is a magical cry born of this fact, but it is a moment out of this world. That is not the intent of this article.
Being in that labor ward reminded me of my own moments. After a preterm labor at 35 weeks scare and a highly monitored delicate 4-week bed rest, I was finally induced at week 39. I remember my doctor’s talk before the induction process. He told me that there was 50% chance I would end up in a theatre. He told me to expect pain, and being induced the scale of pain goes up, say in a scale of one to ten, from 4 to 8. He told me to cooperate with the hospital staff. And the scary part, he told me in active labor, the cervix opens at the rate of 1cm every 1.5 hours, you can extrapolate how long that is going to be. I can recall the first quarter of Misoprostol tablet being inserted at 11am, then the next being put under my tongue at 5Pm. Then the cramps beginning, the water breaking, being rushed from the ward to the labor ward, the puking all through my labor (I must confess it helped with coping with the pain though), the periodic excruciating moments and the in-betweens where I could doze off (unimaginable-right), the helpful nurses who kept rubbing my back. Then walking into the delivery room, and the nurses urging me to push, and then he was out. Then they held him and asked me, “boy or girl?” and in my daze I answer, boy. He did not cry, so he was slapped a bit. Then he did. A small voice, but a cry alright. And everything was alright, we had pulled through. God had made the moment count. They cleaned him up, and brought him to me and the first words I ever said to him, God bless you my boy, and I put a sign of the cross on his forehead with my thumb. I remember every moment. Most people don’t . But I remember because one other thing my doctor told me was, regardless of the pain, stay sane. And sane I tried to stay. 9 hours later, I got the privilege of listening to my boy’s first cry. It is the best sound any mother will ever hear. Through the whole process I learnt to appreciate that birth is a Godly process. I have always known that, I have told my friends that, but mostly, I have believed it. Labor is different for every woman, and birth process as different as the number of children in this world. Tutorials have been developed on how to manage labor, classes of the same are taught, but when all is done, when you enter into that labor ward, it is you, your child and God. The rest of the people, even the doctors are spectators. I include the child because; even that child is in labor with you, literally. The child must bear the stress of the contractions for as long as the labor lasts. Some don’t and get distressed and they must be removed from the womb in the fastest way possible. Some mothers don’t either, they get fatigued and the mother and child must be separated and each attended to differently to ensure their safety. Others, in the process, either or both mother and child go to be with the lord.
I know many myths that have been said about labor, for instance, if your shoe size is less than five, your child is too big, you are short, and then you will end up in CS. I remember the labor stories that have lasted 30 minutes, others 36 hours. I remember my niece being told she has a condition called Cephalo-pelvic Disproportion (CPD) and CS was inevitable. I remember reading somewhere that a woman who has brought forth a child into this world has been close to death. I remember the helplessness of the moment when you can call all the ancestors, angel’s saints, bash the walls, push beds scream abuses and anything crazier than crazy that you will never know you did, because in that moment, you are in your own world. I remember all this and my conclusion is one, it is a Godly process, just like conception is. He decides which sperm and which ovum becomes that baby, He defines when that baby graces this world, and no matter how much we want to convince ourselves of how much control we have over our life, He determines how they come. He decides whether both mother and child lives. Not because He is a mean God, but because all of us are in this world for a purpose, and if our purpose is accomplished when we bring forth that child into this world, then we go back and be with Him who loves us most.
Many first time mothers, well even fifth time ones will have anxiety especially as the d-day approaches. This is because all of us have an intrinsic fear of imminent pain. Some women, out of the fear of the same opt for elective CS, or epidurals. Other developments have also come up in a bid to make the process as painless as possible. Many women will ask how to cope with the pain and there are enough videos online on how to make things easier. I do not have a formula for coping, or even a guide on how someone should cope with pain. I do not have a how to for my next birth. All I know is, birth process is a miracle. Whichever way the child lands into this world, it is a miracle. Holding that little person in your arms for the first time is magical. And a privilege we should forever thank God for. I can equate it to walking into a path you know not how long it is, or where it leads, but knowing that it is a path you must walk. You must walk it because you must. You can only imagine, pray and hop for an outcome that seems obvious. Whatever happens in between, only God knows. Does it mean that you should not prepare for labor, no. Go for Lamaze if you believe it will help, practice breathing, get a birth partner, do everything that you believe will help it be smoother for you. Walk, exercise your pelvic floor muscles, watch the videos, talk to your doctor, involve your spouse, do everything humanly possible, but most of all pray, surrender it all to God, because it is God who orders life. And He decided that children should land into this world as they do, well maybe humanity played a role, but it was His verdict. Pray for the safety of both of you.