After baby Alex was born, gynae Loh offered my husband the chance to cut the umbilical cord, which he happily took up. The midwife also asked me if I wanted the placenta; I took one look at the bloody tissue and decided ‘no, thank you’. A couple of friends had suggested some time ago that I could keep it. Honestly, my baby is an excellent reminder of his birth, I don’t need a placenta for that.
I only found out from Loh a couple of days later that he made a 4cm cut on my perineal muscle, so that he could help me to deliver Alex. He said, “your muscles are too strong! If I didn’t cut, you would have to continue to push for 3 more hours.” The epidural of course numbed any pain from the cut. He took quite a bit of time to stitch up the wound, and when he was done he joined my husband who was busy taking photos of Alex. I was told later that Alex was surprisingly alert immediately after birth, and even Loh was struck by that. During our meeting the afternoon before, he had commented at the ultrasound scan images that baby had chubby cheeks like my husband’s. And he said that again during the stitching. Now that’s not the thing to say about my husband considering that he’s quite lean from all the running and weight trainings. I told Loh, “how can my husband has chubby cheeks when he runs so much? He has a round face.”
The picture taking continued, and it was suggested that Loh took a picture with us and Alex together. I baulked, “no picture without makeup!” But everybody else were like, “it’s ok lah, nobody cares if you don’t have makeup on.” The midwife helped us to take the picture. But as I suspected, I looked like crap, so I’m not including it in my post. Honestly there’s no way to look good after 14 hours of labor, and I didn’t have the energy nor inclination to apply makeup for a picture then.
I started breast feeding Alex in the delivery suite as the nurses were aware of my birth plan, that I wanted total breast feeding. This was also indicated in the cot that Alex was placed in. I was still feeling a little detached then, like it was a matter of fact for me. My husband was the total opposite, he left the delivery suite briefly to show pictures of Alex to his parents who were waiting at the hospital lobby the entire night, and announcing Alex’s birth to his relatives in the US. My mother-in-law had insisted on coming over the afternoon before and stayed at the hospital to wait for the birth, which amazed the nursing staff.
Anyway I was so looking forward to some sleep, food and drink. I was given some water, but unfortunately I suffered from a side effect of epidural, nauseous feeling. But there was nothing for me to throw up other than saliva. I wondered how the hell was I going to have some food and drink. When we reached the maternity room, my parents-in-law were waiting for us and again a lot of picture takings with Alex, while I was being briefed by a nurse on the room amenities. Yes, Alex is the star in the family.
I was advised by the nurse not to step down from the bed without assistance because I would still be suffering from grogginess (I used up an entire bottle of epidural). Anyway I was dead exhausted and had no intention of walking around. Breakfast was served to me, and I thought I might try taking some hot milo, but before long I had the gag effect and threw up the drink. I had no choice but to hope I would get over it soon, and thank God it passed away after a short while and I was able to have a little breakfast. A nurse came in later in the afternoon to help me to the bathroom. (I hadn’t even pee or poo since the evening before.) I realized then that I had seriously over-estimated myself; I thought I would have no problem moving around since I believe I’m relatively fit, but it turned out that I was still suffering from grogginess (I used up one bottle of epidural, for God’s sake). I needed support to walk, and I could feel my head spinning. I was so relieved when I got back to the bed. Lucky for me, the effect wore off that evening.
As I was admitted into Thomson medical center the afternoon before, on a 2-night package I was expected to be discharged the next day at noon. But the next morning, the pediatrician that Loh arranged, Dr Mamas and Papas, told me that Alex had to have the Group Strep B test to make sure he wasn’t infected, and he also had mild jaundice, which meant he had to be put under UV light, and she advised that it was better that we stayed one more night when result of the test would be out on Sunday morning and also we could leave the hospital with Alex after his jaundice treatment. So we decided to take her advice. We had Alex rooming in with us, when I could feed him whenever required. But in the middle of the 1st night, my husband and I kept getting woken up by Alex’s crying for his feeds, and we had problem trying to soothe him so much that I had no choice but to call a nurse for help. She offered to have Alex in the nursery and only took him out to me for feedings. I’m sorry, Alex, for saying this, but that was such a relief for mommy and daddy. At least we had some rest in the night, and we also had the same arrangement the 2nd night. On Sunday morning, Dr Mamas and Papas came to see me again, and told me the Group B Strep test was negative (expected since I was pumped up with so much antibiotics during labor), and the jaundice test result was 9.7, which meant Alex was able to go home with us. (A side note on Dr Mamas and Papas; this is the nickname I gave her cuz both times I met her, I was taken aback by the 1960’s fashion style. This despite the sleep-deprived state I was in. For those not in know, the Mamas and Papas is a popular American/Canadian vocal group in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, and there’s a brand of baby products by the name of Mamas and Papas.)
Since I had the episiotomy cut in my perineal muscle, Loh had prescribed painkiller for me which the various nurses continuously asked if I wanted it. Yes it was slightly painful, but it’s nothing to scream about and in fact it’s tolerable. Loh was impressed by my pain-tolerance threshold. When he came to see me, he couldn’t help commenting, “wah, you have high tolerance for pain. Your neighbor couldn’t even sit down…” I was surprised, “my neighbor?” “Yes, next door neighbor” and he gestured to the room next to mine. “I told her she had a smaller cut than you, and yet you don’t even need painkillers.” What can I say about Loh and his direct manner? Anyway I asked him when I would be able to resume exercise. “You can go for brisk walking 2 weeks later.” “What about running?” “Running? You cannot go running so soon, you just given birth, wait 6 weeks later.” I said to him, “I know you don’t exercise.” He replied, “I know you run marathon. Do you know I’ve this patient who’s a marathon runner, came to see me for IVF and I took out the eggs. After that, she went running and caused her ovaries to twist round and round. She was in so much pain when she came to see me, and I had to untwist the ovaries.” I corrected him, “Actually I don’t run marathon, it’s my husband who does.” He then said, “my daughter took part in the Stanchart marathon last year…” “Oh, my husband did too!” He continued, “I don’t understand why people run long distance. She completed in reasonable time, but when she was at the MRT station, she vomitted.” Anyway Loh arranged for me to have a follow-up check with him 8 weeks later.
So in all we spent 3 nights at TMC, and the bill reflects it. If we had stuck to the standard 2-night package and not take up anything extra, the bill would have been a more reasonable S$2,500 or thereabout, which was what my friend, Natasha, paid. But in our case, we stayed one more night, and in a premier one-bedded room (unlike the single-bedded room that Natasha took). Not that we chose the premier ward but it was the only single room available when we got admitted. Also we arranged for Alex to room in with us with a warming light provided for him. Plus the jaundice treatment and the blood test, we ended up paying more than S$4,000 for the entire stay! My husband couldn’t help saying,”Alex, there goes your vacation this year!” So the moral of the story is if you can help it, don’t take up any extras. Before I forget, how can I not mention the food. All I can say is that don’t expect good food in the hospital. I seriously don’t understand why they can’t offer healthier choices like wholemeal or brown rice options for all the meals, considering that it’s a hospital and they should be more health-conscious. They do offer confinement soups to the moms to help with breast feeding and to recover from childbirth. Strangely, there are few fruits available in the meals. My husband and I actually suffered from constipation during the stay.
Finally I want to say a big thank you to the nursing staff who took care of me and Alex at the delivery suite, the maternity ward, and the nursery. Loh is right when he mentioned that the nurses are the angels and the midwives are very experienced at Thomson Medical Center. The nurses are pretty attentive and reassuring. My husband and I are impressed at how skillful they are at handling the babies. He said, “if they’re not so expensive, I would have hired one full time for Alex.” And of course how can I forget Loh. He has helped us all the way from the beginning, starting from the IVF treatment right up to birth. I apologized to him for being such a bitch during our initial meetings. Even along the way, I didn’t stop doubting and questioning him. But he has proven beyond a doubt to be an awesome gynae with amazing experience, and also someone who has been incredibly patient with me despite my nonsense.