~ Continued from Part #1 ~
It’s a real deal!
It was 4:00 p.m. – the moment that things really felt real. The alarm had officially been sounded. I was in labor. I texted Steve “Need u home. Surges giving me cold sweat alrdy.” Then Christina: “Can u come now. Very uncomfotrtsblr”. I could no longer hold my phone after that. Steve and Christina took over the communication with Wai Han from then on.
In between two surges, I quickly got up and changed into my birthing top and skirt. Steve got home at around 4:45 p.m. He filled up the birthing pool, made me a jug of labour aide tea, got the groomer to pick up our furkid for boarding and called Tian to send Ewan home from his daycare centre later. The pool was ready 25 minutes later. I jumped in and felt lighter instantly. The downward pressure from surges became less intense too. Once I got in, there was no way I was getting out.
Meantime, Christina who arrived shortly after, lit up the clary sage aromatherapy and held my hands as I squeezed them through more surges. By now, the pushing sensation has kicked in.
Steve changed into his swimming trunk, entered the pool and gave me the counter pressure massage while Christina whispered words of faith. The massage made the surges more bearable, the encouragement boosted my confidence. I moaned at each surge, utilising one of Wai Han’s tips to use the low ‘O’ toning that would help to relax and open up my cervix.
“Come to mommy, baby!” I called out during several of the surges.
I was startled when Steve said, “I think she’s crowning.” Huh…already? He took a torchlight, shone it between my legs only to realise that my mucus plus has released. It was 5.30 p.m. More came with surges after that. A sign that things were progressing well.
I continued reminding myself to breathe in love, breathe out tension. “One surge at a time, one at a time” I chanted softly in between catching my breath.
As there were just the three of us, Steve had to get in and out of the pool to add more hot water, siphon out the cold one, lay out the towels and basically, get things ready for baby’s birth. At one point, the commotion he made began to annoy me. Christina took over his tasks when I whined that I needed him within reach to get through the discomforts. I continued visualising the surges gently hugging and squeezing my baby through the birth path.
My maternal instincts was at its peak throughout the labour. I knew very well that my baby was doing fine as she nudged me throughout from the start to the end – just like what I have told her to do for the past months. I knew my body was working fine too because everything felt very right. I just had to let go and follow its cues.
I will forever marvel at the things my body did that day and how it found the energy to keep going. As my energy gradually diminished, I fell asleep in between surges. Albeit short, the power nap renewed my determination and strength. After yet another surge and already growing weary of the marathon that never seemed to end, I thought, “Is that the best you’ve got? Come on, give it to me!” My I am a Woman, Hear me Roar moment.
Said too soon. The next surge returned with a vengeance; longer and more intense than the rest, so much so that a gush of water jetted out of me. Waterbag broke. Clear liquid. It was 6:45 p.m.
When told that my water has released, Wai Han texted back: “Whoa! A furious labour! Get ready for action! Dun think u need me. Breathe down n let go.”
The gap between surges picked up from there. They were growing more and more intense and I was pulling more inside of myself with each one. They came every one to two minutes, lasting more than 90 seconds each. At least that’s what Christina told me. At this point in the story, my dialogue stopped. I no longer used complete sentences to communicate, only one- to two-word instructions and head movements. Like “Where Ewan?” and “Call Tian!” It has always been my hope to have my son witness the birth of his sister.
The pushing sensation has become stronger too. I alternated my positions between sitting upright against Steve and kneeling in the pool facing outwards with my arms resting over the edge. There seemed to be more progress with the latter, so I hung on to the position until my knees got wobbly. My back began to feel achy and cold from the exposure to the air. A hot water pack gave temporary relief but became too heavy to bear. I threw it away after one surge.
Minutes later, the mother of all surges came. It was extremely long, extremely intense and had me groaning non-stop, breath after breath. I felt a sudden drop of weight onto the rim of my cervix.
I can’t go on anymore, I told Steve. I wanted a hospital transfer at that very moment. Just get her out of me, just cut me open. Please give me my painkillers.
Steve stroked my hair and said, “Do you feel anything’s not going right? Is that really what you want? You are doing very well.” Christina agreed in unison. Before I could answer him, another surge came. Looking back now, it was probably what they called a transition.
Then it dawned upon me that baby was making her exit already. Out of a sudden, a sense of serenity washed through me. This is it! I reminded myself to relax my shoulders, loosen my jaw and surrender. At the next surge, I listened to my body’s cue. It wanted me to push, so I pushed. I could feel an extremely full feeling on my cervix, like it was bulging and stretching. It didn’t hurt and I didn’t feel the ‘ring of fire’ sensation. For me, it was a warm and amazing feeling. So awestruck I was, that I couldn’t articulate anything to Steve.
Birth is a miracle
The highlight of the entire birth happened at this very moment. I will never ever forget the miraculous sensation of my baby pausing, adjusting and rotating her head counter clockwise several times. It was by far the most out-of-body time of the day. Wai Han was right; babies indeed play an active role in labour and birth. They don’t just sleep through and wait to be birthed. God is brilliant, our body is remarkable. I will ♥ heart ♥ this very moment forever.
“I think she’s coming,” I said to them. Steve immediately placed a mirror and shone a torchlight in between my legs. He replied, “No, I don’t see anything.”
Another surge came. “She’s coming out!” I said again. Steve checked. Nothing again. Then we realised that my birthing skirt – a make-shift long tube top – was blocking the exit and retreating baby’s head back in. I almost felt like smacking my own forehead. Steve quickly lifted my skirt before the next surge came.
With the next surge, I gathered all energy and breathed down with all my might. I turned behind, grabbed Steve’s hands and announced “She’s crowning, she’s crowning!” excitedly. Steve got into action. He checked and exclaimed, “Yes I can see her head. There’s hair! And her forehead!”
I began the birth breathing. Short breath in, long breath out. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
At the same time, Ewan came home. Tian was speechless upon seeing the scene. Christina coaxed Ewan to join us but he was more interested in Jake and the Neverland Pirates playing on the TV. Dang…
With the next two surges, baby’s entire head emerged. “I can see her cheeks now. And her chin!” Steve declared.
Panting, I asked, “Is she okay? What is she doing?”
He replied: “She’s sleeping.”
I knew my baby would come at the very next surge and arduously ordered my birth team around: “Steve – receive the baby! Christina – take photos and get Tian to come in! Tian – hold my hands!”
Tian, who was unexpectedly roped in, walked in reluctantly. “I’m not sure if I can do this, Joey,” she said. But there was no time for negotiation. At the next surge, which was also very long, I grunted as long as I could and exhaled as deeply as possible.
~ Continue to Part #3 ~