THIS IS MY UNIQUE LABOUR EXPERIENCE. I HAVE DECIDED TO BE VERY CANDID AND HONEST ABOUT THIS. THIS IS NOT TO SCARE ANYONE. WE ARE ALL INDIVIDUALS WHO WILL HAVE DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES, SOME EASY, SOME DIFFICULT. MINE HAPPENED TO BE THE LATTER BUT I WENT THROUGH IT AND SURVIVED AND SO CAN YOU. ALL THE BEST ON YOUR JOURNEY!
The days leading up to labour were quite eventful.
I begun the month of November with a blood test and then I had another check up the week after with my gyno. He mentioned I was due any day now but that still didn’t stop me from signing up for a fair. I knew I had mentioned; I had taken a break from work but I was so BORED at home I needed to do something! It was very risky (given that I could go into labour anywhere) and Kobby wasn’t having it, but my stubborn self still went ahead with it. It was a bazaar at Lincoln Community School and it was good exposure for my business. It was tiring but I had my girls there to help out. I left after a couple of hours, because I had to go get ready for a wedding that evening. Listen, I wasn’t about to let my 37week pregnancy get in the way of me having fun and eating good food.
We ended up having so much fun, well atleast I did, Kobby is an introvert and isn’t the most sociable person but he made an effort. He didn’t have much of a choice. There was a really chatty elderly woman sitting right by him who kept asking how we met, how far along I was, what I was expecting. Her pregnant daughter was also at our table so we ended up talking about babies the entire evening. It was fun!
A few days later, I had yet another doctor’s appointment. My appointments were now weekly because I was almost due. This particular week, I was hoping I would go into labour right there in the doctor’s office but as fate would have it, I did not. Hmph! As usual, I was told the exact same thing as the last time “Everything is fine but we’ll be expecting him any day now so get some rest”. I wish. I only slept a few hours now because of the constant movement in my belly. I was in agony! I had been invited to a friend’s graduation dinner that Saturday and that was the only thing I was looking forward to as a distraction.
That Saturday, 18th November, 2017 I woke up at dawn with severe abdominal pains. The day before, one of my close friends who had just had a baby the year before, had come over to brief me on everything I should expect. I also spent the night reading more about that so I don’t get hit with any surprises… or so I thought. Once I started to feel the “cramps”, I immediately knew what was happening. “It must be Braxton Hicks, there is no way I’m going into actual labour now” I thought. I was due on the 30th and I was sure I had about a week more to go. So just like I had read, I woke up and quietly got off the bed. I didn’t want to alarm Kobby and I knew the minute I mentioned what I was going through, he would immediately insist we go to the hospital. I wasn’t ready to go all the way there, just to be told it was false labour and then sent back home, even worse be admitted a few days for “observation”. That was out of the question. I went to the corridor and paced up and down while doing my breathing exercises. After about 10 minutes, I took a warm shower and then went to lie down. I was told that once the pain subsides, then it is definitely not labour and it did. I was able to sleep soundly till about 10 am and went about my day.
At about 4:30pm that day, we got ready and left for the dinner. The hotel it was happening at, was very close to my parent’s home so we decided to briefly stop by to say hi to the family. We arrived just as my mother was getting ready for a dinner she also had that evening. I told her what had happened and she laughed “ Ho! It’s just false labour, it happens. You’re not due any time soon so don’t worry. Now make me up for this dinner eh“. Typical. She never treated me any differently when I was pregnant. I was always shocked how casually she treated my pregnancy. Her favorite saying was “Pregnancy is not a sickness, we’ve all been through it!”. The African Mothers Anthem! So yes, I ended up making her up and then we left for dinner.
I felt weird throughout this dinner. The cramps had returned and I knew it had to be contractions. The interval was about 40 minutes and it was still quite tolerable but very uncomfortable. I didn’t eat much and I started to wonder whether or not to go to the hospital but anytime it subsided I decided against it. I finally told Kobby what I was going through and he decided it was best we leave. I convinced him to take me home so I get some rest and assured him it was nothing but false labour. He reluctantly drove home. Once we arrived, I took a warm shower again and then tried to sleep but I couldn’t. The pain was the same but the interval was getting shorter. I was anxious. I went online to read more and then somehow found myself on Instagram trying to distract myself from whatever it was I was experiencing. From 12 midnight till about 3 am, I had no rest. I had finally had enough and woke Kobby up; It was time to leave for the hospital.
I couldn’t tell if he was excited or nervous or both, because he was SPEEDING on our bumpy road and that wasn’t helping my situation. I had no time to be annoyed, I just needed to get to the hospital before things got worse. The pain seemed to be getting intense now with about a 20 minute interval and it had gone past any pain I had experienced when I had menstrual cramps. We finally made it to the hospital in one piece and the entire place was dead. The lights were dimmed and we practically had to wake up the front desk person. Thank God, at this stage I was still managing the pain. We were told to go upstairs to the labour ward and a nurse would be there to attend to us. Thankfully, the nurses there were up and moving when we arrived and one assisted me to the ward.
She asked how many weeks I was and I responded “38 weeks”. “Oh then you must be due. Let me check if you’ve started dilating” she said. She motioned for me to lie down on the bed as she wore her gloves. She then squeezed some transparent substance out of a tube which I can only describe as lube and then asks me to relax. At this very moment, I was freaking out. She then proceeded to insert two fingers all the way into my cervix…. I squealed in pain! She twisted her fingers in there and kept repeating “sorry sorry sorry, we’re almost done” I squirmed in discomfort and then finally it was over. To my utter shock and disappointment, she said “Unfortunately, you haven’t started dilating yet so active labour is yet to begin. You’re experiencing minor contractions”. “Minor! How is this pain minor? Are you telling me it’s going to get worse than this?” I asked in disbelief. She paused and rested her hand on my back “My dear, brace yourself. Now let me connect you to the CTG and see if everything is fine” she said rather cheerfully. I laid down on the bed and the CTG (a machine which checks the heart rate of the baby as well as how high or low the contractions are) was connected. The belt from this machine was attached to me and two small round objects from the machine were placed on my tummy. I had to lay still (which was a nightmare) for about 30 minutes till it was done. It provided a printout with the results. The baby’s heartbeats were loud enough to hear and very distracting.
The results stated that, the baby was fine and my contractions were at a level 6. The highest I needed to get to was level 12! My heart sank! I was only halfway there and I knew I needed to psych myself for the pain ahead. Kobby sat there looking visibly worried as the nurse came in to ask if I would like to be admitted or go home because I was obviously not going to have the baby anytime soon. I told her I preferred to go home and rest and once the contractions get worse we will return. She asked if I was sure, but after insisting several times she realized my mind had been made up and reluctantly agreed. “Please make sure you come straight here if the contractions worsen” she warned. “Okay I will” I mumbled.
We got home at about 5am and surprisingly, I managed to sleep till 8am that morning. I got up to use the bathroom and after peeing I saw the mucus plug.( A mucus like substance mixed with blood. Once it drops , you could be having your baby in a few hours or weeks, it really depends on the individual). Given that I was already experiencing contractions, I decided to call the hospital. Kobby explained what had happened and they immediately asked us to come back. This time, I knew I was in LABOUR!