On the day before the big day, I had to see my OBGYN for my GBS (Group B Strep) test. The test was supposed to be a week before that day but there were many deliveries that my doctor needed to attend to, so my schedule for the test had been put off twice. I was already on my 37th week gestation which was considered to be the full term of pregnancy, which means that any time from that day my baby might come out. My expected due date (EDD) was August 27, 2013 so I was confident that my baby would arrive mid-August or early September. George and I were still in the process of cleaning the house and putting up the baby stuff. It took me some time to do the cleaning and stuff because apparently I had a growing little person inside that drained all my energy away. So I was taking my time to do what we had to. But we were “almost” ready to welcome our little one soon.
August 7, 2013, I woke up to a strong contraction around 4 am. It felt like having an intense dysmenorrhea. So I called out my husband and he said “it must be Braxton hicks (false labor) and also said, “baka gutom lang yan” then he grabbed me something to eat. After eating, I tried going back to sleep although I was still bothered with recurring contraction. I was able to doze off until 6 am, still with intermittent contraction. I got the feeling that “this is it” but ignored it because I wasn’t expecting to give birth that soon.
Around 6:30, I was feeling somewhat pooped so I sat on the toilet seat, then I noticed a bloody show like it was the first day of my period. That’s when I was pretty much sure it would be “the” day.
Next, I told George to call his office to take a leave of absence. So George did, but said he had to go to the office to get his laptop so he could work from home while waiting for me to be in active labor in case there were urgent things to be done.
We learned from our birthing class to stay calm and collected and just go on with whatever things you’re supposed to do that day while waiting to be in active labor before going to the hospital. Surprisingly, I was so calm and didn’t feel nervous at that time. Ok I felt a little bit nervous. Who am I kidding? I was about to give birth for crying out loud! I went on preparing myself – took a shower, stuffed my hospital bag, and tried to set up the baby crib.
While George was on his way to his office, my water broke. It felt like a trickle at first and very soon a gush. I wasn’t even able to finish setting up the crib.
It is recommended to go to the hospital when the water breaks, therefore as soon as George came back, we prepared to go to the hospital. Good thing the hospital is just 5 minutes’ drive away from our house. We headed to the emergency at around 8:30 am and waited in line for the usual hospital procedure. My contractions got stronger, but were still irregular. My amniotic fluid was gushing like crazy wetting my pad, even my dress that day (I should’ve worn an adult diaper). After the usual interview in the emergency reception, we proceeded to the maternity area which is located on the first floor so we took the stairs going up. Fiona Dill (our birthing class instructor) advised us to do so if the pain is tolerable and not heavily bleeding. This helps the baby go down.
In the maternity ward, the nurse assigned that day checked my blood pressure, baby’s breathing and my discharge to check if it was indeed my amniotic fluid. Everything was looking good. The nurse asked for our birth plan, but of course George hadn’t printed it yet at that time. So George just showed her our birth plan from the ipad. Welcome to the 21st century. :)
May I suggest therefore, if you are giving birth in a hospital that allows birthing plans, print them already as soon as you finish them and put them in your hospital bag weeks before your due date or at least before you reach full term, you’ll never really know when your baby is ready to come out.
She also did the internal exam (IE) and said that I was already 8cm dilated. Whoah! I was so surprised. “Really?? 8cm agad agad?” Deep inside I was happy though because I hadn’t been in so much pain yet to be in that stage or at least not the level I had expected it to be. I wondered “I must have strong tolerance to pain”.
So the nurse immediately sent us to the birthing room. She called my OBGYN and made everything ready for me to give birth. Meanwhile, Contractions were getting stronger. I already felt the pain, it was still tolerable though. I just consoled myself “8cm na. konting tiis nalang,kayang kaya na to”. Then the nurse checked me again and just when I thought she would tell me that I was fully dilated, she exclaimed “oh, you’re not 8cm but 4cm, I’m sorry for my mistake. Would you like to go for a walk while waiting to be fully dilated?”
“I’m sorry what??” 4cm??you must be kidding me! was my silent reply. That means I had to go through more painful contractions before I could push the baby! That was between 9:30-10 am.
I took out my TENS machine which my boss lent me. She used one when she gave birth to my “alaga”. It’s a good alternative pain relief if you choose not to resort to epidural. For those who do not know, TENS machine is a device used by athletes as non-medicated pain reliever. It’s like an electric massager where you can control the amount of pressure (electric shock) to your back. It really came in handy and was a big help to ease my discomfort. It works two ways I guess- counter pressure on the thigh or back or during contraction, and psychologically, divert your attention from the pain.
George and I went for a walk outside the corridor. Contractions were getting a lot stronger and closer together. I knew I was already in active labor. I couldn’t talk, smile, and eat anymore. I was so focused on every contraction and silently praying, and telling my baby “please don’t give mommy a hard time, anak”
My OBGYN came in to see me at 10:30 am and had me checked again and said I was 6-7 cm dilated and progressing so well. At least I was a bit comforted by her words. Hubby and I were trying our very best to Relax and cope with every contraction before reaching full dilatation. We asked the nurse to be intermittently monitored and be free from contraption so I could move as much as needed. We learned from Fiona to take advantage of gravity during labor so staying in bed lying down is the last thing I should do. We laid out the material we got from our birthing class and did every recommended position – sit, stand, crawl, commode, slow dance, all of them. I even tried the Gas and air machine to which I just felt dizzy (didn’t work on me but they may work on you, so request them from your hospital if it’s available).
The nurse came every now and then to monitor the baby’s breathing, my contraction and blood pressure. At around 1 pm, I was 8-9 cm dilated so they called my OB GYN. I was so pooped at that point and felt the strong urge to push. I even asked the nurse if I could sit on the toilet bowl but she stopped me as I might push my baby in the toilet (not a good place to push the baby apparently lol).
The doctor came in and everything seemed going well- baby’s going down nicely so the pushing began at around 2pm. I felt like I used up all my energy in labor that I had no power to push anymore but I had to push with all my strength anyway.
George was there the whole time and was really doing well in coaching me to push. After an hour of pushing and screaming, our little pumpkin finally came out at exactly 3:05 pm weighing 5.21lbs (she’s tiny).Tears of joy moment. Couldn’t believe I just pushed a baby out of my small body. Definitely one of the proudest moments of my life. One hour of pushing may seem a long time, but our birthing class instructor said it’s not too bad for a first time mom because the average pushing time for a first timer is 2 hours.
I wish there was a photographer to capture every bit of it. George wasn’t able to take more shots either as he was busy assisting the doctor by holding my other leg as my support and giving me feedback and encouragement throughout the process. Nonetheless, we we’re both so happy and grateful that we made it through together just as how we envisioned it to be- Normal, un-medicated, uninterrupted, straightforward and safe delivery. It was a beautiful experience, I wouldn’t change it one bit. It wasn’t too long, agonizing or traumatic. (8 hours of labor is not bad as I heard a lot of long agonizing labor that still ended up in C sec) Yes, there’s pain but it’s supposed to be there. You just have to be realistic and embrace it. It’s tolerable kind of pain anyway (hey, I did it without epidural).
George also had the opportunity of cutting Alyanna’s umbilical cord which was part of our birth plan. It was such a priceless moment seeing the tiny creature we have both made (or more accurately speaking, pro-created).
Reminiscing all of these floods my heart with joy and gratitude. I couldn’t help but attribute my birthing success to the following:
Prayers. It was by GOD’s grace that we were able to do everything. Since day 1, we prayed everyday not just for a safe delivery but we were VERY SPECIFIC in asking HIM for a normal, less painful, un-medicated,straightforward delivery. HE never fails as always.
Strong “emotional why”. The biggest reason why we aimed to have a normal delivery so badly is because basically we are far away from our families. It’s just going to be George and Me! No mom, or dad, aunt or big sisters to help out! Normal delivery means fast recovery. I couldn’t afford to stay in bed to fully recover if I had a C-sec. George was also allowed to take only 5 days paternity leave, so I would be by myself with the baby in the house after a week. Oh, and by the way, my insurance (basic government insurance similar to Philhealth) only covers normal delivery as mentioned in my previous post. It would have cost us a fortune if I had some birthing complications. I don’t know exactly how much it would cost, but just to give you an idea of how insanely expensive here, we paid a little over 700$ (roughly 30,000php) for the ultrasound alone. That was just the excess after the insurance coverage. I can’t imagine paying for a c sec. I could’ve given birth in the Philippines too, but that’s the least of our options and perhaps it would be more costly for us to do so considering the airfare and a high probability that George wouldn’t be around when I gave birth, which we certainly didn’t want. All these reasons propelled us to do whatever it would take to have a normal delivery.
Consistent exercise and physical activity. Labor is called labor because it’s hard work. It requires good stamina and physical vitality. Training is the way to go. It helped a lot for me that since early pregnancy days, I was always on the move – Lifting car seats, strollers, cleaning the house and all other household chores. It kept my weight on check and enhanced our routine pregnancy exercises. Therefore for those moms who work in an office, do your best to do some physical activity in the evening. There are exercises you can find online that you can safely do specifically for each month throughout your pregnancy which will help you prepare yourself for the labor. The husband-coached childbirth has a long list of exercises which you can follow and you should get your husband to help you out and encourage you to do it every night before sleeping. One other tip I learned is good sleeping position throughout pregnancy – don’t sleep on your back, especially on the later part of your pregnancy when your belly is already big. Always try to sleep on your LEFT side so that your baby gets the optimum flow of oxygen-rich blood pumped by your heart. I didn’t know about this until I got pregnant! Now, I am so used to sleeping on my left side instead of lying in my back.
Healthy Diet.Needless to say, having a healthy diet is essential as long as we live, and more importantly during pregnancy. For me after my 1st trimester blues, I made sure that I was eating right and drinking lots of water on time. I always had something with me to eat everywhere I go-usually crackers and dried fruits. Strangely, my body craved only healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, and a little bit of meat. So I gained just the right amount of weight and my baby didn’t go big( makes a lot easier to push). I also watched out my sweet intake to avoid developing gestational diabetes. The reward was a healthy pregnancy and uncomplicated birth.
Birthing class. It makes a huge difference to adequately know your choices when it comes to giving birth. For others, attending birthing class may be a waste of time. But ours made a big impact on us. I am so grateful to my former boss for recommending me to a good birthing class instructor. I couldn’t emphasize more how it helped us big time. No, we were not talked into having un-medicated, normal delivery in the birthing class by the way. Rather, the class equipped us with the necessary information so that we would be ready whatever situation we would be in during the labor and delivery time. For example, i hadn’t known before that labor pain has something to do with the proper positioning of the baby during birth. If the baby is not in the best position, labor is likely to be longer and more painful. (google posterior baby for more details)
A good birthing partner or coach a.k.a my husband. I don’t understand why in some places husbands are still not allowed to be in the delivery room, especially in the Philippines. It should be allowed, or even required, as long as the husbands are well-informed and have prepared for that important day. Here in Bermuda you are even allowed to have a “doula” or a hired birthing coach who can be with you in birthing room aside from your husband. Lucky me for I have been blessed with the most supportive and the most amazing partner in my whole pregnancy journey. George was my cook during my blah days, researcher, advisor, coach, exercise buddy, cheerleader, alarm clock, and doula all in one (ahem ahem).
Every birth story is always beautiful and unique. All the pain, and hard work are truly worth it because the reward is your baby. Whether you have it via c-sec or normal, with or without epidural, preterm or overdue as long as you don’t end up feeling robbed of your choice to a pleasurable birthing experience. Often we hear horror stories that leave us feeling discouraged or scared of the idea of giving birth. I on the other hand hope that my story won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth. What I learned from this whole experience is to be in control and trust God’s wonderful creation which is my BODY. I came out mature, empowered,fulfilled and more confident of my God-given gifts as a woman because I embraced and was able to endure all the pains of labor and birth.
Wherever you are in your motherhood journey right now – whether you are trying to conceive, or already expecting your first or your next baby, may this post inspire you to trust your body and work towards having your own wonderful birthing story. Once that happens, feel free to share it here on my blog (or, you can start your own!) so that readers can learn and benefit from your experience as well. Thank you and sorry for the long read. I hope it’s worth your time.