Aiden – “Powerful” (Sanskrit) or “the Fiery One“ (Celtic)
I’ve been sitting on this post for a few months now, not able to really complete it, and not entirely sure why. My sweet Aiden is now five months old and what a happy little man he is! Aiden was born on October 3rd, 2020 at 9.10pm on our couch – yes you read that correctly – on our couch.
My pregnancy with Aiden was a little more challenging. We had gone into lockdown, there was a lot of stress surrounding where I would be able to give birth – our options far more limited. We had to consider how this would affect Ayaan. Aiden was a bigger baby and so I was physically more tired and whilst taking care of a toddler I couldn’t get the unlimited rest I got when I was pregnant with Ayaan. I was emotionally exhausted and worried about how this would affect Ayaan and our bond.
The decision to have Aiden in Malawi was made for us (thanks Covid-19), which was a bit of a relief but daunting too. Birthing in Malawi can be a very medicalised affair but I was determined to have a similar birth experience to my first. I was introduced to the most wonderful doctor who went above and beyond to prioritise the birth I wanted. He introduced me to my amazing and formidable midwife. Together they were my dream team! The scientist in me that wanted to know all the statistics and numbers perfectly complemented with my need for a holistic intuitive approach to giving birth.
We had a solid plan. Our midwife would meet us at home allowing me to labour in comfort until it was time to head to the hospital. She would inform them ahead of time so they could prepare the birthing pool prior to our arrival. The car had been packed for days so all we would have to do was get in and drive. I was far more prepared this time than I was Ayaan. I was tired but I was ready and focusing on spending as much time as I could with Ayaan before this new chapter.
On my due date we went in for a check up. I was set up to a CTG machine to monitor the baby’s heart rate and any uterine contractions – heart rate was strong but no signs of any contractions. That afternoon I felt some tightenings but assumed it was just the Braxton Hicks I had been feeling often. The rest of the day was pretty routine and uneventful. We put Ayaan down to sleep, as we do everyday, and resigned to the couch to watch Suits and have dinner. Mid dinner I had what felt like contractions but I couldn’t be sure so I ignored them. Shortly after I felt them again so I got up and called my midwife. They didn’t feel very intense and I felt they weren’t as close together so we agreed to watch and see how it progressed.
I was feeling a little anxious and uncomfortable and couldn’t sit on the couch to finish my dinner so I sat on my medicine ball. I bounced around for a few minutes and felt another contraction, to get some relief I got up to walk and my waters broke. Now it was go time, I started to check off everything on my mental list. We called our friend who was going to watch Ayaan until my mum could come over. Check. I called my midwife, she was going to get dressed and come over. Check. I showered and changed. Check. Bags in the car. Check.
My contractions were pretty close together when my midwife arrived, she asked to check how far along I was so we could decide what to do next. The TV was still on and my husband had just opened a bottle of coke. From previous experience we knew it could still be a while. So I lay down on the couch for my examination.
This is where things start to get a little hazy for me. I remember some parts of what happened next but mostly only through my husband’s recollections.
“The baby is coming now” is what I believe my midwife said. My husband and I were both stunned. What? Now? Here? But the birthing pool? The gas and air? “Here or in the car” she said. My husband and midwife were super in sync at this point, she needed plastic to cover the couch, my husband ripped off the shower curtain. She needed something to tie the cord, he grabbed my knitting wool. She needed something to cut the cord, he got the kitchen scissors. Towels – he grabbed as many as he could carry. Hot water – he enlisted the help of our friend who came over to watch Ayaan to boil water. She boiled a lot of water.
I remember moving to get on all fours, the most comfortable position at that time, my husband in front of me being the wonderful supportive man that he is and my midwife behind me ready to catch Aiden. I remember my midwife saying that I needed to push harder because he was being pulled back inside. I didn’t know if I could do it – I was pushing as hard as I could. With her help and with my husbands help after a few pushes, Aiden was born on our couch, all 4.1 kg of love. It was over, he was here, we did it! I don’t even remember delivering my placenta and lying down on my back.
My midwife called my doctor as I needed stitches, he came over, assessed me and said he could do them at home so I didn’t have to go to the clinic. I was so grateful. I held my midwife’s hand and we spoke about her children as I watched my husband hold our beautiful boy. I was almost completely oblivious to getting stitches, I was just so happy, euphoric even.
They all helped clean up the room and we said our thank yous and good byes. It was a very quick birth, less than an hour from my waters breaking to Aiden being born. We discovered that his umbilical cord was short and that was probably what was pulling him back in or it would have been an even shorter birth. We called our families and gave them the news. At around midnight I went for a shower and then got into bed – just so in love with my new family and so excited to see Ayaan wake up as a big brother the next day. You always wonder how you can love another like your first but it was like I grew another heart the instant Aiden was born, a heart to love just him.
Over the next few days I had heard my husband tell Aiden’s birth story to every one who would listen with such amazement and pride. It wasn’t until I was telling it for the first time that all the other feelings from that night flooded in. I don’t quite remember much but the feelings were vivid and that was when the fear crept in. The immense fear of the possibility that things could have gone a very different way that night. The immense fear of the possibility of losing Aiden, or the possibility of my boys losing me. A feeling that I just couldn’t shake even though we were both safe and healthy. I felt the strength leave me and the debilitating fear take over.
I cried just at the thought of what could have happened and felt weak and guilty for not feeling grateful for the reality of how things turned out. I was stuck in the “what if…” and I couldn’t explain why, not to myself, not to anyone else. The next few weeks were a little rough – with time and with help though things are on the up but there is still a lot of work to be done.
One day I will be able to recount this story and feel like the superwoman my husband sees. Right now though, I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for my dream team who helped bring my little Aiden into this world safely and took such great care of us both. Gratitude for my husband who has had a hard time understanding this all but never fails to show his unconditional love. Gratitude for my friends who have been there without judgement and only love. Most of all I am grateful for my two healthy and happy boys – watching them grow and watching their love for each other flourish is what makes everything I do and have done worthwhile.