30 September 2016, by Tan Li Lin
My child birthing experience was NOTHING like what I had in mind. Baby was more than cooperative – but several turn of events within a month really proved that you can’t always be prepared for what Life has in store for you! Here’s what happened.
Off the beaten track: Opting for a water birth in Singapore
Ever since I found out I was pregnant in January, we’ve had our consultations with KKH right from the start, but knew that we’d eventually move to NUH because I wanted a water birth.
Why this choice of delivery? Because – short of listing out all the known benefits – I just really thought it made sense. Being in the water not only eases uncomfortable physical sensations, it also allows for more freedom of movement, and I truly believed it would help reduce the chances of tearing since water softens the tissues and is more relaxing. Some say it’s more natural for baby to transit from water-to-water environment (I wanted that for baby too!). I visualized my perfect birth setting – birthing in water, in dim light, with relaxing music in the background. There are tons of stories out there about women having a calm and easy (natural) birth experience. I was determined to have that too. It took me six months to finally decide that I really was going to do this, so I made the switch in July. Hoping I wasn’t too late already, I booked my first appointment with Prof. Chong Yap Seng – Singapore’s pioneer doctor in water birth deliveries. I also signed up for Hypnobirthing classes (cuz the chicken in me was afraid of a painful delivery), engaged a Doula (midwife/birth coach), and went swimming every week.
In our last KKH consultation, which was about the end of Tri 2, baby had dropped to the bottom 10 percentile. I figured since all my nieces also weighed in at the lighter end of the scale, it’s normal that my baby would too. Two weeks later, Prof. Chong pointed out that I had protein in my urine. Maybe the sample was contaminated? We’ll keep monitoring.
What? I’ve an IUGR baby? Maybe it’s a problem with YOUR scan Doc
In our second NUH session (appx. week 35), the scans showed that baby’s head to abdomen ratio was severely disproportionate. Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is when the baby isn’t growing at a normal rate – it happens in appx. 3% of all pregnancies. Nutrients are pumped to keep up with brain development but growth elsewhere is compromised. There isn’t a fixed cause behind IUGR, but we suspected it might have to do with the placenta effectiveness. Prof. explained the implications of the situation. I just listened and grinned. He warned me that it’s not a laughing matter. Alright, I wiped the smile off my face… but really didn’t think much of it because… well, baby’s father has a big head and small hips too… Prof. scheduled me in for consultations every week following that, up to my EDD. He wanted to monitor the fetus closely. Great, we joked, barely a month with NUH and they’re trying to suck our money.
Oops, the joke’s on me now
We diligently went for scans for the next three weeks to monitor the amniotic fluid levels and… yikes some other index I can’t recall now. Another growth scan was done on the fourth week. Having heeded everyone’s advice of “eat more durian and meat!!!”, we were crossing our fingers baby had increase from her measly 1.9kg weight. However when the Sonographer reported that BABY HADN’T GROWN IN THE LAST THREE WEEKS my first thought was, “oh oh. Prof’s gonna kill me now.” He already set the expectation that if things don’t improve, the first cause of action would be to deliver the baby to reduce the chances of fetus morbidity. He advised we stick to a straightforward delivery to reduce complications. Bye bye water birthing dreams. So, I was a little sad. Then sadness turned into shock when Prof. suggested inducing the baby the next day. What?! That’s like, nine days before her EDD. I’m not (fully) prepared to GIVE BIRTH TOMORROW.
I’d like to order a double whammy of “whatever else that could go wrong”
Amidst the whirlwind of emotions I was feeling (despite a frozen smile on my face), my blood pressure level kept creeping higher. Prof. joked that he’ll take it again after delivering the news to me, but 5 hours later, my blood pressure was through the roof. “Initially we attributed it to anxiety, but at these levels it’s not something we can ignore now”. Coupled with protein in my urine STILL showing up, I was diagnosed with Pre-eclampsia. Pre what? Yah. The stuff you read about pre-delivery but never take seriously because “it won’t happen to me – see, my feet arn’t swelling“. Basically it’s a potentially life-threatening condition (for mother and fetus) where high blood pressure levels can trigger fits. It happens in 5% of pregnancies, to preggies who would otherwise have normal blood pressure levels. Wow, I seriously didn’t have the numbers on my side this pregnancy. Maybe it’s because Math hates me. So now BOTH baby and I are considered high-risk cases. Prof. orders me to admit myself to the delivery ward NOW. AFTER THE CONSULTATION. Don’t go home, don’t need to take your stuff now, head straight to the delivery ward. THAT, was never on my to-do list today.
The only (very) comforting news is – I was already dilated 3 cm and Prof. reported that he could feel baby’s head. Seems like baby is on the way ANYWAY. Great thing I had finished all my preparations the night before (perfect timing baby!). Looking back, I can’t believe I was climbing all over my bed draping fairy lights whilst being 3 cm erm… open.
The battle begins
… and I kick start it by walking myself out of the delivery ward (after being wheeled all the way in haha) and into a buffet restaurant. Since I was going to need all the energy later, might as well fill up on my ‘last supper’. Dad joined me for a drink, followed by my Doula and Ronald.
I psyche myself up.
Looking damn chilled and relax right? HAHAHA.
Read the drama that happened before and after this one serene moment in “Birth Story: Tales of The Unexpected (Part 2)“.