Rotondwa Musehani – Birth Story

The minute I found out I was pregnant for the first time, I started doing research about pregnancy and mostly about giving birth. I guess every woman who falls pregnant gets to a point where they want to find out how their vagina will get affected by the condition they find themselves in. As I was doing my research, I fell in love with the idea of documenting my whole birth story and I had my camera and cameraman ready for the births of my sons.

Unfortunately, none of my plans to document my labor and birth experience materialized. All I managed to get were a few last-minute pictures of me pushing Rotondwa out. I guess my husband was a bit more relaxed this time around.

I was hoping to give birth around the second week of December, when I was 38 weeks pregnant, simply because that was the case with Rofhiwa. I tried almost every method available to induce labor, without any success. You can read about how I tried to induce labor here.

So on the 23rd of December 2019, a day before my due date, I decided to stop Googling anything related to inducing labor or birth stories. Rofhiwa had been visiting my inlaws since the beginning of December and I was missing him a lot. We decided to go pick him up to go see the Christmas lights decorations on Lawley street, but we got a storm alert just as we were driving out. I was so tired of waiting on this baby to come and was missing Rofhiwa so much that I wasn’t going to allow a storm to keep me in the house any longer.

We arrived at my mother’s place at around 6 pm and the first thing she mentioned was that my face was swollen up. I then realized that my feet were also swollen up and I thought it was either due to the distance we drove or it was an early sign of labor. I went on to go watch tv and spend some time with the kids.

At around 8 pm I felt like I was wetting my pants so I ran to the bathroom to go have a look but it had stopped by the time I got there, so I just wiped myself and went back to the tv room. It started again just a few minutes after I sat down and I rushed to the bathroom again. This time it was more liquid than the first time, enough to wet the tights I was wearing. I knew right then that my water broke.

This was supposed to happen while I was home so that I could do the dramatic reaction and shout “TOOTHBRUSH” as I run to the room to change into clean clothes. Everything that I needed was packed and in the car except for my toothbrush so I told my husband and Katleho (my sister) that I will shout toothbrush when my water breaks so that we can remember to pack it.

Ohk, back to my water breaking… I was very calm about it and even planned on hanging around for a little bit longer because I didn’t want to go in too soon only to be sent back home. However, everyone else insisted that we leave immediately. We arrived at the hospital just after 9 pm and I was still fine, with mild contractions that were 7 minutes apart.

I got admitted into the same room as the one I was in with Rofhiwa and it brought back some painful memories. The first vaginal examination was a bit discouraging as the nurse said the sample she took of my water tested negative for amniotic fluid, that I was only 2cm dilated and that the baby was still very high. Those were the words that sent mommies-to-be back home on so many birth story vlogs that I watched. They were the same words I wanted to avoid by allowing labor to progress while I was at home.

Luckily for me, I was told to walk around and hop a bit on the birthing ball for the baby to move down, something I’ve had been doing every day for the last 2 weeks. The nurse predicted that I would give birth at around 4 or 5 am the next morning. So I told my husband to rest a bit so that he’ll gather enough energy for when active labor starts. The contractions were now closer together and the pain was on a scale of 7/10. With every contraction, I would just say words of affirmation and try to focus on the end prize as I held onto whatever was within my reach.

My contractions became excruciatingly painful from about 1:30 am and I tried to hold it out till 2 am when the nurse was initially supposed to come to examine me again, but I just couldn’t bear the pain anymore. I had decided not to get an epidural but the pain was just too intense so I asked if I could still get it. The nurse then called my doctor to find out which pain medication she could give me so long to help relieve the pain a bit but she had to examine me first before she could give me anything. At that point, I was losing my mind as I was trying not to focus on the pain and also trying not to give in to the need to push and also not to pinch so hard that I hurt the baby.

Am I the only one who thinks that the gas we get apparently for pain relief doesn’t help at all? I remember dropping it on the floor because I just felt like it was doing the opposite of what it’s supposed to do. Anyway, that nurse quickly realized that I wasn’t just being dramatic for nothing. The baby was ready to pop out and there was no time for us to wait for the doctor.

I was expecting the birthing process to go on for a bit long but to my amazement, my baby was out after three pushes. At 2:33 am my husband took the picture that would help the nurses to determine the time of the birth of our son as they had forgotten to check the time. Rotondwa Tshilidzi Musehani was born on the 24th of December 2019, weighing 3,43kg.

It was the most beautiful moment ever. I felt like such a superwoman having gone through such a painful procedure (with no epidural) to give birth to such a beautiful blessing.

Please subscribe to my blog and also head over to my Instagram account to see more posts about our now four months old Rotondwa and the rest of the clan.

Postpartum Struggles

The day I found out I was pregnant again was one Sunday after a very emotional morning at church. Ohk, I’m usually emotional but even I noticed that that was a bit extra! So I stopped at Shoprite on my way home to buy a pregnancy test, got home and tested it and to my surprise it was positive. I’m pregnant, so what now??? I nervously dropped the bomb to my husband then, like many other women out there, I turn to my friend Google. 

Google search “When did I fall pregnant?”, “When will my due date be?’, “what are the early signs of pregnancy?’, and I went on like that till the day I went into labor. I literally Googled everything from the time I didn’t know I was pregnant to the birthing part. I would tell myself that I had to know everything there is to know for me to be prepared for the worst. By the worst, I meant birth. It was as if I thought somehow everything will go back to ‘normal’ immediately after giving birth. I even went as far as convincing myself not to buy maternity clothes because pregnancy is just a few months and I won’t be needing the clothes afterward. 

Oh, how quickly we forget. One would expect someone who’s doing this for the second time to remember what she experienced the first time around, right? 

I now understand why some new mommies go through postpartum depression. There is so much focus on preparing the woman for the pregnancy journey leading to giving birth and so many conversations about it, that we make it seem like everything after that will be so smooth that we don’t need to prepare ourselves for it. ‘It’s motherhood, it’ll come naturally, you’ll be such a good mother…’ 

I went into postpartum so chilled, especially after the smooth labor and delivery I had. I felt like a superwoman, I mean what else, other than sleepless nights, could hit me? The answer to that was soon to be answered. 

  1. Postpartum Edema – The day we got discharged I wore a dress that I wore throughout my pregnancy, but for some reason, it was very tight on me. This is the dress that was perfectly fine with my belly and should be sitting even looser on me getting rid of half of the belly. My face was all puffy and my hands and feet were swollen up, with the one leg bigger than the other one. The same thing happened after my first pregnancy, but mommy had forgotten about it. Postpartum Edema is swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles and weight gain caused by an excess amount of fluid remaining in the body tissue after childbirth. The duration of the healing process differs for everyone but it can be sped up by eating healthy, staying hydrated, and resting. Swelling in new mothers is usually not a cause for concern but a doctor should be consulted when the swelling is accompanied by frequent headaches or when the swelling is only on one side of the body, as that could be a sign of a blood cloth. Fortunately for me, it was just mild edema and the swelling started going down after about two weeks.
  2. Breast engorgement – About two days into breastfeeding, my breast started getting very heavy and too big for the bra’s I had. Both my breasts were hard and lumpy and I had swollen lymph nodes in my armpits. It was so painful at some point that I would have my arms slightly lifted up so that there’s no pressure on the breasts or armpits. I had mastitis with my first baby and I was really not ready to go through that much pain again. I massaged my breasts and armpits as much as I could to get rid of the lumps and I would position my son in such a way that his chin would face towards the area that is swollen and lumpy. I would also soften my breasts before feeding by applying a hot compress, as it makes it easier for the baby to latch on. Postpartum breast engorgement is very common in the first few days after giving birth and usually goes away within a few days as the body adjusts the milk supply to the baby’s needs. 
  3. After-pain / Involution – The previous two postpartum conditions were not that bad as I had experienced them before. However, after-pain was a totally new experience that added more pain to breastfeeding. This one was a bit strange. It felt like I was getting contractions over and over again. Involution or after-pain is the process through which your expanded uterus shrinks back to its normal size. During this process, you will feel sharp cramps in your abdomen when your uterus is contracting. I mostly felt these cramps while breastfeeding. To my first time moms, you might be lucky enough not to feel these pains, but just keep this in mind in case you’re thinking about trying out for baby number two. Oh, and it apparently gets worse with every baby. There I was thinking that it’ll get better with experience…

There are so many women out there with different stories to tell about their postpartum complications, but yet only a few expectant mommies are informed and equipped to handle the struggles that come with being a new mom. We really need to be more vocal about these struggles. I was getting very worried about the cramps I was feeling until I decided to mention it to my mother inlay and she assured me that it’s normal. I was fortunate to have women to have her but for those who don’t have anyone to have these conversations with there are a lot of communities on social media platforms. Do your research and go on one of these groups and speak about your symptoms. I’m certain that you will find someone who has had the same experience or who knows of someone who has been through the same and together you could come up with a solution and not just help you, but all those mommies who might be afraid or too ashamed to speak out. 

These are just the three conditions that I had. I would love to hear about your postpartum experience. Please subscribe, comment and share with your world.