Zayba Motala, our rainbow baby

My Birth Story – In honor of my amazing midwife, the late Susan Joan King , who labeled my birth as the easiest in her career.

Birth History
I had my unneceasarian (unnecessary c-section) in February 2014. Lots of false information told to me by my gynae – Conveniently the day before her theatre day, she ‘claimed’ I developed pre-eclampsia of which the ONLY symptom I had was slightly elevated blood pressure. She had me admitted, and once in hospital, my BP was fine. The nurses were even confused as the gynae made it seem really bad. She then ordered I be induced, I was not progressing fast enough (for her liking) and then not long after was her knock off time, so forced a c-section(Their usual story). It should’ve struck me months earlier when I made it clear I wanted a natural birth and she remarked “We don’t always get what we want”. Nonetheless, the birth left me feeling terribly un-womanly as I couldn’t do the one thing women have been doing since forever! Despite my rather awful experience, I was blessed with a most precious and beautiful baby girl. Whenever I felt the dark cloud of my birth experience, I just had to gaze into my arms, to see this bright, gleaming and shining silver lining, named Zayna. However her delivery, she remains MY lovely, sweet baby girl.

Not long after my birth, I joined a VBAC Facebook group and had since, educated myself. I fell pregnant and I was really excited to begin my VBAC journey, but not long into it, I had a miscarriage. It really scarred and traumatized me, not only due to the fact that I had lost a child, but also made me wonder if my VBAC dream would ever come true!

My Pregnancy and Birth Prep
Praise the almighty, a few months later I was pregnant again. On my VBAC group, there was a midwife who came well recommended – Susan Joan King – The Queen of VBAC! I knew if I wanted my dream of a VBAC materialising, I needed Sue as my midwife. And so, my first appointment was made…
Meeting Sue was like meeting a famous celebrity. She was so friendly and her smile so infectious. She was so confident about my VBAC, it gave me hope. She also told me the importance of having a doula at the birth, and it so happened that Doula Aliki was having a competition of which the winner would be fortunate enough to have her at their birth. Ahh, and I won! I was so grateful to wonderful Aliki, for having such a great competition and so glad she would be a part of my birth.

My back up gynae was Dr. Mia. What an incredible being! It’s so amazing that although he delivers babies, he is so supportive of a midwife led birth. Despite being a male, in my opinion, he understands that women are made to try and give birth naturally (if they choose to) and there is a bigger picture other than a sum of money for an unnecessary c-section. Nevertheless, he always keeps the well being of patient and baby at heart, and gives clear guidelines as to when a c-section is necessary or not.
For my appointments, I waited no longer than 10 minutes for him, and each appointment lasted an hour long. He is so thorough with examinations and went into detail explaining the scans. He has an amazing persona – so humble, so calm, so gentle and so supportive. I also made him aware of fact that my previous gynae claimed I developed pre eclampsia, and just to ensure my safety and the safety of my baby, he recommended I take ecotrin, in order to give me the best possible chance at natural delivery.

My pregnancy was smooth sailing, until 36 weeks where my BP escalated. I was really stressed because I just could not have a RCS (My mind and body would not accept it). I had then made the link that I had started RRLT at around the same time that my BP elevated. The minute I stopped the tea, my BP normalized. (Many don’t know that RRLT could cause pre-eclampsia). Sue told me “don’t fix what is not broken” and I never took the tea again! Sue was all for letting your body do what it has to, without any interference. It was then, that I decided that logic should prevail, and to stop listening to old wives tales about eating pineapples and a host of other things people say one MUST do. Sue was so selfless, she gave off time on a public holiday to consult with me and ensure my BP was fine.

In preparation for my birth, I watched The Business of Being Born and that helped alot to prepare me mentally. I also walked alot (mainly on weekends), squatted, bounced, my mother in law did an hour of reflexology for me everyday and I ate atleast 10 dates (islamically said to contain many benefits for relief from many ailments) a day from 37 weeks onwards. I also prayed – ALOT!

Towards the end I started getting anxious to meet our little one, but she happily arrived on the 7th of May (EDD) at exactly 40 weeks. The night before, I bounced on the exercise ball and my husband gave me a good back massage and I think that’s what got things started.

The Birth Itself
My water broke at around 3am that Sunday morning. I had the odd contraction/cramp here and there, but nothing too regular. At around 5am my husband called Susan, and I messaged Aliki. (I felt too bad to disturb anyone’s Sunday morning sleep). Aliki advised me to take a long warm shower and that should set things off.
I put my ‘Flower of Maryam’ in the water as that’s known to help speed things up and assist the laboring mum. My mum brought the flower from her pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia last year.
I managed to clean my entire house (OCD issues) and then I went to shower.
Wow! Did those contractions become regular and long!
At 8am Aliki was at my house! Seriously, she was our angel sent from heaven! Aliki’s services and presence is a MUST at any birth, she played a crucial role throughout my labor. For every contraction, Aliki used counter pressure which helped more than a tonne. She has magic hands! I labored alot in my back so I could not sit or lay down at all. I labored standing and crouching throughout.
During this time my mum and sister arrived and helped sort out a few last minute things. My mum also did energy healing which helped with the contraction pains.

At 9:30am, Aliki suggested I shower again and then depart for Genesis Clinic. Gosh, it was a mission getting ready whilst the contractions were getting stronger by the minute. I even suggested to my husband and Aliki to change the birth into a home birth because I wouldn’t make it to the clinic.

We left at around 10am and I managed to sleep in the car. We arrived at Genesis 30min later.
I was put on the NST machine. It was the worst ever because I had to lay down – the pain from laying down was the worst pain from the entire labor experience!! It was so bad, I bit my husband’s finger till my teeth marks were indented on him. At least he felt a fraction of what labour feels like.

Sue and Sarah came in at 11am to examine me.
I was 9cm dilated already (to everyone’s surprise), but baby was still very high and she wasn’t doing well with each contraction. Sue advised me to drink coke to help the baby ‘wake up’ for the birth. And that did the trick. I also had to bounce on an exercise ball to help her drop, but sitting was impossible so I labored over the sides of the birth pool and motioned my body as if I was bouncing. I had strong urges to push, but tried to wait till Sue came back.
Between 11:40 and 11:45 the water was filled and I got into the birthing pool. Wow, The relief!! Susan asked me to feel where the baby was in order to motivate me! She was right there. Feeling her was incredible. In two quick, painless pushes our little princess was out. It was simply amazing. Zayba Motala, our rainbow baby, was born at 11:48am weighing a healthy 2.64kg. Things went soo fast that I didn’t even get to taking out my birth plan, yet everything still went so perfectly.

I absolutely loved delivering at Genesis because my husband could be with me all the time, my eldest could come in to meet her sibling immediately after she was born, the staff (especially Heilet) was great, and there were no visiting hours. The best part was that I was discharged at 6pm the same day and we enjoyed our first night with our princess in the comfort of our own home.

The amazing part about my birth, that shocked me, was that at every midwife appointment I enquired about pain relief options as I was so terrified of the pain, and in the end, I had a completely natural unmedicated birth. I think alot of women underestimate themselves and what they are capable of. If I could do this, anybody can!

The feeling of achieving my VBAC is indescribable. I’ve healed – emotionally, and I feel so empowered.
This was truly thee best experience of my life and I owe it first to the Almighty, Sue, Aliki, the genesis in house midwives, my family especially my mum, sister and daughter Zayna, but I am eternally grateful to my husband for his endless support throughout this whole journey. If it wasn’t for his support, this would’ve never been possible. On our VBAC journey, so many people scared him into how “dangerous” it is, but he stood by me and not me, but WE did this!! He has now even become an advocate for Natural Birth.
Zayna has also become so in tune with this, she says she wants a natural birth like me, and Susan “must take out a Natural Baby”

Sadly, Sue is no longer around which is a HUGE loss to the medical fraternity. She has inspired so many, and allowed hundreds of woman to have their dreams come true. We even agreed with her that our next baby would be a home birth that only she would do! May she rest in peace.

I’d also like to use my story to educate women, because after my birth, so many women didn’t know it’s possible to have a normal birth after a c-section. And everyone deserves a chance at this wonderful experience!