As the labour date drew nearer, I envisioned all the possible scenarios in my head. Like what to do if my water bag burst while I was on the train? Or if the contractions came at full force while I was still in the office? I started preparing for all the unexpected possibilities, while waiting in full anticipation of cuddling my newborn baby, my firstborn.
However, my little one decided to stay inside the womb longer than necessary. At 3 days over the 40 weeks mark, we decided to induce labour to ‘force’ him out of his comfort zone. After the induction pill was inserted at 4pm, I was sent home and the waiting game began. I admitted myself into the hospital around midnight as I wanted to rest there, instead of having to admit amidst painful contractions. My cervix was only 2cm dilated; mild contractions could be felt but everything was manageable.
But 12 hrs after the first pill was inserted, my stubborn cervix still could not dilate further than 2cm, hence another pill was inserted to speed up the dilation. That did not help either. At 8am, my gynae came and broke the water bag, hoping that the dilation would speed up even more. I was 4cm dilated when I asked for epidural to ease the pain that I was experiencing. (The whole epidural experience was not as intimidating as what I had read online. In fact, it was quite a breeze!)
At 2pm, after a long wait of 18 hours, the monitoring machine suddenly showed that my baby’s heart rate was dropping. My gynae made the call for an emergency C-section immediately, as the drop in heart rate could indicate the strangulation of my baby by the umbilical cord. My heart sank as this was one scenario that I had not prepared myself for, but I knew that it would be the best option for the sake of my baby’s safety.
The nurses quickly prepared me for the operation. With my husband by my side, our precious baby boy was delivered at 3.12pm, safe and sound. The delivery was not anything like how I had envisioned, but my baby came out fine and I guess that’s what is most important.
Way before the big day, I often told my hubby that maybe I wanted to try going through the delivery without epidural, so that I could experience the full extent of labor pain. He would always shoot me a “I think you are mad” look.
Then the time finally came. My water bag burst on a Sunday night. The contractions only came when I reached the hospital and my first experience of real contraction pains! All I remember now is asking for the epidural almost immediately, but my request was turned down since I was only dilated to 2.5 cm then. I was given laughing gas but I really regretted using it since it didn’t help with the pain relief at all. Instead, each time I tried to inhale deeply using the mask, I vomited.
After almost 2 hours of great distress, I was finally given the epidural, although my cervix was only dilated to 4 cm. I was tearing and shivering throughout the process of epidural administration but it was definitely worth it. I could rest for the next 11 hours in the labor ward without much pain, except for the vomiting that still continued.
Finally, after almost 15 hours of labour, it was time to push! For the next 30 minutes, I pushed with all my might. I was overwhelmed with emotion, as everyone in the delivery ward was cheering and encouraging me on. After the final push, streams of tears just rolled down my cheeks. As I looked at the little life in the hands of the nurse, I couldn’t help but thank God for the wonderful gift he has blessed us with.
Till this day, my hubby still teases me about even contemplating the idea of going through labour without epidural! We always share a good laugh, looking back at all that we went through.
When I was delivering my first son, I had to wait a whopping 22 hours in the labour ward before it was time to push, and then took another hour or so to push him out! Based on that, I figured my second time around would be about 10 hours or so, since most books say that second and subsequent labours are generally shorter than the first. What I didn’t plan on was it being that short!
My contractions began at home at about 2pm, feeling like very bad stomach cramps. Feeling fairly confident there would still be another 5-8 hours of labour to go, we decided not to rush to hospital so soon, and I ‘tahan-ed’ the pain at home for another hour before declaring it was time to go. By now, I was having great difficulty walking and had to take slow and deep breaths to stay focused.
When we reached the hospital, the nurse did the customary (and dreaded) vaginal examination and found that I was already 4cm dilated! Wow, that was scary news for me. Immediately I asked for epidural, as most hospitals would not allow you to take epidural after a certain point of dilation. Thankfully I was still in time to get the pain relief, and the anesthetist came quickly and inserted the catheter for the drug to be administered.
But to my surprise and shock, the pain suddenly shot up, instead of getting better. The anesthetist, too, was puzzled, as I was almost groaning from the sudden pain. Another check by the nurse revealed I was now over 6cm dilated! 2cm in just… 10min? I must admit, I was feeling panicky at that moment, and scared that I might be giving birth anytime soon.
Things passed in a blur after that. All I remember is that, within the next 15-20 minutes, I dilated to 9cm. The gynae was SOS-ed (thank God she was in the hospital at that time!) and came running, just in time to deliver my healthy baby boy. Meanwhile, the epidural had literally no effect for me, as very soon after they administered it, they had to reduce it, so that I would have sufficient pain/pressure to push properly. So, as the gynae herself told me the next day, I practically delivered the baby without any pain relief.
I only remember that the pain was fairly excrutiating. I remember crying quite a bit. I remember the hubby holding my hand and telling me everything would be all right. I remember managing to drag in a few puffs of laughing gas towards the end, which did seem to help a little bit.
But the moment my little boy came out, and they handed him to me to hold, I remember looking at him and my eyes welling up with yet more tears, thankful for this little miracle in my arms. It was all worth it.
The funny thing is that our family and friends got quite a shock when we SMSed them to say baby was out. “So fast?” was the typical response, as it was only a short while ago that we had told them we were going to the hospital. Yes, the whole labour lasted less than 3 hours from the very beginning of contractions to the end. I am just thankful my boy and I survived the ride together!
By Dorothea Chow