Giving birth is such as miraculous process. I'm trying to remember every single details of this amazing motherhood journey but seems like my memory of that particular day is fading really fast. So here I'm writing more details about Grace's birth story, hoping that I will have something to help me remember this life milestone in the future ...
On Wednesday morning as usual my Mom and I went for a long 3 miles walk around lake Elizabeth before heading to WholeFoods to buy pineapples. One of my friends in Singapore told me that eating pineapple really helps her start her labor (She gave birth at around 40 week-ish). I'm not too convinced at first. Also, I have been avoiding uncooked pineapple almost my entire life because I have ulcers problem. But I've tried everything else ... what would I lose trying out another "weird" suggestion?
So that afternoon I ate the entire small box of cut pineapples with sambal rujak. I waited, as if something was supposed to happen instantly, but of course nothing happened. Strangely enough, my ulcers did not protest the uncooked pineapples. I felt fine and the entire day went without any incident.
Around 10.30 PM, I went downstairs to talk to my husband who was washing the dishes. Suddenly I felt an urge to go pee. After I relieved myself, I sat down on the sofa. Then I felt something trickles ... a drop, two drops, and more. I was thinking: "Is it my amniotic fluid? Does it just begin to break?" I went back to the restroom to check ... and found that I was actually having some spotting. I was beyond thrilled. Finally something happened!
Hubby told me to call labor and delivery and see if we need to go to the hospital. They were not too concerned. They advised us to wait and see if I would begin to experience some regular contraction in addition to the spotting. So we went to bed. Around 11.30 PM, I noticed this strange sensation around my pelvis area, like something is tightening. After a while, the sensation becomes stronger and stronger. We downloaded an app to count contractions. I waited for 2 long hours ... before finally caved in and called labor and delivery again. My contractions were not very regular ... mostly they were around 40ish second long with 8-9 minutes interval. This time, labor and delivery told us to come in for a check. So we drove to the hospital - which was 29 miles away from where we live, btw. But because it was in the middle of the night, there was no traffic and we arrived in around 20 minutes.
I began to feel the pain getting stronger as we walked to the labor and delivery department. I also noticed when walking my contractions were coming in closer interval.
We checked in and were ushered to an observation room. I was asked to take a urine sample. It was really hard doing that in between contractions. After waiting for a while, the doctor came and performed an internal check. I was only 1 cm dilated but 75% effaced. We were advised to go back home, wait until the contractions become stronger and more regular before calling labor and delivery again. The hospital was full at the moment so they would rather us wait at home ... so we went home.
As soon as I got home, I took a long shower and washed my hair. Who knows when I will have a chance to wash my hair again (Chinese tradition dictate women who just gave birth to wait for a month before washing their hair for health reasons). After I cleaned myself, instead of sleeping on the bed, I went downstairs and tried to sleep on the sofa. I just don't want my amniotic fluid to break while I'm sleeping on the bed.
After a while I realized trying to sleep was a futile effort. The contraction pain made me unable to sleep. I was just waiting and counting ... absorbing all the pain until morning. Around 7 AM, the contractions had became unbearable. My mom came down and I asked her to wake my hubby up, we really need to go to the hospital because I couldn't hold the pain anymore. At that time the contractions lasted more than a minute at 4 to 5 minutes interval. We went to the hospital at around 8 AM which was really bad because that is when traffic in bay area is the worst due to the morning commute.
After a very long and painful drive, we arrived at the hospital at around 9AM. I wasn't able to walk so hubby had to get a wheelchair for me. After checked in, again we were ushered to the observation room and I was asked to take another urine sample. I tried, but really couldn't get a decent sample amount. The contractions had become very painful - I even had difficulty to walk. So the doctor came, checked, and told us that I'm 4 cm dilated and 85% effaced. They were still trying to tell us to go home and wait but I told them I need an epidural right away. I couldn't hold the pain anymore. The doctor gave in and told me they would give me the epidural.
We waited for a while before a nurse came and brought us to one of the labor and delivery rooms. The room we had was pretty nice actually ... not brand new but it has a decent size. I really like our first nurse. She is an old Chinese lady called Sue. She fusses around like I'm her own daughter. I asked her to numb me first before inserting the IV, which was really helpful. I hardly can feel the IV needle. She told me not every nurse are as good with IV and numbing shots as her, so I was lucky I got her :)
Sue also told me I could get some kind of medication to ease the pain while waiting for the anesthesiologist. I gladly accepted. Thinking about it, maybe this was a great decision since after the medication I was so sleepy I hardly could feel anything else. Even the epidural. It's either that or the anesthesiologist is a genius. Well, I overheard Sue and the anesthesiologist chatting to each other and turns out she has been working with Kaiser for over 30 years!
Before she performed the epidural, she told me about all the risks and asked if I have any concerns. I asked her to make sure that I do not have any scoliosis since I heard a horror story from a friend who had one. She assured me that I do not have any scoliosis so the procedure should be much simpler. However, she was super concerned because I could hardly open my eyes. She was afraid I could not hold the posture needed to perform an epidural injection. Hubby had to intercede and helped me with my posture. Hubby kept on talking to me and hold my hands to make sure I am awake and able to hold my posture. Thank God the process was a breeze! I did not feel any pain. My contractions were becoming painless too... I still could feel something going on, but there was no pain.
Around 1PM another doctor performed an internal check and told us that I was 7 cm dilated! We were thrilled because seems like the labor was imminent. Sadly, nothing happened in the next couple hours.
Sue left, and another nurse, Melissa took her place. She was very sweet too. That entire day, they told me I couldn't eat anything except clear liquid and jell-o, so I opted for the later. Every time they asked if I want anything, I told them I want jell-o :) My mom was very anxious because I did not get to eat anything since morning. But strangely, I didn't really feel hungry. I guess the IVs must have caused that. At one point in time, I think it was around 4PM, they actually started giving pitocin to me to help kick start my active labor and increase my dilation. But still there was no improvement until 7 PM ...
Around 7.30, Melissa noticed something in the fetal heartbeat monitor and suddenly there were 5-6 nurses and doctor swarmed into the room. They did another internal check, discussed something and adjusted my IV. They also gave me an oxygen mask. A few minutes passed by and everybody seemed to be watching the monitor anxiously... and then they saw the improvement they wanted to see and then the room cleared up again. The doctor stayed and she told me that my baby's heartbeat was decreasing for a while. Seems like the pitocin level they gave me was too high, I had so many regular contractions, and it made the baby uncomfortable because she had to hold her breath during each contraction. Now, they stopped giving pitocin to me so the baby can rest for a while. They said they will give the pitocin again after 30 minutes.
When they checked in again, it seemed that my body was starting to have regular contractions on its own, so they did not continue giving the pitocin. I actually started feeling something similar to a bowel movement every once in a while. I told Melissa and she told me to not push even though I really feel like it. I was told to breathe out the "bowel movement". This sensation continued until 10 PM and getting stronger and stronger. At that time, I urged my new nurse Cathy to call the doctor to do another check because I really really want to push ...
Sadly I was still 7 cm dilated so I was instructed not to push. But the doctor said the baby now sat really low and she could feel my water bag pushing down. So to help, she broke my water bag. Not long after, my body temp rose. The doctor came in and told me about the possibility of doing a c-sec since I'm starting to have fever. In the meantime, they flushed me with more IV, hoping to turn the body temp down again.
The IV treatment worked. My body temperature was normal again. A new nurse came in (either Cathy or Melissa were on break) and she forced me to switch my body position. I have been laying on my sides the entire day after they gave me the epidural, but the nurses have been helping me switch sides every 30 minutes. The last time I switched my position was just like 10 minutes ago, and it wasn't easy switching position when your entire lower body was so numb. I tried to tell the nurse I just changed my position but she won't listen. I was pretty upset with this new nurse. To add to my irritation, she forced me to hold a "peanut ball" between my leg. She said this could speed up the dilation. Unfortunately, it also made the "bowel movement" stronger and I really really couldn't help but pushing every time the sensation came. Around 12AM, I told Cathy she needs to find the doctor and told the doctor I have been pushing for a while since I could not fight my bowel movement anymore. At 1AM, the doctor finally came to performed another internal check and she gave me a go ahead to push since I'm fully dilated!
And suddenly I was in active labor mode. Cathy told me to push every time I feel the strange bowel movement which turned out to be contractions. She kept on giving me encouragement every time I was done pushing along with my contractions. She told me I was doing really well. I was actually pushing really hard since I did not want my dear daughter to get stuck for a while in the birth canal and have a cone head. The doctor came by to check and she decided to stay since I'm progressing pretty rapidly. I remember seeing her sat down there preparing her scissors and so on ... Suddenly she asked, "are you ready to see your baby Mommy?" and she pulled her out and placed her on my breast. Everything happens really fast. Nurses tried to clean her while I hold her and my husband was asked to cut her umbilical cord. I found it hard not to cry. Finally she is here after a very long 9 month of pregnancy!
So my entire labor lasted for 27 hours - from the beginning of my regular contractions to the moment Grace was born. But the active labor itself was just 1.5 hours which was not bad at all. I had 2nd degree tear, which was again, not bad for a first pregnancy. All in all I was beyond grateful to God for giving me a relatively easy pregnancy and labor.
And here is my bundle of joy when she is one week old:
Now I truly understand what it means by loving somebody to the moon and back :)