At 04:30am on 28 October I woke up at home, to what felt like a water balloon bursting in my belly. I’d spent my entire pregnancy wondering how I would know when I was in labour and then when it finally happened it was unmistakable. “Keen, I think my water just broke”, I whispered into the dark. We got up, and Keenan started gathering the hospital bags I’d had packed for weeks (being prepared really paid off!). I planned to labour at home until I started feeling contractions closer together, and then monitoring them until they were about 5 mins apart before going to the hospital.
That’s the advice you get from all angles, right? Spend as much time as possible at home, where it’s comfortable, during early labour. I’d heard from all sources that the early stages can take hours, so it’s best to stay comfortable, eat, shower and rest at home until it’s time to make your way to the hospital.
But my contractions were only 5 mins apart almost immediately, and by the time I’d finished showering (and explaining to Keenan where to find the hospital packing list I’d written for him) they were just 3 mins apart. It was definitely time to go – I’d been awake for less than an hour. Less than 6 hours earlier I was hosting a birthday party for my husband in our kitchen! I couldn’t believe things were moving so much.
In the car I had to move to my hands and knees. I was completely and utterly focussed and I hardly spoke the whole way. I didn’t know it yet, but I was fully in active labour. Thankfully we were too early for the morning Nairobi traffic, so we made it to the hospital in less than 15 mins (it’s taken me up to 2 hours before)! This had actually been one of my biggest fears about birth – getting stuck on Nairobi’s notorious Wayaki Way when the baby came!
By the time I got to hospital reception, my contractions were just 2 mins apart. While staff were trying to check me in and ask questions about my pregnancy, I was coming to the realisation that the baby was really coming, and it was coming NOW! We were quickly rushed to a room and I lay on my side and immediately caved on my steadfast “I don’t think I’ll need an epidural” decision. Keenan sprang into action, “Ok, she wants the epidural! Let’s do the epidural!”.
The doctor on call came in to check my progress and assess whether an epidural would be feasible. “Too late. Fully dilated”. By this stage I’d only been awake for 90 mins. Another 90 mins (about 20 pushes) later, he was out in the big wide world. Keenan was unbelievable during the whole thing, supporting me and handling the whole thing while I checked out of life on earth and zoned in on bringing our baby into the world.
I did very little to prepare for labour, if I’m honest. I didn’t take any birthing classes and I didn’t listen to any podcasts or watch any videos. Personally, I felt that knowing too much would make me anxious. I wanted to remain open minded about what was to come, hoping for a natural, unmedicated labour, but open to any and all interventions required for the safe delivery of my baby. In the end, I was blessed with my dream birth and I am so very grateful for that.
August was born healthy and happy at 07:34am on 28 October 2022. A perfect baby boy at 3.2kg and 47cm.
Throughout my pregnancy I attended the antenatal clinic at Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, attended by Dr Charles Muteshi. He was lovely, kind and reassuring and I really enjoyed his care. For my labour, thanks to my uncomplicated pregnancy and what was expected to be a routine vaginal delivery, I opted to have the Dr on call care for me, which worked out very well, as I don’t think Dr Muteshi would even have had time to get to the hospital before Augie was born.
I laboured in a private room in the general ward (not bookable, but patients can request a private room upon admission) and moved to the Princess Zahra Pavilion for recovery. I spent two nights in the hospital, and Keenan was allowed to stay over. The nurses prepared a bed for him in my room, and he could order three meals a day along with me. My birthing experience at AKUH was hugely positive and I felt supported by the midwives, nurses, doctors and paediatricians. My only real challenge was the clinics, which could take up to 8 hours (not exaggerating). For my next pregnancy, I will be going a different route, with Dr Patricia Muthaura at Aga Khan Peponi as my primary OBGYN.