Some interesting trivia for you!
DID YOU KNOW… that only female kangaroos have pouches to carry their joeys in? (I didn’t know! I thought both male and female kangaroos had them.)
DID YOU KNOW… that female kangaroos can be in a perpetual state of pregnancy? (WUT??) They can carry up to 3 joeys at any 1 time. One joey hopping in and out of the pouch, another one developing in the pouch and another embryo in pause mode. God must have thought extremely highly of the female kangaroo to make her such a prolific giver of life. (Source: http://www.koalaexpress.com.au/kangaroo%20facts.htm)
Anyway, this post is about Kyra and Zach’s birth stories since Mummy M said that she liked reading them. Time has a way of making a lot of painful details about motherhood fuzzy so I’ll try my best to recall. Promise. No gory details.
For Kyra, I remember feeling really antsy about the whole birth process. Like many first-time mothers, I tried to read up on the various ways you can give birth (Yes, there are MANY ways.) Like a lot of women, I was ambivalent about taking the epidural. On the 1 hand, I would, in principle, want to experience a natural natural birth (without anaesthesia). On the other hand, I’m not sure about my own threshold of pain. I was also really scared about the episiotomy. So for months, I was praying for a SSS delivery – safe, smooth and swift! The last month was a pretty agonising wait. Being the first time, I was so sensitive to every braxton hick I kept counting and recording the intervals because I didn’t know which ones were braxton hicks and which ones were real birth pangs. I needn’t have worried about not being able to tell the braxton hicks from real contractions because trust me, you will know the difference. For new mothers, if I may describe it, it’s really like menstrual cramps, except like 10 times worse. Then it steadily progresses to be 100 times worse (but more about that later).
So I experienced contractions at 5 a.m. on Kyra’s EDD, 23 August 2011, and I waited till about 6 plus to be sure the contractions were regular before telling the Husband, “I think you don’t need to go to work today.” So by 7 a.m., we reached Mount Alvernia (great experience there, by the way), did the paperwork and got ready. The nurses checked and said, “Oh, 5 cm dilated. Halfway already. No need epidural la.” I stopped her immediately and said, “No no no… I need. Please ask the doctor to come.” So I had the epidural and was happily numb and couldn’t feel much. At 8 plus 9, my gynae, Dr. Soon, came and said, “Okay, let me go down and grab a coffee and then we can start pushing.” I was so numb that when I was supposed to push, I didn’t quite know how and the nurses had to push my stomach to help me push the baby out. That was painful cuz I felt they were suffocating me. The doctor also helped to suction Kyra’s head to make the process faster so by 10 a.m., she was out and I had my baby in my arms without going through too much pain.
Fast forward 2 years later. I know I wanted to take the epidural the second time round. That was the only birth plan in my mind. I was also timing my braxton hicks / contractions very diligently because many have told me for second and subsequent births, everything happens really quickly and I better go into hospital early. On 24 October noon, I thought I felt regular 15 min contractions. I was still having lunch with Mummies M and J and XX! Usually we’d hang out with the kiddies till dinnertime to wait for the Husbands to come meet us but that day, I felt off-colour so I went home to my parents’ house. Thank God I was with them and didn’t hang out as usual. The regular contractions kinda disappeared so I thought they were just stronger braxton hicks. Then at 6 p.m., I got woken up from my nap from intense squeezing around the tummy. There was no mistaking it, but I waited and timed them – 15 minutes apart. I tried to very calmly tell my parents I needed to go hospital now and proceeded to call the Husband. I was calm because I thought there was still quite some time. Contractions 15 minutes apart will take a while to progress right? My dad was flipping out. I think he was really scared I’d give birth in his car. I went home to get my bag but by then, I felt something wrong because the contractions became 15 min apart –> 8 min –> 7 min.
I reached Mount Alvernia at 7 p.m. and still waited at the delivery suite for a nurse to check me in. It was quite a few minutes before a nurse came and attended to me. She even thought I was here for induction. She asked me for a birth plan and I said no plan – just give me the epidural. She proceeded to check me and she shrugged and said, “Sorry dear. 10 cm dilated already. Too late for epidural.” Dang-dang-dang-dang…. For a moment, I couldn’t believe my ears. I only had 1 plan and that was to take the epidural. What now?? What were my options?? I think I was ready to burst into tears if I didn’t have to deal with another round of contractions. Okay… faced with no options other than to give birth the way women for thousands of years have always given birth, I tried to remember what was said in the pre-natal class but obviously, either I remembered wrongly or that woman was talking rubbish because IT WAS NOT WORKING…. The nurses were really good though. They just coached and told me to breathe the laughing gas in and out deeply. Did it help? I think it didn’t relieve the pain but at least it gave me something to concentrate on while tiding over the rounds of contractions. In between the contractions, I remembered praying a lot because I wasn’t even confident if I could do this on my own strength. I was definitely not psychologically prepared to do this without the epidural. The nurse was also telling me not to push yet cuz the Husband and Doc weren’t there. So after what seemed an interminably long time of breathing in and out, I didn’t care anymore and just started reacting instead of thinking. While I’ve always thought of myself as being in control – I’m not the kind of woman who screams hysterically – I screamed hysterically. And grunted in pain. And screamed again. I might have scared many fathers and women waiting outside but oh well… The truth is, giving birth (without an epidural) was never meant to be a controlled and glamorous activity, and the truth shall set them free. By then, thank God the Husband arrived and was saying encouraging but nevertheless unhelpful things, e.g. “You’re doing well. Very good!” (If you’ve attended pre-natal class, the husband is supposed to be the coach to instruct the wife to breathe in and out deeply or take shallow breaths etc. But of course he forgot all those too.) Dr Soon finally arrived just in time to deliver Zach and I think it took 2 pushes to get him out. Wow… I did it. God helped me do it. It was so fast that I didn’t expend too much energy that I couldn’t push in the end and need an emergency c-sec. God answered all my prayers – smooth, safe and swift delivery.
I think God did prepare me for this situation because a couple of weeks before the birth, He asked: Do you trust in the epidural more or in Me more? Hm…. Obviously He didn’t believe my answer and wanted me to prove it. Haha…
If (major IF) I were to have a third child, I doubt I’d voluntarily choose a natural birth without epidural again. It does take an extraordinary amount of desperation or determination to do it without the epidural. My suggestion to first-time mothers who carry a let’s-see-how-painful-it-is-and-if-I-can-take-it mindset towards taking an epidural, DON’T! There are other ways to test your threshold of pain. Labour is not one of those times. Decide early to take it and have a more painless and relaxed birth. Chances are if you are ambivalent about taking the epidural, you probably don’t feel strongly enough about not taking the epidural anyway. But should you end up in a similar predicament like me, don’t despair too badly too! You will be able to give birth to your child and probably faster than if you had taken an epidural. Just listen to your body and the nurses and you’ll get through it more than fine.
Whether you gave birth to your child with or without the epidural, know for sure that your body had endured that kind of intense pain to bring your child into this world and there’s not much else that you can’t endure to be that mummy for your baby. (That’s how I psych myself to endure feeding Zach one.more.day. even though every time he bites down my mind just explodes in pain.) You are a Good Mama! We all are!
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.