Marvelous and Memorable Birth

January 19, 2001, I gave birth to our first child, a little boy whom we called Nâhel Marley. Three and half year later, June 7, 2004, was born our daughter Ayhémé Sanaa. Although the arrival in the world of our two children was marvelous and, forever, memorable, I must admit that the course of the birth of our daughter was an experience much more enriching and deeply transforming for me and my husband. I regret, today, that my disproportionate fear of the childbirth made me, the first time choose a medicalized birth in a hospital.

In spite of the recommendations of my husband to consider a natural childbirth, I refused considering this solution. I was too afraid of the pain and I did not understand, nowadays, whereas the epidural existed, that there were women who still preferred to go without, and thus suffer.

So at the first contractions a little too intimidating, and under the encouragements of the midwife in service, I requested the intervention of the anesthesiologist. When he inserted its long needle in my spinal column, I accommodated it like my savior and received it with a great relief and a certain satisfaction. I lost consciousness a few minutes later following a fall of pressure resulting from the injection of the epidural but, at least, I did not feel anything. I was going to have my baby without pain and I felt reassured. My husband and I went to sleep during labor.

At the end of a few hours, the midwife came to inform me that I was completely dilated and that it was necessary for me to push. However, as I wasn’t feeling anything, it was impossible for me to effectively do it in spite of the orders, increasingly insistent, which the midwife and the
Obstetrician launched at me... I knew that there was danger for my baby and I felt disabled. I did not have any means of helping my son.

After several missed attempts, the obstetrician decided to carry out a clear incision in my perineum (episiotomy) and extract my baby using forceps. After my son’s birth, the midwife, without even presenting him to me, took him away to the nursery to run first aid on him. When I was finally able to see him; he was then behind an incubator where he had been placed to recover; my son’s head was in a cone shape and it was completely deafened by the amount of anesthetic.

Furthermore, it took him one day and a half to breastfeed for the first time. All returned in to good order rather quickly (it seemed back than). Its small head regained rather quickly a rounder shape but, still today, I wonder how much this setting in the world had to be such a trauma for him. For me it took nearly two months to recover from the episiotomy; and, I still feel some times pain at the level of my perineum while menstruating.

With the reality of my second pregnancy, my husband, traumatized by this first experience which it describes as barbarian, had decided to get me to consider another way of accommodating our second child in this world. We had moved in the United States and we knew that various alternatives were offered here. 

Although I shared his desire, I remained frightened by the process of the childbirth and the idea to suffer... until the day when, while going to visit a maternity in Los Angeles, we heard about Marie-Paul Baxiu, a French woman, Hypnotherapist specializing in childbirth. We contacted her at once and I started to meet her regularly to work on a natural childbirth. As of our first meeting, Marie-Paul succeeded in reassuring me and gradually gave me confidence in myself.

Meeting after meeting, she gave me invaluable councils to dispel small faintnesses related to the pregnancy, to assist in changing the baby’s position but especially to overcome my fears. With each meeting, she attempted to understand my fears, desensitizing me from it and reconditioning me with the kind of childbirth I wanted to experience: serene and the least painful possible. Within the reality of this learning process and my renewed confidence; I felt that I had control over my pregnancy and the birth process to come, so I chose to go in a birth center which only offered natural childbirth; which meant that if I was to change my mind and choose and alternative birth process, it would have been necessary that I transfer while being in labor! 

I did not have to regret this decision, I was pleased to experience the birth of my daughter, and mine as a mother, as I had mentally prepared with the hypnotherapist. I did not need at all any drug. I would not claim that there was no discomfort, but I could manage it; I felt in control. It should be added that the birth center was particular. This birth center has only two birthing rooms and nothing similar to the one I had experience at the hospital: Wallpaper on the walls, filtered light, broad bath-tub where one can relax oneself... I had the leisure to freely walk in the hallways, to change position and to release myself in water as I wished. I wasn’t connected to any machine either.

After a few hours in labor, Ayhémé finally arrived. At once, the midwife placed her on my belly. She was so aware, had wide opened eyes and kept staring at me. She latched on my breast immediately on her own and I was pleased to keep her against me for at least two hours without anyone taking her away as she looked perfectly normal and did not require any special care. It was a magical moment for all of us, my husband, my son and me. I then realized, going through all of this, at this stage, what it meant truly "to give life" and what being a mother truly meant: Priceless revelation!

The only distorted moment for me, was the entrance of my mother-in-law in the room who wished to attend the birth in spite of my reserves. When she entered the room, as I was pushing my baby, I lost two centimeters: as the head went back in. Childbirth is a very intimate and private moment and should be respected as such.

But in a general, after having lived through such an experience of childbirth; I only wished I had offer the same thing to my son. Fortunately, I could nurse him for 18 months and I am convinced that it restored the bonds which were cut between my son and me with its birth. Yet it is necessary for me to say that I am grateful from the bottom of my heart to the women who helped me bring Nâhel to this world as well as the one who assisted me in the birth of Ayhémé. I will never forget them!

Latifa Hajib-Niles,