When I found out I was pregnant on October 5, my first reaction was to cry. Out of happiness, you ask? I can tell you right here that I cried out of fear, because I know nothing about being a mother. Try shoving a newborn to me and you would see the face of fear.
A lot of my understanding about birth then revolved around the assistance of experts in obstetrics and gynecology. I know about getting cut down there, I know about stitching, I know there is pain involved and some can be unbearable. But when I came across the concepts of “intervention when necessary”and “managing pain naturally” I was caught off guard– can such things exist when you’re bringing about something akin to a watermelon through what seems to be a fifty-cent coin slot? Really now?
I found out about AMANI Birth while I was browsing around friends’ liked pages and I stumbled upon Birthlings Brunei. Naturally my curiosity got the better of me and I started browsing further. I also looked up about AMANI Birth online and even got more intrigued knowing that it’s a philosophy of birth that revolves around Islam! Sheer joy! This was not far from what I seek to do– I remember friends and relatives telling me about several acts of worship that can help ease birth or ensure the well-being of your baby, but that was it.
I contacted Nora sometime in December while she was on her umrah pilgrimage (so sorry again ka) and I was heartened to receive her reply after she returned home. I reserved a spot for me and my husband for February even if I would be just in the middle of my second trimester (21-23 weeks?).
When I first arrived to the class early February, I was excited to see familiar faces– my husband’s cousin who is expecting, a friend from primary school, and a friend I met after I finished A Levels! The classes spanned for 2.5 hours each and lasted for three Sundays (so no brunch plans with family or friends were possible then hehe). As we went through the materials in class, I was touched at how the activities helped my husband to be more involved in the pregnancy beyond being present at appointments and entertaining my hormones; he grew to become an advocate for me and became more enthusiastic about bringing me to swim every Fridays whenever possible! Little did I realize that attending the classes were an early preparation for parenthood as well.
Fast forward to June 1: I started early labor around sahur time around 4am. Thinking I was just waking up to false contractions, I started to be more alert as they became regular and closer as the day progressed. By midnight, my contractions were about 5 mins apart and my mucus plug came out. We then decided to go to JPMC and much to my dismay, my assessment involved a VE and I was disappointed to know I was only 2cm dilated. Nevertheless we decided to stay on since my contractions were regular (and hospital policy dictates admission at that dilation). I tried my best to stay awake with my husband throughout the surges.
I had two CTG sessions administered every 6 hours and equipped with the knowledge from class, I wasn’t too happy being bound to the bed while my surges were going berserk. I wanted to be mobile and active, and the only relief I found for my surges was sitting in the toilet seat! I had multiple occasions of wanting to poo before then, when really it was baby’s head engaged. The second time I was strapped to CTG, it was at 7:05am that my water broke spontaneously, in a gush– baby was really on his way!
A few things I remembered being in the labor room were: the hot towel compresses I asked to be put on my lower back as I was on my hands and knees; the slurry of all the zikir I could muster; my husband holding my hand as I reached transition, and me screaming “Ring of fire!” when I felt the burn underneath as I pushed our baby with all my might. I do remember my attending midwives pointed out how I was at times still smiling despite the surges. Alhamdulillah, our son arrived earthside at 8:05am weighing 2.685kg.
To use some of Aisha Al Hajjar’s words: birth really is a natural life event, trust in birth is really trust in Allah (tawakal) and trust in Allah’s plans for our lives and our births. I may have sustained second degree tears in my choice to refuse episiotomy, I may have had to give way to CTG and compromised my mobility during the labor stage, but when I look back at how the birth happened, it really is for the best. I had my dearest husband for support and companionship throughout, which really was what I needed to go through a life changing experience.
I have to thank Nora for the engaging lessons in class, her sincerity and enthusiasm to support mothers and mothers-to-be in this phase of life. Jazakillahu khairan!
And to future AMANI mothers AND fathers: may Allah make your son/daughter the coolness of your eyes, and may birth and parenthood open doors to more acts of worship to Allah SWT. Aamiin.