I always knew I wanted the full birthing experience, because I wanted to feel the miracle of bringing life into the world without any interventions. Once I was pregnant, I decided that I was definitely going to give it a try, and no one was going to change my mind (unless it was medically necessary, of course). Trust me, I heard a lot of “just take the epidural” from people, but the truth of the matter is, our bodies are very capable. We are designed to do this and the only thing that makes us think we can’t is fear.
Birth can be an extremely empowering experience. I can honestly say that I was never fearful. Instead, I shifted all of my energy into feeling excited for our new arrival. I felt brave and ready to go through anything for this baby.
Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready
I began prepping my bag as soon as I arrived in London. You never know exactly when the little one is going to arrive.
Mehmet and I read The Hypnobirthing Book by Katherine Graves, which was exceptionally useful in our preparation. It began by explaining the biology of birth which I found helpful as it enabled me to visualize what my body would be doing and understand why I would feel certain sensations.
The book also gave me a lot of visualization/breathing techniques and talked about the power of language, so we made sure to use positive vocabulary when referring to anything related to labor.
I loved my baby bump, but there eventually came a time when I felt like she was being squished in there and I became tired of her using my bladder as a pillow. We saw the midwife at 37 weeks, who told me to drink raspberry tea, eat dates, and walk to induce my labor naturally.
I prayed frequently for the baby to arrive when the time was right and for things to go smoothly. I wanted to remain strong and peaceful, and praying really helped keep me grounded.
As my due date got closer, Mehmet and I spoke about the do’s/don’ts while we are in the delivery room. For example, music (calming music and not his trap house rap playlist), how we should inform close family/friends, and wanting him to be entirely there with me (and not scrolling through memes on IG).
As the day approached, Mehmet began to send me daily positive affirmation messages to mentally prep me for labor. It was such a small, but thoughtful gesture that I really appreciated. Receiving it daily would remind me to read those affirmations repeatedly to myself. The last one he sent me was “bring it on” and I did exactly that the following day.
Now I understand why they call it ‘Labor.'
My labor snuck up on me! My contractions began gently during the evening and were very far apart. So much so, that it didn’t dawn on me that I might be in labor until I found myself still awake at 3 a.m. as my contractions became stronger and were now surging every five-to-ten minutes. I woke Mehmet and we called the hospital who suggested that we wait for the contractions to become a little closer before coming in. I was a week early, could this really be it?
Later that morning my contractions were showing no signs of slowing down so we prepared to leave for the hospital (Pro Tip: attach your car seat beforehand and learn the route and parking to prevent delaying/annoying the impatient mother-to-be). Arriving at the hospital, the midwife thought I was still in pre-labor, because I was still breathing through my contractions. She gave me the option to go back home, or to go through a bit of discomfort for her to check how dilated I was. I knew I was not going back home. There was no way I was still in pre-labor, so I told her to check me. To her disbelief, I was 4 cm dilated already… Here we go!
I am not going to lie… this entire process was a struggle. It was also slightly harder, because I was dehydrated and had not eaten much. The midwife basically forced me to drink and snack, so I would have energy to be able to have this baby naturally. The contractions were back to back and nothing was soothing my physical discomfort. I would tell Mehmet to touch my lower back. Once he did, I would immediately urge him to take his hands off. My dad was also with us and mostly sat quietly on the sidelines; he did not want to piss me off in any way. I could see the sympathy on their faces, as they probably felt helpless at the moment, but them being there with me was more than enough.
I did not want to delay the process. I did not fight the contractions by tensing up, instead I found it easier to just breathe and try to relax as much as possible. I found it best to hang, put all my weight and learn forward on this rope that was hanging from the ceiling in the room. Four hours later, my water finally broke! The midwife checked me again soon after, and I was 7cm dilated—it was time for me to get in the water. Let me tell you… that was the best decision I have ever made in my life. The warm water definitely eased my contractions. It was still an intense feeling, but it just felt more natural being in the water and positioned on all fours.
In labor, I think there are two really important things that helped me: 1) a positive mindset 2) a motivating partner. I say this because there was a point where my body was exhausted, but I just kept replaying “God give me strength” and “you can do this” in my mind. Maintaining that strength mentally helped me stay focused and push through. I wasn’t focused on anything else other than what was happening and on Mehmet.
Mehmet was my biggest motivator; he was constantly reinforcing and reminding me that Ella was coming soon. He even let me push my head against his chest like a bull, and squeeze his hand, to the point of borderline fracture… sorry babe! He was there by my side the entire time – almost 12 hours.
Things finally took a twist at 8 p.m. I began pushing through my contractions, and then it finally got to the point where you could see her hair peeking out. I felt her head, and I knew there was only little left before she was here with us. Naturally, I told my dad to get the camera and record it. This man was recording and snapping pictures like a paparazzi.
Forty-one minutes later, she was completely out, and I grabbed her from under me and held her in my arms. It was the most magical moment of my life!
I was never in discomfort afterward. I thankfully did not have any tears (down south… if you know what I mean). Recovery was quite easy; and I swiftly bounced back to my original weight with the help of breastfeeding. I am beyond amazed by the way the human body works.
From prenatal to postnatal, the whole process is incredible and perfectly designed.
As I officially take on this new role, I look back on giving birth as a transforming moment both physically and spiritually. I experienced spirit altered into matter—having Ella take her first breath in my arms. It is indescribable! As soon as I saw her, I immediately forgot the struggle and just felt the success of birth. It was the sweetest reward after the hours of hard work.
When we first saw her, we thought “Whose Chinese baby is this?!". I'm kidding. Seeing Ella for the first time confirmed for us that "love at first sight" is an actual thing and not just a cliché. Each day we wonder how it is possible for her to be more beautiful than the previous day.
I wish I could share with you all the joy I feel when my baby girl gives me a smile! She lights my world, and I am going to nurture her with so much love. She is our little gift from heaven, and I can only pray that God guides me to be a force of light in her life. Every day she reminds me how precious life is and cherishing every little moment with her allows me to be present. I help her stay alive, but she makes me feel alive. Life is but a dream.