American expat Chaiya Umm Rashid Brown and her 20th baby, Jasim, are home and resting. “He’s growing like a champ,” she tells Gulf News.
This was an easy pregnancy, recalls 45-year-old Chaiya, laughing, “Before I had Jasim, I had a twin pregnancy. I think anything after twin pregnancy is easier, because a twin pregnancy is so stressful. My pregnancy with Jasim was uneventful, just the normal morning sickness in the beginning and aches and pains at the end. There was nothing that stood out.”
Except a bout of COVID-19, which infected Chaiya and her husband first, then trickled through the household. “I was sick for about a week but then I had a lingering cough so that was challenging to deal with during the pregnancy,” she says.
On the day she had completed her 38 weeks, Chaiya checked into a hospital for induction. The doctors had cautioned her against waiting any longer for the risks of delivery – haemorrhage, for example - would rise since she had already given birth a few times.
The labour lasted three days, recalls Chaiya. “At one point I got to 6cm [dilation] and the baby had a deceleration in heartbeat. My midwife just stayed calm, watched the monitor, helped me change positions [and that helped]. Then he [the baby] went on to do that for a whole other shift before I actually had him. That part was very challenging, you know, hearing the monitors going off and hearing the baby’s heart beat going up and down, but we just prayed a lot ….”
Chaiya says the midwives at her Al Corniche Hospital were instrumental in keeping her birth journey positive. “At one point, the midwife was rubbing my feet and my husband was rubbing my back. They helped me change into all sorts of positions including on my hands and knees. I am so thankful to them,” she says.
On day three, Chaiya says: “The head doctor came in and said, ‘At some point we need to decide that enough is enough’ and ‘You can’t go through this indefinitely and so you need to consider a C-section’.
“She had given me two hours, because I had stayed at 6cm for a while, and then after the two hours, she came back and said she saw some progress and she gave me a little more time and then she left the room again and within minutes, I said, ‘I need to push’. The midwife said, ‘Okay, push’. It got a little crazy there, with his heartbeat going up and down.
“When he came out, he had his cord wrapped around his neck two times. They figured that was the cause of all his heart rate fluctuations. They simply unlooped the cord and that’s it,” she says.
Jasim had jaundice, which meant a slightly longer stay at the hospital where he was treated with phototherapy. UK-based National Health Service (NHS) explains that jaundice is caused by the build-up of bilirubin, a by-product of the breaking down of red blood cells. In the case of a baby, a high number of red blood cells are broken down and replaced constantly. Also, a new-born’s liver isn’t fully developed, so it may be unable to remove the bilirubin from the blood.
His jaundice levels were down in a day or so, and finally Jasim could go home. “The kids were ecstatic; once they knew I had had the baby they were waiting for us to come home, they didn’t expect the extra days. He [Jasim] had to go under the lights for a day, so after that it was just about his bilirubin levels coming down and we could get discharged. The kids were very anxious for us to come home.
“I have great support at home; my older kids always step up. And I was surprised, I was expecting the younger kids to be a bit more curious about the baby, but they come in, peek and talk to him but they aren’t really bothered by another baby being here,” she says. He’s growing well – latching like a champ, says Chaiya.
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