Note: this is a birth story, so it contains some of the attendant horrors of childbirth, beautiful miracle that it is. Just a warning, in case you’re not into that kind if thing!
On Sunday night, we all headed down to the red house to sleep. I was thinking about the laundry that I wanted to do before we went in to Antalya for my appointment with the doctor. “Come with your bag,” she’d said. At the same time, we were waiting for people from the department of the treasury to measure our land in order to get a title deed, so we weren’t even sure if Ali could take me in or if I should just go in on my own.
After Baki and I had brushed our teeth and read a story and had a goodnight hug and kiss, I fell asleep and dreamed that I was playing hide and seek with my mother, Ali and Baki. I was awoken from the dream by a familiar feeling, a rhythmic swell of energy that coiled itself around my abdomen. I lay in the dark, waiting to see if they’d continue.
The doctor and I had agreed that we would come to Antalya early, since we live about an hour and a half away, and we did not know whether things would move along quickly. After about the fifth contraction, by which time it was going on 1 in the morning, I told Ali and we gathered a few things and headed up through the garden. I made coffee for Ali and tea for me and we sat on the porch for a while before setting off. How strange, we thought out loud, that we would likely be coming home with another person in tow!
My mother went down to the red house so Baki would not be alone, and we set off. I’d had my doubts about riding in the car on our road during labor, but it was so early on that it wasn’t a problem – this was the point, I guess, in leaving early.
It was exciting to be driving into town in the middle of the night, just the two of us, not really knowing what to expect. I called Dr. Figen and the midwife, Saadet hanim, who would meet us at the hospital.
We got lost trying to find the hospital in the dark and ended up on the road leading out of Antalya, but eventually, after asking a few times, we made it there. Saadet hanim checked me out and proclaimed it early hours yet, so she told us we may as well come to her house; she’d gotten a room ready for us.
We got lost again on the way to her house, and I could tell that Ali was feeling a bit doubtful about having left the hospital. I just wanted to get done sleep; I didn’t sleep enough in the early stages of my labor with Baki, and it took its toll in the end.
When we got to her house. Saadet hanim showed us to a room with a fold out bed. I went to sleep immediately- it was well past 4 by then.
We woke at maybe 8, and talked about what to do over breakfast. Saadet had spoken to the doctor and told her that we were with her. Ali was worried about the treasury guys coming, and also wanted to check on the chicks back home. My contractions had continued, but I was still comfortable enough to eat and talk. Saadet checked me again after breakfast and said that my cervix was effacing, but I would not be giving birth before the evening. We decided, then, that Ali would go home to assess the situation and then return, and I would stay with Saadet.
I felt a bit lonely after Ali left, began to knit to hide my feelings. It was a beautiful day out, though, so Saadet suggested a walk. A walk sounded nice, I thought, and it would pass the time nicely while at the same time moving things along a bit.
It was a beautiful day, perfectly clear and sunny. Saadet walked me through a park by her house that was beautifully scented by enormous pittosporum trees.
I’m not sure when I put two and two together, but Saadet had mentioned that she liked to exercise, and the term “tempo walking” had come up. In any case, it soon became evident that this walk would be neither leisurely nor short. Every time we stopped for a rest, Saadet talked about the next park we’d go to. When we set off, the contractions immediately began to occur closer together, but they didn’t stop me from walking, they just made it feel a bit like trying up walk through quicksand. By the time we were almost home about two hours later, though, I had to stop for each one, and my legs were so tired that all I could think about was taking a shower and lying down. Saadet checked me and said I was dilating a little, but we still had a way to go and sent me off to the shower. She fed me afterwards, and Ali returned from home, where he’d fed the chickens and determined that the treasury guys were not coming that day.
Ali and I slept awhile, then I got up after the contractions made me too uncomfortable. I noticed with Baki as well that I’m usually more uncomfortable lying down. I began to pace around the house. I didn’t want to sit, but my legs felt so tired, I wasn’t happy standing either. I tried kneeling on the sofa, which wasn’t so bad, but I had entered the time when there just isn’t any getting comfortable anymore. I was getting loud, too- I had to hum my way through contractions and sway. Saadet said she’d check me again at 3. When she did, I was more than 4 cm dilated, so she said we should leave for the hospital in an hour.
I’d been dreading the drive because I didn’t know how I’d sit through the contractions, but it wasn’t so bad, and once we got to the hospital, things started to move very quickly. We went straight up to my room, they asked me for phone numbers and other information, put in an IV catheter, and sent me down to the delivery room. Once there, Saadet told me I had to lie on the weird, truncated birthing chair, and she was stern about it because she knew I wouldn’t want to. I was to stay on my left side, to get his head down, she said.
By this time, the contractions were intense, and I began to make a lot of noise. Dr. Figen arrived, and stood drinking tea as they waited. I fell asleep for a little while, in a lull between contractions and heard her say that this was always the sweetest sleep to see. They kept telling me to tell them when it felt like I needed to poop.
Then they told me I had to try pushing. “Hold your breath,” they said, “lift your head, and push like you’re pooping.” it sounded like a horrible idea to me, so I was perversely pleased when I did what they said- and I pooped.
The next while was a sort of battle of wills. They kept on checking me to see if the head was out of my cervix, which was very unpleasant. And I wanted their hands out of me, I wanted to get off their stupid chair, and I wanted them to stop asking me to hold my breath and push.
I lost hope then, and thought that they may as well cut me open because i would never be able to get the baby out the way they wanted. Then Saadet looked at me and said I was sweating a lot and my lips were dry, so she thought I needed glucose serum. This was when the whole thing turned around. While they were administering the glucose, which took a while because they had to put in a new IV catheter for some reason, they stopped with their breath holding talk and Saadet just let me hang on to her through the next few contractions. And then, when the glucose kicked in, I felt the thing that I had been waiting for- the feeling that pushing was the only thing I *could* do. It felt so good, and it was so easy and so right. They got excited then, Dr.Figen, Saadet, and the nurse, and they said, yes that’s the way! I pushed and pushed and then they said, “Stop pushing! Breathe!” That turned out to feel very strange, but I knew he was crowning and I was almost there. Then I pushed again with all my might and suddenly Ali gasped by my side and I saw a pair of feet! They gave him to me right away and I couldn’t believe it. I was completely unaware of delivering the placenta as I held him. “No stitches!” Dr Figen said, and I let the pediatrician take a look at him.
Ali went with them as they took Kaya to be weighed and dressed, and they put a new gown on me and rolled me back up to the room. My friend Deniz was waiting in the hall outside the delivery room, and as she spread her arms in greeting her poncho spread and she looked like an angel. After what I’d just seen, miracles seemed to wait around every corner.