On the 30th day of my hospital bedrest, the 37th week of Faye’s gestational age, the excitement of a hospital discharge transformed from adventure to apprehension. I was pretty nervous to be lifted off my ventolin drip with the many unpredictable situations that may occur at home. Then the thought of Sunday’s rundown events (my maternity shoot, wash, cut and blow plus a nice lunch), gave me renewed confidence. What’s the worst that could happen? Since Faye was already scheduled to be delivered on the 18th of May, I would just rush to the hospital if I was in labour and go through the whole works. It was’t like I haven’t experienced the worst delivery experience with Ewan two years ago.
Friday passed by quietly. I napped quite a bit because of a bad night (as always). I waited for the last two visitors of the evening, Meyer and Phyllis. Wrapping up my last day in room 504 and ready for another sleepless night before discharging.
6pm, Meyer came to pack everything away in a luggage. I was feeling discomfort in my abdomen since 5pm but it felt more like an intestinal indigestion issue. I headed to the toilet to move my bowels but the pain remained. My husband went back shortly after he was done with the packing and I called for a CTG monitoring just to check if I was contracting or if was just indigestion issues. I was pretty sure I just had to take some pure pro-biotics and I’d be good as new. These ‘contractions’ felt different yet exceptionally familiar.
5 minutes through the monitoring, with a helpless friend on the sofa, my nurse decided to call my doctor. She was sure I was going into labour especially when I annouced the urge to move my bowels each time the pain came.
“No no no no” I said. “Let’s give it another 30 minutes. Maybe it really isn’t anything much and it might go away with just a Valium jab”. I said these through gritted teeth with pain that got me clenching on both sides of my bed and tightly-shut eyes.
Suddenly everything turned crucial by 8pm. I was given the jab, Phyllis was asked to leave and my lights switched off for me to relax. Erm no, this time, the jab did not work. I took a quick pee and realised I already had the show. No more arguments, I was sent straight to the labour ward.
The labour pains came out of nowhere and got only more intense in just three hours. That was pretty fast compared to the show I had with Ewan.
By the time I tried contacting Meyer, I was already panting through my speech. It came crazily fast. In the labour ward, I was still trying to control the pain. The midwife checked – I still had my patch and ventolin drip on me which was supposed to control my contractions but looking at my squirmed-up face, she offered me the gas.
As usual, the overconfident mummy declined and told her she would ride the waves. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t done it with Ewan. In just five minutes, the midwife couldn’t take it anymore and shoved the gas in my face. “Breathe!”
Okay fine. Breathe. Anyway the gas mask is a good distraction. It helped me concentrate on my breathing and it really brought me to heaven.
“I need to put in the urine catheter”
“I need to check your dilation”
If this isn’t your first time, you would say Okay to everything the nurses said but if you knew better, you know it’s going to hurt. Really bad!
The above dialogue with the midwife suddenly reminded me of my unborn daughter. When Tsakok said,
“Let’s try to reduce the ventolin drip”
“No!” (bad contractions came)
“Let’s stop the oral medication”
“No!” (bad contractions came)
“Let’s arrange for discharge on 17th May”
“No!” (gone into labour on 16th May)
“Let’s schedule Faye’s arrival for 17th May at 6am”
“No!” (delivered on 17th May at 1.56am instead)
Goodness, Faye is mini-May.
My confidence and headstrong face suddenly crumbled into a helpless pup. I couldn’t help but cry when Meyer walked in. Tears just flowed and I allowed the pain to take over. The pain was excrutiating by the time he arrived. My water bag burst and I am definitely, absolutely, without a doubt in deep labour.
“Tsakok called and asked you to take epidural”
They were probably half-expecting me to say “No” but I was already half dead and agreed. Besides, I would still have to take the epidural since we were going for a c-section procedure because Faye was breeched. Also, Meyer reminded me Ewan took two days long to arrive after my show. So let’s not torture each other riding the contractions this time round.
After the epidural, Tsakok arrived and checked my cervix. 0 dilation.
Zero dilation!? What? I felt like pushing already and I wasn’t even dilated? How long is this going to take!
Faye wanted out but my uterus was not co-operating… Doc could not cut me up because I ate dinner at 6pm. We needed to wait and she decided a 6am cut on the 17th of May instead.
At 11pm, Everyone were advised to go home and be back for the scheduled caesarean procedure. Meyer included. I wanted him to rest of course but a little voice told me otherwise. He went home for a quick shower and brought the delivery bag along with him before coming back again. Ya, we were that last minute.
I could still feel my contractions and pains through the epidural because I had requested for a lower dosage. I had an overdose with Ewan the last time and I knew better from the suffering.
At about 1am of 17th May, I casually shared with my husband that I was feeling pressure down below. As if she’s pushing her way through. My midwife kept coming in as if she could sense my private conversation with Meyer. She adjusted my CTG belt several times but remained silent. I hate it when people do not fill me in with details. I will always ask about the name of my medications, what are their side effects, what are their purpose, etc.
But she just remained silent.
She came in twice herself and brought in another midwife on the third time. They shoved an oxygen mask in my face. Can you imagine how scary that might felt when you have no idea what’s going on? I went “sigh” deep inside and wondered how more dramatic this delivery could be compared to Ewan’s. I am certain to say now, it was worst! Even though the delivery ended faster than his, the agonising anxiety was heart-thumping.
“Alright now. Why do I need the oxygen mask?
“Erm… Your baby’s heartbeat is dripping drastically and she just pooped meconium”
I remained calm. For just 30 seconds and I broke into tears again.
Meyer came to my side encouraging me as he watched the CTG results. As frightened as I am, he was composed and it most certainly calmed me down. A normal baby’s heartbeat ranges from 120-160. Hers dropped as low as 40 and the next moment peaked way above 160. Even though Tsakok arrived in 10 minutes flat. It felt like forever.
We can’t lose her after everything we had done? She needed immediate delivery. Going into the operating theatre is going to take time. Plus, they called in only my gynae and not the anaesthetist. Anaesthetists are needed in the operating theatre for delivery as well.
Still, Tsakok decided, “To the theatre Now!”
The very next second, Faye decided she could not wait any further. Still breeched however, she was pushing her way out. There was no time to waste. Tsakok threw her gown on and almost immediately I was told, “Push!”
My mind was in a whirl! Push? We are going natural? Breeched natural? Holy Cow! I pushed like crazy I ended up with a neck ache, headache, backache and wrapped the delivery up with vomit.
And where is Faye? She’s in Tsakok’s arms, scanning the room silently. She wasn’t crying but observing her new world.
“Erm why isn’t she crying? Ewan came out screaming and kicking!”
Just to assure this anxious mum, she attempted a soft “meow” which later went into a girlish roar. I don’t care how unglamorous the roar might sound, I just felt relieved her lungs were working on its own!
Oh gosh! I was in disbelief. I believed everyone in the labour room were too.
Tsakok could not stop harping on how amazing Faye had been, making her debut like this. “This girl. She has been controlling all of us! She make her own plans and she is so clever! She did it natural!”
Well thank you Dr Tsakok. You were amazing too. Whenever I asked if we were going for c-sect or natural despite her long-term breech, you always said Natural is not impossible. Your immense experience gave Faye a healthy start and us the assurance that vaginal birth after c-sect and a breeched baby is possible. Had she insisted we went into the theatre, I really don’t know the time taken prepping up could have caused any health issues to Faye.
They put her right into neonatal intensive care unit (nicu) for overnight monitoring. She is a 37-weeker but weighed a mere 2.15kg. The paediatrician announced her a pre-mature. She didn’t have to be incubated but a full body check up was essential to make sure she swallowed no meconium in the womb.
We were thankful she returned to the normal nursery after eight hours and I could breastfeed her. She had been on tube-feeding overnight in nicu and I couldn’t sleep in peace not knowing how she was doing. With a throbbing head and very tired body, the lack of rest was very disturbing.
Now it’s all about plumping her up!
Our journey begins. With liquid gold. I sent my colostrum in for her in nicu first thing in the morning. What colostrum lacks in volume it makes up for in power. Some people refer to colostrum as “high octane” milk. It is full of antibodies and immunoglobulins, which not only help protect newborns as they come into our world of bacteria and viruses. I could not wait to send this over to Faye and made sure I did my job as mummy even if she was not next to me.
Ewan came in the evening and we had Faye introduced to him with a big present. He was excited to open his gift more than saying hello to his little sister. He looked at her as if she was a stranger. Mummy was holding a purple bundle of baby which he had never seen before but he did not bug me to drop her for him, which I thought was a good start. He sat beside us, apprehensive but at least he did not push her away. Well, I credit the present to his receptiveness. Without it, as a distraction, he would not have attempted to touch Faye.
We sang a Happy Birthday song to Faye. I thought long and hard what a meaningful gift might be and came up with the idea of a birthday cake play set. Since it was Faye’s birthday, what better way to include Ewan and share with him that his little sister is celebrating her birthday on 17th May 2014. He loves singing and the birthday cake brightened up his face. It was a fun moment for us all.
Besides all these happy postpartum photographs, mummy is still feeling the pain from the stitches and contractions from breastfeeding. The contractions this time round was harder to ride. If you hadn’t been told, breastfeeding doesn’t just give you sore nipples. It makes your uterus contract too with every suckle. I was still going through labour after labour itself. I checked with my nurse, “Gosh, why are my contractions worst than when I was breastfeeding my first born?” Her reply, “it gets worse with every child.” Funny how our body works. That said, I am so thankful for Tsakok’s perfect stitching. My episiotomy was sewed back so well that I had no pain peeing and pooping. I was told by every single friend that toilet visits after delivery were their worst nightmares. I am so grateful I did not have that problem.
As always, we left Faye in the good hands of Moments by Edmund for a photo shoot to commemorate her first day. Here’s a snippet of Faye’s album in his Facebook and we shall all wait eagerly for the full album when it is ready.
A stay at home mum, blogging to widen her social life.
We want to echo the sound of love through our lives to inspire other mothers alike.