Updated: Dec 5, 2021
By Elena Nemcova
We are beyond grateful for meeting Elena on our way. Elena joined the Mamamoon School in the first month we started our online classes. She stayed with us till the end of her pregnancy, and is now back during her maternity leave.
The recent situation in the world is not the one we would ever wish for, but it did make the world smaller, making the connections like we experienced with Elena possible, and allowing us now to share Elena's story with you as well. Because empowering birth stories need to be shared..
I had a healthy pregnancy. The ultrasound showed that my baby is one week ahead based on its development than the actual pregnancy week I was in. But my doctor said it doesn't mean the baby will come sooner. She was sure it will come later. And so was I. You hear that the first babies come mostly after the due date. I was week 39 and there were still no real signs of birth except for few training contractions. Inside I was ready and prepared, though, for giving birth. I imagined the first waves would approach slowly with longer breaks in between and I would have plenty of time to do all the things - eat, dance to my prepared playlist, take a walk with my husband, take a bath, have lots of sex to increase the contractions if that would be needed:) Well, that is not my birth story.
When the birth started..
On Saturday, September 18th, we went to bed at 11 pm. At around 00:30 am I discovered some pinkish drops in my underwear. Ok, I thought, it is staring slowly and went back to bed. I was week 39 and 3 days. At 1:30 am I woke up to go to the toilet. When I stood up, my water broke. Not just with few drops. It broke exactly like in the movies (what they tell you in the birth preparation course never happens in real life, ha ha). It felt like a waterfall is pouring out of me. This took me and my husband completely by surprise.
I called my midwife. She said to try to get some more sleep and to call her when the contractions come in shorter periods. I also remember she asked me how the baby is doing. At first it was quiet, but then after some time I felt the usual kicks inside of me and was relieved.
I didn't get any more sleep as at 2:30 am the contractions came already every 3-5 minutes. They still felt like waves I could handle. So I was doing the wave breathing from the hypnobirthing practice (inhaling and exhaling on the count of 20) and was even able to take a bite of a bread with almond butter. I tried to do a guided meditation, but couldn't focus much. That was it with my calmly approaching birth.
At 3:30 am the contractions came already every 2,5 minutes. Sometimes It felt like there were no breaks in between at all. As of that moment the breathing alone wasn't helping and the only thing that felt natural to do for me was to roar. Literally to roar, like a lioness. A strong physical feeling took over me, so I could only focus on the breathing and roaring through the waves.
By 4 am the waves felt like a storm in an open ocean and I was floating on a tiny peace of wood trying to conquer them. I couldn't lie down or walk. I was only able to be on my hands and knees on the floor or on my knees with my hands on the bed. My husband said “let's get you into the bathtub”. And I only screamed “it's too late for that”. He still cleaned the bathtub and took a shower himself. At least one of us did the bathtub test:-) I guess he was also overwhelmed by the speed with which the birth was progressing.
The midwife came at around 5:30 am. I was sitting on the toilet. It felt natural being in this position because I was able to fully let go. I felt enormous pressure in the uterus, the belly and in the legs. I wouldn't call it pain, rather a very strong physical push-and-pull feeling, which I have never felt before. As the breaks between the contractions were very short and the peaks so intense, I didn’t have much time to relax. I had to work through it the whole time. The midwife did a checkup and told me I was 9 centimeters open! At 5:30 am, after only 4,5 hours of contractions. I would have never expected that. I was happy to hear that at that point. Like all the hard work was paying off. This gave me an additional motivation boost.
Transition to the hospital..
After the checkup we headed to the hospital. I had to take several breaks on the stairs, in the elevator, in front of the car leaning on the car door to handle the contractions. It was very quiet in the hospital when we arrived. Or maybe I was so loud.
We headed straight to the delivery room. In the delivery room I tried different positions, but I could only stay on the mat on my knees and elbows with legs wide open. By then I felt the urge to push. I was pushing several times on the mat, but then my midwife had to put me on the bed as the baby's heart rate wasn't optimal. I was lying first on one side with one leg up and then on the other side. To be honest, it wasn’t the most comfortable position for me, as it was hard to fully relax the pelvis. I wanted to be in the deep squat position, that’s what my body told me. But my midwife said it was too dangerous for the baby because of the strong contractions.
My husband was all the time close to me. He constantly reminded me to breath slowly and deeply so that our baby's heart rate could calm down. He was massaging my lower back and holding my legs. His support helped me a lot to focus better in this last birth phase. And that was my main task. I couldn't push every contraction as I wanted to. I needed to have more breathing breaks so that my baby could cope better with the strong contractions.
Some more midwifes and doctors came in. My midwife said if it wont get better they would need to give me an injection to slow down the contractions. I told myself “No way!” and continued breathing slowly. That was the most challenging part - to go against my physical urge to push. But it was necessary to give my baby more breaks. At some point my midwife said “We need to interfere, the baby is not coping that well. We can use a ventouse or do a perennial cut in combination with a Kristeller’s procedure. The baby needs to get out in few contractions.” Here we go, I thought. Almost all the interventions I learned about during the pregnancy and wanted to avoid were just named in one sentence. And still, I knew what to ask the doctors and how to decide. I have chosen the least stressful for my baby. They did the Kristeller’s procedure and a perennial cut while I had to push.
And here she was..
An extreme burning feeling overcame me as my baby's head was born, but I didn’t feel much of those interventions. They were rather helpful. After 3 contractions and the wildest roars our baby was born. What a feeling! Tiers of relief, happiness and gratitude were running down my face.
The midwife asked us “Who wants to look first?” I didn’t understand what she meant. And then I realized. We didn’t know the gender! And I totally forgot about it. My baby was born and nothing else mattered. Eventually my husband had a look. A girl! A healthy, beautiful baby girl. She had a nice pinkish color and looked at us with her big eyes very carefully. A moment I will never forget. It felt like she wanted to say “Thank you mummy, you did great. And I am fine now, don’t worry”.
I prepared a lot for the birth. Yoga gave me all that needed strengths in my legs and arms. The deep relaxation and breathing exercises were absolutely crucial as this helped me to manage the challenging birth phases. I was well informed what to do when “things go south” and that also helped me to take conscious decisions about the interventions. But you can't prepare for everything. My body & mind were strong enough to work through the birth. But my baby had a different pace. And that’s the biggest learning for me: there are things out of your control. The birth is an act between you and your baby, both have to be ready and feel good.
I have to admit that shortly after the birth I had a feeling of disappointment. I wanted to give birth in the most natural way without any interventions. But I had to let go at some point and have faith. After the birth my husband told me that the midwifes were already talking about a caesarian if the baby wouldn't come out in few contractions. Her umbilical cord was once around her neck, which probably caused the heartbeat issues. Looking back we were lucky that all worked out so good for me and my baby.
Now I am very proud of the lioness in me and the incredible birth I had. Holding my baby girl now I start to see all the things which went right instead of what didn't go according to the plan. All you have to do is change the perspective.
The (Happy) End.