Our phone call to the hospital just made everything real. That I am certainly having contractions. And we have to go to the hospital as soon as possible.
As my husband took the things to bring, there I was, clinging at the edge of our bed, writhing in pain, hoping my noise won’t wake our toddler.
I am having contractions! Unexpectedly! But who can really know expectedly?
Just a minute ago, I was going to sleep and have a cesarean operation the next morning. And I really wanted to finally sleep because I have had a long tiring day. But then suddenly, the contractions began just as my head hit the pillow. I tried to shrug it off as a normal pain that I usually feel in this pregnancy because I really wanted to sleep! Oh, let me sleep. But the pain was just strong and undeniable. It definitely is contractions. So the VBAC plan resumes.
Yes, the VBAC plan, of course. Of course. I was searching my memory on how to manage contractions. Uhm, labor at home as much as possible. Check. Breathe through the pain. Check. What else? My mind just went blank. All I could think was how painful it really is. The pain comes like waves. It disappears and then reappears gradually from low to high pain, then back to low and no pain.
I was walking so slow towards our car. I couldn’t get inside without holding anything that my hand can possibly reach. I sat on the front seat, yet my body so contorted that I was not actually sitting. My knees, hands, and arms were shaking. Time check. 12:00 am.
As we were driving, I instantly noticed how dark and silent the night roads were. The world seems oblivious to my struggles. Times like that I know my guardian angel is holding my hand steadfastly. Vehicles on the road were very few, if not scarce. This should be fine. No traffic. We can get to the hospital quick. 20 minutes at least. We arrived at the hospital at 12:20 am.
We parked outside the emergency lane. I was not wearing a coat, but I did not mind the cold blistering wind brushing through my exposed skin. I was trying to walk as much as I can. The receptionist asked for my name and gave us directions to the maternity ward. Where is it? My mind is not working. My husband became my guide and walking stick. I walked only about ten meters when I stopped and couldn’t walk further. I must have looked so pitiful because people were offering help. Thankfully, a staff/ guard gave me a wheelchair and pushed me until we reached the maternity ward.
A nurse/ midwife greeted us. She was the same person we talked on the phone, I guess. Another nurse guided us to the delivery room and told me to pee in the toilet. It was hard enough to walk let alone sit on the toilet without touching the seat. But then I did. I was able to talk with the nurses and midwives between pains. A midwife Emily introduced herself as our midwife who’d deliver my baby. I changed into hospital clothes.
Then finally, I was able to sit down on the bed and there began everything.
I was screaming. I was moaning. I was breathing. I was complaining, a lot (haha!) I was holding on to my husband’s arms for dear life. I was in pain, so painful it was that all I just wanted was to push my baby out. It was getting so heavy down there. It seems all my bowels and everything inside my vagina just wanted to get out.
I was probably starting transition when Emily asked whether my doctor this afternoon did me a stretch and sweep or simply a cervical exam. My response was so incoherent. Words could not escape from my mouth without breathing hard. She let me be.
I tried to get into a lot of position that could perhaps lessen the pain. But it was all in vain. You simply have to deal with it. My whole body was doing its own course of things from which I have no longer control of. But I was mentally alert. I wanted to know everything that’s going on. I felt high, you could safely say. Hormones were all over the place. Literally! If there was any apprehension, I didn’t hesitate to ask the nurses. If I wanted something, I did ask.
‘I am hungry. I am tired. I am thirsty. I want to sleep!’ said I.
‘You are a lot of things.’ said the midwife jokingly.
I would have laughed if I were not in labor. The breathing was making my throat dry.
‘I want to push!’ said I.
“No, it’s not yet time. Just breathe it out.’ the midwife responded calmly like it was her another ordinary day at work.
I instantly liked her. She was competent and firm, but at the same time very patient and sympathetic. She listened to me. She encouraged me. She never dismissed anything I say even how trivial it seems such as giving me a glass of water. And when I told her I want delayed cord clamping, she was very glad to oblige and said it’s her focus study. I felt blessed to have her as our midwife.
I was still sitting on the bed and clinging to my husband’s arms when she told us that I would eventually have to change my position at some point. She recommended the kneeling position on the bed, which I happily tried. Gravity itself would help the baby to descend. And it can lessen vaginal tear.
But it was not working for me. I lied down on the bed. It seems the most comfortable and manageable position for my current ordeal.
I was moaning in pain, howling like a wolf.
‘I’m so tired’ I kept saying.
‘I know you are, darling’ said Emily.
Emily offered me pain management options. But I refused. I was not trying to be a hero or anything. I just felt in my gut that if I wanted to deliver vaginally, I would have to labor naturally as much as I can. Instead, I used the ‘gas’.
It does not remove the pain totally. It made me feel heavy. It numbed my sense of awareness of my surroundings and so much focused on my pain. After a few minutes of using it, I just threw it and said ‘It’s not working!’
Then the moment of truth began. I was told to push. With all my remaining strength, I pushed and held my breath. But I could not hold my breath for long. Emily said I have to hold longer or else my push would be futile, the baby would move back.
Perhaps, it was a series of pushes when some new faces entered the room.
‘Who are they?’ I asked.
Emily said they were doctors and she introduced their names. It felt like a crowd.
Then pushing continued.
‘Ok we have to do something’ Emily said.
Is she thinking of caesarean? I said to myself. She said so many things but I could not remember anymore.
The doctor moved forward and took over. He’d help deliver my baby, he said. He did an eternity of vaginal exams, massaging, stretching, and whatever acrobatics. I must have said ‘Stop!’ a thousand times because it was very painful.
Then pushing continues. With the remaining of the remaining strength that I have, I pushed the hardest push of my life and held the longest breath of my life.
‘Ming-gawas na siya [He’s come out now]’, my husband said.
Who? I said to myself.
‘Ming-gawas na ang bata [Baby has come out now]’, he repeated as if sensing my question.
Really? I did not feel from my overworked vagina.
‘Is he okay? He’s not crying’, I said.
‘Oh, he’s fine’ someone replied.
Time check. 4:26 am. My labor until delivery was about 4 hours.
I could not believe it. I delivered vaginally. I was speechless. I was grateful. I was relieved. I felt proud. I was happy. I was high. I was tired. I was hungry. I was a lot of things! Hahaha!
I grabbed Emily’s arms and said ‘We did it!’ I should have said it to my husband. Hahaha! But it was Emily’s words who guided me for the past hours. Midwives truly have a noble profession; saving lives and delivering lives. Angels must be on their sides always.
‘No, you did it!’, she replied.
And I expressed how I was grateful for her patience and competence.
When they gave my baby to me, I still couldn’t believe it. My baby is here. Thank you, Sto. Nino.
I saw his wrinkled face filled with vernix caseosa. Eyes firmly closed. Little hands. Long nails.
You are growing tons of nails down inside my tummy huh! I thought to myself.
Hello, there little stranger.
And then our new little bub stayed on my chest. After a few moments, dad cut the cord.
My new baby was on my chest. He was there for a long time and I could feel my arms slip a few times. I was staring at him. Talking to him. But mostly, just staring out of awe and wonder.
He eventually found his way to my breast and started suckling. It was the start of our breastfeeding journey.
It was a perfect moment when they took him so he can be cleaned AND have my stitches. I had a vaginal tear! But we would have to wait for the doctor as he is on another delivery room. It seemed like forever waiting for him. when he came back, he did another acrobatics, pressed my tummy, gave suppository meds, injections, and so on. That time, I must have said a million times ‘Stop!’ One time, I could feel the local anesthesia wearing off. At that instant, Emily politely told the doctor to add anesthesia to which the doctor refused. But I said, ‘Yes please, it’s wearing off.’ See! I have a perfect midwife!
I was using the ‘gas’ again as the stitching was really painful. I can feel the needle making its way to my skin. Back and forth. Back and forth. ‘Think of happy thoughts’ I mumbled countless times.
After what feels like an eternity of stitching, the doctor took off and walked away. I have never been happier to see someone walk away. Haha! The room felt empty now. It was back to Emily, me, and my husband, but with our new baby. Peaceful.
Emily started the paperwork and asked a few questions. Husband went out to move our car which was parked on the emergency lane and to get our luggage.
I was given another dose of medicine and asked what they were. I must have asked a lot because they wondered if I was a pharmacist or something. I said I just wanted to know. Just starting a conversation here eh. One dose quite made me nauseous, it was ergometrine I think. When I said it to the Filipino nurse who administered it, she impatiently replied ‘It’s all in your head!’ Wow! I was astounded to her rudeness. I was dumbfounded. Emily was silent as well. You would think that a fellow Filipino would be kind, but ironically she wasn’t. I let it be.
When the husband returned, the baby and I have been cleaned. The baby was sleeping on the bassinet. And I have to take another adventurous movement: to get down from the bed and sit on the wheelchair, which I did painfully. I felt a gush of blood from down below.
And we were taken to my room.
Everyone was congratulating us. When we arrived in my room, I could hear the nurses talking about my story: that I had been planning VBAC since pregnancy but was scheduled for cesarean tomorrow (which is that day already), and then I made my VBAC. They were astounded by the turn of events. I was too.
And then I ate. Banana and hot milo. Because I was soooooooo hungry!
And then I slept. Because I was sooooooo tired!
And then I thanked the Lord. Because we were all safe, healthy, and happy!
Thank you Sto. Nino, Mama Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Gerard. Anything is possible with God’s grace.