God has a plan for everyone. As much as Orley and I had our perfect birthing plan in mind, things don’t always go the way you want them to go. This is my birth story.
I felt birthing pains starting 2am of April 27, Tuesday. I ignored the initial pangs, not quite sure if that was really IT, despite having the first sign of labor discharge the day before. By 6am, contractions were coming at 6-minute intervals, and even though I told Orley to stay home first because I still wasn’t sure if that was IT, he decided to come anyway. I calmly told my mom to please come earlier (we were scheduled for an OB appointment that day).
By the time I arrived at The Medical City, the contractions were getting stronger and coming every 5 minutes. Upon my doctor’s checkup, I was pronounced to be in active labor, dilated at 3cm and wheeled off to the pre-labor room. By 4pm I was hooked up to monitors at the Lamaze room of TMC, with Orley in scrubs on the sofa, watching Animal Planet.
A note about the Lamaze room in TMC. It’s really just a room where a husband can stay in. They may call it a “lamaze room” but they will treat you as if you don’t intend to do lamaze. They were quite surprised we were attempting it actually. My requests to not be hooked up to an IV and monitors were denied and they didn’t have any lamaze tools, not even a medicine ball. Orley and I were able to apply the breathing techniques, but we couldn’t help thinking afterwards if labor could’ve progressed a little faster if I had been walking around.
I was able to hold on until 7cm. I feel like I could’ve pushed my threshold of pain even further, if not for the oxytocin drip that pushed the contractions into overdrive. There was no speak of building up the pain tolerance once they had the drip going. I gave in and asked for an epidural. My anesthesiologist later explained that an epidural helps relax the mom, therefore relaxing the cervix, causing it to dilate more. In my case, I needed to be more relaxed because I wasn’t dilating as well as my doctor would’ve liked.
I was at 7cm for what felt like forever. There was a point where my doctor said if you don’t move in another hour, we’re going to have to perform a CS. I think fear of a C-section drove my cervix to dilate, eventually opening up to 10cm by the time midnight rolled along.
And then here came the problem. I was fully dilated, my pelvic opening was adequate, and Basti still wouldn’t come out. He simply wouldn’t budge. No amount of pushing could coax him out of his little shell. An hour and a half later, my doctor gave in and said, “We have to do it. I have to open you up.”
I have to admit I cried. I remember looking woefully towards Orley and saying, “I’m sorry.” He shook his head and said, “You have nothing to be sorry about. You tried your best. What’s important now is that you and Sebastian will be safe.”
I was scared. I have never been operated on in my entire life. When I was on the table, with two arms bound and harsh lights in my eyes, I could see the reflection on the overhead lamp of what they were doing to me beyond the curtain. I tried not to look, but it’s hard not to. Numb below the waist, it felt like something out of a cut-and-slash movie. What broke my fear was when Dr. Mike put on some music. When I heard the opening bars of Lady Gaga, I somehow knew I was going to be okay.
Somewhere in between “Insomnia” and “Mad”, I felt a huge lump taken out of my tummy (much like a big, stubborn booger you have finally fished out) and heard Sebastian’s first wail. I cried again, this time tears of joy and I heard Dr. Mike ushering in Orley into the OR (against TMC hospital rules, I’m sure). We took our first family picture right there on the operating table.
TMC has a great breastfeeding policy and I’m lucky to have found Dr. Elizza Senseng for a pedia (thanks to Pia and Tasha). A true breastfeeding advocate, she gave orders for Basti to be brought in to me every hour to nurse while I was in the recovery room, still numb from anesthesia. By 9am, he was roomed in with me and feeding using the side-lying position.
Our first night was horrible and I think my mom deserves a medal for what we went through that night. I was tied down to a bed with tubes running down my back and arms and legs, and my mom had to stay up with Basti and bring him to me when he wanted to nurse. He was awake from midnight to 7am, and I think she literally shoved Basti into Orley’s arms when he came in the morning to relieve her.
I was off the tubes by the next day. First thing I did was had the sheets changed and a sponge bath. Our second night was better. Having learned my lesson, Orley let me sleep the entire afternoon, then took a nap after Basti was fed. We were able to get through the night without much drama.
We were discharged the next day and were in the house by the afternoon. The wonders of medicine had me back on my feet as if I delivered normally. Orley and I still can’t believe I’m up and about a week after surgery with the smallest of scars.
Now at just over a week into motherhood, I’m still coping. Sometimes I feel like I’m never going to leave this house again. Sometimes I feel like all I am is breasts on legs. I’ve cried not just once, and I’ve cried for all the reasons and for no reason at all. Sebastian keeps me going, and my husband is my rock. I’ve confirmed that motherhood is a secret society and your friends will help you get through. Knowing they’ve been there and turned out fine helps in getting through every hour of this most demanding stage.
I can’t wait for the day when the three of us will go off and have adventures together. For now, we just have to get through this stage and get to know each other more and more.
And on a side note, I want to say a belated 35-year sorry to my mom and dad for sometimes being an ass while growing up. If I only knew what you guys put up with when I was a new baby, I would’ve been a better-behaved human being overall.