Our little girl made her grand entrance almost as quietly as our reactions when we first saw the two lines on the stick. There was no drama, everything was relatively textbook and we stayed pretty calm. As such, I have a very boring birth story to tell but hey, it is best to be boring in this case; it means that the delivery was straightforward and I am beyond thankful for that.
My due date came and went away with nary a hint of when F was going to arrive. I felt like I was going to explode even at 37 weeks and boy, was it tough to keep my energy levels up as the due date approached. I was also a bagful of bitchy hormones. I lamented at how awful the aches and pains were. I felt nervous about the possibility of being induced if the baby decides to be fashionably late. On the other hand, I was also very anxious about having a screaming newborn in our lives; I wasn’t sure if I could ever rise up to the challenge of being a mother, let alone a good one. And when people asked me if I were still pregnant or commented that I looked like I was going to pop, I almost ripped their heads off and was shy of screaming, ‘Are you frigging blind?!’ whilst frantically gesturing at my ballooning belly. Well, I said it was the hormones: they were kinda bipolar and very angry. M took me on many dinner dates to take the edge off and luckily for him, the hormones obliged.
Many pelvic rotations and crazy long walks later, the bump was still…there. I sought solace in what the nurse exclaimed at my obgyn’s when I told her how disappointed I was at the baby’s late arrival – ‘Wait till you have the baby, then you won’t even have time to take a dump!’ – a statement that pretty much sums up my newfound motherhood, but that’s a story for another day. SO! Onto the birth story…it all started the day after my due date…
6.30pm – 10pm: M and I headed out to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday at Bistro Du Vin. He joked that this could be the last fancy meal I have before the much-dreaded confinement period; afterall, we have been told by my obgyn that I might be induced after our scheduled check up the next day. I was so certain that the baby would show up early, that all those weeks of waiting made me very jaded and skeptical of what M said. As my obgyn deadpanned, ‘Your baby is living it up in your 6-star hotel’. She sure was! Anyway, I felt about 3 to 4 painless contractions during the half-hour car ride to dinner that evening. I brushed them off as Braxton Hicks contractions, much like the ones I felt in the weeks before. A few more hit during dinner but I thought nothing more of them. I did however check my bags again as I might be induced the next day. I slept rather well that night.
7.50am – 8.20am: We headed to Mt E for my checkup with our five bags in tow. One for the camera, one for M, one for my shiny new breast pump (just in case our kiddo has problems latching), another for our baby and of course, one for me (the vanity queen in me brought basic makeup along as I wanted to look more like Spongebob and less like a gunny sack when visitors come, but as newfound motherhood would have it, I didn’t even have time to wash my face in the hospital). I felt about 4 to 5 painless contractions whilst en route to the clinic.
8.30am – 8.50am: I was promptly strapped onto the CTG. There was one full contraction in 15 minutes. Again, painless. My obgyn did a VE and I was 1.5cm dilated, just 0.5cm more than the week before but owing to the number of contractions I had since the night before, and the fact that we needed to get the baby out before it was (i) way overdue and (ii) time for M to embark on his new job the next week, my obgyn decided to induce labour. She told me to have a big breakfast at Paragon before admitting into the hospital. She also expected the baby to arrive later that evening.
9am: M and I shared some kaya toasts, chee cheong fun, soft-boiled eggs and Milo at Ah Mei Cafe. I couldn’t quite taste my food as I was still trying hard to process the fact that we would be having our baby that evening. The nerves hit me as I informed my mum over the phone and I welled up.
9.30am: We bought some magazines and papers from Marketplace and drove over from Paragon to park our car at Mt E. Having been pre-registered, I was quickly admitted and strapped onto the CTG again. There were two big contractions that were 12 minutes apart, alongside small, irregular ones. All were painless. The nurse and midwife also asked me a whole load of questions and gave me a run-down of the procedures. I even had time to choose what I wanted to have for dinner that evening. M organised our stuff, made some phone calls and settled down on the couch.
11am: I was administered the Fleet enema to clear my bowels and was asked to hold it in for 10 minutes. Note to the wise: holding fluid in is against the law of nature and the enema works like a charm in 3 minutes. Enough said.
11.30am: Registration details were verified. We were also briefed on birth certificate application. I felt more contractions but they were still painless.
12 noon: I was 1.5cm dilated and had my water bag broken. The tug was rather uncomfortable and as the warm fluid gushed out, reality hit me and I started crying. M told me everything was going to be okay and calmed me down. The nurse then put me back on the CTG. M got me some Chupa Chups to suck on as I was feeling hungry but wasn’t allowed any food. As my water bag was broken, I was officially bed-bound; I decided to read the magazine to kill some time.
12.30pm: The nurse put me on the oxytocin drip to hasten the contractions; the insertion of the cannula was bloody painful. Three vials of blood was also taken for cord blood banking; that didn’t hurt at all. Soon after, I felt more contractions and this time, they were akin to very mild menstrual cramps.
1.20pm: The first painful contraction hit me (on a pain scale of 3 or 4 out of 10) but I could breathe through it. I thought this was no biggie and that I might just be able to deliver without an epidural.
3.30pm: The contractions were increasingly painful (7 or 8 out of 10) and annoyingly frequent (2 minutes apart). The amplitude of each contraction appears to be 120 on the chart. I was told the maximum could be 180. I was gunning for no pain relief but the contractions were too frequent to give me enough rest. The worst menstrual cramps looked like cherubic angels next to these contractions. Given that I was only 2.5cm dilated and that I was likely to labour for another 7 hours, I knew I would be too exhausted to push if I didn’t opt for an epidural. Between an epidural and a possible C-section in the event that I lost the will to push, the choice was obvious.
3.45pm: The anaesthetist arrived promptly and hit me with the epidural within 15 minutes. I was told to curl up like a shrimp and the midwife weighed me down as a local anaesthesia was administered. It was completely painless, unlike the insertion of the oxytocin cannula. The catheter was then inserted via an offensive-looking needle but again, I felt nothing save for a tingling sensation in one of my legs. Before I knew it, the cold fluid was piped in and the contractions were no longer painful. I felt like I could breathe again without the contractions creeping up on me every 2 minutes. The odd thing was I could move my legs in spite of the epidural; movement however, required some effort as my lower limbs felt exceptionally heavy.
4.30pm: A catheter was inserted to empty my bladder as I was bed-bound. This was painless too, but I could feel some tugging and shoving going on down there.
5pm: My obgyn came by to check on me and found that I was 3-4cm dilated. I was bleeding slightly but she didn’t think it was a problem. I drifted off to sleep till about 6pm before waking up to full-fledged hunger. Another Chupa Chup was devoured.
6.30pm: The nurse declared that I was 5cm dilated and completely effaced. She did however mention that the baby’s head seemed too squashed and I might need to go for an emergency C-section. I was banned from finishing the Chupa Chup even though the fats from my left thigh were probably munching on the fats from my right to stay alive. I forced myself sleep while M had an offensively fragrant takeaway dinner from Din Tai Fung in the delivery suite. I almost regretted not eating M for breakfast.
7.45pm: I woke up to a strange urge to push but was too afraid to notify the nurse as I thought it was the bowel talking. I didn’t want to poo on the bedpan.
7.50pm: As luck would have it, the nurse came by to check if I felt anything. I decided to ‘fess up and it turned out that I was fully dilated. The urge to push wasn’t the bowel talking afterall. Our baby was ready!
8pm: Very quickly, the midwife got everything ready, propped my legs up, instructed me to grab onto the rails and motivated me to push. She told me to imagine being constipated for two weeks and to do the biggest poo of my life. As ridiculous as this may sound, on hindsight, she was absolutely right on the money. It was all very military, and I did whatever the midwife wanted me to do (OK TAKE A DEEP BREATH NAAAAAOOOO ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE SIX SEVEN EIGHT NINE TEN!!!!!). It was a little difficult to push with the epidural still on, and I was told to focus my energy on the belly as opposed to straining my head (I was turning red with every push). M made the call to cut down on the epidural so I could identify the area to focus my energy on.
8.15pm: My obgyn arrived and took the front seat (meaning she was right where my vajayjay was) whilst the midwife semi-shouted at me to push when the contractions occurred. They were coming on fast and furious and I barely had time to breathe before the next ones hit. They don’t call this labour for nuts. M continued to encourage me and he held my right arm as I braced myself for more pushes. At some point, I asked the cheerleading team about the progress and was met with a hesitant ‘you are doing well’ from them. They looked slightly stricken for some reason and I thought I did a poo whilst pushing. Feeling rather dismayed, I couldn’t quite focus on pushing afterwards until my obgyn said that I was crowning and that our baby had a lot of hair.
8.30pm: One last push and I could feel our little girl’s shoulders push past before my obgyn swiftly pulled her out onto my tummy. M cut the cord and my obgyn collected the cord blood whilst I stared right at my daughter’s crying face. I can’t quite describe how I felt but it was as if the world had and could only contain us. Tears of joy, hope, fear and relief were shed as I held her in my arms.
Our baby was then taken to the warmer and had her height and weight measured. M was allowed to clean her up as my obgyn massaged my belly to get rid of excess blood after the placenta was delivered. As the epidural was turned down, I could feel her sewing me up but I really couldn’t care less about the pain as I was anxious to have the little one back in my arms. She was brought back to me as I requested for her to latch on as soon as possible. We also took some family photos and waited to be transferred to the maternity ward. M sent some photos to our families as we waited. We finally got to the ward at about 10pm. I remember bumping into my parents, sister and her boyfriend outside the ward as I was wheeled in with our little girl in my arms. The happiness on their faces, the warmth of my daughter’s body against mine, the exhaustion and relief on M’s face, the love I thought I could never give, these I can never forget.
I wasn’t man enough to go through labour without the epidural. My makeup kit went unopened and I did look like a gunny sack. I didn’t need to use the breast pump as baby Faith could latch well (ironically, my milk didn’t come in till we were discharged on Day 4). I still have one Chupa Chup in my handbag today and I certainly didn’t finish reading the magazine. I did however, have a baby and today, she is about 5.5 weeks old. That is all that matters, even if she is a little cranky and looking more like a mishapened potato (sorry baby, despite that, Mama still thinks you are too cute).