This particular friend recommended people to seek, books to read, videos to watch, and fostered a mindset that women should have a wonderful birthing experience and promoted the attitude that women should be informed with their choices in birthing. Her water birth at home was indeed successful.
My friends would quip that I have a small frame, which, according to them, would render me difficult to give birth via “normal” delivery (one of the doulas that I have consulted said that all births are normal. Terms that should be used are medicated births, births via Cesarean Section, vaginal births after Cesarean, or natural-unmedicated births). I never had a clear idea what natural-unmedicated births are, but at the back of my mind, I wanted to achieve one.
Attending birth classes, watching movies like “Business of Being Born” or “Birth as We Know It”, reading books authored by Ina May Gaskin (Ina May's Guide to Childbirth), and conditioning myself developed the attitude that I can give birth without getting traumatised at all. I specifically chose a midwife and an OB-Gyn recommended by doulas, and, I had no regrets having sought them during my entire pregnancy. I had the best birthing team - a midwife, a well-respected OB-gyne, and my husband.
Subconsciously, I have prepared my body for birthing. I practised yoga exercises and maintained a balanced diet. My weight was constant, even during my pregnancy, which worried my midwife, as it might be an indication that my baby would be small. Nevertheless, I carried on, trusted my body, focused and prayed that everything will turn out right. After all, I weighed 2.6 kg when I was born, so I believe my child's weight patterned to mine :)
After four days of labour (3 days latent labour, 1 day active labour), I birthed my baby gently and naturally, on 19th November 2015. Initially, I had planned to get admitted at Ate Bernadette’s lying-in, but due to suspected low-birth weight of the baby, I was advised to go to the hospital instead, should medical interventions be necessary once the baby is out.
During those four days, I practised my breathing, watched feel-good movies, and reflected on the possible positive outcomes of all my efforts. Once in a while, my mother urged me to go to the hospital because she knew that I was in labour. The rhythm of my body also signalled me that I had to have myself checked. The trip to the lying-in clinic was not at all taxing because of its close proximity from my home. From Day 1 to Day 3 (days of latent labour), I underwent internal exams. Albeit the unnecessary trips, I knew that I was in labour because I showed progress in terms of cervix dilation. On the first two days, I had brown to blood-tinged discharge. On day 3, I was 1 cm dilated. Contractions or surges were present and increased in intensity. Frequent trips to the toilet until the wee hours of the morning (which required going up and down the stairs), performing household chores, and doing ball exercises helped open my cervix. On day 4, I was 4 cm dilated, and anytime during the day, I will have given birth.
Birthing at the hospital was a breeze. Upon arriving at the maternity ward, I immediately handed my birth plan. I have cited my preferences and the hospital staff cooperated. I was glad to have been able to adjust smoothly at St. Luke’s – fear never overcame me, contrary to what people would say regarding change of environments during birth. My OB was aware of my requests beforehand as we often discussed them during my visits, and besides, she was adept at performing natural births. I was in good hands.
While in labour, hubby and I walked around the hallway of the maternity ward. I had my birthing ball with me inside my HRPU, which I had the liberty to use. Bing stimulated my nipples, and while doing so, a nurse entered the room. Speechless and embarrassed, she left the room immediately. :))
At 430pm I was 7cm dilated. The lovely surges came every five minutes, which lasted a minute or two. To dilate the cervix quicker, and my OB massaged it with evening primrose oil.
At 545 pm, I was 8cm dilated and felt that my water bag was leaking. The resident OB gyn in-charge checked me, and was ordered to break the remaining water bag. With a flex of her indexes, my BOW broke, and I felt emptied and relieved. Moments later, I felt like pushing. At 620 pm, I was transferred to the delivery room. I was fully awake; I could have walked, but my body was telling me to reserve the energy. Besides, I was comfortable lying down. Everyone paced frantically; I was excited but calm.
I shouted "PUSH!" every time the surges came. The rest of the birth team assisted me in counting and breathing. We chatted in between pushes; we were also advised to play classical music and I was offered a lollipop to suck to maintain my energy. Everyone was relaxed; in fact, Bing had to conduct a mini tutorial session in using my GOPRO camera to one of the residents.
The time came when I felt baby’s head crowning and passing through my perineum, also known as the ring of fire. In that specific instance, all the images of the beautiful mothers giving birth spun in my mind. I also reminded myself that I could do this, just like the Little Train in the story entitled, "The Little Train that Could."
When I gave one final push (I incurred a natural tear, and needed stitches), the only sound that I heard was my primate moan, then everything was silent for a second. I was fully conscious but my eyes were closed. It was jubilant, exhausting, glorious and victorious all at the same time. It was a redemption from all my weaknesses. Now is the time to scoff at all my previous hardships, knowing that I have gone through this phase triumphantly.
A frosty baby was laid on my chest, and her first cries were definitely music to my ears. I was overwhelmed with happiness, and the adrenaline rush left my body trembling. I shot a glance at the people in the room and saw one of the residents almost in tears as I held my baby for the first time. Meanwhile, Bing, now a full-fledged Daddy, is given the honor to cut the cord of the placenta after it stopped pulsating.
Amore Mariae, which means “loved by Mary" in Latin, is the name given to our first-born daughter in honour of the Blessed Mother whom both my husband and myself have sincere devotion to. She will be fondly called Cashel, which means “strong fortress” in Irish. She was brought into this world at 7:01 pm, weighing 5.06 lbs and measuring 43 cm. Perhaps relatively tiny for her gestational age (38.5 weeks), no serious complications were noted.
With a gentle birth experience, I was able to attend to the needs of my baby right away. I was able to maximise the first hours of my baby because of the quick healing time. Bonding with my baby and giving her everything she needed and nothing was as priceless as those moments. Furthermore, this experience forged a deep bond between myself and Baby Cashel.
Our small family (for now) will always be grateful to the people who have encouraged and supported us in our pregnancy journey. They were the doulas, midwives, and medical practitioners who are so dedicated in their work that they are able to empower the people around them. Our friends who were also expecting babies, whether first-time parents or not, have been our pillars of strength – without them, we would not have gained insights and courage to surpass everything, particularly having a gentle and unmedicated birth. Having an unmedicated one is already a bonus; even deliveries via C-section can be gentle! It is all about making informed choices and decisions, and most importantly, trusting in oneself.
Thanking our parents for their prayers and words of advice. They will be forever our inspiration :)
Dedicating the pictures to a renowned birth photographer. She would have taken pictures of my birth, but due to hospital protocols, we asked one of the residents to take photos instead. Her talent in capturing birth photos are rare; she takes photos full of raw emotions and truly awe-inspiring!
|Bing, now a full-fledged daddy, is given the honor to cut the umbilical cord. My placenta is buried in pot with a flowering plant. Photos of our flowering plant will be posted soon!|
|First time Baby Cashel is laid on my chest.|