The other thing I sometimes think about is how I had wondered how I would have the strength to go through the pain of labour. Like many girls, I used to agonise over the little details of what you had to go through... the contractions, the blood, the exhaustion... but I did it and now I know what it means when a mother says "once the baby is in your arms, the pain is forgotten". So I decided to journal my experience, not to freak out the yet-to-be-mums out there, but so I will remember this experience. I will try not to dwell over the gory and bloody bits too much.
24th December 2010, Christmas Eve
2.00am: I woke up feeling some discomfort in my chest and throat. It felt like a case of heartburn or reflux which I sometimes had during my pregnancy. I tossed and turned for a while, arranged pillows to prop myself up so I could sleep sitting up. It wasn't comfortable. I had a restless sleep for the rest of the wee hours of the morning.
6.30am: Woke up again with a tight feeling in my chest and stomach discomfort. I sat up and suddenly vomited on the floor. Hubby woke up and quickly handed me a T-shirt to wipe my face while I ran to the bathroom to continue vomiting.
7.30am: Helped hubby clean up the floor. It was carpet flooring so quite a nasty job cleaning up.
8.30am: Still feeling poorly. Called the hospital to tell them what happened. Midwife ran through a list of other symptoms I might be having. I didn't seem to have any other symptoms to indicate I was in labour. Midwife told me to rest a bit, stay hydrated and try to see if I can down a bit of juice, and call back later at around noon to update them.
9.30am: Sipped on some water and made an attempt at orange juice.
9.45am: Orange juice deposited in toilet. Vomiting and diarrhea.
11.00am: Sipped on some water and made an attempt at some honey water.
11.15am: Honey water deposited in toilet. More vomiting and diarrhea.
12:30am: Called hospital to update them. They ran through the list of symptoms again but still no clues. They advised me to rest and try and stay hydrated on ice cubes.
The rest of the afternoon was spent sleeping, visiting the toilet and sucking on ice cubes in between naps and toilet breaks.
6.30pm: Felt a 'leak' down there, went to the toilet and noticed a bit of pinkish discharge. Called hospital. Midwife asked me to describe the consistency of the blood and asked me to come into the hospital so they could check on me. She said no need to rush but just do the necessary preparations and bring our things and bags just in case.
Hubby got ready the bags, packed some snacks while I took a shower and changed into some fresh clothes.
8.00pm: Left the house. While in the car, I started to notice some mild contractions.
8.30pm: Arrived at hospital. Midwife checked my vitals (temperature, pulse, blood pressure) and had a look at the discharge in my pad which was now a brownish mucousy consistency. She confirmed that my water had broken and also said it seemed there was some meconium in my discharge (which meant baby had done a poo inside) which was not ideal, so she hooked me up to the fetal monitoring machine so they could continually monitor the baby's heart rate for any sign of distress. So far baby seemed ok.
10.30pm: Doctor came in to check on me and do an internal examination. He said I should be put on a drip as I would be dehydrated due to all the vomiting and diarrhea I had today. Due to the meconium they also injected some oxytoxin to speed up the contractions.
11.30pm: Contractions got more and more intense as the clocked ticked on. I put on a TENS machine to help manage the contractions.
25th December 2010, Christmas Day
2.30am: Contractions getting stronger. Upped the intensity of TENS machine.
3.30am: Midwife encouraged me to sit on a fitball to encourage my cervix to open up. Contractions getting really strong and very close together (due to the Oxytoxin). TENS machine losing effect. Felt very weak and fatigued due to lack of food and water. I decide to ask for gas (Entonox) pain relief.
4.30am: At the point where I feel like I'm going over the edge. No relief from TENS machine or Entonox at all.
5.00am: Another internal examination. Still only about 2cm dilated. Things were moving really slowly. Midwife says it could take at least another 8 hours (based on average 1cm per hour). Not sure how I could get through due to sheer exhaustion, fatigue and the intensity of the contractions from the oxytoxin. Decided to go for the epidural.
5.30am: Hubby comes back. Anesthetist arrives to administer epidural.
6.00am: Effect of epidural settling in. Managed to fall nap for a while.
For the next few hours, it was basically a waiting game. Midwives come in periodically to check on my vitals and baby's heart rate. Tried to sleep most of the time. Attempted to eat something around 8.00am and managed to eat two cherries, 2 grapes and half a piece of toast.
12.00pm: Hubs heads out to try and look for food but all the shops were closed due to Christmas Day public holiday. He enquired at the hospital reception on where he can get food. They said they will send up a tray of the Christmas lunch special (complimentary for support person).
1.00pm: Lunch served. For hubby only. Midwife says I can't have any food or drink from now onwards. So glad hubby can have a good lunch, poor man. It was a good lunch with roast turkey, roast beef, pumpkin soup, salad, sticky date pudding and ice cream.
2.30pm: Midwife comes in to check my cervix. I'm fully dilated and ready to start pushing.
With coaching and guidance from the midwife, I try my best to push for the next hour or so but by the end of the hour I was just plain exhausted with no strength at all left in my body.
3.30pm: Doctor comes in to assess. Due to the meconium they had detected earlier, he says the baby needs to be delivered as soon as possible. So they make preparations for an assisted delivery using forceps.
The next hour was basically the final leg of the journey. I'll spare you the details but thanks to the epidural, I was spared the worst. I still had to do some pushing at this stage to keep things progressing. The forceps only came in at the last moment for the final push...
4.28pm: I felt a sort of 'pop' and heard a strong cry. The midwifes place a wet, velvety bundle on my tummy and at the next moment I found myself looking at a pair of the most beautiful eyes gazing up at me. "Hello little Nathan!"
The next hour or so was a blur to me, but vaguely remembered the doctor guiding hubby to cut the umbilical cord, then working on me to help discharge the placenta, Baby Nathan was briefly taken aside to be weighed and checked by the pediatrician and midwife, and hubby held him while they finished stitching me and cleaning me... but most of the time he was with my for direct skin-to-skin contact.
I've heard babies being described as 'velvety' and although I thought it a sweet description, it was altogether an indescribable feeling to really feel that perfect velvet skin next to mine. I could hardly get over how perfect and complete Nathan was... a whole little person--wriggling, breathing, sighing, nuzzling... after all the anticipation, we could finally hold our little bundle of joy.
Photo courtesy of our friends Iggy and Doreen