BORN 17th November 2016
When I was pregnant with Maelle, I was constantly reading and watching vlogs of birth stories. I felt like this would somehow prepare me for the big day when I would be giving birth myself. Before I fell pregnant I had some fears about giving birth, but as the day came closer, I found myself getting more and more excited for the whole experience. I just wanted to meet her! The excitement overtook the fear.
Maelle is now 8 months old, and I’ve finally felt ready to write my own birth story. Inspired by all the stories I read and watched, I feel it’s important for me to write my own; mostly because I want this story to be a gift for Maelle to read when she is old enough. But also because I feel it’s so important to share our experiences of birth with other women to help them as they may be preparing for their first delivery.
Empowerment, encouragement and of course, the beautiful ending. The birth stories I've read always put a lump in my throat and goosebumps down my arms; it really is an incredible thing, giving birth. There at the end of this journey is an unbelievable, mind-blowing, earth-shattering little miracle laying on your body. What just happened?
November 16th 2016 started out to be a beautiful, sunny blue-skied day. It was a Wednesday and my husband met with his friends to work out at the Runyon Canyon, as he did each week. I was 36 weeks pregnant at the time, and on day 3 of maternity leave! The first two days I was keeping myself busy nesting like crazy and grabbing last-minute things like I was due the next day! Thinking back, it was lucky I had done that, also- had my body/mind known what was about to happen? It is a mystery, but I strongly believe your body gives you the signs of pending labour. I decided to join my husband at Runyon, not to workout, but just to slowly walk up the easier section of the canyon. I felt good and energetic doing it, however later that afternoon I felt pretty tired, my feet in particular were killing me. I was invited to my girlfriend's clothing label party at my husband's restaurant's rooftop- I really wanted to go! It got to around 5pm and I decided to listen to my body and stay home to rest. Normally, I'd push through when I'm excited about something, however I really felt like my body was urging me not to go, thankfully I listened.
I ran myself an epsom salt bath to help with my feet and sore muscles, and I started to chat to my baby. Funnily enough, I asked her when I would finally get to meet her- “Will I meet you sooner or later baby girl”? Thinking back this really gives me chills- I was likely already in labour at the time without being aware of it.
I tucked myself into bed early, around 8pm and woke up at 10:30pm to use the bathroom. Yes, like all pregnant women, I have to go to the bathroom a million times during the night, so this was nothing unusual. As I got up from the toilet, water continued to trickle down my leg. OMG?! I'm peeing myself! I’ve lost all control of my bladder! Already? I sat back down quickly to finish peeing, but as soon as I sat down it stopped. I stood up again and the same thing happened, "What the hell is going on?" I wondered. The realization then suddenly melted over my body, I could physically feel panic, deep down I knew what was happening. That was my water breaking. My heart was pounding. I did what I normally did when I wasn’t sure about things, and called my best friend Tess (who had already birthed two beautiful babies). I talked her through what just happened, and yes she was also sure it was my water.
I remember I was in a state of shock and panic, and Tess knowing me too well, could tell I was letting myself get worked up. She immediately calmed me down by reminding me of what was about to happen. “Jorja, you’re going to meet your little girl soon”. Honestly, just that thought alone put my anxiety to rest. Tess suggested I lay down in bed for 10-15 minutes and just do a little quiet meditation. And to confirm if it was my water, it would pool up when laying down, then when I stood up, I could check if it started to trickle out again. Having that little meditation really helped to center me in that moment.
Next was the fun phone call to Louis, my husband who was in the middle of service at the restaurant where he was head chef! Once I knew he was on his way home, I had a shower and even shaved my legs! At this point I still didn’t feel anything.
We were in the car driving to the hospital by 12 midnight. It was at that time, in the car that I started to feel contractions which I started to time on using an app on my phone. 3 minutes apart, is that right? It seems close together for only just starting to feel my contractions. I read up on this, but I honestly couldn’t remember what this meant. Excitement was too real at this point. Louis was so calm, even with the shock of this happening early; he was so on point with everything.
When we arrived at the hospital, the contractions really started to kick in- and yep they are definitely contractions, very deep pain and surprisingly frequent. Each one felt like it was lasting longer. Once we made it into the delivery ward the nurse checked to see if it was my water, which yes it was! She also informed me that I was 4½ cm dilated so this was indeed happening tonight. Louis left to park the car and bring our bags up. In this time the nurse was monitoring Maelle’s heart rate and hooking me up to an IV for fluids. Everything looked good, and my contractions were a steady 2-3 minutes apart.
When Louis arrived back, we made our way to the Labor and Delivery room. I remember thinking, "This is all happening a lot quicker than I thought it would! Isn’t this stage meant to take a long time?" I had decided I wanted to go ahead with an epidural, which I didn’t receive till around 1:30am. I wasn’t really coping with the pain at all, I remember having to stop multiple times during the walk to the delivery room, I felt like I was losing all sense of myself with each contraction. I remember my mum being on FaceTime with Louis and I forced him to hang up! (Sorry Mum!) I needed him, each contraction breaking me down as they hit. Where was the anaesthetist? I didn’t want to wait any longer! When I finally saw him walk into the room, I felt so much better knowing the pain was all about to end.
I wrapped my arms around Louis sitting up on the bed and he held me tight when the anaesthetist inserted the epidural. I did read about this being painful, but I honestly don’t remember the pain- I think the contractions were all I could think about at that stage. Once it was in and hooked up I could still feel everything! I didn’t understand, I started to panic again, but I was told it can take a little time to kick in. Once it did, it was the difference of night and day, I immediately relaxed. The nurse suggested we try to rest and if I felt any pressure down there to call. They wouldn’t continue to check my cervix, as my water had broken and they didn't want to risk infection. I didn’t feel a thing! I was so excited and couldn’t stop thinking about what was about to happen, and that my baby girl would be in our arms soon. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to start pushing already.
It was about 4:45am when the nurse came to check me, she asked if I felt anything, which I didn’t. To her surprise, I was extremely close (if not already there) to 10cm dilated, she left quickly to get my OB. By 5:20am my OB walked in with two nurses and it was time to push. Finally! Since I couldn’t feel anything, so my OB guided me as to when to push. I remember it being a very calm and peaceful event. I was a little nervous, but overall it was calm and I was just concentrating on pushing as best as I could. With each contraction I would tuck my chin to my chest, hold my breath for 10 counts and repeat. I could feel my face becoming flushed; it’s kind of hard holding your breath for 10 counts while pushing! Louis encouraging me for the last time, “You can do it, one more big push!”
By 5:40am November 17th 2016 Maelle Jenivive Tikaram came into our world very quickly- thankfully my OB had a very good catching reflex! She was placed on my chest right away and it was a truly incredible moment. I couldn’t believe my eyes, looking at her, so little, so precious! She wasn’t crying that much, I think she was just as surprised by the whole event as I was. Daddy Louis cut the cord and she was then taken to be weighed, measured and cleaned up. I could hear her soft little cry, protesting it all. 5 pounds 9 ounces / 2.5kgs and 21cms long. She was brought back and latched on straight away. Pure magic, this feeling I will never forget. What just happened?! Wow.
Louis was able to capture some amazing pictures; we were both just so in awe of our little girl. That night was a complete whirlwind. That morning I didn’t feel tired at all, I was just so wired, which is probably the best word to describe it. There was no way I could sleep. All I could do was stare in amazement of my little girl and reminisce about what we just went through. It was every bit as amazing, if not more, than I thought it would be. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Maelle- you are the greatest gift we could ever receive. Our little heart beating on, what a privilege it is to become a mother.