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Birth Story – of my #2

As I shared here, I was quite tired from the pelvis pains in the pregnancy. In my 38weeks check up, the gynae suddenly mentioned that we could induce her if we wanted on Monday 16 Feb, which would mean we can be discharged by 18th Feb and still be in time for reunion dinner. Though we have been expecting the arrival of baby for many weeks now, we had not thought about inducing her. Reason being I wanted to try to do it without epidural and I know that for any kind of induction, it would make the contractions and labour pains worse. (I have been diligently drinking raspberry leaf tea and eating dates to prepare myself for a natural labour without epidural!) That does not go too well with my plans. Hubby on the other hand is chiding me for being stupid and told me to take epidural and not cause him too much pain in the process.

Gynae did not want to induce on 21st Feb which was baby’s EDD and my #1’s birthday as it fell on a Saturday and he does not want to plan any appointments for weekends. Needless to say 19th and 20th which was the CNY public holiday were out of the question too. Next would be 23rd Feb already. We decided not to take up the gynae’s offer and made an appointment to see him the following Monday, 16 Feb, hoping that maybe during this week baby would decide to make a natural appearance.

Before the appointment came, hubby and I discussed about the induction. We decided that we did not want the baby to come after the EDD and would prefer before. We also decided that we would rather have a horse baby than a goat baby. (Though this was not the priority). Thus we decided that at the clinic, we would ask if gynae can induce her out on 17th Feb (baby would be 39w4d). 17th means he would have to work on 1st day of CNY (19th Feb) cos he would have to check on me before I was discharged, or possibly both 1st and 2nd day if induction took a long process and I gave birth on 18th Feb instead. If not then we will have to settle for 23rd Feb. So basically we left the final decision to the gynae.

At the appointment, when the nurse was checking on my weight and bp, I was asking her if induce, what time do we have to check in to the hospital and he said 12 midnight. So means if gynae is ok with it, we go in to the hospital that very night!!?! When it was our turn to see the gynae, after checking on baby and proclaiming that she is of good weight of about 3.2kg, we asked the gynae if we can induce baby like he suggested the week before. He asked immediately  if we wanted a goat baby or a horse baby and we asked if it was possible to induce the next day, and he said of course, but it means we have to go to the hospital tonight. He then got the nurse to call the hospital to ask if there was any vacancy and there was. So it was decided!

At 12mn my brother dropped me off at the hospital while my hubby stayed with my #1. I walked in to the delivery suite myself and was immediately ushered to Labour Ward 1 to change. The nurse did all the paperwork for me as we completed the pre-registration in Janurary. I was then hooked on to the CTG for monitoring of baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. And this was where the first surprise came. I was having very regular but mild contractions at intervals of 1-2 minutes! I had thought it was Braxton Hicks as usual as most were not painful but some were a little painful on a scale of 1-2 out of 10. So the nurse called the doctor and it was decided that the pill which was supposed to be inserted to induce labour should not be done as I was already having contractions. Dilation: 1cm.

I was monitored on CTG until 2am and continued to have regular contractions and then I was taken off the system to allow me to rest. But I couldn’t sleep at all. Uncomfy bed, wearing hospital gown, keep having urge to pee….Think I fell asleep finally at 4+am only to be woken up again at 5am… At 5am, CTG was attached again. No more contractions.

At 7am, they checked dilation again. Ouch. I hate this process. 1cm

8:45am, I was put on the Oxytocin drip to start the contractions and to start the labour.

At 9am, gynae came to check on me. He gave a little bit of hope. Dilation 1-2cm.

9:30am, hubby arrived. He was flabbergasted when he asked about the dilation. What??!? how long more do we have to wait? I told him to go get breakfast. He did and came back and started on his work.

At 10+am, HBO started showing Notting Hill. Hubby liked the show and we decided to watch it together. All these while, contractions started and got regular. But they were still bearable. I rated them 1-2 out of 10 as per my contractions earlier in the night. Just before 11am, the contractions started to increase in intensity. I had to focus during the contractions. I tried to tolerate the pain. In my mind I remembered what I had planned to do. For natural birth, I would like to try without epidural. But I knew inducing would be more painful and I still was open to having epidural.

At 11:15am (Yah I know my pain tolerance is low…or maybe the pain intensity really exponential-ed) we decided to call for epidural. It was painful and I wasn’t sure how long I can last. And I was tired from not having a good rest the night before. Just before epidural was administered, i visited the toilet as I wouldn’t be able to after epidural. And I had my bloody show. It was pink and mucus-y, like pink egg white. Probably dilation was more already but I can’t be sure.

Anesthetist  came in at about 11:30am and told hubby to go grab a coffee. The administering of epidural was scary. It felt like I had 2 bullets stapled into my spine. And I had to try not to move during contractions. I wonder why he didn’t look at the CTG while administering. Then he can pause his procedure while I was contracting… I told him the last time I had epidural it was too strong and I couldn’t feel myself push. This is probably the worst statement I made. Nurse told him I was dilated 1-2cm and he gave me a low dosage. He said we can increase later as I’m still in the early stages of labour. He was so sooooooo wrong.Hubby came back and we continued with the show. Pain rating was now 0 and I thank God for epidural. I fell asleep while watching the show.

At almost 12:30pm, it was when the drama began. I felt a lot of pressure down at my vagina area. I was on epidural so shouldn’t I not be feeling it? I thought it was weird and it was becoming uncomfortable. Not pain (yet), but uncomfortable. And in 5 mins, it was painful. I got hubby to get the nurse and told the nurse. And then I was in a lot of pain. The pressure at my vagina hurt, and somehow my tailbone area hurt too. She checked my dilation and it was 8cm.

They started to get to work. And I started to be in real pain. They hurried around the room, told me to breathe, and another nurse dressed differently came in. Was she going to deliver the baby in case my gynae doesn’t arrive on time? Was she the doula? I’m not sure. But she held my hand (while my hubby held my other hand) and she told me to breathe and do not push. And she told me that very soon the pain would be over. I remember telling them to increase the epidural dosage but i think it’s not an instant thing.

With each contraction, the pain exponential-ed. I saw the gynae arrive. I was thankful that he was at his office in the same building and not at home or something. My last 2 contractions I had really wanted to push, and I think I was shouting out loud in pain. Was I screaming? I can’t really remember. The 2nd last one they allowed me to push but said i had to push slowly. It was super painful. My last contraction, they were ready for the push. They told me to push and I did. It was so so painful that I let out a really long and loud scream. Screaming helped me as it made it less painful somehow. And the baby was out and given to me and all the pain stopped!! 12:46pm. (4 hours from being induced) I’m glad the pain was only for such a short period of time. I couldn’t have tolerated another contraction and I was glad the baby was out in just one push.

IMG_7318 I was panting as I tried to catch my breath from that long scream and push during the final contraction. Gynae passed hubby the scissors to cut the cord. He hadn’t wanted to. But he did so. They gave me a jab on my thigh to deliver the placenta. I felt that ant bite. I felt the placenta coming out. I told hubby to look and he scolded me for it. (Lol) I saw and felt every stitch. But it was bearable. I wouldn’t call it painful. Maybe the labour pain was too much. Maybe that area was numb already. When it was done, the clearing of the blood clots was painful but it was only for a short while.

I was really amazed at how fast the gynae worked and how calm he was. He came in, got ready, and delivered the baby all within one of the loudest screams I had even given all in less than 5 min? (I apologized to him later on. I was quite embarrassed. heh.) By the way, he is Dr Douglas Ong. We really chose him due to the closeness in his clinic and our place. But through the process, we met 2 old friends under him, one with him for #3 and the other #2 and both raved about how good he is. I concur now.

After that I was shivering cos of the epidural. Gynae placed the baby on me for some skin-to-skin and the baby actually managed to find my nipple and latched! Wonders of God’s creations.

So, we paid for epidural, but still had to go through the pain. Worst money spent. At least hubby cannot say I didn’t have epidural and caused him to be deaf in one ear or something. And guess what, be careful of what you pray for. I had prayed that I would be able to tolerate the pain that God had intended for all women to have because Eve had sinned. I prayed that I might be in a situation where I won’t chicken out and have the painkiller injected into me. My ideal situation would have been that contractions happened naturally and by the time I reached the hospital it was too late for epidural.

Bottom line, if I were to deliver again, I would have epidural done again. And I would tell the anesthetist to give a higher dose straight away. Meanwhile, I will enjoy my newborn first before I think about having another one. 🙂 IMG_7478

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My Second Pregnancy

My second pregnancy was tougher than my first, though definitely many people will still consider it smooth sailing. As I mentioned in my earlier posting, I didn’t feel pregnant at all when I had my first one. This one, I had mild morning sickness. I needed to have crackers (by the way I took Jacob’s cream crackers) with me everywhere I went as once I felt hungry, I felt nauseous too. I could no longer change the poo diapers for my #1 as I felt like puking when I smelt the poo. (Maybe it was just an excuse for my hubby to take over the job completely? hee… maybe not..) I vomited about once every 1-2 days in my first trimester but felt nauseousness a couple of weeks into the second. This was when we suspected (daddy secretly hoped too) that we were expecting a girl. IMG_4062 At our 15 weeks check up, gynae had said most likely she was a girl. At 19 weeks check up, he confirmed she was a girl. But we did not dare keep our hopes high as there were many cases where the girl “became” a boy. So at 23 weeks during the detail scan, he triple confirmed it was a girl. Even then sometimes we had doubts when people told us my tummy looked small and compact, must be a boy, or that my belly button is jutting out so must be a boy.

Well, the little baby girl in me probably increased the amount of female hormones in me and I went to buy dresses and maternity clothes which was really unlike me (I didn’t buy any maternity clothes for my #1) and I even spent $100+ on a set of facial wash when I usually just use water to wash my face and at most use those facial wash that is less than $10 from Watsons!

Back to the pregnancy itself, I thought it would be better in the second trimester. Well, indeed it was better. The morning sickness part was better. However, I would get terrible headaches and neckaches. It’s not as bad as the migraines I used to get but it was bad enough such that I was unable to function at work and needed to go home earlier to rest. And I had headaches almost everyday.

And then third trimester came. The headaches disappeared. Now was pelvic pains. The baby was engaged by 32 weeks and was very low after that. I had problems turning in bed, I had problems getting up from bed. But as the day goes on, or as I walked more, usually it becomes slightly better. I had problems walking as well. Pelvis was really painful. And because baby was very low, she kept using my bladder as the pillow and there were many times I needed to run to the loo but only a little bit of pee came out. Which also meant waking up many times in the night to pee. With the baby so low and engaged so early, we had expected her to come much earlier. After all, we also knew she was conceived about 10 days before her brother and that calculated out to be about 38w from her EDD. But she stayed inside and was so comfy but mummy was so uncomfortable…

Thus we decided to induce her at 39w3d.

Read all about my #2’s birth story here.

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Birth Story – of my Firstborn

It was an extremely smooth pregnancy with me not having any morning sickness at all. I didn’t feel pregnant other then having dizzy spells once in a while. And because it was my first pregnancy, I wanted to announce it to the entire world, but my tummy hardly showed at all! There was a tiny bump there that looked like I put on weight at 5-6 months, and it only looked more like I was pregnant after 7 months onwards.

At my 39week check up, the gynae made an appointment with us to induce him out at 40weeks+1-3 days. She refused to go further than 3 days after EDD, so we decided on a date to induce.

At the night of 39weeks and 5 days, I had gone to sleep as usual about 10pm. 12+am I got woken up by a feeling of stomachache and had to go to the toilet to try to shit. It felt like diarrhoea pains. Nothing came out so I went back to bed again. The pain was painful enough to not let me sleep but not that painful. It didn’t occur to me that it could be mild contractions. Anyhow,  the pain persisted. and next thing I knew, I wet the bed. I then rushed to the toilet and another gush of water came out. I knew then, that my waterbag had burst. That was almost 1am.

Hubby had just gone to bed at about 12mn so I didn’t want to wake him up yet. I went to get a pad, put it on, and drenched it completely almost immediately. I didn’t know what to do. I went to sit at my common toilet so hubby doesn’t get disturbed and called the gynae’s hotline. As I was sitting on the toiletbowl making the call, 2 more uncontrollable gushes of water came out. Gynae told me to go hospital. So I went to wake hubby out.

We got changed, grabbed the hospital bag and headed for the door. I changed a new pad and lined the car seat with the waterproof sheet that my friend gave and said would come in useful. It sure was. But surprisingly no gushes of water came out in the car and I didn’t wet my pants nor the car. the gushes turned into slower leaks and I did wet the pad again when I reached the hospital. We went to Mount Alvernia and was warmly greeted by the midnight staff there.

It was about 3am when we went in. Got checked for dilation and it was very very painful…. 1cm dilated only. Hubby went to continue his beauty sleep on the armchair. (I realised other hospitals have a sofa bed for the daddy). When morning came and gynae came to check on me at about 9am, another check for dilation 2cm. What?? only?? I was then put on the drip to speed up contractions as though my contractions were coming at every 1-2 minutes, they were very mild, like mild menstrual cramps. I was afraid of pain and also cos I heard another woman (and a man as well) screaming from a neighbouring ward. I asked for epidural to be done at 11am when I wasn’t even in any kind of unbearable pain.

So epidural was done. I was tired from not sleeping at all. Pain though mild was there disturbing me. at 12nn, the pain on my right side of the body was getting more painful. Didn’t I already have epidural done? Wasn’t it supposed to get rid of all the pain? I told the nurse and they came in to increase the dosage. I was still feeling the pain when the contractions came. on my right thigh especially. By 1pm, the pain on my right thigh was so intense I didn’t want to give birth anymore. Finally, they called the anesthetist back and he reached back at 2pm.

Just before the anesthetist came, another check was done. Only 3cm dilated?? I wondered how long more I would had to endure the pain for. He came and redid the epidural. I felt the cool liquid flow down my spine. and then I was numb from waist down. So this was what people call happy-dural. This was what it was supposed to do. Relieved of all pain, I then fell asleep. I was woken up at 4pm. The nurse had realised I was bleeding a lot and did another check for me for dilation. I was already 10cm. From 3 to 10cm in 2 hours! And then they told me gynae was coming and told me to be ready to push. Half asleep still, I said ok.

Gynae came and told me to get ready to start pushing. Push? I couldn’t feel anything from waist down! How to push? Because the nurses had increased the epidural dosage so much before the anesthetist came to adjust it again, I was filled with epidural! I was really numb from waist down. So i used my neck to push and hubby helped by pushing my shoulders. Before I started pushing, apparently baby was very low already and gynae showed my hubby that can see baby’s hair already. After about 5-10minutes, 3 pushes, and using up all the energy in my entire neck and shoulders muscles, baby was out. 4:24pm on 21st Feb 2013.

1 - at birth

As for the epidural, it still didn’t wear off even at 9pm. I had to be carried to my ward bed, had to insert the urine catheter  to remove my pee. I vomited once at 7pm but felt better immediately after. I didn’t breastfeed until 10+pm cos I was so tired from the pushing and from not sleeping the entire night I fell asleep whilst still waiting in the labour ward. I can’t imagine when people tell me they push for more than 1 hour. Or maybe it is cos I couldn’t feel myself push. My shoulders and neck were aching terribly. To make things worse, single (and double) bedder were all full. I was allocated to a 4-bedder and the mummy next to me was talking loudly on the phone and watching tv and I couldn’t rest properly and my hubby couldn’t stay with me.

Experience Mount Alvernia was still good though. Nurses and Lactation Consultants were warm and motherly and very willing to teach. I would recommend first time mothers to go there! But some lessons are learnt. For my next birth, I’m going to a hospital with more single beds so there is higher chance to get single bed for good rest, and I’m also going to tell the anesthetist that I want the epidural such that I can still feel the push but no pain.

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Birth Story – by Monsterbaby Fgm

Here’s a birth story by a second time mum. False alarms to having a dramatic labour. Glad she and her baby are both ok and doing well.  🙂

I’ve been having irregular contractions for 5 days straight before D-Day (build up and patterns and all for hours on end) and will abruptly die down.

Monday, 2nd Feb 2015: I was at my parent’s place for dinner and had terrible contractions. Earlier in the afternoon, during the gynae appointment, I was confirmed to be 1.5cm dilated. Went home to take my hospital bag and headed down to KKH to be assessed. Time check: 11.45pm. Got sent home and asked to return at 6am as I didn’t want to stay at their ward.

Tuesday, 3rd Feb: went in at 6am as instructed. Having painful regular contractions but was only 2cm dilated. Water bag suddenly popped when in triage. Pushed to delivery suite. Contracted all day and night with abrupt pauses in between. By end of this day….cervix was still 2cm dilated.

Wednesday, 4th Feb: Placed on drip to drive contraction into overdrive at 3am. Checked cervix at 8am. 7cm. *relief*. At this point I was filled with hope. Next check at 12pm, and then 5pm. Cervix stayed 7cm and baby’s head was already swollen and showing erratic heart rate. Immediate decision was made to send me in for emergency c-section. I wasn’t even upset or disappointed. All I cared about was to have this little baby out safe. In whatever way it has to be.
I was administered epidural in preparation for the emergency c-section. This is the part where all hell broke loose.

Epidural that was administered gave me too high of a blockage (i was blocked all the way to my throat. It can cause breathing problems). It wasn’t the anesthetist’s fault but it’s a condition I have. I had problems with any kind of anesthesia. I tend to have high “immunity” to any kind of anesthesia. I was numb half of my body vertically. When the anesthetic team tried to rectify the problem they realised that the epidural have gone Into another space of my spine. (What else can go wrong now) so they had to do a spinal block but I still could feel half of my body.

I was already on the operating table with arms spread out and I kept on telling them when they did tests I could still feel them pinching me. To a certain point I said just put me under General Anesthesia. But was told it can have adverse effect on baby.

Next thing I knew I felt the knife slightly and told the anesthetic doc. Think they Injected a further dose of “something”.

Upon the retrieval of baby, I felt EVERYTHING. I started screaming and the next thing I knew, I was wheeled out to the special care ward.

I didn’t even get to see baby at all until the next day. As soon as I’ve set my eyes on baby, all the trauma I experienced during the labour process disappeared 🙂

My baby was born on 4th February 2015 at 1836 weighing 3.67kg. 🙂

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Nursing rooms – Big Box

Location: Every floor next to toilets near the MRT side.

Amenities: changing station, sink, chair

Remarks: note that the doors cannot be locked as the room is not meant for nursing, just meant for changing of diapers. If there is a need to nurse, plant the hubby outside the door to monitor it for you. The door can only be opened at the press of a button. So hubby just has to make sure no one presses it. Don’t understand why they can’t just put in a nicer chair and allow the door to be locked from the inside. Voila we will have a nursing room!

I would just walk over to JEM via the link bridge on level 2 for an excellent nursing room. 🙂

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Birth Story – by Larissa Leong

Thank you Larissa for sharing your birth story with such detail. It has been a roller coaster ride for this first time mummy and I thank her for giving permission to share this on my blog. From changing gynae at 39 weeks of pregnancy to bloody show, contractions, having epidural and developing a low grade fever, to pushing for 1 hour and finally giving birth naturally with assistance at just a few hours short of baby’s EDD, Larissa and her supportive hubby has been very strong in the entire process of labour and probably even stronger as they depended on God!

Read her account here:

Baby Eliel

Baby Eliel

MY STORY ON BABY ELIEL’S BIRTH
WARNING: Especially for unmarried male readers, this birth story contains GRAPHIC details of the female reproductive anatomy and what happens to it during labour and delivery. Read at your own risk! BUT… it is a nice testimony of God granting prayers to the undeserved.

My birth story began some days before the actual labour, at the beginning of week 39 of gestation, when I made what many consider an insane, unthinkable decision to change my OBS & GYN doctor – the doctor who would deliver my baby, commonly termed gynaecologist or “gynae” in Singapore.

I had carefully prepared my birth plan, highlighting my strong preference for a natural delivery. I am not disdainful of c-sections and I do NOT believe that having a c-sect delivery makes you any less of a mother. However, I wanted to keep open the option of having more children if God may be so generous to grant them, but I was aware that multiple c-sects may limit the number of births I can have in a lifetime. I was also hoping for a quick recovery after childbirth.

My usual O&G doctor, who had been caring for me since my first trimester, was highly skeptical of my physical ability to deliver naturally, repeatedly citing my short stature and tight pelvis. During the last month of the pregnancy, she upped the ante by repeating her favourite phrase – “High chance of c-section” – and constantly encouraging us to decide on an elective c-sect. She also said she hoped the baby would come out earlier before he got too big (for me), which led me to lower my food intake and to try to induce myself naturally – not necessarily the healthiest decisions for baby and me. I felt miserable.

Anxious to find out if it was indeed medically necessary for me to undergo a c-sect, on Thursday 15 January, I sought a second opinion from one of the more famous pro-natural O&G physicians in Singapore – Dr. Paul Tseng. His answers were the most comforting words I have ever heard on the issue – first, the baby would not grow too big in proportion to the mother’s body (so there was really no need to starve myself to control the baby’s weight or to induce to try to get the baby out earlier); and second, the pelvis would expand during labour to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal (why didn’t the other doctor tell me this simple fact?!). He even addressed my fears on shoulder dystocia without my asking about it – the condition does not happen unless the mother has gestational diabetes (which I don’t). In other words, there does not seem to be a medical necessity for me to have a c-sect, and there is no reason not to try for a natural delivery. Hurray! But I still had to deal with my usual doctor who wanted to put me under the knife.

On Friday 16 January (the start of week 39), at a routine appointment with the usual doctor, she did an internal examination on me and repeated her “high chance of c-sect” trademark phrase with a determined tone in her voice. That was when I knew enough was enough – it would not be her, but Dr. Paul Tseng, who would deliver my baby. We made an unscheduled visit to his clinic to announce we were switching to him; though surprised, he accepted me without hesitation and approved my birth plan.

The rest of the day was spent doing catch-up at record speed – paying the deposit for the new doctor’s fees, pre-admission into an unfamiliar hospital, and the hospital tour etc. – and trying to wrap my head around the fact that I was going to deliver in a different hospital under a different doctor!

SIDE NOTE – God actually spoke to me through the Holy Spirit during my 2nd trimester that I would be delivering naturally. I clung to the hope of this promise whenever I heard the words “high chance of c-sect” from my former doctor. In light of this, it does not sound so insane to change to a physician whose position is much more consistent with God’s revealed plan.

On Wednesday 21 January, the brown discharge I had been spotting since after the internal exam on 16 Jan turned fresh red with a mucous-like texture – my “bloody show” had started. I also started having contractions but the pain was manageable. We called the hospital emergency hotline at 3.30am which transferred the call to Dr. Paul and frankly, all parties were so sleepy I doubt any of us remembered anything meaningful from the short conversation. I managed to fall asleep from 5am to 9am, then dropped by the doctor’s clinic for another unscheduled visit. It turned out that I was having irregular contractions and that my cervix was soft but not dilated, so I was sent home as I was told it could be days or weeks before I could be in labour.

From Thursday 22 January midnight onwards, however, the contractions started getting more regular, intense and painful. They prevented me from sleeping; I stayed awake the whole night monitoring the frequency and intensity of the contractions on an iPhone app, and trying to ascertain if they fit the doctor’s criteria for hospital admission – 30 – 40-seconds long, 10 – 12 minutes apart and on a pain scale of 7 out of 10 (meaning that it was so painful I could barely walk or talk). Not fun! I was hesitant to go to hospital for fear that it was a false alarm again, like the day before. When dawn came, I went under the sun and told myself that if the pain did not go away in the sunlight, it was likely to be the real deal. It did not. So hubby and mum-in-law bundled me into the car, with two small apples and a bottle of coconut water for a quick breakfast. Morning traffic was horrid, and I used breathing and relaxation techniques to cope with the pain, while MIL tried to massage my shoulders.

9am – The moment I could barely walk into the hospital building while hubby parked the car, the concierge noticed me and ushered me immediately to the labour ward floor. I was put in the observation ward while waiting for a delivery room to be available. The nurses found that I was already 2cm dilated and quickly gave me enema to clear my bowels, as they were afraid I would be in too much pain to walk to the toilet when I was further dilated. I checked to make sure I was allowed to still eat during the day, as being kept awake the whole night had made me hungry and I needed energy for the eventual delivery. Hubby joined me after doing the admission procedure. The observation ward was an unpleasant place. I had to walk past an occupied bed beside mine to reach the toilet. The occupants were talking loudly on the phone and watching some garish programme on TV with the volume turned up.

11am – I was relieved to be finally wheeled to my private delivery room, but was shocked when I realised I was assigned to one without an ensuite toilet! So I made a strong request and was transferred to a pricier but bigger delivery suite with ensuite. Hubby realised that this was the same luxurious delivery suite that was shown to us at the hospital tour. We were pretty much left alone waiting for the labour to progress. I received egg sandwiches and milo to eat.

1pm – When I thought of standing up to take a walk, I was suddenly hit by a massive wave of excruciating pain in my tummy, back and ribs, as if a few major bones were being simultaneously crushed! I bent over in shock and had to lie back down, whilst emitting low-pitched screams. That was when Dr. Paul visited for the first time, with hubby joking that he probably heard my screaming from outside. The doctor was pleased that I was “well established in labour” but cautioned me not to eat too much as I might vomit.

2pm – When hubby was out for lunch, the main nurse in charge of me, Sister Irene, found that I was already 5cm dilated. She asked if I wanted epidural as she observed that I was in distress from the pain. Really? I was in distress? I thought I was coping quite well, sans the sporadic screams. Knowing that 6cm was the maximum dilation during which epidural could be administered, I caved in and asked for epidural, as I felt I needed to conserve what little energy I had left for the delivery instead of for pain management. This was the only deviation from my birth plan that I decided on.

15 minutes later, the most gorgeous female doctor I had ever laid eyes on entered the room. Dr. Yvonne Lim, the anaesthetist, told me that the epidural would take away 90% of the pain and made me sign a form stating the risks and possible side effects. The epidural administration was painful! I was made to lie on the side and breathe in entonox (laughing gas) to help me relax during the procedure. The entonox only made me light-headed but I could feel the sting of the needle. Sister Irene had to hold down my arms and legs to prevent me from thrashing about. She commented that I was tensed up, making it more painful than it would have been.

The epidural came into effect and I could feel numbness spread over my lower body. The painful contractions were now barely noticeable. I was given a urine catheter and belatedly realized that I had to lie down all the way and could no longer walk myself to the toilet, hence defeating the purpose of having an ensuite! Oh well…

3pm – The doctor dropped by again and I apologized smilingly for opting for epidural and hence deviating from my birth plan. He smiled back and said there was no need to say sorry as it was my personal choice. He proceeded to break my water bag with the sharp end of what looked like a white fine-toothed comb, saying that it would help the baby move further down. I felt a big gush of water flow out and it was swiftly cleaned up. Hubby returned from lunch and I joked that he missed all the action. He regretted not returning earlier to check on how pretty the anaesthetist was.

As time slowly went by, the epidural made me shiver uncontrollably. Sister Grace, who looked like she was a senior staff nurse, visited occasionally to provide emotional support. The epidural made me relaxed enough to catch up on much-needed sleep. But the best thing about it was that in my quiet moments, I was able to pray peacefully for a safe, natural delivery without the need for an emergency c-section and to imagine how the birth process might pan out.

Eating and drinking, however, was a delicate tug-of-war with the nurses. I wanted to drink milo and coconut water but was advised to only sip plain water, as a side effect of the epidural was vomiting. When I did not show any signs of vomiting, I quickly asked hubby to feed me milo when the nurses were away.

3 – 4pm – I was woken up by the doctor’s arrival. He found that I was still only 5-6cm dilated and ordered for syntocin to be administered in a drip to speed up the labour. “Did the epidural stall my otherwise smooth-flowing rate of dilation?” – I thought in panic. There was a change in nursing shift and Sister Josephine, who looked young, fair and pretty but went about her job in a methodical, no-nonsense manner, replaced Sister Irene.

4 – 5pm – The shivering had stopped but I was spotting a low-grade fever of 37.5°C and was prescribed panadol. I was also told that the baby’s heart rate was dropping so I was given oxygen to help him relax. This got me very worried and I fervently prayed for the baby’s safety and that it would not lead to an e c-sect. Despite all these, I was famished after that meager brunch of sandwiches so I asked for more food. The nurses tried to stall my requests with various reasons – they needed the doctor’s approval; they had to monitor the baby’s heartbeat on the CTG machine first; they were waiting for the food to be delivered etc. etc. I repeatedly asked for food until my voice turned hoarse. When they finally brought in tuna sandwiches and milo, I was told to eat only one piece of sandwich and to have hubby hand-feed me. After the nurse walked out, I got hubby to feed me ALL but one sandwich.

6pm – My fever had dropped to 36.9°C and I had dilated to 6-7cm. At the (slow) rate this was going, we estimated that the baby would be out around 12 midnight. Sister Grace assured me that the drop in the baby’s heartbeat was nothing to worry about and was not a cause for an e c-sect – he probably didn’t like one of the things (read: drugs) going into me and was getting used to it.

Evening time was the best part of the day so far. I was satisfied from the sandwiches and milo, and feeling relaxed with the epidural numbing away all the pain, I fell back asleep.

8.30pm – By the time Sister Grace checked on me, to everyone’s surprise, I had fully dilated to 10cm! I could even vaguely feel her hand turning somersaults inside me. She said she could feel the baby’s hair! We were asked if we wanted the baby to be born on 23 Jan (for which we would wait until past 11pm before I should start pushing), or 22 Jan. I quickly replied to get it over and done with. Sister Grace quipped, “It’s time to work hard!” and left us while Sister Josephine got things set up.

To distract myself from the nervousness over the impending birth, I asked Sister Josephine what my chances of a natural delivery were, telling her my former doctor said I had a tight pelvis. She replied that from her 30 years’ experience as a midwife, she was absolutely confident I could deliver naturally. I said she looked very young! However, she said that Asian women would definitely suffer perineal tears, but after probably seeing my horrified reaction, quickly assured me that the area is well-suited for tearing. She also told me that after the delivery, I would be given an injection to the thigh to cause my uterus to contract, but I initially thought she was joking and that the injection was some form of vaccination for the baby. I was probably getting sick of the increasing number of needles being inserted into me.

9pm – Sister Josephine taught me how to push with very precise instructions, with hubby holding my right hand to support me – (1) Feel the contraction coming; (2) Lift my calves close to my thighs; (3) Take a deep breath; (4) Put my chin down and count to 10 while pushing with all my might, directing the force of the push towards where the baby would come out; and (5) Repeat Steps 3 and 4 two more times. There were lots of don’t’s too – “Don’t arch your back”, “Don’t lift up your bum”, “Don’t make any noise”. I did what she called “rehearsals” for a good 15 minutes.

There was a change in nursing shifts again and two older looking midwives came in while Sister Josephine bid us goodbye. I did not know their names as their nametags were hidden under plastic aprons. They said the doctor would only come in at the last minute to receive the baby in his arms (what a nice job!) and we would be here for a good one hour of pushing at least.

We continued the process of pushing, with the midwives telling me I needed to gather all my energy to push in order to get the baby’s head past the pelvic bone. They also tried to get hubby to encourage me by showing him the hair on the baby’s head, which he claimed he did see. On hindsight, the whole process felt like military or bootcamp physical endurance training!

After an hour of pushing and with no baby in sight, one of the midwives looked defeated and said, “Look here, honestly-speaking, it has been an hour and I can see you’re getting exhausted. You probably should call the doctor in now for vacuum assisted delivery. Even with the vacuum, you still need energy to push as the vacuum will only guide the baby’s head past the pelvis but will not pull him out all the way. If you continue pushing like this without assistance and the baby still does not come out, you will be completely drained and even the vacuum will not help you later. What is your choice now?”

I looked at hubby who only returned a blank stare and the same question, “What do you want to do?” Then I asked the midwives whether I was headed down the e c-sect path, to which the emphatic answer was no, as the baby was already so far down that his head could be seen. So I made the decision to call the doctor for assisted delivery. I was told it would only take 10 – 15 minutes for the doctor to come over as he lived nearby.

One more precise instruction for me – I had to look straight at the doctor while pushing during the vacuum delivery, otherwise the force of the push would go in the wrong direction and it would be futile. I was then left to take a quick rest while the equipment was being prepared.

As promised, Dr. Paul appeared shortly, dressed in casual wear. He changed into waterproof rubber boots and looked like a high-class fresh seafood seller having returned from a game of golf. I belatedly realized the bloody mess that was soon to come when hubby innocently asked why the need for boots. The vacuum looked like a small yellow toilet plunger and I saw the doctor put some blue balloons (they looked like the kind you see at children’s parties being twisted into animal shapes) near/into me. Then I was directed by the doctor to push. I pushed as best as I could for four times, focusing my sight and direction on a spot on the doctor’s green garb. Hubby exclaimed, “He’s coming out! He’s coming out!” At the same time, I felt a big load slip out of me, leaving an emptiness in my tummy.

Baby Eliel was born on 22 January 2015, at 22:18, just a few hours shy of his EDD. Hubby sounded like a nervous wreck when he was directed to cut the umbilical cord (in line with my birth plan). Eliel was lifted up onto my belly, slimy and wet, for skin-to-skin contact. Some brown liquid that flowed out of his mouth was quickly wiped up. He was not crying, and I anxiously asked whether he was breathing just to make sure, although I could see that he was. Instead, he was quiet but alert and inquisitive, scanning the new environment around him with big brown eyes. I noticed poop on one of his legs and realized that he had made his first poop just before he came out.

Hubby squealed excitedly, “Look! Here’s your placenta.” A midwife held up a big, red and juicy organ. I could only stare in shock and mutter, “The placenta came out?! I did not feel it come out at all.”

I silently gave thanks to God for the natural delivery, cried tears of joy, then thanked the doctor and midwives profusely for enabling the same. Feeling more relaxed and happy, I thought aloud that the vacuum delivery was easy and wondered why it was not done earlier. I never expected a reply, but the doctor immediately said something like, “But then you would not have known what pushing in a natural delivery was like!” That was when I noticed the red (stained with my blood) thread and scissors the doctor was holding, and had a silent freak-out moment. I asked about the extent of the perineal tear, and was told it was a straight-line second-degree tear all the way to the anus but would not affect passing motion. With the epidural still in effect, I did not feel a single thing of course. Later, hubby would recall to me that the doctor had told me that I was receiving an injection to the thigh, but I did not remember hearing that, neither did I feel or see the injection.

The midwives suddenly lifted up my top and put Eliel on my bare chest, telling me to let him latch. It was awkward as I had not yet learned how to latch a baby and Eliel was a little too overwhelmed to try to latch.

The doctor finished up the stitching (which seemed to take a while!), shook our hands to congratulate us, and was gone in a flash – guess Superman needs his down time too. Hubby was like a distracted child – he was all over the place trying to take photos but not really knowing where to be or what to do. The midwives measured Eliel – he was 2.685kg heavy and 49cm long, with a head circumference of 33cm. They then placed him in the warmer box and got daddy to count his fingers and toes. Everything happened with clockwork efficiency.

Eliel was wrapped in a towel and tugged snugly beside me. I felt him squirm contentedly, just like his squirms back in my tummy which I would surely miss. Side by side, we were wheeled out of the delivery suite, ready to face the world. It was magical. And God is awesome.

Larissa with her gynae Dr Paul Tseng who delivered her baby Eliel naturally.

Larissa with her gynae Dr Paul Tseng who delivered her baby Eliel naturally.

 

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Packing your Hospital Bag

When should you start packing your hospital bag? What should you be putting into the bag? Where should you place the bag after packing it? These are many questions face by pregnant mummies whether it is your first pregnancy or not.

First of all, you might want to be done packing before Week 35 or even earlier if you have a history of early delivery. Just for a gauge, I have friends with normal pregnancies that delivered between Weeks 36 to 42 for their first babies. Although most will be about Weeks 38-40, it is really very unpredictable.

Most items are provided by the hospitals. You can double check with them by calling them up to ask. They provide for the mummy: Hospital robe, maternity pads (usually Kotex Loop), towel, toiletries, waterproof pad liners for the bed, disposable underwear, tissue paper. Most hospitals do not charge for the first round usage of these items, but if for example you need a second pack of maternity pads or tissue box,they will be chargeable. If needed, you can also loan breast pumps. These are free for some hospitals. For the daddy who is a lodger, they will provide bedsheets, blankets, towel, and daddies can share your toiletries. For the baby, they will provide the clothes which baby will need while at the hospital and swaddle as well for the hospital. Diapers will be provided (usually Huggies) and they will give you the leftover to bring home. Same thing goes for baby’s shower foam as well.

So what do you have to pack?

1. Mummy’s clothes for 2-3 days. Some will ask if should pack disposable or normal undies, it depends on your comfort level. I prefer my own cotton undies and don’t like those disposable cotton ones. One thing good about the disposable ones is you are not worried about having any stains if you are bleeding heavily. For some mummies, you will ahve to bring extra maternity pads too as those given (10pieces in a pack) might not be sufficient for you for your stay at the hospital. For my #1, My water bag burst. As such, I finished all 10 pieces they gave during labour itself. After that I had the miracle “Epikool” maternity pads (which you have to pay for and I glady did so). This Epikool (I used 6 pieces which is 2 boxes) and another about 5 pieces of maternity pads lasted me through my stay at the hospital. By the time I was home the flow was very light so I only had to use light flow sanitary pads. I stocked up 3 packets (10 pieces each) of maternity pads which I had no use for. So please don’t stock up too much of it. 🙂

2. Baby’s clothes to go home in. This would include a vest/romper and a swaddle/blanket. A beanie hat if you want. There is actually no need for mittens and booties as the baby will be swaddled but they are cute anyway so I would bring them. Beanie hat is useful also before baby is discharged as it will help keep the baby warm while in the nursery.

3. Daddy’s clothes. This is of course a need if daddy is going to bunk in with mummy. However, at least one extra set of clothes is good also in case labour is long and daddy would like to have a bath. As there are bathrooms in labour wards, daddies can have their baths there during the long wait for baby to come. It is also useful if mummy has been rushed to the hospital and daddy is rushing there directly from work, daddy might want a set of comfy clothes to change into from his work wear.

4. Documents. This includes most importantly mummy’s IC/passport and hospital admission documents. If you want to register your baby, you will need to bring your marriage cert and both parents’ IC. If you have registered with a company for cordblood banking, you will have to bring those items that they gave you as well.

5. Others. Other items include your charger and slippers and items to keep you occupied during labour. Items could be books or iPad or card games you can play with your hubby. If you are afraid your waterbag bursting might dirty the car, it would be good to put 1 piece of waterproof sheet in the car just in case.

All other items are really not necessary. If you are worried there is anything you miss out, remember you are in Singapore and any item can be easily purchased anywhere. Just send the hubby out for a while to run that errand for you. I’m sure he would be glad to.

Happy delivery! 🙂