If there’s one thing that I got out of my labour experience, it is to be flexible, be truly flexible.
Overall, I would rate my pregnancy as being relatively easy. Of course there were the exhaustion, sleeplessness, rhinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome (which I’m still having agh) and those glorious little bits that came with carrying a child in my belly, I felt pretty good from 2nd trimester onwards. Visits to my obstetrician were always positive and straightforward. As the due date loomed closer, although mini M was still sitting quite high in my womb, I was somewhat confident that things would fall into place and like many other women, a natural delivery was what I had in mind (with the help of pain relief). My ob did ask on a number of visits whether I had any concerns but I just couldn’t think of any major ones as I felt adequately prepared for what was to come after attending a bunch of antenatal classes. I knew that the birth wasn’t exactly going to be scripted but I was also convinced that I had enough flexibility to tackle any unforeseen circumstances.
4 days shy of my estimated due date, my water broke while having dinner and watching the second last episode of the bachelorette (very intellectual I know), We went to the hospital that night but was sent home because I was barely dilated. I only experienced mild discomfort throughout the night so that hadn’t stopped me from getting adequate rest. I woke up the next morning feeling anxious about what was to come but I thought I could still buy more time at home as I wasn’t screaming in pain yet. However I was told to go to the hospital as 12 hours had past since my water was broken and technically speaking, contractions should have started by then.
Things progressed really quickly in the hospital, and by that I don’t mean the labour itself but the process of hurrying the labour along. Before I even had time to digest the situation, an induction was ordered so that the baby would engage in position for the birth to happen. Now in hind sight that probably wasn’t the most controversial move in history but something within me just didn’t sit well with that decision. I didn’t like the idea of having ‘more pain’ as induction is apparently more painful and I couldn’t accept the deviation from what I had originally ‘planned’ (albeit my claim of being flexible). Anyway I bit the bullet and within half an hour of having the Syntocinon drip, I started having contractions. I utilised the Tens machine and laughing gas to manage the pain initially but as most birth stories go, gave in to epidural 2 hours later. Although I was set on having epidural from the get-go, I still find the process very unpleasant. I was grappled with fear and the sensation of having local anaesthetic injected into my spinal region felt odd and somewhat surreal. I had no regrets though as the anaesthesia took away the excruciating pain and I was able to relax momentarily.
The relaxation hadn’t lasted that long (in the world of labour) and I was hit by some more bad news. Although I was contracting beautifully, my body just wasn’t co-operating! 6 hours into the induction and I was only a couple of centimetres dilated. I was given the option of waiting for another 2 hours (in which I was told that I probably wouldn’t progress too far based on historical data) or just getting the action on by opting for an emergency c-section. What? C-section? I never anticipated a cut across my abdomen! I was shocked and very much under pressure. I was averse to having my tummy ‘rummaged’ and I didn’t like the increased likelihood of having another c-section in my next pregnancy. Most of all, although I had a basic idea of what the surgery entailed, this birth had completely gone haywire and my already hormonal self couldn’t cope with it. I started having intense itching all over my belly and the epidural suddenly stopped working effectively. I went a little cray-cray and I wasn’t in the mood to make big decisions. As the baby’s heart rate was slowing down, I had no choice but to agree to go under the knife. To be honest though, it felt like a decision had already been made based on the circumstance and all I did was to give my consent. I was truly disappointed and my emotions were playing games with my head.
Within minutes of saying “yes”, prep was underway to get me into the theatre. I hadn’t seen such efficiency for a long time. In around an hour, I found myself laying in a fluorescent-lit room, sobbing my guts out (again, I blame my dramatic behaviour on the hormones!) and loaded up with some heavy-duty anaesthetic drugs. I really didn’t have time to think and it wasn’t too long before I felt the strange pressure of having my insides tugged, if you know what I mean. I was desperate for it to be over.
Soon after I heard a LOUD cry and instantly knew that everything was going to be ok. The nurses lowered the drape and there mini M was, in his chunky birthday suit and a headful of black hair! His lower lip quivered in super speed while letting out that reassuring scream and that has got to be the most adorable thing I had ever seen in my life. Boy, was he a big boy! No wonder he didn’t want anyone to mess up his hair do as he made his grand entrance into the world. They cleaned him up and popped him on my chest for some skin-on-skin time and he calmed down instantly. It was just magic. He looked at me with one eye opened and knew that I’m mama. At that point, the fact that I had gone through such an ordeal didn’t matter anymore. The extraction process was quick but sewing up took time. I wasn’t sure whether it was my imagination but I felt some pain in that process so they topped me up with more drugs. Man, my legs were COMPLETELY RUBBERY and I had to ask Mr M and my mom to massage them to stop myself from going nuts. It was just awful. I also realised that should I have prepared for the worst case scenario, I wouldn’t have had to put myself through such intense stress.
So there you have it, a rather comprehensive account of my labour. Perhaps it’s an experience that you might be able to relate to. If you’re anticipating a birth in the near future, remember, be open-minded to all kinds of scenarios! Don’t be as naive as me, thinking that all is good in the hood, completely overlooking potential issues. While it’s good to set yourself up with positivity, sometimes what’s planned just does not coincide with reality.
That’s all for now. I hope my story hasn’t scared you too much. Regardless of it all, having mini M is a miracle that I wouldn’t ever want to miss! I guess as moms, we will all need to go through the hard yards to reap our seeds right? That’s just how nature works.
I would love to hear your story too. Please feel free to share it below!