Wednesday, 17 February 2016

What really happens in the Delivery Suite, WITHOUT EPIDURAL? (The day I first embraced my little one.)

It's been more than 3 months since the birth of my beautiful little one and I am finally going to write about my experience in the delivery room.

It's gonna be quite a long read, but it's definitely worth my time "revisiting" the delivery room since it is such a big step in life and I have officially entered motherhood.

P.S. Delivery-room-experience spoiler alert.

Backtrack to 24th October 2015:

Still can go shopping...

It's a Friday and the start of my 40th week. I have already been on maternity leave since the week before... (cause i was expecting lil en en to arrive anytime) but still, there wasn't any sign of my little en en's arrival. So with a big and heavy belly, off we went for a walk in Causeway Point. 

I can still recall mum's call to check on me: "Why r you still shopping?" And I told her I plan to bake something since I was really bored at home. I even told her I'd just deliver at Causeway Point if my water bag really did burst. 

Thank God that didn't happen.  

In fact, cp n I hoped she'll arrive on 25th. Think 25.10.15. Sounds like a nice birthday date right? 

But I saw blood!

I went to take a shower at 9 plus that night and look and behold - blood... I saw some blood.

It didn't send me in panic mode (it would have if I was not in my 39-40th week), instead I vaguely recalled it might be a sign or labour and that I need to go to the hospital soon.

So I texted my doctor and cp from the toilet n continued to bath. 

Did I just feel a contraction? 

How many first mothers-to-be would know what a contraction felt like? After all, it's the first time going through labour - who knows how a contraction would feel like? We can only guess.

People I've spoken to all told me that a contraction feels like a cramp during menstruation - but I hardly got a cramp so, I was clueless. 

But then, my stomach/abdomen started to pull and tighten, that must have been a "contraction". It was an infrequent pulling sensation.

Still got time to watch TV.  

In the chill mode, after coming out from my bath, I was determined to refer to the prenatal class notes to confirm the signs of labour - but I couldn't find the right notes n ended up watching TV with cp for the next hour, procrastinating if we should just wait up at home or start heading to the hospital. I still remember it was channel U, 10pm show.

Like a dream.

It's funny how the mind gets jumbled with all sort of things: thoughts of anticipation on the birth of a baby (alas!), the nervousness of what labour feels like and how miraculous it is meet the little "resident"? It's almost like I'm just in a dream.

By 11pm:
Cp: Call the hospital n check now...
Mel: But so late already, nobody will answer the phone.
Cp: No, nurse said there's an emergency hotline at the back of the booklet. Just call.

And indeed someone answered and she suggested us to get to the hospital, now.

We prayed and got moving.

As we got out of the comfort of our own home, it seems like reality started kicking in and we are going to have a baby, like, by tonight.

By the time I was in the car, I was sure the periodic, tightening sensations were contractions. Painful wouldn't be the right word to describe that sensation, but it was definitely uncomfortable.   

Monitoring room?

We approached the delivery suite n saw a few pregnant couples sitting at the waiting area, plus many "family members" hanging around in a room outside the suite... that must be the holding room for family members. 

It's close to midnight. Thankfully, we decided not to inform the parents that we are heading for the suite... otherwise, they might just be one of those anxious and exhausted parent waiting in the room. After all, nobody knows how long a delivery would take.

I calmly checked myself in, and they sent me straight to be monitored; not the delivery suite. Yet. 
(In the monitoring room, husbands had to wait outside)

Behind the curtains I heard nurses calling for a doctor on shift and the next I knew was a nurse who came to inform me there were 6 patients before me and it would take some time for the doctor to see me, before strapping me with monitoring devices. 

Basically, I felt like "huh, just check how much I m dilated need to see doctor? If not dilated enough I want to go home." 

I must have looked too calm but my contractions were definitely more intense n frequent than before, that was definite. 

Thank God less than 10 mins later, another nurse came in n checked the contractions-monitoring and went 

"oh, u are having quite frequent contractions?" 

My mind went- "Uhbbuden? Tell me something I don't know can?" 

So she finally checked me n exclaimed "you r 7cm dilated. U need to go to the delivery suite" 

Again in my mind- "Uhbbuden?"

So, finally they wheeled me from the monitoring room to the delivery suite, whilst exclaiming "She's 7cm already!" I think the whole world knew how dilated I was then.

Funny thing is, I didn't even think I was dilated much at first, it was only when they said I was 7cm that reality REALLY sank in, that I was going to go to the suite and have the baby! (The maximum dilation is 10cm and that is the point where you can start pushing the baby out) 

Room 22. 

Once we got into the Delivery Suite/ Room, cp and I got more n more nervous, excited and anxious... it's not like we didn't read up about how a delivery was like - We've watched many YouTube videos, read about it, but when it comes to personally being at THAT stage, the excitement and the "unknown" does get a bit overwhelming. 

The nurses then, got me to change into a white delivery gown. While cp went around the room taking photos. 

No Epidural?

I did write a birth plan telling the doctor about my expectations n preferences. And in that, I wrote I was believing for a supernatural delivery which meant I didn't need epidural.

So, when the nurse came in shortly after asking if I preferred epidural to be administered - I said "no" surely and calmly.

She gave me a thumbs up and smiled at me saying, "You are a brave mummy, at 7cm, many other mummies are already squirming in bed..." 

I didn't quite understand how one would be "squirming in bed". Little did I know, that a few hours later, I would also be one of them! *sigh* 

Following that, she asked how I would rate my pain on a scale of 10 and I logically replied 7 or 6.5 because, very simply, the max would be at 10cm dilation. Since I'm at 7cm, my pain would be 7/10 no?

My labour probably started when I was at Causeway Point earlier that day - just that I was totally unaware - this in itself was already supernatural. 

Damn with the logic, but I was still trying to be logical at that point when I self-estimated that I would take 1 hour to dilate 1 cm and was determined that within the next 3 hours, our en en would arrive.

Us, still oblivious to how the whole delivery experience will be like. 
If we had known better, I don't think we would be smiling this happily, though. 

A night I'd never forget. 

Indeed, within the next 3 hours, I had dilated up to 9cm. 


IT STAYED AT 9CM for what feels like FOREVER....

The contractions from 7cm to 9cm was still bearable, but at 9cm, I felt like ... *speechless* 

I had spent 9 hours in that delivery suite but I cannot even begin to recall what happened after the first 3 hours because it was just . so . painful . 

What a contraction really felt like? 

At 9 / 10cm dilation, I believe that's the "climax" of pain. Each contraction will take about 60s (cant recall) long, with about 3 mins interval between each contraction. 60 seconds sounds really short, I know, but when you are in that kindof pain, it feels like the pain was FOREVER. 

I literally felt like I was being tortured. 

It's like running up and down a steep slope. 

When the contraction's approaching, you feel your entire body stiffening up to brace for the "tightening".

You struggle to breathe but you gotta keep going and before you even know it, it is finally here and your entire body trembles with pain - more so, between waist, hip and the whole section around it. 

Like something wacked your spine so hard it sent your internal organs screaming and dwindling down, and the pain feels like forever, and it's not going to stop. 

Then suddenly, everything loosens up and you start to catch your breath, but before you can even feel relief for that release in tension, the cycle repeats.

This cycle kept going on n on n on n on .... I don't even know what was happening anymore because I was already squirming in bed - grabbing on to cp's arms, and in fear that I'd break them, I grabbed to the rails on each side of the bed instead while my body automatically pushed its rear upwards when the climax came.

While having spousal support is so important and crucial to the mummy at this stage, cp's look of helplessness is very heart-wrenching (to me, at least) - this is something i discovered - that fathers go through labour as well. 

Though not physically, they are mentally "in pain" as they witness their wife going through the physical pain, yet, there is nothing they can do to soothe it. 

I must say, the nurses were extremely supportive, and that was important for the couple. Their encouragement gave cp assurance and really gave me energy to continue. They checked me time and again, though each time, only to give me the same update that baby's head wasn't engaged enough, which was why I stayed at 9cm for the longest time. 

In our attempt to help push the baby lower, they taught me to push and "practised" with me for about an hour. 

Imagine the scene:

Nurse: "OK. contraction is coming.... P-U-S-H........ 2 - 3 - 4 -5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10... BREATH  and P---U--S--H.... 2 - 3 - 4- " repeat 

Each contraction can keep me pushing for 3 cycles of PUSH 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10.

It was soooo exhausting, but fortunately, the pushing DID relieve the pain from each contraction cycle. (Unlike the laughing gas that they offered, which actually did nothing for me!)

After the nurses left, I continued on my own with the "pushing" as a form of pain-relief. But mind you - it was REALLY tiring...    

Another couple of hours went by, not without me staring into the digital clock on the wall opposite me, counting down to each contraction and the possibility of the baby popping out, but each time to no avail. 

I questioned if these was all "worth it"?

Because of the exhaustion and pain, I promise, all sort of thoughts started creeped into my head. 

Things like "is this really worth it?" 
"Get her outta me NOW" 
"i don't wanna have a baby anymore" 
"can we use suction, forceps, whatever" 
"just knock me out"!!! 

These thoughts are REAL! 

I kept looking at the door hoping for doctor to come see me - as if he could perform magic...

The light at the end of the tunnel.

Consumed by fatigue after that few hours of excruciating pain and about an hour of "pushing" I was technically in a mess and had submitted to the fact that there's nothing more I can do except to persevere. 

After all, there will be an end to this, it's a matter of when - which is why people say you need "stamina" to deliver! 

After what feels like many hours, the sky begun to lit up, and I hear a male's voice approaching. "There's hope!" I thought.

I think all gynaes possess this extraordinary talent of boosting a "punctured" mum-to-be; he came in with his entourage of another few nurses (can't recall by now, remember? I was squirming in pain) n exclaimed with such energy 

"hi Mel! I hear u didn't take epidural. Very brave girl! OK, let me just check." 

"Alright, u r dilated to 10, can start pushing already, very soon your baby is coming out, very soon, I'm gonna see another patient first but it's either u or her now." 

And he left, leaving a nurse to assist me to push.(again!)

Now, on hind sight, I wondered why all the previous times I was only hanging on at 9cm n suddenly once doctor arrived, I'm at 10? Never mind that... 

So my brief moment of relief ended just. like. that. I thought my doctor's here to "save me"... nope didn't happen until another hour later.

It's already morning!

So this time round, the night shift nurses have ended n a new nurse took over. 

For the lack of a better description, this "new" nurse seem to be less connected with me (unlike the ones in the night shift). I wondered if she even knew that I had had an extremely exhausting night already. She didn't try to hold my leg up when I requested for her to help support my legs as I have zero energy.  In fact, she told me to be careful not to kick her.

So with her, it was the same style of pushing as I described above. But this time, she turned me on the side to the left, right etc. For the sake of positioning baby in the right angle of engagement as she said baby was still not engaged. 

Those side way pushing actually felt more intense n painful. But there's nothing I could do but to take the instructions as I just want it over and done with. 

This was it!

Finally the doctor came around again this time with a big party that includes another doctor. 

He was bringing with him so much energy and high, that all I remembered at that point was,

"OK Mel,  this is it!! Within the next few contractions I m going to get baby out. Just hang in there n PUSH with all the strength you have." 

I recalled saying that I was totally worn out n have no strength to hold up on own legs, and I recalled him assigning another doctor to stand right next to me to push my abdomen so as to assist in pushing the baby out, physically.

I recalled cp telling me "baby's head is just there. I can see her already!" Words from the excited father.

In a matter of seconds, I felt like I was immersed in a football rally, drowned by a surge of loud cheers by the audience as the contraction approached, and everyone seems to be on a high, cheering n clapping and i seem to feel the doctor silting the opening, but that sensation was nothing like the pain of the contraction at its climax. 

And suddenly,  BOOM, I felt a pounce on my tummy and a large "substance" just slipped out of me. 

There we have it- our baby girl was delivered! 

At a healthy weight of 3.58kg.

People tend to say that the fatigue of delivery disappeared miraculously once they hear the baby's cry. But for me, the relief from the contractions was what comforted me. 

The placenta was delivered shortly after. 
it is really an alien-looking thing, but it worked really hard for the past 9 months - thank you placenta.

She has so instinctively placed her thumb into her mouth for comfort the moment CP carried her in his arms.

Being stitched up, alive.

I know, I exaggerate. But it's totally not funny when I could physically feel the needle pricking in n out of my skin, sewing me up. That felt so raw, sore and sensitive, but thank God, this time, the laughing gas did wonders for me. I was high enough to laugh with the doctor. 

The first time I held her in my arms.

A sense of unexplainable joy overwhelmed me the moment my little baby girl was placed on my chest. She was so alert n awake. And it's so instinctive for her to just start suckling. I am so amazed with her. 

Look at her - how can I not b amazed with this little one?

Our first family portrait.

But then. Another drama begin to unfold.

After an hour of cuddling her, the nurses took her to the nursery for other protocols while they allowed me rest n get prepared to have admit me to the ward.

Remember, I have no epidural and could feel every sensation happening in my body - and so, after passing baby back to the nurses, i felt something was amiss because my every moment caused an extreme pain from abdomen downwards. I can feel an abnormal gush of blood rush out of my body. 

By now, my doctor has already left the hospital - it was a Saturday. So a separate doctor who was on shift did her checks on me upon my complaint and found out I was bleeding way too much for things to be normal. 

"I'm gonna put a gauze in to stop the bleeding and we're calling your doctor back. We may have to open the OT"

After an entire night of labour and the magic of embracing my little one, now I still got to go to the OT? 

I can't imagine how cp felt at this point because the look on his face was one of worry, helplessness and actually, pain. He wasn't the one lying there, but surely watching me in such a state just breaks his heart. It was written on his face.  

That's it. That's my tipping point.

Throughout the labour even up till the point of cradling my little one, I didn't shed a tear (on the contrary to what I'd expect). But at this very point, I broke down and cried uncontrollably. 

I don't even know if it was the physical pain? The fear of not knowing what is going to happen next? The fact that my time on the suite is not over yet? So many thoughts flooded my mind- so much so that I can't even remember what they were now, except for that I was crying hysterically.

They held the laughing gas unto my face and I saw and heard nurses pushes trays of equipments on trolley covered with surgical green clothe and before I knew it my doctor was back. 

I couldn't understand what he was telling me, but he was explaining what he was going to do and something along the line of 

"We'd settle everything in here, there is no point to go to the OT, don't worry, you'd be fine" 

and on the other end, I heard cp almost losing his head, n almost (I'm not sure) yelling

"Can't you see she is in pain? DO SOMETHING. Can't you stop that pain before doing anything? "

And all the while, I was just in a half high mode, but conscious of how my hands n feet went into a quiver-like spasm every few seconds/minutes... by which I can't recall if it was the pain or the fear that caused this reflex. 

I was being operated on, there and then.

It was chaotic with more than 1 doctor and 1 nurse in that room, and so much going on.

Subsequently, I heard the doctor directing the nurses to inject my IV with some form of anesthesia, perhaps 2 shots... 

more blabber in of OT language about getting who to hold what and pass what...

while another female doctor rubbed my arm gently and kept repeating "you're going to be alright"... 

and cp's voice half trying to reassure me, half trying to demand the doctor for immediate pain relief... 

and though I was very highly sedated by this time, I can literally feel the tugging, shafting, scraping of those metal tools going on inside me. 

After what feels like an hour or perhaps less, I felt a surge of peace when people started leaving the room n wheeling those scary surgical trolleys away. I knew the storm is over.

Till today, I can't really recall why that post-procedure had to be carried out except that I was told that due to baby's size, my tissues and some blood vessels were torn and has to be cleaned up. 

I'm thankful it happened right after delivery instead of after I have been taken to my ward, or even after I have been discharged. 

The post-deliver emotions were real.

By the time I was admitted to my ward, it somewhat mid afternoon. 

And it meant we both haven't slept a wink for almost 32 hours. Dead beat, emotionally drained and mentally unprepared for the intensity of what just happened.

I cried every few minutes just thinking of what just happened - in fact I couldn't recall all that I'm writing now, at that point in time. It was just like a "nightmare". And believe me, we both didn't mention anything about the delivery room to each other for weeks after because of the emotional trauma. 

But still, it was happily-ever-after for us.

The magic potion that cured my blues is really the little gift I hold in my arms.

Just watching her brings me into a different world and dimension. There I really no greater gift I'd ask for, then to see her well and whole in my arms.

And that, my friend, is my very first experience in the delivery suite. 

Definitely painful, but definitely worth it. 

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