• Janet Sibanda

Almost a World Record Holder

Funny story about how I came to welcome my firstborn and be called a mommy. Rest, during pregnancy, felt like an insult and I will do everything in my power to prove everyone when a pregnant woman says she can, ‘she can’! I wore 'an actually, let me show you', attitude for the remaining 5 months, having defeated profuse vomiting and relentless nausea. Needless to say, my inner voice was raspy and hoarse from all the futile cries begging me to just STOP.

I was due to deliver on the 29th of May 2012. The days leading up to this long-awaited event had me gripped by equal-parts of fear and excitement. I woke up on the morning of the 29th and listened in silence for what ought to have been intense pain. I asked myself why I wasn’t screaming as they do on Tv. Let’s face it, all our mental images about pregnancy and labour were carefully and consistently cultured over many years by the influential Television. The silence, however, was broken by my gentle and his not so gentle breathing (sorry babe). I blinked a couple of times, let out a deep breath, and said, ‘so you’ve decided to stay in there forever? I guess this is the new normal, to remain pregnant forever. I was sad but ready for the challenge.

I got up, and went through my everyday routine getting ready for work, and went about the rest of my day as normal. The day flew by and ended with nothing extraordinary happening. I woke up the next morning, 30 May and the same thing happened, which only further cemented my conviction that I would be this woman with a fat belly, that never gave. As the day progressed, I realized there was something different about this day! Around 11am, I started feeling the steady hum of Braxton Hicks that had become a regular part of my life. I ignored them, given that I knew my baby would never be born. At the same time, I was too busy attending to an important meeting at work, that I didn’t realize they were increasing in intensity.

In the afternoon, a colleague whom my baby openly disliked, brought me a milkshake for lunch. Despite our ill feelings about him, my baby and I drank the whole thing. The Braxton Hicks, however, were not relenting and remained vivid and consistent in their agenda. Around 430pm my thoughts started to ponder the possibility of it actually being labour. I checked in with our resident Health Officer (a former midwife) if I was in labour and she confirmed the baby was fixing to make an entrance. I will confess that I was rather disappointed about not going in the Guinness Book of Records as the first pregnant woman who never gave birth. I immediately called my husband and told him that the space beside me was void and his presence was urgently needed.

A driver and female colleague from work immediately rushed me home. Upon arrival at my flat, I

failed to get out of the car. I was in so much pain, we agreed to get my hospital bag and head straight for the hospital. By this point, I was now delirious with pain, trying to manage the bumpy ride through the ally ways of Avenues to get to Baines Maternity Clinic. I remember getting to the hospital 515pm, where I was checked in, immediately stripped into more comfortable clothing and strapped onto some gadget to monitor the baby’s heart rate. I was 1 cm dilated. My husband arrived at 530pm and our phones were buzzing with family and friends calling to make sure the baby and I were alright. How can anyone want to speak to a woman in labour? The beast in me was at full throttle, ready to spew the most appropriate words to anyone who wanted to get fresh with me. As if things couldn’t get any worse, I threw up all that milkshake, which only increased my levels of dislike and disdain for Mr Colleague. I wretched and heaved in pain, while I rode through a waves of contractions.

The next two hours, were a mix of climbing up and down on and off the bed. Kneeling on all fours, or balling myself up like a hedgehog. Freezing and overheating, yelling for extra blankets or ice blocks to munch. The nurses looked on rolling their eyes the whole time. Then the heavens opened around 730pm when the nurse checked the baby, only to find me having progressed from 5 cm to 8cm in a single breath. At that moment my waters broke. I got to discover; I have what they call Precipitate Labour. It is very intense and quick active labour. In no time, by 815pm, our baby had arrived!

All I can say about this experience is, it was like driving to Nyanga for the first time. So many unexpected twists and turns and truckloads of anxiety. I was ill-prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally. Ideally, I would have wanted to and tried to attend some classes to prepare me for labour and birthing, but none were available. I wanted to know my options and then make choices about my birthing experience. Of course, complications may arise and we adjust accordingly. However, primarily and most importantly, I didn’t have the information I needed and would have wanted to determine how my child would enter this world. My husband too, had no idea how to support me in the labour ward, though I’ll hasten to say, we were lucky he could be there. Many men who may want to be present for the birth of their child are hindered inconducive hospital layouts.

Skip a few years later, after both my first and second birthing experiences, Designed Life striving to make a difference in the maternity space, are finalizing the first online birthing classes for expecting individuals and families in Zimbabwe. Should we decide to have another baby, I know hubby and I will be better prepared to welcome another precious gift into the world. Remembering that no two pregnancies are the same, and no level of experience is exhaustive.

I’ll end by saying, my daughter is well aware, she owes me a World Record!

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