Yup, it took me a year to get it down into writing. If you are a first time mum yourself, you know how crazy the journey can get. Congrats on having come this far!
After Aven arrived, everyday is a new learning experience filled with new discovery and adventures. More of that in my past blog posts 🙂
I looked through the photos taken at his birth and had a good time recounting the little moments with RockstarPapasan. So on this one year milestone, I am going to share Aven’s birth story – to celebrate this little warrior’s courage and to give mums-to-be that bit of courage as you prepare for the birth you want!
As a mum to be, know that you are unique and you are making the best decision in your pregnancy or birth journey. The choices you make are to support you in achieving your desired birth.
This is a longggggg post. Hang on tight!
♥ Let your body and baby decide ♥
While the ultrasounds provide an estimated due date (EDD), my doctor gave little attention to that. Friends who are mums had told me to be prepared for birth 4 weeks before the computerised EDD. I was getting nervous and asked my doctor when should I expect the baby to arrive. He simply chuckled and remarked, “Just go about your daily life. You are going natural. So just let your body and baby decide.”
Wow, that was unsettling for me. For someone who wants to be in control, it was unnerving for me… Do I make appointments? What if I get into labour in the middle of a meeting? What do I do if I’m out and I experienced contractions?
To me, it feels like there is a major examination coming up, but there is no fixed date and time. And I just have to let my body and baby decide.
So… I had gone for my routine check-up when the doctor was concerned about the low amniotic fluid. He asked that I stay for observation immediately. “Why”, I asked. His reply, “Just in case”. I’ve never seen my doctor worry or be stressed during all our checkups. And this was the first time his brows furrowed when he gave the recommendation. Rockstarpapasan and I were both feeling uneasy and decided to heed his advice. I managed to negotiate to do the admission a little later so that I can be prepared mentally and emotionally.
What does contraction feel like?
I was told that contractions felt like bad menstruation cramps. For mild contractions, I would feel a mild ache in the tummy area and for stronger contractions, it would be like a terrible tummy ache. I experienced none of the commonly description of labour pain or contractions.
For me, I was experiencing a mild ache on my lower back. It was quite funny thinking back because the nurse would check with me periodically if I was experiencing some sort of contractions and I would replied no. At the 3rd check, I asked her what I should be feeling and how contractions feel like. I was given the above theoretical answer because she did not have a personal experience in birthing. By the 5th check, I think she got tired hearing the same reply and told me to alert a staff once I experienced one.
After about 3-4hours, I was getting thirsty and realised I was not given water! I went to the nurse station and asked for water and while waiting for a water flask, I chatted with one of the nurses on duty. Again, I asked about contractions and if I could head back home because I was so bored and I was not sure what exactly I was supposed to be observed for. I started telling her that my lower back pain was getting more and more intense. While it was not unbearable, it was getting stronger. She suggested that I do a CTG scan to determine how my body was doing.
The hospital was running tight on manpower so it was about 45mins later, a nurse came with the CTG machine. “Hey, you are having contractions now. Do you feel it?”, Nurse remarked. “Really? I don’t feel anything!”, I replied in surprise.
5mins later… It was as if the brain registered what the nurse had said and decided to let me know that my body was preparing to birth! The lower back ache had moved further down and there was a burning sensation at my butt area. I felt the muscle squeezing soooo tightly and it caught me by surprise that I curled up into a ball.
The nurse asked what we would like to do now. By then, I was not thinking and had to leave the decision making to RockstarPapasan. As the delivery suite was quite a distance from the maternity ward, we agreed to head to the suite as it would have the necessary equipment ready when the birth happened. I was given a wheelchair to the delivery suite. But as we were nearing the suite, I opted to walk to the delivery suite as the nurse suggested that it would help in promoting a smooth birth process. I was a mere distance away but I had to hold onto the side wall for support when the sensation came and took a few more steps ahead she the sensation receded.
URGH. That felt like one of the longest 50meters walk.
In the labour suite
When we entered the labour suite, RockstarPapasan connected the ultrasonic diffuser with Joy essential oil. That made the room smelled amazingly good and I felt happy!
As both RockstarPapasan and I were very involved in the birth process, we didn’t pay much attention to the time and the duration.
Was given a wireless CTG as per my request so that I can move around to help speed up the labour process. But I was too tired and weak to move. I just curled up in bed and froze. Not exactly the best for natural birthing!
Do you want a suppository?
Midwife on duty asked if I would like a suppository. I didn’t even know what was that. My brain couldn’t think and I remembered mumbling “doesn’t matter” to RockstarPapasan. I’m not sure if it was 15mins or 30mins after the suppository was inserted, I began to experience loose stools. YIKES! I’m sure the midwife DID NOT PREPARE ME FOR THIS! One moment I was lying on the bed trying to manage the sensations, the next moment, I remembered I jumped out of the bed because I really need to poop. I think I almost ran to the toilet because I remembered the midwife’s panic voice to ask me to walk slowly.
While I was in the toilet…
“Can you ask your wife to leave the toilet? It’s not safe”
The midwife noticed I was in the toilet for the longest time. I didn’t want to leave the toilet bowl because my body felt like it wanted a good waste removal. It felt like I had a lot to clear. I refused to leave the toilet bowl because somehow, it gave me comfort. Yeah, the things the brain tell you when you are birthing.
Hub had to gently coax me back to the room. Once I stepped out of the toilet, I felt the urge to poop and walked back in. On hindsight, I guessed this is what a lower back contraction felt like. Because the pelvic muscles are working hard to move the baby out. Being so close to the rectum and anus, my body immediately registered the sensation as bowel removal. Chuckles
Constant cervix checks
The medical houseman on duty was coming in more often to check on my cervix. By then, I didn’t care much because there were too many things happening to me. My body was moving involuntarily, I felt like puking, RockstarPapasan was oiling me non stop to cope with the discomfort and the midwife walked in and out to check on me periodically. RockstarPapasan put some Harmony essential oil into a cardboard container he found in the suite and had me breathe from the container to ease my nausea.
Oils, oils, oils
For me, it wasn’t so much the pain, but the spasm that my body was going through. I don’t even know how to describe the feeling. So, I just focused on the positive images as taught in my hypnobirthing class and have RockstarPapasan apply essential oil blends on me non-stop, concentrating on the areas of discomfort. I willed myself to focus on achieving a drug free birth, because as per any form of physical activity, it has always been… mind over body.
And then… LIGHTS, LIGHTS, LIGHTS
So, the room was dim as per my birth plan. I vaguely remembered that the houseman announced that I was at 8cm dilation. She made a quick call and left the room. A few moments later, suddenly, there were a lot of women in white uniform in the labour suite. The lights in the room were turned on and the overarching surgical lights blinded me momentarily. It’s felt like being on a casting set and the huge bright camera lights shone into my face.. and.. I became THE STAR. Well, I was. Things were blurry as I didn’t have my contact lenses on and my eyes were half opened anyway.
My legs were suddenly propped up and the white ladies began checking my monitors and told me that I must get ready to push at her instructions.
What the… It’s time?
I remembered panicking, feeling annoyed and at a loss all at the same time. What am I supposed to do now??? How to push??? I don’t know how to do this!!
There were two midwives at each of my side. They were monitoring the machines and technology is pretty cool. These are some of the conversations I remembered in my state of confusion and frustration.. HAHA
(Midwives spoke aloud and me in my own head)
Midwife: Okay, you have one contraction coming. Don’t push because it is mild.
Me in my head: She’s right! How did she know?
Midwife: I told you not to push. Don’t waste your energy!
Me in my head: I did not push intentionally. My body just did what it did! It’s not so easy to control my body at this time.
Midwife: Come on, you can do this! Push!
Me in my head: How to push???? You are not making sense!
After multiple attempts to push…
Midwife: (Tapped my cheeks and mouth) You need to relax. No sound from your throat. All your strength is stuck at your throat and mouth area! You need to push at the bottom. Use the energy below. Not above.
Me in my head: I get your theory, woman! Sounds great. But how do I get my body to do what you just said?
I think the whole active labour to the transition took about 2–3 hours? I don’t know… By the time the baby was born, I was too exhausted. My obstetrician congratulated me and said he will pop over and see me in a couple of hours. And then he was off!
I lay in bed feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and so empowered. Felt like I accomplished and achieved a miracle, because I gave birth without knowing how it was to be carried out.
♥ Have a good birth partner ♥
My amazing birth partner who was as active as I was. He was preparing the room with aromatic diffuser and music, busy oiling me, finding ways to make me comfortable, translating and repeating what the midwives were instructing me to do because I was not registering what they were saying. Most husbands may be a by-stander in the birth process, but this man here… He was really busy! So proud of him! You may ask him for tips to be an awesome birth partner in the labour suite.
While the baby was being checked and warmed up, I suddenly noticed I was thirsty. I finished up the coconut water we had with us and asked for my super juice, NingXia Red! I really needed that to replenish my energy and boost my body’s nutrients. I took 2 sachets and the tinge of sourness made it so much easier for me to drink and swallow.
First family photo
Baby just latched naturally and it felt so magical. Like wow, whatever I’ve been reading and watching on breastfeeding was happening right here and now!
♥ Natural drug-free birth is possible ♥
As a first time mum, I was constantly warned of the pain of birthing. I stubbornly believed that a drug-free birth is possible, when my body is designed to birth naturally. My obstetrician shared my believe and did not once gave me any doubt that I could do it.
It was only after the baby was born, that RockstarPapasan found out from my case notes and the midwives that I was considered a high risk patient due to my small body frame. What I’m guessing (because I don’t want to find out) was that they were prepared for an emergency cesarean section if the baby or myself had difficulty in the process.
My biggest lesson… Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to achieve the kind of birth you want. Communicate with your baby a lot so that you and baby can work together as a team, even before his/her arrival!