my 16-hour labor story.


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:

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second day:

first night at home:

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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:

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even if i had to endure another 16 hours, it would do it. for this ^

hello, judah.

0-1 month


hi world, i'd like to introduce you my son – judah tan zhi xiang. he was born on the 30th of June 2018, weighing at 3.43kg and he was 50cm in height. he's our answered prayer, a miracle and a precious gift from above. he loves his milk (a lot), loves to shower (never cries a single bit), and he's a champ in doing tummy time. below are some of my favourite pictures of him :)

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mummy and daddy love you so much, son.

when normal is actually good


Yesterday, Sung and i went for our first check-up at UMMC. Our gynae recommended UMMC to us saying that most of her patients who deliver there have good reports about the hospital. And since the delivery cost there is very much affordable and the facilities are decent, it didn't take us long before to decide that this was gonna be the hospital for us to deliver #lildotdot in.

Ok, back to our check-up. They did a detailed scan on #lildotdot (for only RM51 by the way), and it made us realise so many things in which we've taken for granted. The sonographer took her time in scanning my stomach and i must say it is by far the longest scan we've had. It feels so good to know that the sonographer isn't rushing through the scan to get her job over and done with, but is actually professional, thorough and detailed. Initially we thought it was just gonna be a normal quick scan, but turns out we were shown most of baby's vital organs during the scan.

These were the words of our sonographer:

"Okay, this is the baby's kidney.....here's one.....and here's another one. Ok, so baby has two kidneys."

"And this is his hand, and this is another hand. Here's his foot, and here's another foot."

"This is the blood and oxygen flow through your baby's heart. Heart is pumping well, and the structure of the heart looks normal."

"This is his brain, the size is all okay. The brain is normal."

"This is the side of his face, and here is his upper lip. His lips look okay, means he has no cleft lip."

"Okay, so your baby is normal lah. You can go outside and collect your scan report."

"Your baby is normal"

On our way out to collect the report, Sung and i were just so amazed and stunned at the same time. We were amazed and impressed by the scan equipment, details of the scan and the sonographer. But what made us stunned was when we realised how much we have taken things for granted before this. I mean, what makes us think that just because baby's heart is beating, he will by default have 2 kidneys, 2 legs, 2 hands, a good heart structure and a normal upper lip? These were things that we literally took for granted. From this experience we learned to be even more grateful for the gift of life that has been entrusted to us. Despite of our ignorance, God has been (and still is) working so miraculously behind the scenes to grow baby to its complete form. 

I'm now 31 weeks into my pregnancy! And #lildotdot is more active than ever before, kicking and stretching in my tummy when he hears our voice and when i eat McD ice-cream. Hahahaha. I kid you not. We found out that he especially loves listening to Sung's voice because he becomes extra active when Sung speaks/prays/reads to him. Every night, we will try to spend some time with him before going to bed and strange enough, he is always most active then. Perhaps he looks forward to spending time with us too. Heh.

From time to time, i get asked if i'm ready to be a mom. My honest answer? I don't think i'll ever be 100% ready – i don't think anyone will ever be that ready. It is almost the same thing as getting married. You will never be 100% ready for marriage until you're actually married. And when you are, you just learn to embrace whatever comes your way – be it good or bad, happy or challenging – one day at a time. So my aim is to not overwhelm myself with things that are yet to happen, but do what i can in my best ability to prepare myself in this present time. Some ways that i prepare myself is by reading books: practical 'baby bible' books to equip myself with life skills and Christian motherhood books to prepare myself for the battles ahead that are non-physical. Because we fear what we do not know, hence gaining the right knowledge is so crucial especially in this season. But of course, there's always a struggle with information overload by 'over-Googling'. I'm still learning how to not overload myself with unnecessary information, and it certainly doesn't help that it's so accessible! 

So yeap, that's my pregnancy update thus far! We have an English name for baby already, but the Chinese name though... we're still pretty much clueless. Sorry #lildotdot, your parents are hopeless Chinese. Give us some time and we will come up with a kick-ass Chinese name for you. Soon enough. We hope. Will think of something before you're born. Or...maybe a week after is fine too. Somewhere along that timeline. Ok bye!

#lildotdot's gender reveal.


Confession time. Prior to this post i have given much thought as to how i was gonna reveal baby's gender to you as, you know, baby gender reveal is kinda like a 'thing' now. But the more i thought about it, the more inclined i am towards the idea of keeping it simple and straight forward simply because the method in which the announcement is made does not determine the amount of love we have for baby. And...it's also because i had zero idea on how to do it the hipster way. Hahahaha.

And so we actually found out about baby's gender a month back. It was a surreal experience. We went for our check-up without expecting to find out about the gender because we know sometimes it takes a few more check-ups before the baby decides to show us the PP (private part). But for some strange reasons, #lildotdot was really open about it. Like, literally opening up to us. HAHA. So here it is! Baby's gender reveal:

LILDOTDOT IS A.....

BOY!!

...as you can tell from where the cursor was pointed at. Hahahaha. Yes, that's the bird-bird. So now you know what i meant by 'open'. And i think that's him putting his arms behind his head chilling while we invade his privacy. Lol. 

Look at that lil' round head and very peaceful-yet-cheeky chubby grin! Aaah. How is it humanly possible to fall in love with a black and white ultrasound image?! We can't wait to meet you in person, baby! Thank you for revealing your gender to daddy and mummy this soon because now mummy can do more intentional shopping. Hehe.

Bump update: Week 21

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It was exceptionally hard to get outta bed this morning, i'm not sure if the 1st trimester fatigue is back, but i do feel i have less energy compared to the past few weeks. I hope this doesn't mark the end of my 'honeymoon' period – whatever that means. I must say that being a pregnant working person has its fair share of challenges. The world still runs as usual while you start to feel (and look) more and more like a whale with a human being growing inside of you. There are mornings i wake up feelin' so fresh, ready to take on the world. While there are some other mornings where i'd wake up feeling like a big bloated fish. But nevertheless, i'm grateful for the CNY break where i got to sleep in, spend time with friends and families, binge watch the final season of Narcos (to which i'm now waiting very impatiently for season 4 to be released), slot in evening walks at the park and even blog! It's been a good break. We're going for a detailed scan of baby next week and we can't wait to see how much baby has grown! 

Till then, happy chinese new year all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

expecting.


 The cutest dot ever. This is why we're calling baby #lildotdot for now (until baby has a real name lol) because it was literally a DOT when we first saw baby! 

The cutest dot ever. This is why we're calling baby #lildotdot for now (until baby has a real name lol) because it was literally a DOT when we first saw baby! 

In just a few blinks of an eye, i'm now half way through my pregnancy (week 20). The thought of journaling my pregnancy journey has always been at the back of my head, and as i was showering just it just suddenly dawned upon me that that thought will always remain where it is until i decide to sit my butt down on the chair, turn on my laptop and begin to write. Hence, this post!

A good memory has never really been gifted to me. Unlike my husband who can still remember his high school friends' house phone numbers (yes, house phone), i can barely remember anyone else's phone number other than my own family's....ok maybe just my parents' and Sung's. Sorry sisters, there's just too many of you, ya know? Hehe. People say preggers have really bad memory. I'm not sure if it's true, but i'll accept the myth as truth so that i can justify my inability to remember important stuff. Heh. And that gives me an extra reason to be extra disciplined in writing and jotting down the important events so that i can have some form of permanence of it. So, here goes.

The day we found out i was pregnant:

It was a usual Monday off-day for me and we were just chilling at home. For some strange reasons, a few days prior i was already feeling something strange happening in my body. It wasn't an obvious physical change on the outside, but rather an internal change that i was feeling. Don't ask me how i know what was going on in my body because i haven't got a clue - not until today. But i just had this 'sixth sense' (if that exists!) that my body wasn't its usual self. Something was happening, though i couldn't articulate it in words. It was almost the same feeling i felt like the night before i found out i had a cyst in my ovary. I just kept turning to Sung and said, "Dear, my body feels weird...i don't know what or why, but i just know it's not its normal self." The only difference was that at that time, it was a negative kinda instinct. But this time, it felt positive. My heart wasn't heavy; rather it was nervously and anxiously excited. 

After much thought, i decided to open up my final pack of pregnancy test (i had a few before that) and took it into the toilet with me for a test. Peeing on a stick is not as easy as some of you might think. To some, it's just...ya know, peeing on a stick. But to us women who have been getting ourselves ready (physically, mentally and emotionally) for a baby, it means hope. Every time you open a new pregnancy test, you open up your heart to feel either an intense joy or utter disappointment. That's why i had to think twice before opening up a new packet. A month after my surgery, my doctor told me that we could start trying for a baby. And so we did. I'm not sure how people define 'try' but to us, it meant letting things be and just go with the flow. Or in other words: no contraceptives. In that two months, whenever my period was delayed 1-2 days or whenever i sense something (very) slightly different in my body, i'd automatically go "OMG am i pregnant?!" In that two months, i have used a few pregnancy tests and they all came out negative. Thinking back, it was pretty funny how i'd try to convince myself that there was something wrong with the pregnancy test instead of me thinking too much, and how i'd google 'the likelihood of a home pregnancy test being faulty' only to find myself feeling even more disappointed than i already was because the likelihood of it showing a false result is rather low. Gotta be honest, there were times when i was an emotional wreck. The first thoughts that always came to mind after seeing a negative result: "what's wrong with me?" followed by "will i ever be a mom?". The struggle is real, so real. 

Back to the story! Sung was waiting on the bed scrolling his phone as i went into the toilet to pee on the stick (lol). I couldn't stand that anticipation of waiting for the result to show, so i left the test in the toilet, locked the door (don't ask me why i did that, people do silly things when they're nervous) and sat beside Sung on the bed. 

"OK, dear! The test is in the toilet. The box says we have to wait 5 minutes before the result can show."

"Ok darling. Let's wait 5 minutes then!"

*20 seconds later*

"Is it 5 minutes yet??"

"No dear, it's not even one minute yet. Let's watch this video together."

*2 minutes later*

"Ok, it has to be 5 minutes now!"

"Hahah no dear, wait awhile more. I'm just as nervous as you are!"

*Another 2 minutes later*

"OK, I'M VERY SURE IT'S BEEN 5 MINUTES."

.....and off i went into the toilet. Took up the stick, and this was what i saw:

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I showed it to Sung, and he asked me "What does it mean?!" Poor boy, i didn't tell him that double line means the test is positive. So there i was, smiling at him without answering his question. 

"Does that mean you're pregnant??"

*nods*

And we gave each other a super tight hug; a hug made out of a little bit of shock, excitement, nervousness, joy, love and everything else in between. We didn't share with anyone until 2 days later when we had family dinner at my parents' place. We wanted our families to be the first to know about it!

Here's a very priceless video of how we broke the news to my family. 

They're the first people we told the good news to and their reaction is priceless. This video is very precious to us and #lildotdot!

What makes our pregnancy journey meaningful is the fact that we can share the journey with people who matter to us – family, close friends, leaders and various VIPs in our lives. Their support and love for our little family have been overwhelming and we can only thank God for this.

Besides that, i'm also very grateful to be having a smooth pregnancy thus far. I don't get morning sickness, but fatigue does get in my way pretty often – especially in my first trimester! It was so bad to the point where the moment i wake up in the morning, i'd feel as if i never slept and that i could go on sleeping for another 8 hours. With work and daily routines going on as usual, it is really tough to battle with unexplainable fatigue in the midst of getting things done. But i'm glad trimester 2 has been much better. More energy, less sleepy and i'm trynna get active by doing light pregnancy workouts at the gym 1-2 times a week, and take a stroll at the park whenever i can. That helped my big time with my occasional feet swelling due to water retention. I call em' elephant feet because they look like elephant feet and they make me feel like an elephant. LOL.

Oh, and we found out baby's gender a couple of weeks ago! Hehehe. We can't wait to share the news with you in my next post! Till then, feel free to drop any advice in the comment for this mummy-to-be!