I was told early in my pregnancy that women tend to forget the pain of childbirth. So before I do and make the irrational behaviour to conceive again, here’s the story of how baby Robin C Wang came into the world.
I was suffering from pregnancy insomnia in the final days of having him. On usual days, I turned in at 3 am and woke up only at 1pm. On the 2nd of February, I woke up at an impossible 9am and decided against all logic that I had enough of sleep. Then, I stood up and felt an oddly familiar gush from down below; it’s the kind of feeling you get when you sneeze during your period, except, I wasn’t supposed to have my period.
I think my water bag broke.
I stood there in slight disbelief, then walked out of my room and announced it calmly to my mother. This was the kind of scenario I was hoping for, for my water bag to break first so that I will have one clear unmistakable indication to head to the hospital. I can’t imagine having to deal with contractions without knowing what they really are. I’ve been doing all I could to smoothly evict the little tenant and was secretly happy that my stairs-climbing-dog-walking-squat-doing nights paid off. Only that they’ve worked a bit too well. Bo was still in America.
I called him but he didn’t pick up. The line was busy probably because he didn’t expect me to be up so early. He later revealed that he was on the line with his brother while doing the groceries. My mother then called my dad while I decided to take my last shower before the dreaded confinement. Dad came back and we were off to the hospital. Bowen in his stupor, booked the next flight to Singapore.
ONE LAST PICTURE OF MY BABY BUMP AT 37 WEEKS 3 DAYS
We turned into Mount Elizabeth Novena.
“Do you need a wheelchair?” “No, I can walk.”
I was ushered up to the delivery suite on the 3rd floor.
The Waiting Game
I was instructed to change into a mustardy green hospital gown which I thought was quite a tasteful colour. The nurses came in and told me that I had to abstain from eating too much food from now. Bowen finds out that the earliest flight from Washington DC to Singapore only departs in 10 hours. I was already mentally prepared for this when I decided to deliver in Singapore but still, it made me upset. We decided to consult with our gynae on the possibility of waiting for Bowen to arrive. She was not immediately available so I had to wait. Meanwhile, I was served light lunch and the business office visited to collect my letter of guarantee from Aetna. The nurses checked my status, a simple swap showed that my water bag was indeed leaking and that I was 3cm dilated. The cervix check was quite painful though. The funny thing is that I didn’t even know. I actually had pangs of tummy aches the previous days but didn’t think they were signs of active labour. I was then hooked up to a CTG monitor so that my contractions and baby’s heartbeat could be charted.
FACETIMING BO WHILE WAITING FOR THE PAPERWORK TO BE DONE
THE CTG MONITOR SHOWING ROBIN’S HEARTBEAT IN ORANGE AND MY CONTRACTIONS IN GREEN
2:30pm: Dr Wendy Teo, my gynae, arrives at the delivery suite and informs me of my choices. She gave me two options; A: Let contractions and labour come naturally, giving Bo a higher chance to witness the birth of Robin. The tradeoff was that my water bag had burst and I risk an infection. Option B was to go ahead with labour and be induced with oxytocin on that day. After some discussion, Bo and I went ahead with Plan B. All we wanted was for Robin to safely arrive into this world. Bo promises to accompany me throughout the whole thing on Facetime.
The Induction and Epidural
Here begins the series of needles, drugs and procedures. First and foremost was the IV line inserted into a vein on my non dominant hand. The insertion of the IV drip was very well done with minimal pain but it remained uncomfortable and inconvenient for me throughout the whole day. My main fear was that some nurse would accidentally rip it out while checking up on me. Bo was cringing on the other side of the screen and after the IV was done, he asked how it felt like. Senior nurse Sutha then jokingly told him to wonder no more! She would be more than willing to insert a line for him when he gets to Singapore hahahaha.
IV DRIP OF SALINE WATER TO ENSURE THAT I WAS PROPERLY HYDRATED THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE DELIVERY
Nursey Sutha who was my guardian angel really, asked how I would like to manage my pain. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling much even though according to the CTG, my contractions were already pretty regular. I, however, feared that I would be unable to ask for an epidural when the pain actually kicked in so I opted for the epidural before being induced 😬 YAY to pain free cervix checks!
3:30pm: I was given an epidural form to sign stating that I understood the risk of the epi. The anaesthesian, Dr Yvonne Lim arrived in half an hour and very chirpily explained the procedure. I asked for the lowest dose because intensive research on Google months prior to this day told me that a high dose of epidural would later inhibit my ability to push. Soon, I was lying on my side with my knees tucked as closely to my chest as possible. I was given laughing gas and then everything was a blur. I was drifting in and out of twilight zone and I REALLY REALLY thought I was going to die. I wish someone would have told me that the epidural was supposed to feel like that. I was resisting the twilight feeling throughout the epidural because I wanted to see my son and not die…. I could hear Dr Lim chirping in the background telling me that the epidural was 90 percent done. The calmness in her voice gave me a hint that this was normal and I did feel better as she narrated what she was doing.
The epidural crept in slowly and soon my legs were semi numb. It feels like how your legs would feel when you sit cross legged for too long except I still could still feel some sensation in them. Bo was cheering me on the other side of the screen. Dr Yvonne comments that this has got to be the weirdest epidural she has administered. I’ve always thought that epidurals were needles stuck at the back of the spine but actually it isn’t. I didn’t see it but I think it’s a tiny tube running into the spine. Unlike the IV, the epidural didn’t cause me trepidations.
The next thing they did was hook me up to a urine catheter since my legs were numb and I couldn’t visit the restroom. The insertion was totally painless thanks to the epidural. Dr Teo comes in to check my dilation again. I am still 3cm. She starts me on oxytocin and Nurse Sutha sweeps my cervix to encourage labour. I turn off the lights and try to get some rest. I heard that turning off the lights and listening to light music encourages natural oxytocin. I doubt it worked because my progress is still very slow. Even though my contractions were regular, they are still very mild. 2 hours later, I am still 3-4cm dilated but nursey was elated to find that my cervix had softened significantly. I ask her if it’s possible that I give birth today. She says its 50-50 now. They pump more oxytocin into me.
6:00pm: Nursey rushes in because foetal heart rate is unstable. She takes my temperature and finds a low grade fever of 37.7c. I am taken off oxytocin so that the baby gets some rest. The high dose of oxytocin was causing baby distress. Dr Teo orders for antibiotics in case of infection since my water bag was already broken.
FULLY WIRED UP!
7:00pm: I am still 4cm, Dr Teo orders for more oxytocin! It’s a repeat of what happened, baby goes into distress and I am given a significantly lower dose now. This time, I feel some pressure below and am acutely aware that it is probably the baby!!!
On the Other Side of the World
8:00pm: Bowen leaves the house for his 11am flight (it is 9am there). We planned for him to witness the birth via Facetime but at the rate I was progressing, he would have probably boarded his plane to Dubai. We’re both a bit antsy. Bo boards his Uber to Dulles Airport and we both decide to take a nap.
9:00pm: Nursey checks my cervix once more and I am suddenly 8cm dilated. It seems that the cervix sweep had worked! I could feel baby descending slowly. The estimated time taken for a cervix to open is 1 hour per centimetre for a first time mom. For the baby to come out, the cervix has to be 10cm, so that means I should be giving birth in about 2 hours. That also means Bowen would have boarded the plane 😂
Baby is under distress again and nurse Sutha rushes in. The CTG monitor is unable to pick up accurate heartbeat because he has descended down and is being squeezed between my pelvic bone. I am given the strongest concentration of oxygen to help the baby.
FRANTICALLY TAKING IN OXYGEN
9:04pm: Another cervix check shows that I am now fully dilated, my cervix is really quite fast and furious hahah. I call Bo and wake him from his nap, he is still on the Uber.
MY CERVIX DILATED 2CM IN 6 MINUTES
The nurses rush out of the delivery suite and come back with trolleys of equipment. She prepares a baby bassinet heehee so cute. I am 10cm dilate but I still don’t feel any sort of pain despite being on the lowest dose of epi. I lie in bed, one hand holding on to my oxygen mask and the other my phone, Facetiming Bo. I inform my parents who had gone home to clean up the house that their grandson was arriving and he was arriving NOW. They make it just in time. My mom offers to stay in the delivery suite with me but I refused. I wanted to do this all by myself if Bowen isn’t here. This is supposed to be the most dramatic part of childbirth but mine was quite anti climatic. I knew I was in good hands and trusted the medical personnel assisting me which is SO SO SO important.
I WAS ABLE TO SNAP THIS PHOTO WITH MY PHONE AFTER BO CALLED MY LAPTOP
So here’s the ‘climax’: My gynae rushes in and dons her scrubs. She looks like she’s done this a million times. Nurses push on my stomach while Dr Teo counts for me to push. Push for 10 seconds like you’ve never pushed before!! I do as I am told but the baby’s heartbeat keeps dropping. Dr Teo intervenes and says she is going to vacuum baby’s head out. I panic for a bit but continue to do what I’m supposed to. I always imagined the vacuum to be huge but turns out, it’s just a small handheld device.
5 pushes later and with the help of the vacuum, Baby Robin is out! Dr Teo screams time of birth 2125, the nurse carries baby to the laptop camera for Bo. Robin lets out a huge wail and I am instantly relieved. Dr Teo lets me cut my own cord. Nurses carry him off to get his APGAR score, height and weight. I didn’t get to see him first because everything happened so quickly. The first person who got to take a good look of Robin was my mom. She was allowed to enter the delivery suite while Dr Teo sewed me up.
SKIN ON SKIN
WE ARE THREE!!
So folks, that’s my birth story in true 21st century fashion. I gave birth in the company of my husband over Facetime. What a tale to tell 😂. We would also like to thank the staff of Ward 9 in Mount Elizabeth Novena who were nothing but professional and reassuring. I would like to personally thank Dr Wendy Teo and Senior Nurse Sutha for the guidance in labour. I could have never done it without them and also my hubby who arrived the next day, for putting Robin and I before everything and everyone else.
Originally published on donnabowen.wordpress.com
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.