My Birth Story

They say each birth is different. It’s true. My eldest daughter was delivered normally after 15 hours of labour. My son, born six years later, was delivered via Caesarean section due to cord prolapse. This is my third pregnancy and I’m attempting to do a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean).  

23/4/2012 (Wednesday)
I had my first bloody show early this morning in time for my weekly checkup at the hospital. Met my doctor around 9AM. She did a vaginal examination (or VE) and found that I was already 2cm dilated. I was ecstatic as this meant labour has started. I was then sent to the labour room to do a CTG (a machine that basically detects our contractions and baby’s heart beat). The nurse strapped my abdomen onto the machine and my readings were recorded for 20 minutes. True enough, I was already having contractions. They were regular, but mild. Guess that’s why I wasn’t feeling anything. 
Back at the doctor’s office, she asked me what I wanted to do. Since I’m already in labour, I can be warded immediately, but the downside to this is a higher chance of being induced if labour isn’t progressing ‘well’ enough and perhaps go through a C-section if other complications arise. My other option is to go home and come back later when the pain is stronger, but the risk with this is that there’ll be no monitoring of the baby inside me. I mentally weighed the pros and cons of each option. Suddenly everything I read regarding births in the last few months flooded my mind. In the end, I followed my instinct and chose the latter. If possible, I wanted to avoid being strapped onto the CTG and lying in the hospital bed as I did during my first delivery. It was uncomfortable and very restrictive. 
We headed straight to Baskin Robbins after that. I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to eat ice-creams during confinement so I’m getting my final indulgence -two scoops of my favourite flavours with banana chunks! Haha.. On the way home, we dropped by my office to settle some last minute work. My colleagues wished me luck and I bid them a temporary adieu. Then Hubs and I had lunch. When we arrived home, I settled our laundry, prepared our newborn’s cot and beddings and lightly cleaned the bedroom. After Zuhur prayer, I bounced on my gym ball to get the contractions going and chit-chatted with Hubs. I wasn’t feeling any pain but we decided to go back to the hospital at 4.30PM as we didn’t want to miss the doctor in case I was further dilated. 
Back at the labour ward, the midwife recorded my contractions and did another VE. I was still 2cm dilated! Oh, how frustrating. She called the doctor and I was given the same options as that morning. I decided to go home again. That night I cooked dinner and this time I felt the cramps come and go. Before bed, I saw that I still have a bloody show. Feeling hopeful that my contractions will get stronger in the middle of the night, I went to bed. 

24/4/2014 (Thursday)
Today’s my due date. And nope, still not feeling anything. In fact, I had such a good night’s sleep I might’ve dreamt the whole thing. The only thing real was my persistent bloody show. After preparing our daughter for school and seeing her leave, I took a shower. 
Called the doctor’s office around 9.30AM. I was informed that she’ll be away starting Saturday for the entire week. Oh dear. I wish I was OK to have my delivery with any other doctor or person, but I’m not. I’m comfortable with my doctor and would want her to deliver all my babies. So with a heavy heart, I agreed to be induced that midnight. Nonetheless, I silently prayed to Allah, begging that my contractions would progress naturally.
After Zuhur, hubby brought me to OU for lunch and we strolled with our son. I had my other last indulgence before delivery at Delicious café. Then we fetched our daughter from school and went home. 
I didn’t feel like cooking that night as the water rationing was taking place. Besides, I felt the cramps getting more frequent and a bit stronger than yesterday. My sister offered to buy us all dinner. My mom came around 9.45PM. During dinner, told Hubs that I think my contractions are picking up. Regular as before but stronger this time. He told me to get ready and pray Isyak. After a hard time tucking the kids to sleep (it was slightly over 10.30PM), we left the house.
In the car, I started timing my contractions. They were about 5 minutes apart but each contraction was short, only lasted for about 30-40 seconds each. “Lama lagi ni”, I thought to myself. Hubs asked if I wanted to drive around before reaching the hospital. I agreed. So we drove around KLCC, passed by the hectic and colorful bars and bistros. Watched the night life. Finally around 11.40PM, we reached the hospital. I decided to walk to the A&E unit from the parking lot. After settling all the paperwork and registration, the attendant offered me a wheelchair to escort us to my ward but I declined and we walked instead.
In the ward, we started to get comfortable. I changed into my home attire and wore socks while Hubs inflated my gym ball.  
A few minutes later, a nurse came in and checked my blood pressure. I told her that I could feel the pains now. She later returned with the CTG machine and recorded my contractions for half an hour. 
When asked how everything was, she said the baby’s heart beat is good, “result cantik” and that my contractions were regular at 5-minute intervals lasting about 40 seconds each. She then unstrapped me from the CTG and told me to rest. Will come in the morning to check again, she said. I was so happy! This is exactly the kind of early labour I’ve been dreaming of. To be left alone in my ward (not labour room) without being strapped to any machine, no drips, no catheter, no drugs.. So I’m not getting induced after all. Alhamdulillah! He heard my prayers to have my labour progress as naturally as possible. 
In the next few hours, the contractions got more painful but still bearable with the breathing techniques that I tried to emulate after some last minute reading and YouTube watching. I know I should sleep but I was too excited. Finally at 2AM, I climbed next to Hubs (who was already asleep) and dozed off.

25/4/2014 (Friday)
Around 4.30AM, I was awakened by a sharp, stabbing pain in my abdomen. I tried going back to sleep, even asked Hubs to lightly massage my back..  but the feeling was intense and persistent, it was hard to ignore. In the end I got up and took long, slow and deep breaths with every jolt of contractions that came. I varied my attempts at dealing with the pain (mentally I tried using the hypnobirthing terms, “pressure” or “sensation” but I feel it apt to use ordinary, ‘scary’ language in writing). I walked slowly around the ward, swayed my hips left and right at the edge of the bed, stretched back and forth on all fours on the floor, bounced on the gym ball, rolled on the gym ball..  Kept repeating all those things while breathing deeply with every contraction (or “surges”). It’s a good thing we were in the ward so I could control the lights. I kept the room very dim with only the bathroom lights on. This seemed to set the mood to help me concentrate on my breathing. At times, the contractions were bearable but since the frequency has increased (I’m sure it was every 2-3 minutes now), it was quite exhausting. 
At 6.30AM, a nurse came in to check on my blood pressure. When I told her that my contractions are getting stronger and more frequent, she immediately alerted the midwife. Around 6.40AM, she said it’s time to go to the labour room. She offered a wheelchair but I decided to walk as I heard that walking can induce the opening of the cervix naturally. Each step was accompanied by that sharp pain. Felt like little stabs in my abdomen, especially around the uterus. Somehow, I managed to walk to the labour room. There the midwife took charge. She told me to change into the hospital garb and lie down. Amidst the pain, I noticed the hospital had changed it’s gown colour to maroon. “Hey, it matches my maroon socks!” Hubs walked in with our personal belongings at this point. It felt slightly terrifying as I lied down on the bed. To distract myself from the pain, I looked around the labour room. It was bright. There were scrubs, syringes and other medicinal supplies on the cabinets on my far left. The CTG machine on my immediate left. The baby’s weighing scale and platform (for cleaning , I presume) was on my right. A seat on my far right for our companion. For the doctor, there was a stool, yellow boots and plastic coats. There was also a small mobile mirror for moms who wish to see their babies crown (not me!). My eyes finally settled on two metal leg rests, which are used to support our legs during stitching. All these things are ready to welcome a new life into the world. 
The midwife came and did a VE. I was already 8cm dilated! No wonder it felt painful to walk. I was already in active labour. Full dilation of the cervix is 10cm to enable the babies’ heads to appear (or crown), after which comes the pushing stage. It was 7AM when they told me that my doctor was stuck in traffic. If she doesn’t come on time, then I’ll deliver with the midwife. I was too busy focusing on my breathing to care. I tell you, it’s much harder dealing with the pain while lying down and strapped to the CTG. You can’t move much or even turn left or right properly. All that lying down puts a pressure on your back, it hurts. At that moment, I totally understood why some mommies decide to give birth at home (yes, a controversial topic among birth advocates these days). 
Around 7.45AM the midwife came to do another VE. I was still 8cm dilated! Apparently my contractions were consistent at every 2 minutes but they weren’t strong enough. What?! That’s over an hour of pain (but not painful enough, I should add) with no progress! I felt so frustrated.. This further proved you need to be free to move about to open the cervix naturally. But rules are rules. In the labour room, you must be on the CTG. Then came the next blow. The midwife informed me that my doctor has an operation at 8.30AM. In fact, she has four surgeries that day. So they’re gonna have to speed things up for me if I want to deliver with her. Great. Not only I’m already in pain (but not painful enough), I need to make the pain stronger artificially. If I was a hardcore gentle birthing advocate, I would’ve declined this unnecessary intervention. But I’m not. I’m just a regular mom who, yes, aims for a drug-free birth, but in the end, I just want a healthy baby and my delivery to be attended by my chosen professionals. In the midst of painful contractions (“surges”!), with Hubs by my side, I agreed to speed things up. I heard that when things are ‘sped up artificially’ it is much more painful. Good grief. I’m already writhing in pain as it is, I can’t imagine how it’ll be any further. But, I came all this way to have my delivery with my doctor, so I’m not about to chicken out now. 
The midwife returned later with a saline case and syringe. She inserted the drip on my left wrist so that the saline can enter my system to help make my contractions stronger. Hubs asked if it was Pitocin, she said no. Just a regular saline with ‘ubat’. I was busy focusing on my breathing to even bother reading the label so the heck with it. As long as no other drugs enter my system, I’m willing to accept this slight intervention. 
A few minutes later, the midwife told me that she’ll be rupturing my amniotic sack. This is basically breaking my water bag. I was already drowsy from slow breathing and enduring the current pain, what’s a bit more eh? I was like, “Bring it on!”
True enough, within minutes I felt volcanic eruptions within my abdomen and spine. At some points, I felt like throwing up. Good thing I didn’t eat or drink anything that morning, otherwise, I would’ve thrown up. I tried to focus. Tried to breathe deeply and slowly. Tried to remember all those gentle birthing techniques -rainbow, alphabets, balloons, waterfall.. Oh crap. All that ain’t working anymore. I was in a delirious state. Couldn’t talk properly now. Just motioned weakly for Hubs to hold my right hand. 
My doctor rushed in around 8.05AM. She was saying something to Hubs and the midwife. I could only hear remnants of their discussion in between my hard contractions.. “Ingat tak sempat tadi”.. “Jalan jam!”.. “Dua hari dalam perut”..
Several painful minutes of hard contractions went by, but it felt like an eternity. Then I felt the urge. The urge of passing bowel. I told the midwife (doctor went out for a while to put on her scrubs) and she encouraged me, “Kalau rasa nak buang air, lepas kan je.” Then she did one final VE. She smiled and said, “Baby’s coming.”
Even in my delirious state, I’m still embarrassed and didn’t want to poop on the delivery bed. Then my doctor showed up. She swiveled the stool and sat right in front of me. They assured me it’s OK. They’ve seen so many things from so many people already. Hehe.. When the urge came again, I can’t believe I FORGOT how to push, what more to “breathe my baby out”! They were chanting “Take deep long breaths, then push as you exhale”.
Then Hubs said something funny. “Let it go! Let it GO!” It’s funny now but at the time, felt like wringing his neck!
You know in movies where women in labour looked awful but managed to push the baby out in a few attempts? That wasn’t me. I mean, I still looked awful but I really had trouble pushing. Think I used the wrong technique. I didn’t (or couldn’t at that moment) push from my abdomen. I pushed from the throat. So needless to say my throat hurts for a few hours after delivery. I almost gave up when I begged Hubs to help me and to “get it out!”.. The only thing that motivated me to not actually stop pushing was I didn’t want my baby to be forced out. Enough with the jendul that came from my genes, I’m not about to enhance it further with vacuum or forcep!
With every push, I felt a gush of water fell out of me. After several excruciating tries, I felt the ‘ring of fire’ (a term used when the baby crowns). The doctor further encouraged me “Yes, we can see the head!” The midwife kept cheering “Amik nafas panjang, pastu release!”.. Hubs was excited too. “You can do it yang, baby’s almost here!”
That’s all I needed to hear. In one of the most taxing minutes of my life, I took deep breaths and pushed so hard I swear, I think my internals gushed out as well. I could literally feel my baby’s movement as it exited my womb. First, was the head. That part was hard. When it appeared I imagined the doctor skillfully turned the head and untangled the umbilical cord around its neck. Next, was the toughest part, to reveal its shoulders. Then the final push(es).. The entire body slithered out with my doctor’s help in gently pulling the baby out. So at exactly 8.23AM, our baby was born. Alhamdulillah! And just like that, all those pain subsided almost instantaneously. That’s the miracle of birth.
The doctor immediately placed our baby on my tummy. I saw it changed colour from whitish bluish grey to light purple, then pink. I was too exhausted from all the pushing I couldn’t move my arms to embrace it. Then the midwife took the baby and started to remove liquids from its nose and mouth. Patted its back.. and then I heard soft cries. I almost forgot.. “Is it a boy or a girl?” Hubs smiled and said, “It’s a girl.”
While our little girl was being measured and weighed, I felt contractions again. This time it was me delivering the placenta. The doctor injected me with something to expedite the process. I didn’t mind. She told me that I only needed very few stitchings as she let me tore naturally without any episiotomy.
My legs were plopped onto those metal leg rests and the doctor began stitching. Most women find this exercise extremely arduous. It is, but I just squeezed a watermelon out of my precious. So to me, personally, nothing beats that! My doctor’s really good too. She’s quick (remember, she has surgery at 8.30AM) and I hardly noticed she was down there. Haha.. While I was being stitched, I glanced at Hubs who was reciting the azan and iqamat into our daughter’s ears.
We chit-chatted happily despite me feeling extremely tired. I thanked the doctor and the midwife for being supportive of my VBAC intention. Though it wasn’t as gentle as I had hoped for, we can only plan and at the end of the day, it is US who need to decide and follow our instincts. Admittedly, I was really afraid of not being able to do a VBAC but the medical team (especially my doctor) supported me and gave me options, whenever possible to accommodate my request.

Here’s Khalissa who will turn nine months soon

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