Because Liam’s birth was a relatively fast & smooth one (under 6 hours) coupled with the irritable womb episode I had at 35 weeks pregnant, my gynae assumed that delivery this time round would be lot faster. “Just make sure you get to the hospital in time”, he would often say as the parting sentence during the last few visits.
Hence I’ve always been led to assume that Ollie’s birth would be quicker than Liam’s.
So when I hit 39 weeks and was still at the doc’s office (2 days longer than when I previously carried Liam till) for the final visit, and he repeated the same about my placenta starting to look less than ideal like he did during my 38th week visit; I got a little concerned. While it wasn’t anything serious to warrant an immediate admittance to the hospital (“minor problem”, he would say) and I was still happy to wait it out till D-Day; I could tell that both he and the Bo preferred baby to be out sooner now that he was of good weight to not be in warded in neonatal intensive care should he decide to say hello, world.
I was handed admission papers nonetheless with no next appointment fixed – doc was pretty sure this baby was going to arrive soon. Meanwhile I texted the Bo and updated him on the visit (funnily he’s not been to a single doc appointment with me throughout this 2nd pregnancy save for the detailed scan at week 20!). What I didn’t expect was his suggestion of checking in at midnight to minimise any potential risks where possible as he wasn’t comfortable with the placenta comment. I tried to reason mildly that I could probably last for a few more days till week 40 but we both knew that there was no way I was going to sit still at home or lie in bed all day till that happened. Plus needing to monitor baby’s movement on an hourly basis as per doc’s request was a responsibility that worried me unnecessarily. How does one even determine if baby is moving more or less than the day before?
That evening the 3 of us huddled in bed together. As the Bo snoozed away, I took in some final moments of us being a family of 3 for the last night along with the realisation that it would be our last together in this room – the room that grew with our needs from a couple to a family. I got rather emotional thinking how our lives would be changed significantly within a matter of days – welcoming a new addition into the family, moving out and into a new place, Liam going to a new school; and wept. I was unsure if I was ready to embrace everything at once, but I knew that God would see us through this period nonetheless. So I said a prayer just before we left for the hospital slightly past midnight.
It was pretty evident to the nurse manager that we were not anxious first time parents as she saw us saunter into the maternity lobby of Mt. Elizabeth Novena. “Your doc states reporting time is 11.30pm on the admission letter and you’re late”, she joked. But I was too wowed by the deco of the hotel-like hospital to have a comeback line.
We were shown to our active labour room / delivery suite (for when I would be wheeled into when stronger contractions or epidural business happens) before being taken to our room for the rest of the stay to settle in.
I loved that the we could wait in our single room and have our own privacy till active labour kicked in. I also appreciated that the Bo had a cushy sofa completed with pillows & blanket to rest on instead of a plastic chair that he was confined to previously.
1.45am, 17 Sep
The next hour saw me changing into the hospital gown, being strapped onto a CTG machine to monitor contractions, given a VE (whattt?? I was only dilated by 2cm after a short bout of contractions that were 15min apart) and having my blood pressure monitored frequently.
3.15am, 17 Sep
Contractions started to get stronger but strangely I found myself being able to manage it better than before. I was feeling exhausted and excited at the same time. Deliberated if I should start asking for epidural just in case since it’ll take a while for anaesthetist to arrive only to get rejected by the nurse saying “girl, you know your doctor don’t like to give epidural too early right?” Grr. Tried to bore myself to sleep by watching “As Good As It Gets” on hospital TV but no, ended up watching the entire show. Started making comparisons to first delivery…that by this time I was already 5cm dilated with crazy strong contractions and now I was only 3cm and still twiddling those fingers? :\ Come on! Managed to catch a 45 min snooze though.
5am, 17 Sep
Was given something to clear out the bowels for another just in case situation. Woah, that thing is POWERFUL and worked its magic 3-5 minutes after. Thankfully contractions were still manageable and I could handle walking to & fro bathroom from bed while the Bo was snoring away.
5.45am, 17 Sep
Finally qualified for an epidural, hooray! Was wheeled down to active labour room and nurse manager asked if I wanted to use the same anaesthetist that I had for Liam (Had no idea they had my delivery records despite delivering in a different hospital! ). He arrived 30 minutes later and like before, was so gentle with the needle that I barely felt anything. Awesome Dr Loo. Numbness started to set in at about 6.45am which started making my bottom half feel really heavy and numb. The great thing this time round was that I didn’t have any side effects which meant NO SHIVERS! Woohoo!
7am, 17 Sep
I finally fell asleep.
830am, 17 Sep
Dr. L came through the doors with a big smile and said “good morning! woah, strange eh this labour is progressing slower than the previous. The previous at this time you pop already”. Checked on my cervix, it was 6cm. He then proceed to take an ice-cream stick to burst my waterbag and went “mm, water is clear. Good sign. See you later”. I began to doubt myself, if I should have waited it out right from the beginning before checking in. The Bo scares me by telling me he almost wants to press the button as he sees baby’s heartbeat drop. And then in comes two of the chirpiest nurses I’ve ever seen attending to me. One of them put an oxygen mask over my face while the other tilts me to the side so that baby can get more oxygen, hoping that his heart rate increases. I also realised the stupid thing about wanting the epidural too early is that I could not feel my legs at all and hence it was difficult for me to shift and adjust accordingly without help. It is also this time that the Bo’s prata breakfast arrives while I ask if I can sip some water because that’s all I can have right?
And guess what’s on TV? As Good As It Gets.
915am, 17 Sep
One of the two nurses in charged of my delivery performs another cervix check and within seconds she exclaims in delight – she’s a 7!!! She then proceeds to ask me to do a “push” before shrieking in excitement, “I SEE THE BABY HEAD!!! WAIT AH. I CALL DOCTOR NOW”. WOAH. This is finally happening!
Time suddenly seemed to accelerate. I kept repeating to everyone “I can’t control, he seems to want to come out!” while the nurse started to prep me on the stirrups. Felt lots of water gushing out and one of the chirpy nurse joked how it looked like a little waterfall – which kinda cracked me up. It was this moment that I also wondered that I might just deliver this baby before the doc arrives because I could feel him pushing himself out and I was doing my best to keep him in.
Dr. L soon arrives in his usual calm, composed manner. Rolls a chair right in front of the birth canal and says “Ok, whenever you’re ready”. I laughed so hard that he comments that he’s not seen a patient laugh so heartily in midst of pushing a baby and it’s good that I can. The team at Mt. E Novena was absolutely amazing. As I began my first 2 pushes, the nurses were all counting and cheering me on telling me when to take deep breaths and when to release. The Bo did what he did best, encouraging me “you can do it sweetie”, “I’m so proud of you”, “Our baby is half way out” while holding my right hand and stroking my head.
During the 3rd push, I was pushing as the nurses counted in unison to “5” and then I suddenly broke into laughter because one of them said something which made me laugh so hard. “Sorry sorry, can I do it again?” Thankfully they were gracious enough to laugh it away 🙂
On the 4th push, I held a deep breathe till 10 and was all geared up to do a 5th push after a 3-sec breather when everyone stopped me and said “aiyo no need, baby’s out”.
My slippery little being was quickly placed on my chest for first embrace before being taken to clean up. I forgot how tiny they are. My heart raced as I cradled my little chungkin #2 for the first time. The Bo also noticed that baby was a rather feisty little one, eager to open his eyes the moment he was out and didn’t waste a spilt second in screaming his lungs to his heart’s content as the nurse cleared mucus from his mouth.
Ollie weighed slightly heavier than his older brother at 3.14kg and measured 2cm taller at 52cm. We were also pleasantly surprised that he had more hair than expected. I was in baby awe and spent the next hour nursing, besotted by our littlest.
Although we laboured 2 hours longer than we did with Liam, I’m thankful for the amazing and smooth birth that we were blessed to experience again. I did feel a lot more comfortable this time round too at Mount Elizabeth Novena, having a single room to rest in and privacy to ourselves and I really appreciated the chirpy nurses who checked in on me ever so often, with funny one-liners that made me laugh despite feeling physically drained from the vast lack of sleep.
Truly a beautiful beginning to the next phase of our parenthood journey.