My husband and I have been preparing for this day. All those months of reading and research have led to this day. I’ve been placing an underpad on our bed when I sleep for the past three weeks (water might break soon). We’ve been walking in the mall (walking “helps” the baby get into position) in the hopes that that day would be the day. We’ve also been bringing our hospital bag everywhere we went. I’ve eaten so many “last meals” thinking that it would be my last big meal before we go into labor, and we’ve been counting contractions no matter how minor they were. Still, no amount of expectations could really prepare you when the time finally comes, and it came when we thought that we would have to wait another day.
This post is about my child birth experience and is also a guide for expectant couples who have asked themselves, “What’s really going to happen on that day???”.
What To Expect #1 | CONTRACTIONS
If my memory serves me correctly, we didn’t go out the night before like we usually did (we have been walking in the mall). I was feeling tired (of waiting) and had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be that day so we just stayed at home and watched a movie (the movie was Left Behind and it was awful). The contractions came in halfway through the movie but it was the usual minor contractions I’ve been feeling for the past few weeks so I ignored it. I was waiting for that pooping feeling that all mothers said they felt when it was time.
Before I slept that night, I remember feeling uncomfortable because of the contractions. I felt like the “pangangalay” feeling (what I feel when I have menstrual cramps) was too much. I ignored it thinking it wasn’t the real contractions because they said it was going to feel like I wanted to poop. It didn’t feel like that, but all throughout the night I felt uneasy and had to make lots of “argh” sounds. Finally, at around 1 am, I woke my husband up and we started counting.
I remember thinking that it was impossible for it to be the real thing. I mean, where’s the pooping feeling?!?! It has to be a pooping feeling! But I was also thinking that if just in case it was the real thing and something went wrong because we waited too long, then it would be my fault. It’s always better to be safe. Even if it was way too early in the morning and I could’ve probably waited until it was a decent time for me to be calling my OB, at around 4 am, after the contractions were coming in at every 2-3 minutes and lasting for a minute, and after I took my last bath (Chinese traditions), we finally went to the hospital.
I guess it was a bit of a good timing too. My sister, who’s a doctor at Cardinal Santos where we’re having our baby, came home that night. We were counting on her to tag along and sort of guide us through the whole labor and delivery when the time comes. Her being there that day definitely made the whole experience more relaxing on us.
What To Expect #2 | FALSE LABOR & RESIDENT DOCTORS
We arrived at the hospital at around 4:30 am and went straight to the 2nd floor where the labor and delivery rooms were. In Cardinal Santos Medical Center, you go straight to their delivery room floor. I gave them the admission slip my OB gave me 2 weeks ago. It’s actually just a piece of paper with instructions from the OB. I was first directed to an observation room to check if I was already set to be admitted. Meaning, it’s not FALSE LABOR, and that it is THE REAL THING. They had me hooked on a contractions monitor and also a baby monitor to see how my contractions were affecting the baby. I remember having mixed feelings that time. Baby Light sort of went shy all of a sudden. My contractions lessened. The “intensity” was still the same but they came every 10-12 minutes. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to go home anymore and wait, but at the same time, I didn’t want to hasten Light from coming out. In the end I just let the doctors decide.
I was hoping for a quick labor and super fast delivery. Unfortunately, the quick labor part didn’t happen. Since we came in really early in the morning, my OB hadn’t come in the hospital yet. Her resident doctors (don’t expect your OB to be there when it’s not yet game time) were the ones observing me. When they told her about my contractions, she ordered for me to be admitted. I knew then that my labor might take longer. I was transferred to the labor room while my husband and my sister handled the paper works.
Cardinal Santos Medical Center has OB Packages but the rooms are too small. We were supposed to take the package but when my husband saw how small the room was, he just decided to do without the package and get a bigger room. The small private room included in the package cost Php 2,500 a day. The one we took was Php 2,800, but it was much, much bigger. Besides, the package included certain things that we might not need and wouldn’t be able to use. The doctors also advised us not to get the package anymore.
What To Expect #3 | NOTHING GOES ACCORDING TO PLAN
There are some mothers who have strict birth plans. We also had a birth plan actually, but we weren’t really strict on following them. In the end I found it really relaxing on my part to just let the doctors decide on certain things. For example, we wanted to get as less medication as possible. But after a while in the labor room when my contractions were not changing, and my cervix dilating rather slowly, my OB ordered that I get induced. With that came in the epidural, too. The doctors also had my water break manually. I was thinking back then that I wasn’t having a “natural” birth anymore as planned but that it was okay as long as the baby was safe, and I guess, I was just glad to get it over with. 🙂
I was in labor for 11 hours!!! Without food or water!!!
What To Expect # 4 | A BORING & HUNGRY WAIT TO DELIVERY
I realized, after the epidural kicked in, how much better I felt. I was no longer uncomfortable with the “pangangalay” feeling. The contractions became more intense but I no longer felt anything. There was just this “tugging” feeling in my pelvic area every time there was a contraction. It was actually a boring wait to delivery time. I was either sleeping or just looking around the room thinking about the meal I was going to have after it was over, or talking to whoever was there looking after my monitors (interns).
My husband wasn’t allowed to go inside the labor room. He was just being updated by either the nurse or my sister. Labor stage is actually a good time for the husbands to get some rest (although I doubt that they’ll be able to). My husband couldn’t. Too excited.
What To Expect #5 | A LOT OF PEOPLE
After what felt like forever, finally it was time. I was fully dilated. At around 4 pm, I was wheeled down to the delivery room. It was game time. I remember feeling nervous but relaxed. I was anxious to meet my baby and scared of what’s going to happen. At the same time, I knew everything was going to be okay. My husband and my sister came in. Actually, a lot of people (doctors and nurses) were in the room.
I’m thankful, though, for the doctors and nurses who assisted with our labor and delivery at Cardinal Santos Medical Center. During those last few weeks of our pregnancy, one of our major concerns was the what and how we were going to do the whole labor and delivery (where were we gonna go, what were we gonna do). When my labor started, up until delivery, I didn’t have to worry about those anymore. They guided us through the whole process. I didn’t particularly like what was being done to me (all part of having a baby), but all in all, it was a very stress-free child birth.
What To Expect #6 | A QUICK (REALLY QUICK) & SHAMELESS DELIVERY
I was in the delivery room for less than 30 minutes I think. It took about 5 minutes of practice pushing (thank you again to the doctors and nurses who did the count downs) and just a few seconds for the real deal. They told me I wasn’t pushing enough, maybe because I wasn’t screaming and my face looked like I was just having a hard time choosing which cake to order in a bakeshop (the trick is to think that you’re making a BIG dump, that’s it). I think it was one of most difficult things to do during child birth. It will all be a breeze if you know how to push the right way.
It literally felt like I took a HUGE dump. I felt something came out (MY BABY!) of me. It was surprisingly not painful (it’s actually more painful pushing out a huge and hardened poop).
Light came out crying, and it was music to my ears. I knew then that it was a SUCCESS! I would love to take full credit for the fast delivery of my baby through my cervix, but it wouldn’t be as fast if not for the help of a vacuum. My OB suggested the use of a vacuum because the veins around my vagina were too swollen. I actually wrote down on my birth plan that I didn’t want to use forceps or any kind of device on my baby, but like I mentioned before, we weren’t strict. If it’s really needed then it’s okay. Besides, most of what I read about the use of forceps or vacuum stated that no real danger will come to the baby.
I was lying there, so open, for the world to see, and doctors and nurses I have never met before looking into my insides through my vagina. But I wasn’t ashamed. No, baby, I wasn’t. I thought I’d mind it (I was even considering requesting an all female line up of doctors and nurses) but in the end I thought, these people have seen it all. I was just going to be another naked body for the day. Besides, there were other, more important, things to worry about (like are my daughter’s fingers and toes complete?!?!).
It’s not only your baby who’s going to come out. You still have to make a last, minor push for your placenta.
What To Expect #7 | UNANG YAKAP PRACTICE
This, too, was in our birth plan. However, I think all hospitals in the Philippines already practice the Unang Yakap or the Essential Newborn Care. As soon as Light was out, they put her on top of me. I read, and saw from videos in seminars I went to, that the baby will crawl towards your breast to feed when placed on you. I didn’t remember Light crawling. The nurses helped her to my breast to feed. She fed for just a few seconds because she pooped (the Meconium poop that I’ve been reading about). I remember my first word to her, though. I remember saying HI to my baby for the first time. 🙂 The first of many. She looked bloated and so looked like me, a mini me. I wish I was able to hold her that time, though, but they took her to check and to get cleaned up, while I lay there to be stitched up.
Everything was sort of blurred after baby Light came out. I tried to put into memory every single detail but thinking about it now, I just remember bits and pieces. I felt relieved that all was well with my baby. I was also relieved that the whole thing was over (not particularly a fan of giving birth).
What To Expect #8 | EXPECT TO BE EXHAUSTED
Light was taken to the nursery. I think my husband went with her. I, on the other hand, was taken into the recovery room. I know I mentioned before how relaxed I was during my labor and how quick my delivery was, but after the whole process, I was spent. I just gave in and fell asleep. I remember my sister coming in to check on me. Some doctors also came to talk to me but I was just out of it. I didn’t expect to be so tired. I thought my adrenalin would keep me going. I woke up at around 7 pm. I couldn’t sleep anymore and just wanted to see my baby. I think it was around 8 pm when I was finally taken into my room.
What To Expect #9 | EXPECT TO BE AMAZED
My husband was there waiting. Light wasn’t. We still had to wait a few minutes for her to be roomed in with us. I remember having this overwhelming feeling when I saw her for the second time, all cleaned and swaddled up. I just couldn’t believe that I have a baby now. There she was. I just had this baby! I was bewildered. It still hasn’t sunk in yet actually.
It was like one day it was just me, then I got married, and then we got pregnant, and now she’s here.
What To Expect #10 | EXPECT THE LITTLE THINGS TO SUCK
These things were not emphasized much from the pregnancy books I’ve read. I believe, though, that every woman who’s about the give birth should know them.
- You will be poked by needles and fingers. A lot. Blood sample was taken from me twice because the first girl didn’t do it right. An IV was placed on me to prepare for other treatments just in case I needed it (and I did). Having an IV was rather painful and uncomfortable. I just hated it! IE (Internal Examination) was also done to me every few hours or so to check my cervix.
- Having an epidural is great. It’s every pregnant woman’s best friend during labor if you ask me. But it’s not as easy as what those books say. Getting an epidural sucks! Expect the process to be uncomfortable. I had to bend, and I mean really bend, to get the epidural. And since it’s a rather delicate procedure, the anesthesiologist had to make sure I didn’t move while she was doing it. So two male nurses had to hold me. Imagine bending in a fetal position with a huge bump and be held still by a large man. It was one of the worst pregnancy experience I’ve ever felt. The only good thing that came out of having an epidural was the slight to almost no pain labor and delivery.
- You will definitely have a tear down there. Mine was actually cut. They cut it nowadays. I thought I would be lucky and could avoid this dreadful experience, but my vajayjay was just not that elastic. Thanks to my awesome anesthesiologist I didn’t feel any pain. Still it sucked having your vagina cut and stitched.
All in all, though, giving birth wasn’t that bad. I didn’t particularly like it and am still thinking twice about doing it again, but it’s definitely a doable experience. Specially if you know what to expect. 🙂