This birth story was written 3 years after Dominic was born, and edited again 3 years later. So some of the details are rather hazy. But I do the best I can.
1 week before
I was scheduled to be induced on 16 Feb (which was a Friday). By that time, I was so tired of being pregnant that I was happy to be induced. Like most people, we didn’t bother to find out much and basically just relied on the doctor’s judgement.
Day 1 (Fri)
We woke up late. I was supposed to be admitted into the hospital at 7am and we only woke up at 7am. Richard made a quick call to the hospital to tell them that we were only our way. I quickly showered and we made it to the hospital at about 7:30am. I was induced at a ward where all the women came in to be induced. So you have this big ward, with curtains making partitions of cubicles. Quite a number of women all came in at the same time for the same thing, each occupying a cubicle. The nurses made their rounds and checked everyone of us. I was found to be 0cm dilated and the baby was not engaged.
After the nurses have done a round of vaginal examinations (VE), they went round insert prostin for all the women in the ward. The worse thing was that there were student nurses around so each of us was probably checked 3 times – once by the head nurse, and then by the students. The only saving grace was that the student nurses asked permission first and were rather apologetic about the ‘inconvenience’ they were causing.
We were all strapped down by CTG monitors and basically waited and waited and waited. In the meantime, the nurses went about their chores. The head nurse was teaching the student nurses in the ward. Richard was waiting outside the ward and it must have been very boring for him.
At about noon, the nurses went through all the women there and did another VE to check progress. Those who have successfuly dilated to at least 4cm were sent straight to the labour ward. The rest of us were told to go and have our lunch and return at a certain time. I was hardly dilated at that point in time, felt nothing, and was extremely bored. At that point, I was also wondering if this was all a big mistake. Surely the fact that I was 0cm dilated and baby not engaged meant that it was not even the right time for the baby to come out yet, right? But it did not occur to us that we had options and I could possibly choose not to continue with it, or at least talk to the doctor again.
Richard was equally bored waiting for me outside the ward. Since I was feeling perfectly normal, we went to a nearby mall for lunch. I went back to the ward after lunch. I told Richard to go somewhere and pass time instead of waiting for me outside the ward. The nurses did another round of VE checks, and administered another round of prostin. The same thing happened as in the morning. I was bored out of my mind. By now, I had 3 rounds of VE. Multiply by 3 times each round. That was 9 VEs!!
At the end of the evening, I could feel some cramps and after the nurses have done the final round of VE on all the women at ward, I was found to be barely 2cm dilated. They checked with my gynae and I was sent to a proper ward to wait. (About 10-12 VEs by now.)
So this is what happened at the ‘induction ward’. It was really like a factory process. But at least the nurses and midwives were nice.
I can’t really remember much of what happened in the ward. I was having more regular contractions but my cervix did not dilate beyond 2cm. Whenever we asked for pain relief, or even anything at all, the doctor on duty would come and do a VE first before agreeing to do anything! And there was this horrible doctor who did my VE and caused me such terrible pain I was crying and screaming in pain. And he had the cheek to tell me that ‘if this is painful, later on the labour pain is worse’. I wanted to curse him.
Everytime they did something to me – be it giving me pethidene or insert another prostin, I had to be wheeled to the labour ward. And everytime I was wheeled to the labour ward, I would be there, in the windowless, claustrophobic room for hours. And every time a doctor did his round, I would get a VE for no rhyme or reason. It was basically ‘let’s see how far you have progress’ – kind of like satisfying the doctor’s curiosity. If, say, a houseman just did his round and later on a more senior doctor did HIS own rounds, I would get VE everytime. It was terribly humiliating and I definitely felt very violate. But I thought that was the norm and did not protest.
I remember there was this lady doctor who came in to do her round before her knock off time I think (because she wasn’t in her doctor’s garb) and she was fully made up and I almost fainted when I saw her perfectly manicured, long, painted nails and she did a VE on me!!!
The pethidene knocked me out somehow, or it could be my ‘defence mechanism’ knocking me out in the claustrophobic delivery ward. I was rather hazy. Anyway, somewhere in the night, they gave me a 3rd prostin. After several hours, there was still no progress. I was really desperate by that time. For one thing, I wanted to get out of the confined space! I was suffering from cabin fever already.
Day 2 (Sat) –
Actually, I can’t remember the chronologically how things went. But I think at around 2 plus am on Sat morning, my gynae came to see me (finally!) and when he wanted to do another VE, I refused to let him do it. The lousy young doctor just did one like 5 min ago before they wheeled me to the delivery ward and I was only 2cm dilated. How much difference can that 5-10 min make?! My gynae suggested doing the 4th prostin but I refused and begged him to cut me up.
I was suffering more from the ‘imprisonment’ than anything. I just wanted to get out. If I need to get the baby out before I can get out of my predicament, then do anything to get the baby out fast! I wasn’t really suffering much from the slow labour per se.
So, finally, my gynae suggested that we break the waterbag, put me on epidural and drip and speed things up. And thus, that was what happened. I was on epidural, my membrane was burst, an intermal fetal monitor was harpooned to Dominic’s head, I was put on oxytocin drip and then we waited again.
From then on, I stayed in the labour ward until the baby finally came out on early Sunday morning. Throughout this time, I was completely knocked out, dozing in and out of consciousness. Richard was with me, but poor thing, it must have been really terrible for him too, to do nothing and just watching in that depressing room.
Day 3 (Sun) –
In the wee hours on Sunday morning, I was finally fully dilated and my epidural was actually finishing. The good midwife actually suggested that we don’t top it up so that the effect would wear off and I could feel the contractions so that I know when to push. We were agreeable to this. So I started what I now know is ‘purple pushing’. The midwife asked me to lie on my side (which is a better position than lying down) and then started the cheering squad thingy. I could actually feel the contraction and was pushing as the midwife told me to.
After some time, I was just too weary and was crying, not because of the pain, but I was just too weary. Remember, I have not had anything to eat since Friday afternoon. That’s more than 24 hours. I barely had anything to drink except ice cubes to suck on. I was also puking up now and then. I puked nothing because I ate nothing.
Again, I was begging my gynae to just cut me up but he was encouraging me and telling me that I could have my baby ‘naturally’. When he came in and found out that my epidural is off, he asked them to top it up again.
Finally, at the early hours of Sunday morning (5 plus in the morning), Dominic was delivered by forcep. He was 3.905kg at birth. Of course, because it’s forcep delivery, I had episiotomy done. When he was placed on my stomach right after he came out, I was too daze to react. The next thing I knew, I was gasping for breath. They quickly took Dominic away and brought in all the equipments, like ER style, because I was complaining I didn’t have enough air.
I was stuck in the delivery ward until my condition stabilised. Turnout my blood count was half of what it was supposed to be. During this time, Dominic was wheeled to the NICU for monitoring because he was having a bit of fever. I did not have a chance to see him, touch him or breastfeed him. I was not in the condition to do so anyway. He was subsequently moved to the normal nursery after his fever came down. Later on, I found out that the fever could be a side effect of the epidural.
After all that ordeal, when I came to and became more stabilised, the first person I wanted was my mother. Funny thing is that I was never very close to my mother but in times like this, you want the comfort of mommy again. Richard called my parents and they came down quickly and even the usually not-very-accomodating hospital made an exception and let my mother in to the delivery ward to see me.
I only got to see and hold Dominic when I eventually was sent back to my ward in the afternoon.
And that’s the whole story of Dominic’s birth and why I dread going through the factory process induction process, and the ‘imprisonment’ in the delivery ward so much. This is why for subsequent births, I was adamant that we would wait for the labour to start on its own – no induction – and we would not go to the hospital too early. I was also determined to have as little intervention as possible.