motherhood is a strange thing.
it is something that many people around you have been through and would have given you some advice about that subject in one way or another. yet, you'll never be able to fully grasp it until you're in it yourself – it is something no one can ever prepare you enough for.
i had a rather tough labor with judah:
+ 16 hours of active labor
+ was told that epidural had run out only to find out later on (14 hours later, to be exact) that it was actually available. the only thing that wasn't available is an element in the epidural that makes it take effect immediately. so, instead of feeling the effect of epidural immediately once it's administered, i will have to wait for an hour for it to do its magic. but when i found out about it, it was all too late and all i could do was to dream of how good my life would have been for the past 14 hours if i had my good friend 'epi' by my side. but i could only dream...
+ felt all the contractions that came in like a huge ass truck that was running over my body over and over again in a speed and intensity that only got faster and stronger as time passed. my contractions were at a max of 100 (in the CTG reading) for 2 hours straight, and i only had a breathing space of 5-10 seconds in between those excruciating contractions.
+ it took me 8 hours to dilate from 4cm to 5cm, and it was stuck at 5cm for the next 8 hours (cries). the doctor came in to check my dilation every 4 hours. dilation checks were my worst nightmare (worse than some of my contractions to be honest), and i dreaded it every. single. time. there has got to be a better way of checking. somebody please invest in the R&D for this so that women who are already going through labour pain won't have to endure the extra pain of having a whole fist stuffed up their you-know-what.
+ my waterbag had broken for more than 12 hours and it was getting dangerous for baby to stay in there. and since i wasn't dilating, doctor called for an emergency c-section.
+ the operating theatre wasn't available just yet, so i had to wait another 45mins before i was wheeled in. so yes, that's another 45mins of contractions at a maximum intensity.
+ in the OT, doctor tried administering the spinal block (an anesthesia that's injected directly into the sac that surrounds your spinal cord to numb the lower part of your body. thank you google) into my body through my spine, but she couldn't find the right spine. according to the doctor, in order to know if it's the right spine, when the needle goes in, some liquid has to come out (sorry guys, i'm clueless when it comes to all things medical). the whole process took more than 30 minutes, and the whole time i was sitting on the operating table hugging a huge plastic ball (it was to help curve my back so they can find my spine better) while battling through the contractions. each time a contraction happens, they have to take a break because my whole body gets so tense that they can't poke my back.
+ so after trying for 30 minutes and poking me for more than 20 times, they said to me "sorry ma'am, we can't seem to find the right spine. the liquid just isn't coming out. so, we have to knock you out." so yes, after all braving through all the poking + crazy contractions in a freezing cold OT, the grand ending to my labor was...general anaesthetic.
+ they knocked me out, and judah was out within 30mins.
i had no skin-to-skin time with him whatsoever. when i was wheeled back into my ward, i was so drowsy i could barely keep my eyes open for 5 seconds. the first person i saw was sung.
me: how's baby? is baby okay?
him: yes dear, baby is okay. they're bathing him in the nursery now. he's very cute!
me: okay that's good...
after 10 seconds of complete silence
me: is it over? can you please tell me it's over??
him: yes, it's over dear. it's all over. baby is out. you did it, dear!!
me: (bursts out in tears)
seeing me cry, he cried too. so there you have it, two grown adults bawling their eyes out in a shared ward with no baby in sight. my neighbours must be thinking something bad happened to our baby when in actual fact we're just two grown adults struggling to contain our overwhelming emotions.
i burst out crying because throughout my entire 16-hour labor, i didn't cry, scream or shout a single bit. i kept telling myself, "it's gonna be over soon. just hang in there, gladys. don't worry, it's gonna be over soon." little did i know that 'soon' could mean 16 hours. so when i saw sung, knowing that baby is out, and i'm finally free from contractions – i had to double confirm with him that it was all over, for real. that cry had to be the most complex cry ever: i was upset with my body for not cooperating (Y U NO DILATE?!), relieved that the contractions are now gone forever (or at least until my next birth), happy that baby is out and healthy, sad because i was in pain, but super happy to know that it's all over and i did it.
so yeap, that's my birth story.
i stayed in the hospital (UMMC) for another 3 days after giving birth because judah had jaundice. his readings were quite high one night he needed two phototherapy machines when all the other babies only used one. it was a whole new level of challenge for me as my wound was hurting, yet i had to keep carrying judah in and out of the bassinet to feed him (they get dehydrated when they're under the light for a prolonged period, and also because only breastmilk can help the jaundice subside) – all this without sung by my side, because the hospital has a strict no-husband-staying-over rule. the visiting hours were 12-2pm & 5-8pm. so sung could only help me for 5 hours in a day.
being a brand new mom who had to get used to breastfeeding, taking care of a hurting surgery wound and nursing a baby with jaundice – all these coupled with a whirlwind of emotions coming at me like another huge ass truck. when the doctor told me, "sorry, your baby's jaundice level is still high, you'll need to stay another night.", guess what i did? yeap, you're right. i bawled my eyes out (again). i shall not go through all my eye-bawling moments here lest you become depressed from reading a blog. i've read about these postpartum struggles during my pregnancy and i was even preparing myself for it. but then again, like i said, no one can ever prepare you enough for what's to come until you're in it yourself. yes, not even 'you' can prepare you enough.
so after a week of being in the hospital and not seeing sunlight, we finally discharged! "You can go home today" have gotta be the most beautiful words i've heard in my life.
us at the ward, just before going home. we asked the nurse to take this picture for us (even though we looked super unglam) because we wanted to document this priceless moment of going home as a family:
judah's first day in this world:
first night at home:
oh, and you know what's the strange thing about giving birth? even though the pain and contractions were excruciating, i can hardly remember how it felt like. people tell me labor pain is like period pain x10, but i think it's x50 or maybe more. but when i try to recall how the pain and contractions felt like, i can hardly describe it. i no longer cringe at the thought of my labor (i cringed real hard in my first week whenever i thought about it). perhaps that's why women would give birth to more than one child. that's the beauty (and/or irony) of motherhood, i guess? God sure does have a good sense of humour and wisdom. He must have given all mothers a tiny dose of memory loss – tiny enough to still remember the whole process, yet just enough dosage to forget the details of the pain.
but with all that said, if you're reading this and you're still single or do not have a child yet, please don't let my experience scare you into thinking that giving birth is hell. it is, well, a very intense experience. but i have no regrets going through whatever i went through. if my labor experience were to be shared to me by someone else, i'd have thought to myself "OMG i can't do this." but because i went through it, i can tell you that (as cliche as it might sound) if i can do it, you can too. i believe God gives mothers special grace to brave through the whole pregnancy and labor process like an extraordinary human, and i mean it! so yes, don't worry and get too ahead of yourself. just embrace it when it comes and you'll emerge a champ. trust me.
so, was the 16-hour labor worth it? this is my answer:
even if i had to endure another 16 hours, it would do it. for this ^