At last, our baby girl has arrived weighing in at 3.412 kg!!!
Last Wednesday, May 22, my hubby asked me early in the morning whether I had any contractions during the night. He’s been asking me the same thing for the past week or so, and the answer has always been the same – some false contractions, but none of the real thing. So he started preparing for work while I helped arrange the contents of his bag and made sure he had an egg sandwich for breakfast.
After he left at around 7:30 am, I settled back to bed because I was feeling a bit drowsy and tired. I was planning to play a few games of Candy Crush until I got sleepy, though I decided to send a Facebook message to my brother and sister-in-law to congratulate them on their 20th wedding anniversary first. Right after I hit the send button, I suddenly felt wet. It wasn’t a huge gush of water or anything – but the bed had a small wet spot. I rushed to the toilet to check and indeed, there was some fluid and blood. I called my husband immediately and was surprised that he answered on the second ring (he usually takes forever to answer my calls, especially when he is at work). I told him what happened and thankfully, he missed the bus to the office so he was still at Dakota station. At first he told me he’ll meet me at KK Hospital, but he called again after a while and said he’s coming straight home instead.
I went to tell my mom at the other room that I thought my water bag has just broken, and she told me to take a shower and get ready to go to the hospital. While waiting for my hubby, I decided to munch a slice of raisin bread. My hubby arrived while I was nonchalantly having breakfast, and I decided to eat his baon (packed lunch) of hotdog and rice while waiting for him to change out of his uniform.
We went straight to the Delivery Suite at KK Hospital, and I said that I thought my water bag may have broken but that I am still leaking, and there was blood. After some paperwork, they sent me to a monitoring room where they said a doctor would check my condition and decide on what to do next, whether to keep me in the hospital or send me home for the meantime (similar to what happened to my sister before). I thought for sure that they would send me home because I wasn’t feeling any contractions yet, and I was still quite upbeat, so I went to the monitoring room with a quick goodbye to my hubby and my mom.
At the monitoring room, a nurse strapped two devices to my belly – one to monitor my baby’s heartbeat (oh how I loved hearing the sound of her heartbeat!) and one to monitor my uterine contractions. I watched the machine and noted that the contractions were going up in intensity to about 30+, but I barely felt any discomfort. I remember thinking to myself – maybe labor won’t be so bad after all. How wrong I was!
A research consultant came and talked to me about a research they were doing as to how something in the amniotic fluid can determine the probability of whether a baby will be born pre-term or not. Since I was full-term at 39 weeks, she asked if I could take part in the research as one of the full-term subjects. They would just need a swab of my amniotic fluid which the doctors can take at the same time they’re checking me. I said yes without hesitation, especially since I was still feeling guilty about not signing up for cord blood donation.
Anyway, so later on a doctor came and checked me, and said I was only 1 cm dilated but my water bag is still leaking so they cannot send me home. I was surprised later on to see my own doctor, Dr. Natalie Chua (I don’t know why I never gave her name before – she’s great), drop by and mention that she saw my hubby outside, and he told her I was being checked at the monitoring room. She told me that they would need to induce me already and that they are already preparing a delivery room for me. I was a little scared, especially since I never even bothered to read about how that is done since I never thought I’d need to be induced.
I probably entered the monitoring room at around 9:30 in the morning, and transferred to the delivery room at around 11:00 am (I wish I kept exact records for memory’s sake, but I had too much on my mind!). I was pleased to see my husband there waiting for me, looking excited. I wasn’t in much pain during that time (though I could already feel the contractions coming) and even encouraged him to go get something to eat while there was a chance. He settled the deposit amount or estimated bill size first (amounting to SGD4,695.00) and bought a snack (carrot cake, if I remember correctly).
I was hungry that time and kept asking the nurse if I could have something to eat as well, but they told me I had to be induced first. It turns out that means inserting a tablet inside me so that my cervix would dilate and labor would progress. They gave me laughing gas to use if the pain gets too intense, because they can only give me epidural if I’m 3 cm dilated.
The contractions slowly became more and more intense, and I would squeeze on my hubby’s hand everytime. I inhaled laughing gas, but apparently I was taking shallow panicky breaths instead of deep breaths, so it wasn’t so effective after all. My hubby kept trying to calm me down, and would pray and read verses to me to comfort me. The verse that kept running through my mind was 2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, because my power is made perfect in your weakness.” I made it my own prayer by saying, “Your grace is sufficient for me, because Your power is made perfect in my weakness” over and over again. I said it so often that a thought suddenly popped to my mind to change our baby’s second name to Grace instead of Tabitha, which my hubby agreed to.
In the early afternoon, I asked the nurses if I could get an epidural already as the pain was getting too intense. They checked and said that I was still only dilated 1.5 cm, so I had to hold off. They gave me another pain relief option, which was an injection to the thigh that would make me groggy. I kept refusing it because – 1) I’m scared of needles, and 2) I’m worried that I would be groggy during delivery. My hubby asked the nurses if there was a chance that I would be groggy during the actual birth, and the nurses said no, I would be wide awake for sure. They recommended that I get the injection to avoid being too tired during delivery. My hubby told me to forget about my fear of needles for a moment and just get the injection, so I did. It did give me some relief and I was able to sleep for a maybe 10 minutes, before the contractions got so intense that they woke me up. In between contractions, I would doze off, but once the contractions start I would signal my hubby to hold the laughing gas mask to my face so that I could breathe in. This worked for a while but there came a point when the pain was way too intense that I asked for an epidural again. This time I was already 5 cm dilated and I cursed the thought that I could have gotten the epidural 2 cms ago.
When the anestheseologist came, I couldn’t even get up or move anymore because of the pain. I felt that at that point, she was a little impatient with me and kept saying that I have to help myself (meaning help myself sit up and get into position) so that she can help me. My hubby had to lift me up and put me into position because my body was just spent and I was hanging limp. I was scared of the thought that I would move inadvertently during a contraction while she was inserting the needle, and that I would be paralyzed forever more. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and I barely felt the needle to my spine. I don’t know if they put some local anesthesia first or whether the pain of the contractions was just that overpowering…
After getting the epidural, I finally felt so much relief! I took a nap and so did hubby, whose hand was probably already smarting because I would squeeze very hard every few minutes during each contractions. It was late afternoon already and they said that the expected delivery time would be sometime at midnight. Dr. Chua dropped by several times to check how I was doing, and when she checked me at around 8 pm, she said that I was already 9 cm dilated and could start pushing. I was surprised because I felt absolutely nothing and was chatting animatedly with my hubby at that time. A midwife came in and got me into position and I started pushing at her cue (she would check the monitor to see when a contraction was coming in).
It seems I wasn’t pushing hard enough – probably because I couldn’t feel anything – so they put some drug on my IV drip to increase the intensity of the contractions and also stopped the flow of pain relief medicine on my epidural. When I started to feel the contractions coming in, I wanted nothing else than to push and push some more! At 9:23 pm, I finally heard a little baby cry, and I started to cry a little as well. My hubby, who has been coaching me actively during each push, gave me a big kiss and went to see the baby and cut her cord. He kept saying she was perfect. I felt envious when I saw her little hands grab his finger when he touched her, while I was still “giving birth” to the placenta and getting stitched up. Finally, they gave her to me, and I felt like the happiest person in the whole world.