10 May 2019, by Tan Li Lin
I was torn. It was after lunch. Ronald and I were circling the Keppel area unsure of whether to ignore the contractions and head home, or to head to NUH. I had been experiencing contractions over the past few days, and every other waking moment was spent wondering if THIS IS IT.
So was this it? Or was it another false alarm?
“#2 comes out really fast, don’t wait till its too late”
The contractions were intensifying, my gynae’s voice played over and over in my head: “#2 comes out very fast; don’t wait until your water-bag bursts. Once your contractions are less than 5 minutes apart, come right in…or else it’ll get uhhh, messy.”
Okay, so, EVERYONE was telling me that, but it was hard to judge now given I had been gently labouring for almost a week. Contractions came on 5 nights ago, and then it stopped. Then it came on again 2 nights later, and my mucus plug started discharging along with some blood. I texted my Doula, and she came over right away to prepare for the trip to hospital. I decided to get up, cook some pretty kick-ass eggs whilst labouring, have breakfast and then…the contractions stopped (again). So what did we do? We spent that Saturday morning resting and doing exercises, before we both decided that baby wasn’t coming out yet. Another false alarm. I thought, maybe she’s coming out tomorrow. Nope, she did not…
There was no progress until 3 days later during my regular check up with the gynae. We went in and found out that I was already 3cm dilated. The gynae reminded me not to wait too long because “#2 comes out really fast”. Well, we decided to wait, so we left NUH and headed out for lunch.
The ultimate question: water-birth….or car-birth?
The distance between home and NUH was far and being in labour in the car got really uncomfortable. We decided to head back to NUH.
20 minutes after arriving at the hospital, the nurses were hovering over my very sorry state and hurried me to the delivery ward. I guess this was it.
I wrote previously on the reasons I opted for a Water-birth, which I wasn’t able to achieve in the last pregnancy due to last-minute complications. This time, all has been smooth so far and baby is close to 3kg. It seems I might be able to get my water-birth this time round!
S**t’s getting real
2.15pm – I entered the delivery ward and everything became a blur; I was moved from one wing to another and all I can remember was being in labour on wheels. The next thing I knew, I was climbing up on a bed.
2.30pm – My Doula, Chiew Gin, arrived and I was so relieved to see her.
Since my first delivery, I’ve learnt to count on her to take total care of me and support my desire for a natural birth. When she’s there, she handles communication with the medical team, allowing me to just focus on my labour. I was up on the bed, on all fours when Chiew Gin arrived, and she immediately, intuitively, started applying counter pressure on my tailbone. #omg the relief was fabulous; I might have actually caved and opted for Epidural if she didn’t do that the entire birthing process. Here’s what that looked like:
In the midst of my own moaning, I overheard the nurses say, “We can move her into Room 12. The mother there opted for Epidural instead and is being moved out.” My initial glee and relief – “Yes! I got the larger room and tub that I wanted!” – turned to doubt, and then fear – “What?! That mom couldn’t take it halfway through? What if that’s me too!?”
I had to purge that impression as much as possible and block out negative thoughts.
3pm – We moved into Room 12. I continued on all fours on the bed, with counter-pressure applied by Chiew Gin. I could hear the tub being prepared. A while later, a doctor entered to check; I’m 6cm dilated. Chiew Gin asked if I could move into the tub. My contractions are intensifying and it was worth a shot. (Usually 7cm is the ‘ideal’; going into the tub too early could end up relaxing the mother and cause labour to slow down instead)
3.45pm – I entered the tub and knelt down. The water was up to my chest and really warm. The warmth and buoyancy offered a relief. I was, however, disappointed to find out that it does nothing on relieving the contractions! They were just as intense, but the counter-pressure from the water (and Chiew Gin, bless her, still laboriously applying pressure on my Sacrum) somehow made everything feel more ‘gentle’. I soon found that bouncing helped, kind of like… bouncing the contractions away.
3.50pm – WOA. THINGS ESCALATE. FAST.
I started feeling the urge to ‘bear down’.
My moans turned to roars. This baby is on her way out! Did I feel her little feet doing a final kick off down the birth canal? I swear I did.
Without epidural, I could feel her making her way down. It was almost like there was a GPS signal I could track her with. Chiew Gin, Ronald and the NUH Midwife were busy supporting me – twiddling with the sensors, serving me cold energy drinks, sponging me, and taking photos.
I was in an altered state. I moved freely in the tub. The water swooshed around. The freedom felt light and good. The toilet lights were turned off, the darkness helped. My eyes were closed and I was just focused on birthing this baby…
…and dealing with my negative thoughts. I was plagued with them.
“Can I do it? Can I really do it? I can’t, it’s so hard! It’s taking so lonnngg! Oh no here we go again… Screw childbirth! I’m never doing this again! What did I get myself into? WHERE IS THE DAMN BABY!!!???”
I started crying out loud.
I started talking out loud. I was psyching myself up over my own moaning.
“I can do this. I can do this. Oh my god I’m schitzo. I can do this! I am built for this! I am strong! ROOOAAARRR!!! Wonder if the whole corridor can hear me? Do they soundproof these rooms?”
The intensity of the contractions were hard to deal with. Every push, or ‘downward breath’, took 101% from me. Towards the end of the birthing, my abs were tired (felt like I had done 200 sit ups in 1 sitting), and my arms and my thighs were tired from holding myself up in the water.
The Midwife said she needed to check me so that she could call my gynae in time – he takes 10 minutes to get here.
SURE. GO AHEAD AND CHECK ALL YOU WANT. JUST TELL ME HE IS COMING SOON.
Instead of simply telling me, she told me to feel the baby’s head. I was hesitant at first, but I did it, and found it somewhat gross, amusing and amazing all at once. Can’t imagine how other Moms pull their own baby out.
4.15pm – Gynae arrives. Best. Moment. Ever.
It was an added incentive to go the last mile. I intuitively changed position to lying on my back. I talked to the baby; I cheered her on, and I assured her that WE CAN DO THIS. I told her I want to see her soon. I also barked at her to PADDLE LIKE S**T.
With every push, I wondered if she was crowning yet. WHAT. NOT YET? UGH! The impatience and frustration fuelled the next push.
C’MON GYNAE, JUST GRAB HER OUT ALREADY!
4.28pm – I feel something emerging. I feel…hands. And then I felt like the biggest poop just came out of me. A poop that took me a few minutes to recover from. The poop is placed on my chest and she starts wailing. I opened my eyes. Okay she’s not poop. She’s a soggy, blue and purple little human. With a rubbery umbilical cord still attached. The water is red. Do I feel grossed out? I couldn’t care less. IT’S DONE. IT’S OVER.
Baby laid on my chest for 3-5 minutes (delayed cord clamping) before Ronald cuts the cord. He takes the baby, and I’m sprayed clean and helped out of the tub…
…all whilst holding my umbilical cord with the surgical metal scissors hanging and swinging about on the other end. Not glam at all.
I just birthed a human and now I have to carry my own scissors? Don’t I get a break?
I walked down a path of green cloth laid out all the way to the bed, and was held tightly to prevent a fall. I climb into the bed gingerly, and the baby was placed on my chest again. She was crying and started seeking out her food source. I amused myself with her to avoid thinking about the stitches going on down there.
I was sore. I was tired. I felt sorry for myself, but I was also proud of myself and baby. I was hyper (I kept yabbering non-stop from the adrenaline rush), happy and relieved it’s over, excited and moved all at once at everything that had just happened.
Welcome, Luna Tuna. You did good. I have faith in your swimming skills. I’ll happily invest in swimming classes for you.
A birthing experience is truly a process that is such a pain (in the a**… pun not intended) to go through, but one that’s so rewarding and fulfilling I’ll remember it for a lifetime. I’m in awe of the Women’s body and how we are built; in awe of the partnership between Mother and Baby, and the support from everyone around that made it happen – my Gynae, my Doula, my Husband (notice he comes in third…), my parents, Lia, my team, partners, friends and clients who were all sending positive thoughts and vibes my way.
It takes a whole tribe to bring a child into this world.
We did it, Luna.
(End of Part 1)
Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicated herself to others and her career, until family changed all that. Follow her blog on www.ilovechildren.sg and journey with her as ‘life after 30′ opened up a completely new chapter.