I wasn’t planning on sharing this story but as with the one about my issues with breastfeeding, I realized that lots of fellow new mothers or new mothers-to-be etc were – or are – interested in the topic.
Here’s how it all panned out for me.
I don’t think I was ever afraid of the actual birth. In fact, I had talked myself into looking forward to the physical challenge like it was some sort of race that I was preparing for. Every day, I willed our baby girl to come. I’d gone through a hypnobirthing course and in preparation, I listened to birth affirmations daily and practiced rainbow relaxation whenever I had a chance to, whether it was at the dentist’s or when my back was hurting. I guess in my mind I was all set for the big day – and I probably was for the most part.
On the day before Nae’s birth, I woke up feeling sort of odd. My back felt dull and my tummy felt like it was cramping every now and then. Being the gadget geek that I am, I whipped out my iPhone and turned on the “Baby’s Coming” app to time what I figured were my contractions. The frequency was irratic so I largely ignored them, thinking I probably had some days to go yet. But by 5pm, I felt like I had to focus all my energy into dealing with the cramps. An hour later, they were 7 minutes apart and coming on strong so I called the husband home from his lecture at school, telling him I thought he had to come home immediately in case it was time. Meanwhile, I jumped into the shower to get my hair washed in case I’d have to leave for the hospital. By this time, the contractions were 4 minutes apart and really quite painful. But I didn’t quite believe it was time since none of the other signs of labour had shown, i.e. water hadn’t broken and there was no ‘show’ etc. But then I figured the pain couldn’t be lying.
‘You’re definitely in labour,’ my gynae told me and I was delighted to receive the validation. But the disappointing thing was that I hadn’t dilated at all and my cervix was still completely closed. But knowing I wanted to progress as naturally as possible, she left me to labour and said she’d check back in at 2am. After 6 hours of labour, still absolutely nothing. Naturally, I was very disappointed and as I was getting a little impatient, I agreed to being put on a drip of Oxytocin to speed things up….. I even remember thinking, ‘Hmmm, Oxytocin. What is that again? Should I Google? Isn’t it supposed to make things more painful…?’ But just as I was reaching for my phone, I decided that ignorance was the best policy at that point and to just go with it.
Did I want drugs, she asked. No. Let’s just do this. But it’s probably the last time she’ll be able to offer me pain relief, she mentioned. Yup, I’ve got it. It’s fine, I said.
Ahh, what a fool I was.
The contractions suddenly kicked me in the arse so bad. WOAHHHHH. From being able to breathe through my contractions and focus on other things, I was suddenly full on groaning and struggling to hold it all together. I now knew the true meaning of ‘Primal Scream’.
By 6am, I had been labouring for a good 12 hours and when they checked, I was just 4cm dilated. In my mind, I was desperate for things to speed up. My water was still in tact and nothing seemed to have progressed, so I accepted the breaking of the bag. This wasn’t part of my plan either but I was getting more and more desperate so I agreed. By 8am, I had gone up to 7cm. Pain was near enough blinding but I worked through it as best I could. I had oxygen and laughing gas but it was all just one form of distraction or another really.
Sadly I couldn’t say I was as calm as the hypnobirths that I’ve witnessed in videos – I was definitely making a ruckus everytime a contraction hit. (Primal Scream) And when Naomi finally started working her way down the birth canal, my back injury played up and the pain went up ten notches. Having said that though, I believe the hypnotherapy did help me manage and focus away from the pain as much as I possibly could and that helped me pull through. In between contractions, I took time to take deep breaths and think about affirmations and visualize her moving down.
It definitely was a mental battle.
By 8.30am, I was at my wit’s end. I was physically and mentally exhausted – Having had the GA C-section on my birth plan as a last resort, I wasn’ t allowed food before admission so there was no sustenance as the hours went by. I felt like I had run a race without any fuel, that I had bonked many hours ago, but like I had a long way left to go. I started babbling incoherently at one point, and remember pleading for pain relief, whether it was still an option. I remember saying ‘please help me’ and I felt truly desperate. Yes, I keep using that word but that was really the word that best describes it all.
When Naomi was almost crowning, one of the sisters told me she’d go get my gynae once her head started to show. So I worked furiously to get her to show herself but my lack of energy worked against me. Each time I gave a good push, I’d be so sapped of energy that it’d be followed by a couple of mediocre ones. I felt like I was taking one big step forward and then three steps back each time. Not only exhausting but thoroughly frustrating!
Then after what seemed like eternity, she finally crowned. Hurrah! Oh, Lordy! Inside I rejoiced, but I also remember hearing my tiny quivering voice asking, “How long do I have to go?”
One of the sisters was trying to be encouraging: “If you keep working this hard, you should have her out in half an hour to 45 minutes!”
This probably doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but at that moment it sounded like forever and a day.
It felt like someone had just told me that after 70.3 miles, I had a 10km hill climb in Penang left on my bike.
My mind was in total disarray and I felt that same desperation return. The gynae had returned and she started telling me that if I gave her to go ahead for an episiotomy, Nae could probably be delivered in just a few push cycles. I totally had not considered this as part of my birth plan but at this point I was just thinking…
DO IT. JUST DO IT. NOW. PLEASE. HELP ME.
And with that, she went to work. The husband was pretty traumatized by the procedure but I focused away from the pain once more and looked to him for mental support. Then the voices went, ‘OKAY, PUSH!’
I think it took two more contraction cycles but that did it. Suddenly, they pulled a bloodied baby out and put her straight on my belly.
Suddenly, all the pain disappeared. My daughter had arrived.
I felt exhausted but relieved at the same time, yet too tired to let the emotion take hold of me. Meanwhile, the husband put his face on mine and kissed me with all his heart, exclaiming, ‘She’s here! You did it! You’ve done so well! She’s here! Our daughter is here!’
My face was wet but it wasn’t from my sweat or emotion, and I realized it was from my husband who was now in tears, completely beside himself with joy. The 15 hours disappeared. I was now a Mother.
I still can’t believe it really.
Each time I see her little face, hear a little squeak, stroke her head or hear her laugh, I wonder if she’s real. The husband sometimes says, ‘We have a daughter!’ just to recognize that in real life, something has changed. And that something between us has been renewed like fire.
So that is the story of my birth.
As much as I think I would reconsider my birth plan for No. 2, I don’t think I would have had it any other way. I’m glad I went with the flow and that I was able to stand up to the test, and that God helped me get her out in the safest way possible. And whatever that was unplanned was not that bad… That Naomi is happy and healthy.
Naomi was born on 29 April 2011 at 9.29am, weighing at 2.8kg, 49cm in height and with a head circumference of 32cm.
Tomorrow she is officially 3 months old at 6.2kg and 61cm in height.
Oh how my little one has grown! :)