Yes, it has been an incredibly amazing journey to finally have baby Alex here with us. Right from the beginning when my husband and I embarked on the IVF treatment, going through 3 fresh cycles, one chemical pregnancy, one pretty bad OHSS experience (at least for me), then pregnant with twins but only one survived the initial stage, and finally welcoming Alex after 39 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy.
As I’ve mentioned in my last post, gynae Loh recommended that we got ourselves admitted into the hospital, after we met with him on last Thurs afternoon, when I was found to be 3cm dilated. Lucky for me, there was a delivery suite with attached bathroom available, as well as an armchair for my husband. I had to change into the hospital gown and was given a drug to induce poo so that I won’t take a dump in the middle of labor. The nurse told me to hold it for 5-10 mins, if possible, before going to the toilet. I can tell you it’s super laxative, no way could I hold it for even 5 mins.
Loh came by before 7pm to check on the status and also to break the water bag. Turned out that there was some meconium in the amnio fluid which explained the murkiness, but Loh didn’t think it was serious. He reiterated that I wouldn’t require epidural because I wasn’t feeling any pain then. Honestly, at that time I could feel the contractions, but it wasn’t painful. In fact I even asked, “am I supposed to feel the pain now?” Loh thought Alex might arrive by midnight then. But there’s always a possibility that things won’t go the way we want. Since he broke the water bag and if baby wasn’t going to make his way out after 12 hours, it would end up a C-section. Shit! But Loh appeared optimistic that might not happen.
During the wait, I tried asking for some hot drink but was told by the nurse I couldn’t have any in case I had to have a C-section. So poor me didn’t have any bite since lunch, and was only allowed water. My husband got a little bored after 8pm and decided to have some fun taking pictures. He took a shot of me lying on the delivery bed with monitors strapped onto my tummy. In case you’re wondering, yes I had my makeup on cuz I didn’t expect to be admitted straight after seeing Loh.
My husband put on a pair of surgical gloves and mask so that he could have some fun with the picture taking.
As time passed, the contractions got more and more frequent. After 9pm, my husband and I timed that I was having one once every 1.5 min. I also decided to remove my contact lens and makeup since it looked like a long night for us. After 10pm, the contractions started to get unbearable. My friend, Natasha, told me, it was like having a really serious case of menstrual cramps. For me, who don’t get that except for some discomfort, it was a real bitch. I asked the nurse for Entanox (laughing gas), which provided a little relief. But the pain got to the point when I wasn’t sure how long I could take it and how long labor would last. I decided to take Natasha’s advice that it’s best to have a pleasant labor than to bear with the pain and suffer from a traumatic experience. I requested for epidural. The nurse did a cervical exam to see how far dilated I was (and if I was 7cm dilated then there was no point having the epidural). Turned out I was only 4cm dilated (after so many hours)!!! So contrary to what Loh thought, I couldn’t continue labor without a strong painkiller, especially the prospect of enduring a long one.
I’ve heard from friends that the epidural jab was rather painful. The anesthetist gave me a numbing jab first, and also told me to breathe in the enthanox during the epidural. Probably because of that, I didn’t find it painful. Rather it was the contraction pain that occupied me. Honestly, epidural is a Godsend, I can’t imagine how women in the past suffered the labor pain without it; I really have to hand it to them. I was given a low dosage as I didn’t want to have total numbness so that I could still feel the contractions which were tolerable. The epidural also allowed me to have some sleep; though it wasn’t much. But I was also suffering from a side effect of Entanox, I was literally shaking like crazy like a junkie. It was only after some effort to relax that the shaking reduced somewhat.
I think it was after 3am when a midwife came in to check on me and felt I was sufficiently dilated to try to push the baby. In my grogginess, I was wondering if the staff was going to call Loh to come to the hospital, and if he was able to help me in his sleep-deprived state. It turned out Loh would only be called when baby’s head is crowning. So with the help of my husband supporting my back, the midwife guided me in my effort. It was like having a serious shit case of constipation , and no matter how much you push, nothing was happening. The midwife decided that it was best for me to have a rest and to wait for the baby to descend further into the cervical canal. I used the break to nap for a couple of hours. Yes, it was a nap not a sleep because I had the blood pressure machine strapped to my right arm which was set up to take measurements once every half hour, and the nurse taking temperature from me like once every hour or something.
I was woken up again after 6am (on Friday) to try a second time. Thank God I had a couple of hours of rest, but I was also feeling really hungry. This time, there was a senior nurse in addition to the midwife who took turns to help me together with my husband. The pushing has to coincide with the contractions, and it also has to be done as hard and long as possible. For someone who can’t hold her breath for very long, it’s a bit of a problem. I’ve to say that the maternity staff at Thomson Medical Center are pretty good, very encouraging, “push harder, push, you’re doing very well, girl!” And my husband was also encouraging me, “you can do it!” I was making initial progress; the midwife told me that she could see the baby’s head as I was pushing, but unfortunately I couldn’t go over the threshold. So when I breathe out after I couldn’t hold my breath any longer, the baby’s head slided back deeper into the cervical canal. After like more than 15 minutes, the staff decided that they had to call Loh in to provide assisted delivery. The midwife explained to us that Loh could use the forceps to help Alex out of the canal. (One reason why some babies have cone-shaped heads is because the baby had to go through the narrow cervical canal, and sliding up and down makes it worse, but the shape will normalize after a few days.)
Loh came in subsequently, looking zonked out, according to my husband (probably from lack of sleep). So there I was, trying damn hard to push Alex out, with help from the midwife, the nurse, my husband and Loh, but still no success. Finally Loh decided that the only way was to perform a cut in the perineal muscle, even though I would prefer not to. Well, I’ve to say that he’s right for making that decision. After a couple of pushes, finally I could get Alex out!! Also thanks to the midwife and nurse who helped with pushing the baby out through my tummy as well. I’ve to admit that I was still in a state of shock when one of them put Alex on my chest. I honestly didn’t know how to react, probably because I was too exhausted, hungry and thirsty. I just stared at Alex, silently. But my husband was absolutely overjoyed; he couldn’t stop taking pictures of him. After nearly 14 hours of labor, Alexander Paul was born on 1 June at 6.53 am, weighing 3.26kg (7 lbs 3 oz), measuring 51cm (20.08 in) in length and 35cm (13.78 in) in head circumference.
Gynae Loh looking really happy with his work.