Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim - in the name of God, the merciful and compassionate.
It was the afternoon of April 1st, 2019 when my husband and I learned that I was pregnant (the third time and this was going to be our third child). Alhamdulillah we already had an 8-year-old girl and a 6-year old boy. My husband was at work when I called him and shared this unexpected and unplanned news. He praised Allah (swt) and we accepted this blessing happily; regardless of how unexpectedly it came in our life and how busy our lives were and how we were trying to manage some personal issues as well. At that point my husband said this is no doubt a Na’eemah (blessing) from Allah (swt) that He has created and brought among us.
It was February 16, 2019, when I received the email from a wonderful mentor/sister where I was invited to join an AMANI Birth Workshop that was going to be held for three days i.e. April 13th, 14th, and 15th of 2019 and was being taught by AMANI founder Aisha Al-Hajjar. I could not miss this opportunity as this was something I was looking forward to for a long time – Childbirth and Islam integration. [Previously in 2018, I had attended the Heart and Hands course (which provided a strong and integrated foundation in the art and science of midwifery) taught by Elizabeth Davis, which gave me a foundation and increased my interest and curiosity in the field of midwifery.]
By 2019 I had already heard of several home-births and how amazing midwifery care and natural childbirth education was. I had this perpetual desire to experience one myself too, and subhanallah, Allah is Great that He brought that time and soul in my body when I had no clue or expectation for it. I was in my final semester with my exams approaching for my undergraduate degree. My first trimester symptoms started to hit as well – nausea and fatigue to be the most common. This was the time when my AMANI workshop dates had approached and my exams were not far as well. At this time, I was also working part-time at a school while my husband worked overtime with a full-time day job and two other part-time jobs, including being a physical fitness trainer.
After attending the AMANI Childbirth Educator and Doula training workshop, I was definite I wanted a home-birth! And hence, I started praying and looking for a midwife in my community and working towards it. I believe that Sister Aisha Al-Hajjar was sent in my life at that time by Allah (swt) as a perfect guide and mentor as her inspiring lectures and stories motivated me to first have a hands-on experience of a home-birth and then become a Childbirth Educator and Doula to raise awareness among women in general, and Muslim women to be specific. I can keep writing all day about the amazing knowledge I gained and how I believe that natural childbirth is a means of bringing us closer to Allah (swt)! Being a mother and experiencing your child passing through you, for me, has been the beginning of that special and unconditional love that Allah (swt) mentions in His example of the incomparable magnitude to which His love for us is greater and He (swt) is the origin of all love.
Although being pregnant for the third time at the age of 27 wasn’t as difficult, but when I compared this pregnancy with my last two, and how I was only a stay-at-home mom with my last two, I found this pregnancy to be a little challenging due to increased responsibilities in my life. However, my midwife/pregnancy health care provider was happy with my overall health and continuation of a normal low-risk pregnancy. I had my first prenatal visit in June 2019 when I was reaching the end of my first trimester. My midwife scheduled an ultrasound for July 17th that I declined to go to. She completely supported that and went over the pros and cons of foregoing the ultrasound where pros weighted more. I also requested for a non-ultrasound device for baby’s heart-beat monitoring and no electric fetal monitor or handheld Doppler which was understood and supported by my midwives.
Entering the third trimester of my pregnancy, I had now started to feel minor menstrual-like sensations here and there and lower abdominal discomfort beginning Nov. 22nd. I was able to ignore these tell-tale signs until my first contraction hit- the contraction where you cannot move or talk. In my case, an initial warning/sign of true labor...
It was 11:00 pm of Nov. 30th when I was getting out of the car after parking it in front of our house when I felt my first contraction which lasted for only a few seconds where I couldn’t talk or move– a contraction which I did not feel during my entire pregnancy. I knew this contraction was something different and a sign. I ignored it and walked inside and continued to do my work and things I needed to take care of before bed, during which I also quickly had 7 Ajwa dates and Zam-Zam water in the kitchen and made Dua before drinking Zam-Zam that if the birth is meant to happen tonight, then may it be a successful, easy, and quick home-birth with all Aafiyah. The contractions happened three times until 11:40 pm when I called my midwife Jenny. She advised me to take rest as it was late at night and to let her know if I feel any major change, or if my water breaks. I continued to take care of things in my room, changed, did Wudu, prayed Isha, prayed 2 rakah, and salaatul istikhara – made duaa, recited surah Maryam and surah Yaseen.
It was past 1:00 am by now and I had continually felt contractions every 10 to 15 minutes, but they would only last a few seconds each time. I tried to lay down but could not rest. It was 1:54 am when I texted Jenny again stating that, “I’m not able to rest. Contractions are frequent.”
She replied, “Okay. About how far apart are they?”
I replied, “2-3 mins apart but they are lasting less than 20 seconds.”
I didn't get her text back. A short while after that, my husband called her saying that the pattern of contractions is still the same and she advised me to take a warm shower to relax. I felt super relaxing in the warm shower and stayed underwater for a while – contractions were there but were now coming every few minutes. They felt like a wave, but I was not able to put a finger on their duration in the shower. It was 2:40 am now when I came out of the shower and sat on a chair in our room. My eyes started to close, and sleep started overtaking me. I felt a contraction again, and my husband who was laying with his eyes shut and covered (but could still hear my groans), reminded me to breathe through with each rising contraction. Again, it went away, and I started to fall asleep in the same chair when the contraction came back. This pattern repeated for a few times when the moment came when I felt an undeniable pressure in my pelvic area and an urge to push. This was the time when I asked my husband again to call Jenny. He texted her at 4:18 am saying that, “Contractions are still occurring as before, intensity increasing, she is feeling pressure there and a desire to push. No opportunity to rest at all. She took a warm shower earlier as well.”
Jenny did not reply and he called her at 4:20 am and repeated his text over the phone. She agreed to come in but mentioned that it could be false labor. At this time, I went on to the bed and assumed a hands and knees position. Contractions were now stronger and shorter, but we stopped keeping track of them as I was in true labor at that time and there was no doubt about that!
I asked my husband to call my mother who was sleeping in the other room with our kidsو but at the same time, I did not want him to leave me alone. He stayed at the door keeping an eye on me, not wanting to leave. Unwillingly though, he left the room to go get my mother because there was no choice. Then he came back and set up the computer to play the AMANI Birth Islamic CD MP3 (a collection of soft, soothing sounds and different Surahs and supplications). My husband started massaging me all over my back and hips which felt good and helped reduce the intensity of the contractions. Now my mother was in the room as well. When she came, she tried to come close to comfort me, but I said to her to move away from me as I felt like pushing again, and started to feel wild but stayed in the same position. My mother started reciting various childbirth supplications and Duaas (prayers) in Arabic and helped me repeat them after her during my breaks between contractions. I was still in the hands and knees position and my husband was still massaging me. I tried to lay down thinking that changing positions might help, but felt the contractions with more intensity right away, so went back to hands and knees. My husband called Jenny again around 4:46 am to let her know to come right inside as the main entrance door was unlocked and I was in full-blown labor. He also asked them how much time it would take for them to reach and Jenny told him she was 40 minutes away. When I heard that, I knew that this baby is not waiting that long. Sure enough, a short while later, I said to my husband, “Something’s coming!”
He checked and told me that nothing was there. After I said this a few times again, he said, “Your poop is coming.” Just at that moment I threw up and knew now that the moment was near as I remembered these expulsive reflexes indicated that the baby would come anytime. He wiped the poop and after that again I felt the urge to push.
I pushed for about 7 to 9 times with all my might. All this time I kept saying, “The baby is coming, the baby is coming!” I said that a few times. However, according to my husband, he saw nothing coming as he was observing the process. He was also playing the AMANI MP3 selections: Surah Maryam, Ayat-al-Kursi, and the 3 Qul.
I was completely dilated at this point. Contractions were now accompanied with strong urges to push, and my voice had now reached several notches up. My husband could now see the top of the baby’s head!
He called Jenny again, keeping her on the speakerphone, and told her that the baby’s head was being born. She replied, “Oh my gosh, okay, just support the baby’s head and let everything happen naturally. We’ll be there in 15-20 minutes.”
My eyes were closed at this time and I was repeating the duaas/supplication after my mother. I had perspiration on my face (the temperature in the room was 76 F).
About 3-4 contractions later the baby’s head and face emerged. She was facing my right thigh while coming out, and then my husband started supporting her head – his hand being on her scalp. With the next contraction my husband coached me to breathe. I took a deep breath into my belly and could feel my baby’s shoulders and the entire body being birthed out. During this whole time, I kept repeating, “Bismillah, YES, Allahu akbar, Bismillah, YES, Allahu akbar…”
The baby came out in my husband’s arms! He placed her gently on the towel right between my legs. She started crying immediately. That gave me a sigh of relief. I glanced at the wall clock and it was 5:18 am. At this point I asked my husband to “Check the cord, check the cord.”
He checked the cord which was in fact looped around the baby’s neck three times! He unraveled it three times. Jenny was still on the call and said, “Place the baby on the mother’s chest”.
I moved from my hand and knees position and sat up against the headboard of our bed. My husband placed the baby on my chest and covered her with the towel. She stopped crying right away. And at that time, although she was all covered, I knew she was a girl. As soon as the midwives arrived, the newborn was checked for vitals and the gender was confirmed. We were delighted. The cord was clamped by my husband. It was soft by that time, alhamdulillah. Nusaybah was comforted in her maternal grandmother’s arms while the midwives checked me. I delivered the placenta soon after. My midwives palpated my uterus and assessed the perineum. I had a minor tear that required no stitches Alhamdulillah.
Nusaybah was born a healthy 7 pounds and 13 ounces and was 21 inches long. The adhaan was said in her ears by her father. She was fed after an hour and latched right away masha’Allah, alhamdulillah. Later that morning, tahneek of an ajwa date was given by Nusaybah’s older sister Ameenah. I am content and pleased with all the assistance and aafiyah Allah (swt) granted our family. There is no fear when everything happens spontaneously and easily, and when the belief in Allah’s shade of throne and protection overcomes any other thought.
AMANI Birth is proud to feature this incredible mother's story of strength and determination, and wishes all the mothers around the world an empowering birthing experience!
[Names have been changed upon request to maintain the family's anonymity.]