For those of you who were curious, I’ve written down our labour and delivery story blow-by-blow. For some reason when I was pregnant I really enjoyed hearing about other peoples’ stories. I’m not sure if it was just me being weird but just in case you’re the same… here it goes! ;)
p/s Pardon some of the really bad phone photos. We brought our DSLR camera but were way too knackered to use it throughout!
9am – My water bag broke. For some reason I had difficulty sleeping the night before due to various discomforts and only had 3 hours of sleep. I figured I could always steal a nap in the afternoon and settled down to do the accounts for my business after a quick breakfast. All of a sudden, I felt a gush and stood up from my chair to find myself in a pool of liquid. I had always heard the statistic that only 1 in 10 water bags would break before delivery and never thought I would be one of them.
9.05am – Called my husband to come home from work and tried to deal with the never-ending flow. I’ve only ever texted Dan at work and never called, so we agreed that if he saw a call from me, he would know it was urgent and that I was probably in labour. Sure enough, when he picked up my call, he knew exactly what was happening. While letting his boss know he had to leave work, his kind colleague helped to call for a cab home.
In the meantime, I was trying to deal with the never-ending flow of fluids. I always had the impression (yes, now I know that movies aren’t good depictions of real life) that the gush would be once-off and then it’d be off to hospital while having minor leaks. Thankfully I had my girlfriends on a whatsapp chat who gave me advice and supported me throughout the whole process. After sitting on the toilet for a while, 4 times in the shower only to get soaked again, moving around the flat on floor towels to get our outstanding items together, we finally managed to leave our home two hours later. (Sitting in the car on a towel and trash bag lining, I still continued to gush…)
12pm – We got admitted to hospital. After all the admission procedures, we were brought to the labour ward for monitoring and they inserted something to help my cervix ripen. As my water had already broken, my doctor decided to admit us and we were sent to the wards upstairs to await stronger contractions. The rest of the day we were just waiting for closer contractions or potentially incredible pain to signal that we were one step closer to delivering Isaac. I had some happy thoughts that perhaps I was contracting but just didn’t feel any pain, and one could wish so right? In the meantime, we had our laptops out to settle outstanding work. I tried to nap but the excitement was a tad bit too much.
11pm – Time passes but nothing happens. We waited it out patiently but didn’t have many close or strong contractions. As the ward we wanted was not available, I was in a shared ward that day which meant Dan wasn’t allowed to stay over. After my sis and Dan helped to settle me in with a ton of food, they left just before midnight and I tried to get some sleep, still hopeful that I would wake up any minute to find myself in actual labour.
3am – Sleep is so not happening. Despite earplugs and being incredibly tired from not having sleep the day before, I couldn’t fall asleep due to a symphony of snoring and a lady who was particularly loud. I found out the next day that the entire corridor and doctor’s room at the end of the hall could hear her too – so I guess it wasn’t just me who found it similar to a chainsaw. I finally gave up and walked out of the ward to ask if I could go home or transfer to another place to sleep. The nurses asked what took me so long and managed to find me another shared room to sleep in.
5am – Hunger kicks in. I’ll admit I’m the type of person who gets ravenous the less sleep I get, so with no surprise, after two hours of sleep I woke up trying to eat everything in front of me that my sis and Dan had left behind for me. I only managed a cup of instant noodles and an apple before they had to run a test on me before a scheduled induction at 8am the next day. (My doctor had told me if we didn’t progress naturally, we’d have to induce at 8am.)
7.30am – Packing to go down to the labour ward. I was also waiting for breakfast which they said would be served at 7.30am but it never came in time. They got me a hot drink and crackers and said they would send the food to the labour ward and sent me down promptly at 8am. Dan was on his way and met me at the labour ward directly. I had stronger contractions throughout the night, but nothing too close together and definitely not enough to make me keel like I’ve heard with others.
8am – Induction begins. After changing into a hospital gown, they started drawing my blood for testing and inserted a drip. I was still happily waiting for breakfast to be brought down from the regular ward but later was told that I wasn’t allowed to eat. Oh the sadness! I resorted to sneaking in sips of isotonic drinks in between sips of water. It was a new day and we were excited to meet Isaac soon.
8.30am – The oxytocin drip kicks in. Once induction started, my contractions started getting much stronger and closer to each other. I had heard that induction would mean more painful contractions as you wouldn’t have time to experience it building up with natural labor but I decided to use deep breathing, visualisation and praying to go through each contraction. Some time after, the nurse said I was at the maximum level of oxytocin and that most people would have balked at the pain much earlier on and have requested for an epidural. With Dan by my side encouraging me, I continued to labour through the pain without requesting for pain relief.
12pm, 2pm, 4pm – Waiting with pain. They came in for routine checks but each time, my cervix stayed at 1cm dilation and Isaac’s head was still not engaged. With each check, I got more disappointed but I still held onto the hope that things would change suddenly. The pain was getting much stronger and I tried the gas mask which didn’t work in pain relief but just made me woozy and unable to focus on getting through each contraction effectively. We joked that Isaac was enjoying his room service a bit too much to want to come out, but deep inside we were just hoping he would come soon and that he would be fine. Our friends and family were constantly checking in and encouraging us which we were also very grateful for.
5pm – Time is running out. My doctor came in for another check and told us that he would give us till 8 or 9pm before we faced the inevitable c-section as it would have been 2 days since my water broke and we were risking the chance of infection. After hours of going through so much pain, I discussed it with Dan and we decided I would get an epidural so I could get some rest, and since I would need one if I went through a c-section anyway. After getting one, I finally understood why my friends were advocates of epidurals. All throughout my girlfriends and family were sending love and encouragement and waiting excitedly.
8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm – Is it ever going to happen? Each hour, our patient doctor would come in, giving us yet another hour of trying. At 9pm, I had dilated to 4cm, but that was a far cry from the 10cm that was needed. He explained that my progress was slow and possibly at a standstill and it wouldn’t be wise to wait yet another day considering the risk of infection. At 11pm, he said we had tried and this was it – we would be going in for an emergency c-section. I don’t know if it was the way it was phrased that made trying seem like a failure, or the disappointment after two days of waiting and my original expectation of having a natural delivery that triggered it, but I started bawling. Dan wasn’t allowed in the operating theatre which made me even more sad.
11.15pm – Into the operating theatre we go. Things happened incredibly fast from here. There were around 8 people surrounding me and all hands on deck. I was given a different concoction of the epidural for the c-section and started shaking uncontrollably. My wrists were strapped down and my head shook and teeth chattered throughout the procedure. They definitely don’t show this in movies…
11.28pm – He’s out. After feeling the yanking and pulling, they finally pull baby Isaac out and everything felt so surreal. After checking him and warming him up, they finally placed him on me and it was just quite a crazy feeling meeting him for the first time. My body and hands were still shaking so they had to hold my hands down on him to make sure we were secure. They allowed me to hold him through the recovery monitoring before wheeling him out to meet Dan.
3am – We’re back in the ward. Things really felt surreal – it was my first time having a procedure done in a hospital. Every hour (or less) after that, there were many checks and shots done which made it even harder to rest. I was so tired that it was all a blur as my blood pressure was taken, colostrum hand-expressed to feed Isaac in the high dependency ward (thank you so much to the nurses who helped!), a shot of pain reliever was given, blood drawn for checks and so on.
I could go on forever about the many details that followed Isaac’s birth but that would take forever and I doubt anyone would be too interested eh! What I would like to share is how my husband Dan was such a trooper. As someone who hasn’t handled an infant before, he set to work changing baby’s dirty diapers and soothing him with much bravery and confidence. For someone who didn’t know how to open a packet of wet wipes at the start (a little joke between us), he was thrown into the deep end and came out a champ in caring for Isaac. My main role was that of a colostrum/ milk machine (and being a totally unglamorous post-pregnancy woman).
Despite all the physical pain, I’d say the biggest pain was the heartache in not being able to sit or stand up to take care of Isaac when he cried. My pregnancy carpel tunnel was and still is present and my thumbs pop out whenever I try to hold his head to latch him without help. Admittedly I broke down a lot of times in the week or two that followed (thanks to my lovely hormones, lack of sleep and strong sense of helplessness) but I’ve since adjusted and gotten things back in perspective.
While I had spent time managing expectations and reading up on building a stronger relationship and marriage with my husband beforehand, most of the baby books I had read in preparation were on how to take care of your infant or the best techniques available. I had subconsciously painted a picture of the type of mum I would be, changing his nappies and feeding him soon after his arrival, etc.
But I now know that I should manage my expectations (especially with a c-section recovery that seems to be taking forever) and not try to live out that ‘ideal image’ of a mum that I had painted for myself. Things are getting better day by day and I look forward to the day I get to carry him around without assistance! :)