Damien’s Birth Story (2004)

  About 9 Days Past EDD

Woke up in the morning as per normal but remembered having more contractions the night before while sleeping. Nothing very disturbing so I basically slept through them.

Another hot day so we decided to go to for breakfast, then proceed to Toa Payoh. Maybe proceed to the library to enjoy the aircon.

After breakfast, when I stood up, I felt two gushes of water. Not a lot, but it didn’t seem like it’s my ‘weak’ bladder. So I told Richard that we should really head home, so that in case any more things happened, we would not be in the middle of nowhere. Went home and nothing else happened. There was a small blood stain but I was not sure if I should make anything of it. After all, I had never gone into labour on my own and was not sure what to expect. The only rule of thumb I worked on was whether the ‘symptom’ was serious enough or not. A small blot of blood certainly didn’t seem serious enough, especially when there was no contraction to go with it.

Actually, I felt rather frustrated. If it was a sure sign, at least we could start making arrangements like sending Dominic to my parents’, etc. When it was neither here nor there like that, things were really in a limbo and I didn’t know whether I should be living life normally or put my life on hold for something which might not happen for the next few days!

Decided that I should do some standing up activity (even though quite tiring) to help things a bit. So I told Richard that I would do some ironing until about 1pm. If nothing else happened, we would proceed with our original plan of having lunch out and basically ‘live life normally’.

Just before we started preparing to get out of the house again at noon, I decided to check and found more bloody show. Ok, that was it, I thought. Called my parents to arrange for them to take care of Dominic for a couple of days. Contraction had not started yet, so we went ahead with our original plan of lunching out.

Contraction started while we were in Toa Payoh, at about 40 minutes apart. They were very bearable and I could still have a nice, Sizzler buffet lunch and walk around with no problem. After doing all these, we went straight to my parents’ place and left Dominic to their care. Then we went home to wait out.

Actually, we wanted to catch the movie, ‘Law of Attraction’, in the afternoon but we didn’t want to venture to town. Tried to take a short nap in the afternoon. Couldn’t really sleep because the contractions were getting stronger and longer and we were trying to time them also.

By around 6pm, the contractions were closer and more regular and stronger. We started getting things ready, sending emails (e.g. to Dominic’s preschool to inform them that he would be sent there and picked up by his grandparents for a few days), called the school bus lady, did last minute packing, etc. At first, I thought we could still venture out nearby for a quick dinner but before long, we realised that things were speeding up and we really couldn’t do that. Contractions were about 10 minutes apart, lasting about 1 minute. I was really concentrating on coping with it already. Richard managed to get himself some dinner but I couldn’t eat anything.

By about 8pm – 8:30pm, contractions were about 5 minutes apart, lasting about 1.5 minutes and more intense. I wanted to hold out longer, but decided that I might not be able to make it downstairs to the carpark if I waited any longer. I quickly took a shower, washed my hair, changed, while Richard got everything ready to go and called a cab. I had to make a few stops while making my way to the cab because of the contractions. And of all times, we had to get this lousy cab that had a problem with its suspension!!! The first thing the cabby told us was this whole story about his cab’s suspension having problem and asked us to complain to the cab company, blah blah blah. I was cursing under my breath – I don’t care what is wrong with your cab, just get on with the driving!

Reached the hospital just before 9pm. Turned out my gynae was already on his way and he had another patient also giving birth at the same time. The nurses, as per SOP, made me changed into hospital garb, got me to lie down and started strapping the monitor on me, etc. Frankly, even though through all the researching and all that I have learned about natural and active labour, I know I shouldn’t be subjected to all these, I was rather glad to get on the bed and lie down actually. After all, the most important factor is that I should be comfortable and I think I would be the most comfortable and relaxed lying down even though all the active labour theories advise against this. So who cares?

In fact, once I am in bed and calmed down, I actually could cope with the contraction better.

Then my gynae arrived and checked me. I was about 5 cm dilated. On the one hand, I was disappointed that it was not more. On the other hand, I was quite glad that I had come this far on my own.

The ‘disaster’ struck when my gynae did an ARM (ie. burst my waterbag) on me before I realised what happened and after that, things sort of went steadily downhill. The pain went several points up the ‘Richter Scale’ right after the ARM and I couldn’t bear with the sudden, intense pain. Gynae and nurses offered me the gas but I have long decided that if I wanted pain relief, I would go straight to the epidural and not have a cocktail of drugs and then eventually still have epidural. So I asked for epidural. The pain was too terrible.

On hindsight, I think if the ARM was not done and the contraction pain was allowed to build up naturally, I probably might have coped. Then again, even after the epidural, I was still feeling the contractions and the pain (but better than without the epidural). I wondered if the pain could be more intense than normal and that I would need pain relief anyway? In fact, a couple of hours later, the pain was actually getting more intense and we asked for a top up on the epidural. The anaesthetist gave me another sort of drug through my epidural drip which did nothing to relieve the pain but basically knocked me out cold – I suddenly became rather dazed and couldn’t really focus on anything.

Day 2 (10 Days past EDD)

Later on, near midnight, my gynae came and checked again and I was 8 cm dilated. He said it should be quite soon and asked the nurse to check me again in an hour and let him know the progress. And then we waited and waited and nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. All these while, I was zonked and I could feel the pain and the contractions but nothing happened. The midwives and nurses basically abandoned us because we refused to let them perform VE frequently.

Finally, at about 2 plus in the morning, Richard got fed up and went out to look for the nurse to ask where the doctor was. The nurses were basically not doing anything. Their attitude was that ‘since you didn’t want us to do VE to check, we couldn’t report any progress to your doctor, so there is nothing we can do except to leave you alone’. They eventually called my gynae again and was told to get me to start pushing and only get him down when the baby was crowning.

So I started pushing at 2 plus in the morning. By then I could feel the contractions slowing down and getting further and further apart. This made it difficult for me to push the baby out also. I asked to lie on my side to push. After a while, the midwife asked me to try lying on my back and see if things could be better that way. Nope. In fact, I couldn’t really exert properly on my back. So back to the side I went. I tried very hard to push but couldn’t get much progress.

After more than an hour of active pushing, and the baby was still not coming out. The midwife called my gynae down. Thankfully, he let me stay in the side-lying position, since I could push better that way. Oh, I forgot to mention that by the time I started pushing, the epidural had finished and started wearing off. So I could start feeling things actually, like the baby coming out.

Anyway, the baby was eventually forcep’ed out. I really couldn’t make anymore progress. Because it was a forcep birth, I also had episiotomy.

So my birth plan and everything went down the drain right after the ARM. But I was still happy with the birth overall, and here are the reasons why :

1. I went into labour on my own and didn’t have to go through induction. This was one major improvement for me already!

2. I managed to be in control at least first half of the labour.

3. I wasn’t totally against getting an epidural in the first place – I wanted to try going without but I was open to the possibility of using it eventually – so I was not really upset by this setback.

4. I was alert throughout the 2nd and 3rd stage of labour and I was happy with this. I was able to touch and talk to the baby when it came out. I was also able to latch the baby on soon after that. This was again, a major improvement from the last delivery.

5. On hindsight, I knew the progress was slow at the end and the epidural did help me to conserve my energy. It helped that the effect started wearing off later on when the action started again.

6. Apart from the ARM setback, on the whole, this has been a better birth experience. Even the recovery after that was better.

 

When the baby came out, he was all pinkish, unlike his brother, who was a little purplish. His father cut the cord, and when he cried and I called out to him, I think he could recognise my voice. He did not really look like his brother. I thought he looked very much like Richard. He was obviously post-term because his skin was dry and peeling, typical of a post-term baby. He didn’t open his eyes for the first 2 days, unlike Dominic, who was wide-eyed and looking around the moment he was born.

Vital stats-wise, he was about 200g heavier than Dominic. His birth weight was 4.145kg. He was also 1cm longer (54cm) and head circumference 1 cm longer (36cm).

But because he was above 4kg at birth, the hospital needed to monitor his blood sugar level for the first 24 hours, so he had a lot of pricks to get blood. Poor thing. And because his sugar level was falling, and my milk had not come in yet (obviously), we had no choice but to allow the hospital to supplement him with a couple of formula feeds.

After the Event

After I was cleaned up and sent back to the ward (around 6:45am), I sent Richard home to catch some sleep as soon as we were all settled down in the ward, with the baby. Some time during the quiet hours when the baby was wheeled back to the nursery for checks, I broke out in a prayer of thanksgiving. Am so glad everything turned out fine and Damien, the baby was finally here.

We were discharged from the hospital the next day.