December 14, 2020. It was supposed to be just another ordinary “check-up” day. I was expected to give birth any day that month but based on my previous check-ups, my cervix wasn’t cooperating. I was stuck at 1cm for the past two weeks.
When my OB-GYN (shout-out to Dra. Ceres Nazareno of Manila Doctors Hospital — if you’re pregnant or in need of an OB-GYN, I highly recommend her!!!) told me to have two tests on that day (biophysical profile score and non-stress test), it turned out that my amniotic fluid was leaking. My entire pregnancy was healthy and smooth-sailing (except maybe for the first trimester nausea and vomiting! LOL!), so learning that my amniotic fluid wasn’t enough anymore at 39 weeks was a surprise. Since I’m already at full term, my OB-GYN decided to induce my labor. At 39 weeks, there’s no point for my baby boy (we found out at 35 weeks that he’s actually a BOY!!!) to further his stay at hotel utero when it wasn’t safe anymore. I was immediately admitted, and my plans on having brunch at a coffee shop after my supposed check-up was replaced by hospital food.
My Firstborn’s Birthday: December 15, 2020
I was admitted at Monday morning and gave birth at Tuesday evening. My husband wasn’t allowed inside the labor and delivery rooms (it’s the protocol of my hospital even before the pandemic), so I stayed in the labor room all by myself for almost 31 hours surrounded by unfamiliar faces of OB-GYN residents and nurses manning their shifts. In between those hours, I experienced the most painful physical pain in my life so far — from the contractions to the repetitive internal exams (IE) of my cervix. But no tears came from my eyes; just constant begging from the residents to stop what they’re doing to me (haha). To which they replied that I needed “pain” to deliver my baby. True enough, as my cervix dilated one centimeter at a time, the pain just got more intense. I think at 5cm, I was sedated and already given an epidural —- but I couldn’t really remember the exact details because I was already groggy from all the meds being given to me.
I’m thankful that my prayers were answered, though. Not exactly the way I imagined them to be, but as always, God’s plans are better. For the past nine months, my constant prayer (with constant intercession by Mama Mary) was to have a healthy and safe pregnancy and baby, and a pain-free/painless delivery as much as possible. I had more specific prayers in between those and in fairness, most of them were answered — including having some familiar faces when I give birth (three of the pediatricians who were allowed to be with me in the delivery room were friends: two are of my sister’s [shout-out to Doc Maan – also my baby’s pedia!; and Doc Faye – a neonatologist who “caught” my baby boy right after I delivered him and helped me with my breastfeeding journey]; the other is a friend from my Catholic prayer meeting, The Feast [shout-out to Doc David!]). Add to that the fact that in both the labor and delivery rooms, a crucifix was consistently in my line of sight (when I was still in pain due to the contractions, all I did was stare at the crucifix and be reminded of Jesus’ suffering, too). After the epidural, my prayer of an almost pain-free/painless delivery was granted, and it was like I was in a trance and every thing happened in a blur. While 10cm dilated and on the way to the delivery room, my OB-GYN even commented that I’m such a calm patient because I wasn’t complaining, and it looked like I didn’t feel any pain and was at peace. Upon arriving at the delivery room, it took me around five pushes before my baby finally came out. One of the OB-GYN residents said that I had a “good push” so thanks to all the squats and deadlifts I did prior to getting pregnant because pushing involved A LOT of strong leg muscles! So yeah, when I find myself in the gym *SOON*, those are the two non-negotiable exercises I’ll do again — plus planks! 😉
Anyway, I still didn’t cry when my baby was handed to me in the delivery room. Like I said, I was so groggy I was just going with the flow of events. We did have immediate skin-to-skin contact and he was able to breastfeed already (colostrum was already present in my breasts a few weeks even before I gave birth, thank God!). It was only in the regular room, though, when tears of joy started to flow from my eyes — the moment when I held my baby boy in my arms and it finally sunk in that I’m already a mother.
You know those stories you hear about love at first sight? I always wondered what that feels like. And on that day, I finally felt it. ❤
But wait, there’s more…
Postpartum: #TeamNoSleep, Breastfeeding,
and My Baby’s First Christmas… in the Hospital
Since I delivered via normal spontaneous delivery (NSD), I was able to go home with my baby two days after giving birth. To be honest, now that I’m in the fourth trimester (postpartum stage), I can say that giving birth is the easiest in this whole parenting thing! Wahahahaha!
First, I had postpartum complications such as gestational hypertension (first time in my life to have high blood pressure (BP)! I even had to be under the care of a cardiologist), anemia (I almost had blood transfusion), and bipedal edema (my legs and feet looked like they were about to pop!!!). My OB-GYN reassured me that I was still in the so-called “puerperium” — the first six weeks after delivery — so I shouldn’t worry much. Now that I’m past that, I’m happy to say that I finally recovered from those (although my cardiologist advised me to continue monitoring my BP at least once a week).
Next, I often heard that once the baby arrives, I have to bid goodbye to my sweet dreams and at least eight hours of sleep… well, I’m telling you that that’s an understatement. Haha! From the time I was in the labor room until I got home, I literally got about only three hours of shut-eye (not counting the hours when I was sedated). Add to that my breastfeeding struggles during the first few weeks as a first-time mom…
Three days after we were discharged, we went back to the hospital because my baby suddenly had poor activity and suddenly couldn’t latch properly, which made him dehydrated. We had to go to the pediatric emergency room and I felt like Mama Mary witnessing the Sorrowful Mysteries as I watched my little baby boy being poked and pricked with needles on both his tiny hands and feet (the doctors had a hard time inserting an I.V. because of his delicate veins) and as it’s hospital protocol, have a swab test — yes, a SWAB TEST on a newborn! Ouch!!! I kept crying the whole time those things were being done to him, though I’m proud to say that my brave and strong baby boy was able to recover quickly from his cries.
Since my husband and I didn’t have valid negative swab tests at that time, we had to leave our baby in the hospital for two days. He stayed at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU while we waited for our negative swab test results (dang this pandemic, really!). Once we had the negative results, we were allowed to be with him and transferred to a regular room. As it turned out, our baby was diagnosed with sepsis and he had to undergo antibiotics — which meant staying for a whole week in the hospital.
To make the long story short, the doctors traced the time my water bag ruptured before I gave birth. It happened 12 hours before, making my baby susceptible to infection and no one’s to blame; it just really happens sometimes. We spent our baby’s first Christmas in the hospital, and the few people who knew about this were our families and selected close friends (thank you for your prayers!). 🙂
Having shared that, I can attest how brave and strong our baby boy is. So whenever he cries during vaccinations or whatnot, I always remind him that he’s been through worse (even a swab test at a very tender age!), so that somehow also made our little family of three stronger and tougher too.
Anyway, my takeaway from this is it’s really hard to be a parent especially during these trying times. It takes a village to raise a child, so I’m grateful for all the help and support me and my husband are receiving from our loved ones. Also, I’m praying for all the pregnant women and women like me in the postpartum stage during this pandemic — our children are “batch mates” and always believe that we. can. do. this!!! 😀
TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!
“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.”