Since we found out we were expecting a second baby, I’ve been trying to break the news to Ethan, however gently as possible. But so far, his responses have ranged from ignorance to him trying to change the topic (either purposely or coincidentally) and sometimes just pushing me away. We are still exploring ways to tell him and get him prepared, but I can foresee it will be a long, arduous task.
For me, though, the experience of being with child has brought about many familiar emotions, and especially, I have been recollecting the joys (and pains) of that memorable day when I gave birth to Ethan. And since I have not journalled this tale, I figured this would be a good time to do it. So here’s a blast from the past….
It was the day before Chinese New Year 2006. Pete and I were getting ready to leave for Taiping to kickstart the Chinese New Year festivities by having our reunion dinner. At that time, I had about two and a half weeks to go in my pregnancy before reaching my due date (i.e. I was 37.5 weeks along). Although I was very pregnant then, I still had the time to prepare a little something to take for dinner. I remember the dish I had prepared was stuffed chicken wings. Amid all our preparations and packing that Saturday morning, I suddenly discovered that I had the “show”. The day before we had gone to see my ob-gyn and he said that if I had any of the three symptoms of labor (the “show”, water bag burst or contractions), that I should come back to Penang no matter where I was.
Well. I checked my books and it told me that the baby could come any time from 4-10 days after the show, so I told Pete that it was okay, we could still go. I wanted to enjoy the reunion dinner anyway, and there were no contractions then anyhow. So off we went to Taiping.
I was still bleeding but very slightly only and I felt no contractions. Well actually, at that time, I didn’t even know what a contraction felt like because I had no prior experience. My girlfriends told me it feels like period pain but way more painful. Thing is, I don’t have period pains, so there was no way for me to tell.
Then in the evening, I felt as if my water bag had burst (again, I didn’t know what that felt like, but it was what I suspected). We then made plans to return to Penang the next day, i.e. on the first day of Chinese New Year itself. Still, I could not feel any contractions, and was still going about my usual business like normal. People even thought it was a false alarm.
The first few contractions, mild ones, that is, came in the night. They gripped my abdomen, at first gently, then persistently getting more painful. Still, they were bearable, but we thought it in our best interest to go back to Penang straight after breakfast. So there went our plans of spending Chinese New Year in my hometown in Ipoh
My parents, my brother and SIL, who were in Alor Star at that time, came straight to Penang to see how I was. Naturally, everyone was anxious that baby could come at any time. But although the pain came and went, the contractions were not regular. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, I called up Gleneagles Medical Center, and the midwife advised that I come in for a checkup, just in case the water bag had burst, which would mean I had to be admitted immediately.
So I took a shower and packed everything up and headed for hospital. My Mom was with me at that time, with Pete being the designated driver. I was even wheeled into the maternity ward, but all that hooha ended when the nurse told me that I wasn’t dilated yet. My water bag was still intact, and when she called my ob-gyn, he said to ask me to go home and rest first. And she even said that if I could still smile and talk the way I was talking, it was still a long way to go before the baby came.
So we went home.
The next day, my parents, my brother and SIL left Penang, and my PILs came to visit instead. They only stayed for a while, and even then they thought it was a false alarm, until my MIL saw the look of suffering on my face when the contractions came. After my PILs left, I told Pete that we have to go to the hospital, because the contractions were getting closer and closer then.
So we packed up again and left. That was the afternoon of the 2nd day of Chinese New Year.
But I was still not dilated. I told the nurse that the contractions were really painful now, more than ever before. She called my ob-gyn again (who must have been enjoying his CNY at that time), and he said it was up to me whether I want to be admitted or not.
I made the decision to go back home to rest, since I was not dilated yet anyway.
That night, the contractions were fiercely attacking me non-stop. I couldn’t sleep at all, and finally at about 5:30a.m., I told Pete that we definitely HAVE to go to the hospital. I had a hot mug of milo, took a shower amid the contractions and slowly got dressed in between contractions. I didn’t time them then. All I know was that they were painful and very close to each other.
On the way to the hospital, Pete joked that this had better be it, because it was getting rather embarrassing how many trips we were making to the hospital and back.
When we reached the hospital, they wheeled me into the maternity ward and when the nurse checked me, my water bag broke spontaneously! She told me I was ready to be admitted into the labor room, as I was 2cm dilated then. And I will never forget her telling me that she could even feel baby’s hair then
Pete went downstairs to complete the admission procedures while the nurse took the necessary information from me. I gave her a copy of my birth plan, just in case my ob-gyn didn’t pass it to her, but she said she already had a copy. She asked if I was gonna breastfeed, and I said, “Yes, exclusively.”
They provided breakfast, which I gobbled up happily, but slowly. Painful contractions did not stop me from enjoying the food.
I was then wheeled into the labor room at about 9:30a.m. Off and on, either the nurse or my ob-gyn would come in to check my dilation. It was progressing, but not as fast as expected.
At close to noon, I told Pete to go grab some lunch, and he told me later on that he went to have nasi kandar at Gurney Tower, just diagonally across the road from GMC. I also had lunch provided, but I only ate very little.
After lunch, my ob-gyn checked me and told me I was only dilated 4cm. Since my water bag had burst, the dilation was going a little too slowly, and in order to prevent risk of infection to the baby, he advised me to go on drip. Because he knew I was opposed to induction, he explained that the drip is not considered a form of induction in my case, because I already had all three of the labor signs, i.e. the show, the water bag bursting and the contractions. So the drip would only be a medical move in the interest of the baby’s wellbeing.
Pete and I agreed then. And when the drip was administered, the contractions suddenly became stronger and stronger by the minute. I had a really good midwife, and she understood perfectly what I was going through. She even provided pointers to aid the baby to enter the birth canal.
I remember it was about 2:30p.m. when the nurse checked me and announced that I was already close to 10cm dilated, maybe about 8cm, way faster than they had expected. Then I heard her saying she would call the doctor. I was already in a lot of pain then. The only pain relief I had was the laughing gas.
It was 3:00p.m., I was checked and I was 10cm dilated but no doctor in sight yet. Pete told me that the nurse said the doctor was stuck in a traffic jam!
Well according to Pete, this was when I started scolding everyone in the room. In my defence, I was ready to push and you tell me to “hold it in because doctor was on his way’????
Anyway, the doctor finally arrived, and in true professional manner, he skillfully made the episiotomy cut and told me to push when the next contraction came. And it came alright…together with the urge to bear down (like when we are doing our big business), and I just completely let go.
That’s when I felt a gush of water leave my body, and I heard my doctor go, “Very good, one more push…” Pete told me later that the first push produced the head and one arm.
We waited for the next contraction, I used the same method, pushed and then it was all over. And then I heard Ethan cry for the very first time in my life. Those strong wails, bursting with energy that filled the entire labor room after the ordeal I went through.
I heard my doctor telling me to relax now, and that he was just gonna deliver the placenta and clean me up after that. I was really shivering and a concerned Pete asked the nurse if it was normal, to which she assured him it was because of the amount of energy I was expending.
As soon as Ethan was cleaned up, they brought him to me like I had requested, so that I could breastfeed him. Unfortunately though, that fella was too busy getting comfy, he didn’t wanna suckle then.
The nurse said Ethan was a rather TALL baby, at 49cm, although he was only a mere 2.5 kilos at birth.
And if he didn’t want to suckle immediately after birth, he was definitely the pro at it because as soon as I reached my room, I was summoned to the nursery for a breastfeeding session. And that began my two-year breastfeeding journey with Ethan.
Ethan was born on Tuesday, January 31 2006, on the 3rd day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, making him eligible for angpows too. That smart kid