When it happened, it happened quickly.
Not the most original way to begin a tale, but I'd say sincerely that it's the most apt. Jiyann took all of two hours to arrive and that included everything from the time of the first surge (contraction to most of you) to faffing about at home then driving to the hospital and popping her out. With Dobbes the fussy firstborn son, it was a 24 hour active labour in the hospital peppered with bouts of puking every five minutes and severe exhaustion/dehydration. When fully dilated, it was another 30 minutes before he finally decided he was ready to come out and meet the world.
So this short, easy birth was my karma. And no coincidence that it occurred on 20-11-2011. An occasion blessed by God's perfect timing.
It all began 50 minutes past midnight after Mobbes finished massaging my severely aching buttocks with Ortho-Ease oil. With both pregnancies I experienced terrible nerve pain in the final month and my glutes needed the nightly muscular assuaging. He had just heaved himself off the bed when I felt something shift within me - yes, in more ways than one. It felt like a deliberate settling of some sort, like a thud and then came the wave of sensations.
"Get pen and paper. Or your iPhone. You need to time this," I told Mobbes. "It's been about 20 seconds so far..."
I got out of bed and put on earrings while Mobbes looked for a notebook. He eyed me suspiciously.
"Er, what are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm putting on earrings so I will look nice when people come visit," I said calmly as the surge subsided. Then another one came. After the second one ended, I began packing some make-up items into a bag.
Mobbes, ever-the-predictable: "Why are you packing make-up?"
Me: "I might want to put some on for the photos."
He rolled his eyes and started to make the essential calls to my Dad, our doula Catherine and see that the trundle bag was packed and ready to go. Meanwhile, my surges were coming along swiftly and intensely. I was determined to stay at home for as long as possible, having regretted my first experience of checking into the hospital too early when in labour with Dobbes. I decided to get into the shower as both a comfort measure and to get clean. After all, what if it turned out to be another all night, all day affair?
When Mobbes next came to find me, he found me crouched on the floor under the shower-head, on all fours. I was breathing deeply through the surges as well as trying not to clench my jaw and toes. I was also a bit confused as to whether I was about to give birth or having really bad runs. Tried pooping but no go and didn't want to strain myself on purpose. So I stayed under the shower. Mobbes stood by the bathroom door.
"How long are you gonna stay there," he questioned. I can't remember exactly but he may even have been chewing gum.
"Hmm, leave me alone..." I mumbled, a bit drunkenly. A few more surges came and I tried leaning against the wet walls of the bathroom instead, which helped better. Every time I had a surge, I would call out to Mobbes, "Starting!" and "Finished!" when it ended. Next thing I knew, Mobbes was back in the loo.
He said, "Okay, I think you should get out of there now."
I told him I didn't want to and wanted to stay five minutes more. He said, "you've already been in the shower for half an hour". So I agreed and decided to step out. Then all of a sudden a tremendous surge came and along with it a huge desire to puke my guts out. No, no, no, I thought to myself, anything but the nausea... I can take anything but vomit, especially not at frequent intervals during a long labour. How long is this going to last? Please come quickly, baby... I'll forgive you for being a Scorpio girl if you would only come out QUICK, I prayed.
Having heaved the entire contents of dinner into the porcelain God, I actually felt much better. My head cleared and I managed to put on clothes and make it to the dining room table to have another surge. Then I put on shoes and had another by the door. And another in the corridor on the way to the lift. I didn't realise it then but the waves were only about a minute apart.
In the lift, I experienced such a gigantic surge that I could not help but tense up. And looking back, I'm pretty glad I did, otherwise I would have given birth to Jiyann then and there. I held it together, had another earth-shattering one at the lift door and made it to the car porch where Dad was anxiously waiting.
"Slowly, slowly," he said, trying to be calm. I refused to sit down in the car as I was feeling as if I had a beach ball stuck between my legs (yes, down there). So Dad pushed the front seat all the way forward and I crouched on my knees on the floor, resting my head on Mobbes' camera bag. Dad zoomed off towards NUH at top speed. Later Mobbes told me he was doing 110 on the highway.
Arrived at the A&E and as can be expected a wheelchair rolled up to the car. "No, no, I don't wanna sit..." By this time I was dazed and possibly drooling slightly. Tears were involuntarily sliding down my face. It was not from pain or suffering, it was just the feeling of being so... ripe with transformation and surrender.
They made me sit and while Mobbes quickly handed over our documents at registration, the porter wheeled me crazily into the delivery ward. Each hump on the floor felt like a violation; the guy kept muttering, "sorry, sorry!" every time we went over while I shrank into the chair.
Finally we entered the delivery room. It was a small one; not the spacious den I had before. All the ones with the tub for water birthing were taken. No matter. I told my doula Catherine that I thought I needed to poop.
"I'm just not sure if what I'm feeling is 'that' or the baby!" I said.
"Just go if you feel like clearing your bowels. I'll take a peep and tell you if it's ok," she assured me.
We got into the loo and she peeked between my legs. "All's clear, there is no dilation. Just go ahead and do what you have to."
I sat down on the bowl and relaxed into the sensation. Then immediately I stood up.
"Ok, there is no way this is poop." I said. Catherine hurried over and looked.
"OH! The membrane is bulging! The baby is near; get into the room again."
WHAT? Already? It was barely three minutes since I got wheeled in. I waddled into the room,legs wide apart. Mobbes was there, as well as two nurses who hurriedly rushed in when Catherine told them. Get on the bed, they said, we'll do a pelvic exam.
I gave them the evil eye. I am absolutely NOT going to do that, I told them. Seriously, get on the bed?! Seeing that I wasn't about to take any shit (haha! literally...) they hurriedly rushed at me with some absorbent liners in anticipation of the blood and water that would come.
Catherine said soothingly, "Just lean into Leonard, put your arms around him. You are safe here, go ahead and let baby come..."
I thought, oh my God, this is really it. I breathed and leaned my entire weight onto Mobbes - almost choking him, he told me later - and as the last surge came, gave kind of a low moan, I had to somehow put a sound to it and just LET GO. No struggling no pushing, no puffing. Definitely no medication.
Two seconds later, she came.
Actually, she shot out between my legs like a bullet. I was standing up, leaning slightly forward onto Mobbes who was sitting on an armchair, so she slipped out easily and naturally, right into the waiting hands of one of the delivery nurses. She passed a healthily wailing Baby J to me between my legs, cord still attached to the placenta inside. Mobbes and I switched places, I sat down and had skin to skin time with baby. Less than a minute later, Jiyann started to suckle.
We managed to take some photos after that but there were none during the labour. In fact, there was no labour at the hospital. I had planned candles, different types of oils for different purposes, "rice socks" to act as warm compresses etc. etc. etc. All packed for nothing. All plans foiled by a wee little babe who decided that she wanted to make her grand entrance on the sacred morning of the twentieth day in November, 2011 at 3.02am.
And it was a perfect birth, just like the last one.