the story started with my waterbag leaking at 1.30am on tuesday morning. at first i thought it was pee, and was like “issit because i never do my kegels?” but then i realised that okay it was probably the waterbag. apparently amniotic fluid has a certain smell but my nose is perpetually blocked so…
put on a pad and went back to sleep. felt my first contractions — like a wave running up my tummy. wasn’t a good sleep, think i managed only 3h. after subuh, i folded the laundry and mended a button on NG’s shirt. basically, things that were supposed to be done already except i procrastinated on my first day of maternity leave (that super rainy everywhere-flooded monday) because i was too happy and only wanted to play. then we left for the airport — wait, not to fly off but for a 2h birth walk to bring baby down, down, down. half an hour into our stroll at T3, i spotted some yellowish-greenish discharge in my pad which alarmed us because what if it’s meconium (baby poop, usually a sign of distress in the womb)? consulted our doula, Azlin from Your Doula Next Door, who advised to check with the hospital. nurse on the phone advised us to come in for a check since it would have been close to 12h since my waterbag leaked.
we headed home to fetch our hospital bag, played some computer games, napped, passed our neighbours some CNY goodies before we left again for the hospital. at the observation area of the delivery suite, the doctors used a speculum to confirm that waterbag had broken. they also strapped me to the CTG machine to check on Watermelon’s heartbeat and my contractions. they wanted us to check in immediately but we wanted to go home to labour, and come back only when my contractions are 3 min apart. at that time, my contractions were maybe 30 min apart? still quite relaxed. the resident kept harping on the fact that the waterbag had broken 12h ago. he didn’t seem as concerned about the discharge as we were. and we weren’t as concerned about the time as he was. but anyways we compromised and agreed to check in to the labour ward around 8pm that night. meanwhile, we went to Kopitiam for a late lunch (was starving!) and walked around NUS for close to 2h with Azlin. also, i declined a VE because (i) once your waterbag breaks, any insertion increases risk of infection (ii) i knew i was still far from full dilation since i was doing okay and (iii) actually i’m just a scaredy cat.
that night at the normal ward, my contractions came at around 5 min intervals. my mucus plug also started dislodging. NG and Azlin massaged my lower back tirelessly throughout the night. i would sleep and be awoken by my contractions, and then fall back asleep on the bed again. or sometimes i sat and rolled my hips on my exercise ball which we brought along. i was hoping to deliver by subuh but unfortch, my contractions stagnated at 5 min apart 😦 oh and the nurses came every 4h to take my temperature, blood pressure, and Watermelon’s heartbeat. other than that they left us alone which was great.
in the morning, we went for another short walk around the hospital. this time i was so tired that i nodded off while standing. returned to the ward and slept for 3h, during which i had no contractions at all. i think my body knew just how tired i was after 2 nights of unrestful sleep that it decided to give me a break. had a phonecall with my gynae, who wanted me strapped onto the CTG machine again so they could check on Watermelon, and for my labour to be augmented with synthetic oxytocin. oh noooo. being induced/augmented was my no. 1 thing to avoid because i was scared it would send my birth plan awry. anyway, pak puk pak puk, i’m wheelchair-ed to the delivery suite and hooked up to the drip at the lowest dosage. oh yah, the IV plug did not hurt as much as i had anticipated. again, scaredy cat me fretted a lot about this. luckily the doctor who did it was pro (though she looked young, sorry, don’t mean to be biased). i also got my first VE by yet another young and gentle doctor who was reaaally nice — 5cm!
one hour into the drip, i got my second VE — 6cm. the doctor (no. 6) commented that my progress is “slow”, and that the target is for my contractions to be 2.5 min apart. they wanted to increase the oxytocin dosage. in my head, i rolled my eyes because there is no universal standard for how fast a woman should dilate! but i was too drained to argue and kept quiet. NG argued for me though and said that the wireless CTG that i was wearing doesn’t detect all of my contractions. so a nurse stayed to monitor. during that period, my contractions really came at 2.5 min seh. unfortch they were too short, only 45s long. (target is 1 min i think?) so they proceeded to increase the dosage. i was really scared i wouldn’t be able to handle the pain, because they say induced contractions are more intense than natural ones.
when we were left alone, i turned to NG and asked him if i should get the epidural. he paused, and said “no” quietly. for some reason i had no reaction, except to turn back front and continue rolling on my exercise ball, calling him to massage, massage.
another 2h of labouring. NG stayed beside me the whole time, breathing with me: 4 counts in through the nose, 8 counts out through the mouth. Azlin too kept repeating reminders to take deeeeeep, loooooong breaths. i think she must have said this 1000x throughout my labour. during those moments there was not much on my mind except reminders to myself to relax and not tense up (although i later found out that i did grip NG a little too hard sometimes haha), to berzikir, and to seek Allah’s forgiveness.
then my contractions started changing patterns … they switched from the lower back pain/pelvic pain to like, practice pushes. like i would feel something going down my birth canal but going back up. on hindsight, it was likely Watermelon massaging my birth canal by going two steps forward, one step back. but at that moment i didn’t dare to think much, because my contractions were about 4-5 min apart and i was still waiting to go crazy like they say women in the transition phase (between 8-10cm dilation) do.
at around 6pm, Azlin suggested that i take a pee break. the nurses freed me from the machines, and i got out of bed. took a few steps towards the toilet, and felt a contraction coming. i wrapped my hands around NG’s neck for support. again, i felt something head down south … except this time it didn’t climb back up.
“i think she’s here,” i announced, to a room full of only NG and Azlin. they were stunned.
it went a nudge lower, and i felt a stretch down there. surprisingly it didn’t hurt.
“erm, i think she’s crowning.”
apparently Azlin ran out to get the nurses. people started entering the room. one nurse tidied the messy bed, and laid out the CTG bands neatly. “come, let’s get you checked.” uh, no? there is nothing to check, and i ain’t climbing nowhere! instead i rested my palms on the bed and opened my stance wider.
a doctor (yet a different one; no. 7!) squatted behind me. “so, are you going to receive her or..?” NG asked her, in half-panic.
“hold on, let me put on my gloves,” she replied, putting them on in relative slow motion. NG wanted to strangle her. when she was done, she talked to me gently and asked me to push. i gave a tiny push, because i was hoping not to tear.
a brief pause, and then i yelped as i felt something slippery escape. i looked down, and saw a bright eyed Watermelon curled up on the doctor’s two gloved hands, rising towards me. i will never forget this moment when i first saw her — she was so tiny, so alert, so perfect (in my eyes lah).
“oh hello!!!” i squealed excitedly, and scooped her into my arms. Azlin later told me that she’d never seen anybody so perky in labour lolol.
my gynae arrived about 10 min later, missing all the action. but it’s okay. at least she was there to clean me up, which was the most important. turns out i needed stitches for my second degree tear. a nurse massaged my uterus haaard (freaking painful!), while my gynae got to work. she did some cord traction which i hated, urgh. luckily my placenta came out in one piece. she also reached in and removed blood clots — i think i pinched Watermelon’s shoulder out of geli-ness during our skin-to-skin cuddle — which was a bit invasive but on hindsight it helped to lessen my lochia (nifas) so i guess i appreciate it after all. heh. after everything was done, i got wheeled back to our room in the labour ward on a gurney, with Watermelon sleeping under my armpit. call me jakun, but i really enjoyed the ride haha.
so thaaat’s the birth story. i’m thankful that NG stuck to our birth plan, even when i doubted myself. alhamdulillah, my recovery was also faster than expected. other than minor discomfort, i was mobile by the first day. the nurses also gave a lot of support in helping me learn how to breastfeed. syukur alhamdulillah for all of Allah swt’s blessings! i really enjoyed the pregnancy — despite the symptoms — and preparing for parenthood together with NG. all the classes, the shopping, our dates, our KL trip, getting pampered … ahh i miss them all! ❤
edited to add: i read a friend’s birth story and her reflections, and one thing she said stayed in my head. and that is i believe that my labour was long because of some unresolved emotional issues from my past. i’d heard of the advice that you need to let go of whatever issues you may have before you enter labour, but i guess it was something i avoided because i thought exercising lots and drinking virgin coconut oil every day would physically help me regardless. i was wrong. don’t underestimate the power of your conscience in holding yourself back. so to pregnant mamas out there, do dig up whatever emotional issues/baggage you may have. whether it’s to forgive yourself or someone else or to have an honest conversation with God about a time in your life where you wished you had made better choices, do it before you’re due. may this ease your dilation and shorten your labour!