Things take a long time to mature within me, and sometimes they never quite do, and need a little push and nudge. What I would do without deadlines? Though I have tendencies to stretch them to just beyond their limits, their presence keep me in check and makes me make things happen.
No surprise, my daughter was born 19 days overdue. 42 weeks + 5. Of course, in similar style to many things in my life, she was born after the norm but just within the realm of what’s considered safe by some.
For ten months I played with the idea of having a child and what it meant. Back and forth I’d rocketeer between embrace and resistance. Once again, no surprise there. Conflicting elements within me regard life very differently. My barefoot, earth mamma self wanted a home birth with a loving midwife and doula. My pragmatic self contemplated with interest the option of a C-section – over in 20 minutes. In the end, I embraced my resistance and brought the energy of love and adventure of a home birth into the clinical, medical hospital setting.
But back to time and the uncanny way it formed the major backdrop to my labour. By 40 weeks the doctors started speaking of inducing me and by 41 weeks I was met with exasperated, disapproving stares and comments. One doctor remarked seriously, “nu, yalla, don’t you want to have this baby?” But I believed that there was a right time for the baby to be born. And I so did not want labour to begin with a cold liquid dripping into my veins. I’d devoted many moments of my pregnancy wondering just how labour would start, conjuring up various scenes and I was desperate to see how it would unfold in reality. In the middle of the night? Whilst washing dishes? Far from home? No, I did not want to be robbed of the spontaneity . Not if I could help it.
By week 42 the clock was ticking loudly and pressure was mounting. I tried acupuncture and thankfully contractions began late the following night. But these contractions were not the type that require you rush to hospital lest the need to push arrives. Though I did not know they were of this variation at the time, I followed the advice given in childbirth classes and avoided waking Danny. What a good thing as these petered off by morning only to restart with vigour around noon – Monday till Friday. By Wednesday I went for reflexology and finally on Friday tried castor oil, which loosens both the bowels and uterus and made for an experience I would not recommend nor repeat. By the time I reached the hospital that Friday evening – dehydrated, weak and limp – I was told my waters had broken. I hadn’t even realised. Thank you castor oil.
And so there I was finally at the hospital, 42 weeks + 4 and only almost in labour. However I was 3cm dilated and 90% effaced so I was on my way. I allowed the midwife to do “stripping” (of the cervical membranes) and was given 3 hours to walk around the hospital to see if I could dilate a little more, which would allow them to grant me a room.
So with this time pressure on our shoulders, Danny and I and our special doula, Ruti, began the process of trying to get me to be fully in active labour. To open up literally and metaphorically – and do it. The state I was in to accomplish the mission: weak from the castor oil and a week’s worth of lack of sleep. And yet in this disorientated state each moment took on the spirit of adventure. Dancing in the freezing cold. Walking in the rain. The slicing pain of contractions. Legs like jelly that needed to keep moving in order to deal with the slicing pain of the contractions. Throwing up in a carefully chosen plant. A few curious stares.
And then at the end of our allotted time we returned in suspense to be met with the news that we’d done it; I had dilated sufficiently to be given a room. It felt like I’d given birth but was a mere step one of what was to be a very long journey. I recall my disappointment as they assigned me a midwife whom I never felt good about. I need not have feared. My labour would span four shift changes and 30 hours and I’d become familiar with not only a good chunk of the midwives there but also the doctors.
And so it went. A race against the clock. Because it was medically necessary? I’m not sure. At about 3 am, after much resistance, to speed up labour I was put on Pit. Pitocin. Oxytocin. The dreaded cold fluid that I had to transform mentally into healing, magical blue droplets. Or at least that’s what Ruti suggested. I’m not sure I did just that but I met the challenge head on. Pit makes contractions stronger and since I did not want an epidural, I had to put every ounce of a very weak me into every contraction. As each one began their ascent in intensity, I’d tell myself to just get through this one minute. That pain is clean: once experienced, it’s gone forever and you cannot recall or relive it. And, since this is going to be over soon, I may as well throw my head back and “dance”.
And slowly I made progress. Slow progress. Not fast enough for the doctors and at once point C-section was threatened. But we negotiated two hours where they upped the pit and monitored my progress to determine the plan re intervention. On the bed, attached to the monitor (so much for all the yoga positions I practiced so fervently during pregnancy), with the help of Danny and Ruti, I used my mind and journeyed beyond each contraction. And at the end of the two hours, it was agreed and declared I could be left alone to birth naturally. Victory.
The process and the end felt a bit like long distance running. After sharing and working together through it all, there was great camaraderie between us and the wonderful midwives and doctors at the last stretch. But being a hospital, there was a two hour limit to the pushing phase of labour, or else intervention. I refused to get so far and let statistics and time win, so I pushed. And out came a little girl.
A new life in this world. On her own journey too with her own destiny. Turns out she was born on the 11th of the 11th in the Hebrew Calendar at 23:13 on a clock we were told was 2 minutes fast. In 2011. And her English number – 15 January 2011 works out to an 11 too (1+5+1+2+1+1). And my English number is also an 11. So many 11s is interesting no matter how you look at it, but I also happen to be a little into numerology and what it says about your numbers revealing your life mission. So with all this in mind, it felt even more right and more clear that she was born when she was meant to. And that things are not so much in our control as we think. That though we can’t always see it, there’s a right time for things to happen.