13 October 2016, by Tan Li Lin

Birth Story: Tales of The Unexpected (Part 2)

The battle begins (continued from Part 1)

I enter the delivery ward pretty psyched up. It almost feels like I’m walking into an inevitable battle that I’ve spent the last month preparing for. We settle in, and the hospital procedures start. I was given medication to control my blood pressure (BP) levels and was strapped up to a machine that takes my BP level every 30 minutes. At 8 pm, the Medical Officer comes in to announce that she’s going to administer Misoprostol, according to Prof. Chong’s instructions. It is a pill inserted into the vagina that softens and prepares the cervix for child birth. It takes 6 hours to activate, and might induce labour in the process. It’s the most gentle way (at least in terms of medical interventions) to induce a labour and I’m glad that I could trust my doctor to start me off slow.

Woa! Hold your horses!

At 2 am, I’m moved into a delivery room. Nothing much has happened since the pill was inserted. This being my first pregnancy (and not knowing what to expect) I was naively hoping that it would have magically opened my cervix more. After all, I dilated 3 cm without feeling anything… could child birth be this easy? The Medical Officer came back to check on me, and reported that I had not dilated any further. They’d need to break my water bag next. Woa. What? Why are we suddenly moving so fast? Once the water bag is broken, I’d have a time limit to deliver my baby – and if she doesn’t come out within that time frame, what happens? Is the next thing going to be a Caesarean? I told Prof. that unless absolutely necessary, I don’t want a C-section. I had learnt in my Hypnobirthing class that it was okay to ask for time to consider and discuss (with husband and Doula) our options – you don’t have to feel pressurized into going with what the medical team advises, and risk regretting after. There are many such cases, and I can tell you now that it’s really easy to go along with hospital procedures and what the medical team thinks is best for you. After all, we’re newbies, clueless, and half my sanity is disabled. Since we were encouraged to ask for implications, options and alternatives, I told the Medical Officer that I’m really not keen on taking this step. Just at that moment, Prof. Chong called the medical team to change tactic and administer Pitocin instead (which is administered through a drip and acts to mimic Oxytocin). That buys me another 4 hours to MAKE THIS BIRTH HAPPEN.

The worst poop of my life AKA Labor

I start feeling contractions – a dull, intensifying ache down my back, lower spine and pelvis. By the second contraction, my water bag breaks. I glance at the clock. 4 am. I silently hope it’s over by the morning. My Doula guides me into breathing slow and gently with the contractions. After a while, I can’t lie down any longer. I move and stretch with the ache. It’s manageable, but I get frustrated at feeling so tied down with the BP level strap on my left arm going off every 15 minutes (it hurts), and the Pitocin drip on my right hand. This restriction in movement made me feel utterly helpless and angry. My Doula suggests we take a break and head to the loo. I take a pee, and then suddenly find myself bearing down ON THE TOILET FLOOR with my Doula on my left and Ronald on my right. I’m grabbing a chair until my knuckles turn white. I keep insisting “I NEED TO POOP” and my Doula keeps chanting reassuringly “it’s just the baby’s head!” and I keep screaming back “I KNOW I KNOW. BUT I NEED TO POOP” and the cycle continues for 45 minutes. Thinking back, given that I suffered a really tragic case of constipation over the span of my pregnancy, I actually had lots of practice with this already.

These 5 words were the BEST.NEWS.EVER

By then, the contractions were 15 seconds apart. I barely had time to breathe, and I definitely didn’t have time to talk. Somewhere in the next 30 minutes I demanded (albeit weakly) “GIVE ME THE FASTEST WAY OUT”. I had to let the Chicken out. Who was I kidding? My Doula reminded me excitedly that “the baby is already on the way!” I wish I had her enthusiasm.

By 6.45 am, the nurse decides I’ve demonstrated enough writhing to warrant a vaginal check. I was prepared to hear the same thing – “You’re still 3 cm dilated” – but to my relief she reports I’m 8 cm dilated and that baby is at the ‘+2 station’ position. “I’m going to call the Doctor.” YES!!!

She comes back with the best.news.ever: “The doctor’s on his way.”


I am Woman. Hear me roar

The room is in a frenzy. Suddenly, there were almost 9 others with me in the ward. The surgical apparatus were being set up, so was the baby’s station. My Doula’s getting increasingly excited, and my husband is trying his best to keep up with everything. Prof. Chong steps in and I swear in that moment there was golden light and herald angels singing. I asked him how long more, and he replies “if you see me with my surgical gloves on, it means it’s almost time.” Woohoo! I gained a second wind and sprinted to the finishing line. After 4 pushes, I feel an odd sensation, followed by physical relief, and then hear a newborn’s cries. I can’t believe what just happened. I take note of the time – 7.36 am (thank goodness that was fast) and then groggily glance down at the little heap that just appeared on the bed.

Did a human bean just come out of me? EWW GROSS I can feel the umbilical cord.

Prof. finishes delivering the placenta and stitches me up. Turns out the umbilical cord is half the diameter of a normal one, explaining the lower levels of nutrients that are passing to the baby, who, by the way, was whisked off to the Neonatal ward since she’s only 1.9 kg, after spending a sad 5 minutes of skin-to-skin.

Delivery_birth stories_singapore

Prof. exclaims that I’m really lucky to have a natural birth – if I was in any other hospital it was highly likely I’d have undergone a Caesarean (because no one would want to deliver a 1.9 kg baby + I was considered a high risk case). I thanked him and then dozed off and for the rest of the morning, got cleaned up and transported around (to another ward) like a lame drunkard.

The aftermath

My parents visited me at noon and the first thing I said to Mum was, “I DID IT!” (a natural birth, because she kept insisting I wouldn’t be able to take ‘the pain’). It sounded loud and proud in my mind … but she didn’t hear it, haha. In all honesty, I was still heavily processing everything that happened to me in the last 12 hours. I read about amazing stories of how some women felt ‘immense love, like nothing before!’ at first sight of their baby, and cried along with others in birthing videos when they first held their babies. But now, I just felt weird-ed out; a strange sense of disconnect at the thought of this human being having come out of me. After 9 months I still hadn’t digested the idea of me being a mother. Who is this little one I had a fleeting encounter with this morning? Is she a part of me still? Why don’t I feel anything? What’s going to happen from now on?


Su Yee

November 25th, 2020 at 9:40 am    

Oh my Lin! You’re my inspiration now.. I’m about 3-4 weeks in & I read your stories with such awe… thank you for writing and sharing them so rawr-ly. Will need to grow to be a strong mama myself. My back has been killing me for the past 4 days now, and I completely agree that I’ve got to surrender to this now.

Tan Li Lin

Tan Li Lin

December 22nd, 2016 at 4:57 am    

Yen! Thanks for dropping in and it’s so lovely to read your encouraging response. You’re really right about how “I did it!” is a statement of pride – I feel like I earned my battle scars in this one! Much thanks to your vote of confidence and all that prep work!!!

Kong Choon Yen

December 20th, 2016 at 2:08 pm    

Lin, thank you for sharing your eventful birth experience. Despite all odds, you did it gracefully. Yes, “I Did It” is often a proud statement for a confident one. Not all moms with pre-eclampsia requires surgical births although it can be a challenge, and we already have had cases despite women in the high risks category, they can birth their baby naturally. Enjoy exploring and bonding with your precious little princess.

Tan Li Lin

Tan Li Lin

November 28th, 2016 at 1:53 pm    

Thanks Mandy for your well wishes! Everything’s good now, we’ve smoothened the kinks out and it’s starting to be enjoyable!

Mandy Loh


November 10th, 2016 at 7:27 pm    

Hey Li Lin, congrats!!! Wow very eventful birth indeed! Glad everything turned out well!
Enjoy the motherhood journey!

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