The Birth Story
Turns out, 21 May was the day the little berry decided to make her appearance. The contractions from 5am were real indeed.
When I woke up to the smell of the GY’s McDonald’s breakfast treat at 9plus, the contractions were further apart and not as painful. In between bites of hot cakes and sausage McMuffin, I didn’t notice them very much but continued using the iPhone app to monitor the timings.
After breakfast, I had a bout of slight nausea, which I suspect is from the too-full meal. I decided to sleep it off back in bed. While in bed, I got restless and started reading up on stages of labour and texted my sisters to pray for me. Interestingly, I also checked the movie timings for shows at 112 Katong, just in case.
I decided I couldn’t sleep and got out of bed, much to the irritation of Chopper who started following me around the house. GY was playing Diablo 3 all this while (though he claims later that Diablo was just a distraction and he was keeping tabs on me all along).
He asked whether I wanted to catch a movie since we were just mopping around. I thought why not and stated getting ready because it was already 12.30 and the show was at 1pm. Ironically, the show we were going to watch was called “What To Expect When You Are Expecting”.
We got to 112 Katong by 12.45 (I had the iPhone app in my hand all the whole timing the contractions), bought the movie tickets and for the next 10mins, rushed around getting lunch to sneak into the theatre. I got Gong Cha for us and a Japanese handroll from Jason’s for lunch. GY bought chicken wings from the food court.
Just as we walked past the popcorn counter into the theatre, GY asked if I wanted anything, anything at all, popcorn, nachos, drinks… he said (rather prophetically) that if I wanted anything, now’s the time to get it because it might be a month before I get to eat whatever I wanted. I was very tempted but decided against it because I was still nursing a sore throat and slight flu, and I didn’t want to be sick when I am in labour. And also because I didn’t want to miss the beginning part of the movie (but we did anyway).
By 1.10pm or so, we finally got into our seats. The movie has started and we were probably the latest and noisiest patrons in the theatre. Amidst rustling of plastic bags and opening of straws, we got down to enjoy the movie. It was quite funny on hindsight how I was experiencing contractions on and off throughout the movie. I considered using the app to continue timing them but decided that’s ridiculous and I should just enjoy the movie. The show was a good distraction from the contraction pain which by then, was getting a little bit more painful but still tolerable.
After the show, we walked around the mall looking for old school film for the 2nd hand SLR camera GY bought in anticipation of our daughter. We considered calling the gynae’s clinic “for fun” to see what they’ll say about the contractions. I was going to call them when we got home, but turned out they called to remind me about the scheduled appt for the next day. I told them about my contractions and the clinic assistants suggested that I go to the hospital immediately when they learnt that I’ve been having them since 5am. They also warned me that it was a really busy day in the hospital and there could be room availability problems if I don’t go soon.
We were quite resistant to the idea of going so early because we didn’t want to wait around for hours, and also I’ve read so many birth stories whereby women go to the labour ward and get told they’re only 1-2cm dilated, so they end up waiting around for hours and hours, getting discouraged with every cervical check, hanging onto every cm dilated and in the end, choose to have all sorts of drugs to help them along. I was afraid that would happen to me, so I told the clinic staff we’ll think about it and call them back.
We bought to buy a scone from Da Paolo’s instead, an orange cranberry scone I’ve been eyeing for a long time. GY said he bought it for me as a push incentive. With scone in hand, we finally drove home. I started timing my contractions again after the movie since there was nothing to distract me from the pain.
Back home, I decided to take a bath and told GY to take over the timing app since there was no way I could bathe and use my phone at the same time. As I bathed, I would shout “Start!” when I feel a contraction coming on, then “Stop!” when it’s over. Then I would rate the pain level, which was usually “mild” or “medium” at this point in time, but it can be hard to tell because the contractions felt quite similar.
After I came out of the shower, GY and I decided to observe the pattern of the contractions and go to the hospital when they’re 5mins apart, for an hour, as recommended by online sources.
I tried lying down on the bed to read but realised that lying down seemed to dull and slow the contractions. I’ve reached the point when I would be quite disappointed if this wasn’t true labour and if I had to be induced for birth after going through all the trouble to time the contractions. So I goggled ways to naturally induce labour and one of the suggestions was to bounce on a birthing ball, which is essentially an exercise ball. I have that at home so I bounced on it for a while. It got quite boring doing that so I decied to walk around the room since the last I felt the contractions pretty strong was when I was standing in the shower.
True enough, the contractions started coming on quite frequently as I walked around the room, and that was when it finally struck me that this might really just be the real deal. When they were about 4-5mins apart, I told GY and he decided we probably should head to the hospital. I thought he was going to just up and go, but he wanted to bathe first.
So I walked some more while he bathed, and took the chance to gather a couple of last minute items for the hospital bag, like my slippers, some books and my iPad, both of which I never got the chance to use.
After GY came out of the toilet, we finally got a move on. We dropped Chopper Kunnie off at his parent’s place before heading to the hospital (I was pretty impressed that GY remembered to pack Chopper’s food. I totally forgot). I remember glancing at the clock in the car and thinking, uh-oh… it’s 5pm, hopefully there won’t be a jam. By that time, I was experiencing medium-strong contractions in the car and doing the ‘Ssssss’ breathing method to try and cope with the pain.
Thank God there wasn’t a jam and we turned into the Thomson parking area soon. After passing the valet the car key, we headed for the labour ward with the 2 huge bags we had.
The gynae clinic’s assistant was right, the labour ward was indeed crowded that day. We gave the name of our gynae, Jeanette and were told to wait outside, which were the benches outside the lift lobby. It wasn’t exactly a comfortable place and already there were 2 other preggies and one guy sitting there. I took a seat and decided to munch on the scone GY bought me, thinking if there’s going to be a long labour day ahead, I’d rather not go through it hungry.
A couple of minutes later, Jeanette appeared. She said hi and told us she’ll go look for a room. I continued eating my scone. A while later, she appeared again and told me to follow her. We walked to the room right at the end and on the way, she whispered to me that she managed to jump queue to get us this room, and others ahead of us were still waiting for a room, so we had to be quiet about this. She told me to call GY to let him know we are in room 11B, and then she’ll check my cervix dilation.
I quickly stripped, put on the purple gown, spread my legs on the surgical bed and let her do her job. There was a Filipino nurse in the room to help her.
After sticking her fingers into my cervix, she exclaimed that “Aiyoh! You’re already 8cm!” I was relieved that I’m already quite far along into the birth process and we needn’t wait around for hours. I asked her if there’s time for epidural and she said if I want, now’s the time to do it. I can’t remember exactly but I think I said I’ll try to go without first. She then went to check on her other patient and said she’ll come back to me.
GY came somewhere just before Jeanette left and learnt about my 8cm dilation before he was called off to settle the admission paperwork. I didn’t even realise that he disappeared until I was alone in the room with the nurse.
The nurse said me a few questions about my medical history and I tried my best to answer her amidst the increasing contraction pain. I was definitely at “high-medium” to “strong” in terms of pain then. I remember having to spell Wolff Parkinson White Syndrome to her and explain that it’s a congenital condition. I probably appeared standoff-ish because my answers were quite short.
As she was filling in the paperwork, my contractions suddenly upped from an occasional “strong” to an “OMG this really hurts, I’m not sure if I can do this without epidural” kinda pain. I also felt the urge to push, which was very strange because at that point, I haven’t had a bloody show and my water bag hadn’t burst yet.
I told the nurse that I felt like pushing and much to my irritation, she didn’t appear concerned at all and simply stated, “The feeling is like that. Don’t push yet”. So I clamed my legs together as the contractions came and tried not to push. I think I was also grabbing and squeezing the life out of my pillow with each contraction. After answering a few more questions, I told the nurse again that I really felt like pushing, and she told me that I was only at 8cm and will have to wait till 10cm before I can start pushing, and I have to control this feeling.
I felt exasperated and helpless then, because I Really felt like pushing! I think I must’ve told her that shortly after again so she decided to check my dilation. As she put on her gloves, I asked her shouldn’t we wait for my gynae to do this? I was afraid that her rough attitude at asking me the medical questions would translate to her examination of my cervix.
She said my gynae is still checking on someone else and she’ll do this. She put on the surgical gloves and checked me (not without discomfort) and announced that I’m already at 10cm and can start pushing! I told her my water bag hasn’t broken yet and she said if I start pushing, it would break.
I wanted to push but I didn’t want GY to miss any of this. I asked the nurse where is my husband and I can’t remember her answer. I tried calling him in the midst of a painful contraction but he didn’t pick up, then I texted him in exasperation, “Wherere you” and a few moments later, “Pls come”.
As the next wave of contractions hit, I pushed and out flowed water. I asked the nurse whether it was my water bag and to my horror, it was my urine! As I pushed several times, the urine kept flowing. She told me to keep pushing and went to get a piece of paper towel to place over my virgina area. She checked and said that there’s already pressure on the water bag and if I keep pushing, it’ll break naturally. So I pushed again and what happened next was a water fountain that flowed everywhere onto the surgical bed I was on. I was in tears from the pain and realised I was even sobbing a little because the nurse tried to comfort me and tell me not to cry. By then, I was already beyond the point of embarrassment.
The nurse asked someone to “run” and get my gynae. GY appeared before she did and saw the wet mess around me. Jeanette appeared soon after, quickly put on her surgical apron thing and got to work.
By then I was screaming like a pained animal. I had thought previously that I would be those women who’d endure the pain silently, but I was very much the opposite. With every contraction, I screamed loudly, scrunched up my face and squeezed GY’s hand.
The nurse kept asking me to “push away the pain” which didn’t make sense to me because pushing was causing the pain too! After examining me, Jeanette said she could feel the baby’s head already, so she and the nurse each took one side of my leg and asked me to push.
Pulling my legs apart didn’t help with the pain and I was quite irritated that they kept doing that, so I told them not to pull my legs apart. Jeanette then said “if I don’t open your legs apart, how is the baby supposed to come out?” She also told me not to crush the baby’s head by closing my legs together.
I must’ve been screaming very badly because she told me something to the effect of “I know it’s very hard but try not to scream so much and transfer your energy into pushing instead.”
After pushing a few times (which felt like constipation x 1 million) and still nothing, I felt ready to give up and seriously doubted my decision to not go for epidural. During the pushing, I tried my best to not scream but couldn’t help it. I would push for a second or two and end off the push with an agonizing cry. GY tried to cover my mouth to stop me from screaming. I remember looking into his face and seeing his look of pained concern, of helplessness even that he can’t do anything to help me with this pain. A few excruciating pushes after, I told them “I can’t do this”. Jeanette tried to encourage me by saying that she could already see the top of the baby’s head.
I’ve read so many birth stories of women who would feel this sudden motivation to push when they hear that, but somehow I didn’t feel that way. Maybe it was because everything happened so quickly , or maybe because I didn’t believe the gynae. But I knew I can’t be stuck in that state of pain forever. So as the next wave of contraction hit, I tried pushing as hard as I could even though at the back of my mind, I was pretty freaked out by the pain and that possibility of my cervix tearing with the push.
I needn’t have worried because as I pushed, the Gynae reached out for a pair of scissors and snipped my cervix. I saw the whole thing (as well as I could from my top-down angle) and you know how people tell you that the contraction pain would be so great that you wouldn’t feel the pain of the snip? Well, they lie. I felt the snip and it hurt.
But soon after the snip, I pushed again and the baby’s head came out! They told me to stop pushing, then seconds later, told me to push again for her shoulders to come out. I did and she slid out like a slippery fish, umbilical cord and all.
GY cut the cord and for the first time, I held my daughter in my arms. It was a very curious moment, looking at this little person whom I was trying to push out of myself. I realised I wasn’t one of those who would hold their babies in their arms, feel an overwhelming sense of love and cry. I was overcome by a sense of relief and gratitude that the pain and fear of not being able to deliver her is over.
After they took her away, a flurry of events followed. The nurses and GY took her to the corner of the room to be weighed, while Jeanette and another nurse collected the cord blood. She then pressed my abdomen to deliver the placenta. When it came out, she showed it to GY and me and asked if we wanted to keep it. It looked like some pig’s organ and there was no way I wanted to be near it. GY took a picture of it and tried to scare me with it later.
Jeanette stitched me up after that, injecting a whole bottle of local anesthetic around the snip. She also had me breathe some laughing gas which didn’t have any effect at all. The injections didn’t hurt as badly as I thought they would, and when she stitched me up, GY tried to make me feel better by telling me that there’s nothing going on down there, but I told him that I knew she was stitching me up because I could feel the tugging of the thread.
After she was done, we had a few moments to lull around the room while they got a bed ready for me in the ward. We took a couple of pictures with our little berry and that was when I noticed GY holding her and looking at her full in the face. I can’t quite describe it, but to me, it looked like a mix of wonder, gratitude and love.
When they are ready, they got me to move to another bed and placed the little berry next to me and off we went to the ward. In the ward, I was still reeling from the shock of the experience, while GY texted our immediate family to let them know the good news. It was only around this time when we realized how quickly the whole thing went. I texted him at 6.18pm to “Pls come”, and little berry’s official time of delivery is 6.22pm. Which means the bulk of the pushing and delivery lasted for all of 4 minutes.
This really is yet another answered prayer for a miracle from God. My sisters and I prayed for a short, smooth delivery and He granted me exactly that. No one I know has such a short labour period. It was like Everest summit day all over again. One moment I was looking into the night sky, staring with wonderment at the millions of stars and feeling His hand upon me for the climb. The next moment, there was nowhere else to climb and I was on the summit. Interestingly the little berry’s birthday is just 1 day after my Everest summit anniversary. God has a sense of humor indeed, and He is so good to me.