My ‘Not So Gentle’ Birth Story
A year has passed since my lil’ darling Danielle came into our lives and the year really went by in a flash. This blog has been severely neglected since the princess’ arrival but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to revive this blog and give it a new life. A rebirth if you will. So here I am, the new Belinda Chee, a full time mum to a bouncing toddler, part time model, emcee, voiceover talent and also, blogger.
And I figured, what better post to start the year than a post about the birth of my baby.Â To all soon-to-be mothers out there, this won’t be the ‘oh, everything went so smoothly’ kind of birth so if you only want positive, gentle birthing stories in your life right now, I’d suggest you just look at the pictures! For the rest of you, this is a pretty lengthy post with pretty graphic description of birth so….brace yourselves!
I had taken the route of wanting to invite my baby into this world in a gentle manner- natural, no epidural, no other unnecessary intervention. I’ve went for Hypnobirthing classes, practiced Yoga, bought books…. However, my birth plan went out the door as circumstances changed and emotions took over every thing I’ve ever read and know.
Danielle was born on the 23rd December 2011 via Emergency C-Sect. She came into our lives a week pass her due date and even before the ‘looming’ date, I was already filled with anxiety. Maybe because I was filled with false hope by my first gynae who said that she might come early (38 weeks) because she was in a good position. And a lot of my friends had their first babies earlier than their due date so I was so sure that I’d have her by week 38.
So anyways, 40 weeks came and went and I was an emotional wreck. I was crying every night before I slept and every morning when I woke up because I didn’t go into labour. (Silly now in hindsight, I know) Couldn’t sleep, every little tightening of my stomach woke me up in anticipation. I even downloaded a Contraction Timer app to help me keep count of how long each tightening lasted. Didn’t manage to use it at all…Â In my mind and with all that I’ve read, I know that my baby is fine as she was still very active and I can still wait for another 2 weeks before intervention should be considered. But blame it on hormones, after about 5 days of this emotional roller-coaster, Joe and I went to see the Doc and he agreed to induce me after I broke down and cried in his office. I couldn’t handle the emotional stress the ‘wait’ was putting on me.
I checked into the hospital on the 22nd night and was given a prostaglandin pessary to relax the cervix. Couldn’t really sleep that night coz I was too excited, but not much activity happened in the birthing front. At 7am the next morning, I was put on Pitocin drip. The surges started soon after and by 3pm when the doctor came to check me I was already 7cm dilated. I had breathed my way through to 7cm!! I was really proud of myself and filled with hope. I can do this!! Pain was getting more intense and I felt the need to poop. I thought I was near the end! 12 hours from when we started the induction, when the doctor came to check me again at 7pm he told me I was only Â at 8cm and it might take till tomorrow to have my baby, I was crushed!
That’s when everything went downhill. I started panicking and forgot to breathe deep. Can I handle the pain for another 12 hours??? I asked for an epidural. The doctor obliged and said that the anesthesiologist will be in only around 20 mins because she’s just on her way. I was given an enema (laxatives) and that’s when I totally gave in. With the stomachache from the enema and the contraction pains, I sat crying on the toilet seat begging Joe to get the baby out, right now! I had blamed the enema for pushing me to the point of giving up, but later on the doctor explained that it was supposed to help with pushing the labour forward (Why didn’t he tell me at the time, then?? :P)
Getting ready for the C-sect was nerve-wrecking because I wasn’t prepared for it. I had skipped all the chapters on C-Sect birth/recovery in all my pregnancy books, positive that I wasn’t going to be cut open. I was put to lie on my back, the most uncomfortable position to be in when in contractions. I was shaking all over from the pain and the nerves. The doctor had actually left for home and had to make a U-turn so he took a while with the traffic. My baby’s heart rate went up quite drastically to around 180-190 at every tightening. I was so nervous and begged the nurse to please quickly get my baby out coz she’s in distress. I was left to wait for what seemed like forever for the OR nurse to show up, I wasn’t allowed to get up, no epidural, contraction every few minutes. At this point, I did think of turning back, but it was too late. Joe was ushered to another room to change and I was left there with just one nurse who was monitoring baby’s heartbeat. I started to pray and asked God to please protect my baby. It wasn’t until about an hour and a half later that I was wheeled into the OR with an epidural, still shaking like a leaf and my baby was cut out of me.
I wasn’t able to have skin to skin straight after because the baby’s cry was quite erratic due to the excess mucus in her lungs and mouth. We tried to put her to the breast after the nurses cleared her lungs around 10-15 mins after, she sucked for a while and the nurses rushed her off the the nursery to do other tests and warm her up. I haven’t even properly seen her face.
I was lying on the operating bed by myself, the doctor and his assistant chit chatting while they fixed me up. Relieved at one end that my baby is out but still worried for her hoping that I had made the right choice, all sorts of thoughts going through my head, trying to hold back tears, trying to breathe deep to stop my body from shaking. After about half an hour, I was wheeled into the recovery room, and put under a warmer. I was put there by myself, all the time I kept on asking the random nurses walking by when can I go see my baby. After maybe around 20 mins (but felt like eternity) I was wheeled back to my room and Joe brought baby Danielle to me and I manage to really look at her and put her on my chest. I was still shaking from the epidural but it was the best feeling in the world to have my baby in my arms. We started breast feeding straightaway with the help of the nurse and she latched on really well.
There’s no denying that I still live with a little regret of how Danielle’s birth unfolded, still asking ‘what if’. What if I had just waited for the anesthesiologist, what if I didn’t get the enema, what if I just had a little more patience and waited for her to come at her own timeâ€¦.. Questions that I will never be able to answer but will linger with me for the rest of my life. I know people say, as long as the baby’s fine, as long as you both came out of it alive and well – but I really felt robbed of my initial bonding time with my baby because of the C-Sect procedure. And, there’s no one else to blame but me. I wasn’t strong enough to ‘wait’ for her and I made the decision to intervene.
There are many lessons to be learnt here, even for myself. For one, patience is a virtue that can lead to many good things. I believe that now. It’s a virtue that I am still in search of now as a mother and as a person. I had gone into this pregnancy prepared for labour but not what is to come. I was so caught up in the ways to birth my child that I didn’t take time to think about what kind of mother I want to be, how I want to raise my daughter – heck, I didn’t even own any parenting books until after I had Dani and was struggling as a first time mum. But, just like everything else in life, even if you’ve read a million books and think you know it all, going through it and experiencing everything through trial and error is the best lesson you can give yourself.
Danielle is now one. Healthy and happy. There’sÂ still a steep learning curve for me on how to be a mum and I’m still getting used to the fact that I am fully responsible for the precious life of a little human being. Everyday poses different sets of challenges and joys – she picks up something new everyday and I learn something new every day about myself, through her. Truth is, the baby is not the only person growing and developing day by day, I see myself maturing and becoming more certain of who I am each day because I am now a mum.