Warning: A rather lengthy entry ahead.
I did not have a birth plan.
Well, ok. My plan was to go to the hospital and deliver a live baby. Preferably with epidural please so that I don’t pass out from pain, thankyouverymuch. Also, I am no longer a young spring chicken so I did not want to end up in a situation where I became too exhausted to push when the time comes, having spent all my (limited) energies managing the pain.
I have heard a mix of opinions that are equal parts for and against epidural but my point is: If there are drugs to help you cope with a potentially difficult and challenging situation, why resist it? But that’s my personal view. I was hoping to deliver naturally but of course, as with most things – plus the fact that I’m best friends with Murphy – things did not quite go as planned.
Here’s Elliott’s birth story.
On Sunday 2nd March, under the instructions of our gynae Dr C, the boy and I grabbed our bags and made our way to Mount Alvernia Hospital at about 11.30pm. Was I nervous? Not quite at this point. Was I afraid? Not really. It just felt like it was something that we have been waiting for and THE DAY has finally arrived.
For the record, I had a Peking Duck dinner because it would be a while before I can eat whatever I want. Elliott would hit 40-week on 11 March but since the week before, I have been getting contractions in the middle of the night. At the last check-up, I was also apparently 1cm dilated. As such, Dr C suggested that we head to hospital to kickstart the birth process so as not to stress the baby.
We made our way to the delivery suites and I was instructed to change into the hospital gown. The hospital is extremely quiet and serene close to midnight and I was glad that the boy was there with me.
We were brought to delivery suite 5 and I was then hooked up to the various machines to track baby’s heartbeat and whathaveyous. Have you wondered how an in-utero baby’s heartbeat sounds like on the machine?
Pretty amazing and definitely reassuring to hear. We also learnt that a baby’s heartbeat is always faster than an adult’s. Ahh. Here’s me still looking decent. Obviously, it was taken before any contractions started.
It was only slightly past 1am and I was still feeling fine and dandy. The boy was on my left, just beside the machines, on a lazy boy chair. And yes, he was also feeling happy.
It was pretty uneventful from the time we checked in till dawn broke. I was given a pill to help soften/dilate the cervix and I remember feeling slight cramps which made it hard to sleep. Naturally, sleep was restless and fitful.
When dawn broke, I was given a really light breakfast – I think it was a slice of toast and hot milo? It barely filled me and I was to stay hungry all the way till evening. By then, I was starting to feel stronger contractions which made my toes curl (in a bad way). I remembered thinking: Oh wow. This feels like a 2/10 cramp and we are barely even halfway there. Will I like keel over and faint from the pain when it hits 10/10?
Nurses were going in and out to check on me and baby’s heartrate. One offered me the use of the gas mask which I gladly took up. However, I’m not sure why but I just couldn’t breathe in enough so the boy helped by opening the valve and I breathed in deeply. To be honest, I did not feel much of the effect. I’m not sure how women gave birth just with the gas mask. What are you guys made of? Steel?!
I indicated my interest to get the epidural jab to the next nurse that walked in (GIVE IT TO ME NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE, damnit!) and I remember the boy telling me that he has already signed the payment documents so might as well get it as early as I can. Hur hur. A couple of hours later, a harried-looking doctor came in and told me that he’s here for the epidural jab.
Hip hip hooray!
I had to curl up like a shrimp (their words, not mine) while the jab was being administered. To be honest, the pain from the nurse inserting the catheter into my left arm hurt way more than the epidural jab. I remembered feeling this warm liquid sensation oozing through my spine and no, it was not painful at all. At most, it was uncomfortable. Doc informed me that I will start to feel heaviness in my legs and true enough, that happened. BUT it became comfortable enough to actually snooze.
By this time, I was thirsty and hungry. Very thirsty and hungry. Obviously, I couldn’t have any food except small sips of water which did nothing to quench my thirst. Dr C came by to check on me and looked a little worried because I wasn’t dilating as fast as the contractions were coming on. Throughout the monitoring period, drugs were being pumped into me to help with the dilation process. I remember the boy telling me that the dosage was being adjusted periodically as well.
I am not sure if it had to do with the drugs or the fact that I was just dying of thirst but I remember hallucinating about iced cold drinks. In my head, I decided to list down the top 10 iced-cold drinks I could have RIGHT NOW. I remember listing them as such: Coke, Sprite, Iced Lemon Tea, Teh-C Peng, Ribena, Honey with ice, Iced Milo, Iced Soya Bean (not even a fan usually!). I did not get to 10 because I was too woozy but oh man, I could have killed for an ICED COLD DRINK.
Anyway, Dr C was in and out of the delivery ward to check on me. Everything was moving at snail’s pace at this point. We were just waiting for the dilation to happen so it was just checks after checks. I was still dilating very slowly despite the contractions getting very close to each other. I think I had to get to about 5-6cm before labour can start but I was stuck at 3-4cm for the longest time.
It was about 2pm. We have been in labour since 6am.
I remember glancing to my left. The boy and Dr C were staring intently at the heartbeat monitor and looking a tad worried. She said that contractions were coming on fast and furious and each time, baby’s heartbeat would drop below acceptable level (below 100). I was also given an oxygen mask to breathe into to help channel some oxygen to baby. That was a scary thought and for some weird reason, the oxygen mask made me light-headed.
Unfortunately, I was still stuck at 4cm. She suspected that the umbilical cord may be around baby’s neck, hence the drop in heart rate whenever a contraction hit. She then made a decision that by 3pm, if I have not dilated enough, we’d head straight to the operating theatre for the C-section.
Remember my non-birth plan? Yep. All I wanted is a live healthy baby at the end of it all. Nothing else mattered. Also, I was in no state to think coherently at this point. I was exhausted (from lack of sleep), drugged out, hungry and very very thirsty. If we needed a C-section to get baby out, we’d do the C-section.
At 3pm, Dr C came round again to check on me. I was 4.5cm. My body was definitely progressing way too slowly. The contractions were still coming on fast and furious – I did not feel a thing but the boy was staring at the monitor. He looked worried and helpless. There was nothing else he could do except to stay by my side silently.
With the current circumstances, the decision was clear. It was time for an emergency C-section.
The moment Dr C made the decision, everything kicked into high gear. A flurry of activity took place in the delivery ward – the boy was told to pack all our belongings as they would be taken to our ward. He had to get changed into scrubs so that he can be with me in the OT (only for epidural C-section. Husbands are not allowed for C-sections under General Anaesthetic). He signed some form to indicate consent for the operation. I was unhooked from all the various drugs that were hanging above me and then moved onto a moveable bed, tubes and all. I remember feeling handicapped because I couldn’t feel my legs! The nurses that were assisting me were very reassuring and kept telling me to take it easy. They also explained everything that they were doing so I was always aware of what’s happening. As aware as my tired body and mind could manage, that is.
I was wheeled briskly into a lift to the operating theatres on level 4. I know because I saw a special key used to unlock the floor, like some sort of secret labyrinth. I remember looking at the lights above me and thinking that this is exactly how it looks like in the movies. I also noticed people staring at me as they waited outside wards. It was a scene straight out of a medical drama. I also felt a tad groggy because I was moving head first and I was hit by waves of nausea.
As the medical team was moving me onto the operating theatre bed, I uttered: I need to throw up. NOW. I could feel bile rising up my throat but managed to hold it down for a bit until a kidney-shaped tray was brought to me. I threw up green bile. One and a half kidney-shaped container worth. I remember a reassuring hand patting down my back, like how you would when your friend throws up outside Zouk from downing one too many jugs of Long Island Iced Tea. In my hazy state, I thought that it was the boy. It took me a while to realise that it was one of the nurses.
Almost immediately, I felt better. The haze cleared a bit. There were loads of green people moving around me. People in green scrubs and hair nets. Someone was speaking to me. I was to sign a consent form and in my state, I managed to scribble my name down. I remember thinking that my signature looked wonky. It dawned on me about 20 seconds later that it was Dr C herself, dressed in operating theatre scrubs. I remember saying: Hey, I didn’t realise that it was you. Couldn’t recognise you in the scrubs.
Funny how I could still make small talk.
A Dr Chong came by and told me that he’d be the one managing my pain medication. He pushed in liquid through the catheter at the back of my left hand (and would do so many many times throughout the operation) and then pressed my belly area.
Can you feel this? Any pain?
Erm, yeah, I can feel that but no pain…I think…..
I then felt lots of movement at my belly area. Like it was being shoved and pushed around. I did not realise but by then, the boy was sitting behind my head. He mentioned to me later that he was escorted in just as my belly was cut open so he saw MY OPEN BELLY. Shudder. I am very proud of my husband for not fainting.
After what seemed like 5 minutes (the boy said it felt like an eternity because he was worried sick for both mother and child), I heard a short but sharp baby’s cry. For the record, the entire operation takes about 40 minutes. From cutting me up and closing me back up.
Was that from…below me? Was that…our baby?!
A couple of seconds later, loud piercing cries filled the room, as if confirming his arrival.
Oh wow. I think he’s out! HE’S OUT! FINALLY!
I also hear Dr C say out loud that it was indeed the umbilical cord that was wound around his neck. Ahhhh.
I had no idea what was going on because a cloth screen blocked me off from whatever that was happening chest down. My belly was still being jiggled, prodded and poked but erm, no pain at all. It felt really surreal. Next thing I knew, lots of people were going “Congratulations!!”, someone passed me a tiny round potato-like bundle and said: Here’s your baby!
And that, my dear readers, was how Bump came into this world at about 3pm-ish on 3 March 2014.