6 Things I didn’t expect about giving birth

It has been four months since I gave birth to my beautiful baby boy, Ezra. From launching our breastfeeding journey and dealing with jaundice to remedying thrush or skull cap, I stressed out but overcame them all. But I still haven’t forgotten how my first childbirth all began.

In the early morning of December 24th last year, I woke up to pee as a very pregnant woman in her 40th week would be. I went back to bed without knowing that I won’t be able to catch Zzz’s anymore. Contractions had me tossing and turning. By 6:30 am, I completely gave up sleeping altogether.

Following my mom’s advice, I then went on to have my breakfast and then, a shower. I intended to stay in the comfort of our house for as long as I could, but having contractions is a bitch. I just couldn’t handle the pain. And even though my water hasn’t broken yet, I finally decided to go to the hospital, where all the things I didn’t expect to happen in childbirth and delivery, happened.

And they are as follows:

 

  1. Spotting

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In hindsight, I think Ezra’s journey from my womb to the outside world actually began three days before Christmas Eve. In the afternoon of December 21st, I was about to step in the shower when I noticed spots of blood in my undies. They didn’t seem to be mucus-y. They were the kind that you get on your last days of having a period.

I never had spotting in the duration of my pregnancy, so I opted to call my husband and have him brought me to the hospital. To be sure that everything is okay. Five long hours of waiting and beating the Friday payday traffic (another story for another post), we arrived at the hospital only to be sent back home disappointed and defeated. 

False alarm. I haven’t even dilated yet. The nurse concluded that it was just part of my body “practising” in getting my baby out. But she warned us to be vigilant. She said we are hours, or few days away, from meeting our little human. 

If you’re about to pop out soon, don’t panic if this happens to you. Unless of course if there’s pain. Then you should rush to the hospital as fast as you can.

 

  1. Water not breaking

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During pregnancy, a fluid-filled amniotic sac surrounds and protects the baby. Typically at the beginning of labor, these membranes rupture in what is known as the water breaking.

But only 15 percent of pregnant women have actually experienced this. In my case, the amniotic sac was still intact when my cervix had already dilated 2 cm. 

My dilation was happening for too slow, though. This prompted my doctor to do this technique called amniotomy. It uses a thin plastic hook to make a small opening in the amniotic sac, causing the water to break — making my contractions stronger, speeding my labor up.

 

  1. Intermittent pains

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Whenever I hear someone has just gone through XX hours of labour, I thought she actually went through the same number of hours of pushing and pushing until the baby is out. I cringe in disbelief about the unimaginable pain I have to go through when my time comes. Little did I know that these contractions, while they give pain, they also give time for rests in between.

Labor contractions, similar to pains you would have during ulcer attacks, usually last from 30 seconds to a minute. It will take around 3 to 5 minutes before it comes back again. These precious moments really make a big difference for you to catch your breath and brace for the next one.

But feeling this over and over again for 17 hours, in my case, can still be exhausting.

 

  1. Epidurals will make childbirth painless

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Experiencing labor pains is part of motherhood and I wanted to embrace it. This was why I initially wanted to go through giving birth as natural as possible. Good thing my doctor insisted for me to have epidurals as a back-up. And good thing I listened because I was only 2 cm dilated when I could no longer stand the pain and had to ask for something to make it go away.

You would keep thanking whoever invented the epidurals, as I did, because it can really make everything go away. After receiving my dosage, I was able to rest and even fall sleep for about 4 hours straight. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to regain the energy I needed to push during crunch time.

I wish its effect saw me through the entire experience, though. Sleeping since 1 pm, more intense contractions suddenly woke me up when my cervix has dilated up to 6 cm. The nurses may have increased the dosage of my epidural, but in the end, they ended up giving me a stronger one. And when it came to my active labour, they had to give me laughing gas to calm me down because I was literally wailing — ahem, borderline hostile — because of the pain.

My doctor had only one other patient who reacted to epidural the same way I did, he told me afterI apologised the next day. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had very low tolerance for pain.

 

  1. Pushing

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I know pushing the baby out would be tough. But I didn’t know it would be THAT tough. 

In spite of the crash course I got from the attending nurse, I actually don’t think I got a passing mark at Pushing 101. I was putting all my energy pushing it all out to a point of losing consciousness, but the team of experts in the room couldn’t get past the remarks of “you’re almost there” for 30 minutes.

 

  1. Miraculous moment

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I could hear a slight tone of disappointment from those who were helping me deliver the baby when my doctor took charge. I know he was doing something we discussed earlier about the vacuum-assisted delivery while he was asking me to do what I needed to do properly. I was THIS close to passing out in my last push when an amazing thing happened — there was a loud ringing in my ear. From my husband’s voice to the beeping of the machines, every sound in the room came out garbled — except the instructions from my doctor. There was a moment when I had pure focus. By the time I heard everyone cheering on, my vision became filtered with white as though I was in heaven. Everything became clearer and smudged at the same time, like when open your eyes after diving in the water water. And that’s when I knew Ezra was out. His cries, a few moments later, confirmed it. And I knew I was right.

Definitely, my favourite moment.

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