As we approached the estimated due date of my firstborn, I started to panic because, at 37 weeks of gestation, my beloved child had not descended into the birth canal even though he had already been properly positioned since week 30!
Each time I visited my obstetrician, she would shake her head and tell me that her fingertips are “barely touching the baby’s head”, which means it will be some time before labour will start. The waiting was almost unbearable.
The Waiting Game
We waited and waited as patiently as we could, coaxing my baby to edge himself downwards in preparation for the birth. We enticed him with the thought of getting hugs and kisses, and told him how much we wanted to see his cute little face. But all this was to no avail. And we were all worried that at the rate the baby was growing, by the time labour started, he would be way too big to fit into the birth canal anymore.
By the time I was 39 weeks pregnant, there was still no sign of the baby being engaged into my pelvis. We made the decision to check-in to the hospital and have my doctor induce birth because the pregnancy was taking its toll on me and I honestly couldn’t wait any longer for birth to happen naturally.
At this point, I must clarify that some details have already become blurry and I can only share with you what I can still remember. I realise motherhood has an effect of fogging up the memories of pregnancy and labour.
We checked into the hospital at 7am, and I received vaginal pessaries to soften my cervix. Contractions started shortly after, but they were quite mild and gave me no stress or pain.
The nurses would come round to check my dilation, and would encourage me to “hang in there” while they tell me how many centimetres I have dilated. They were truly a source of support aside from my husband who was with me throughout the long 12-hours that I had spent waiting for birth to happen.
At around 2pm, my doctor visited me to check on my status. I was only barely dilated so I was put on a syntocinon drip to speed things up. The contractions starting getting more painful from then on, but it was still very bearable and I spent the time chatting with my husband and watching television. I had been shaved between my legs, and a catheter was placed to assist me in removing any urine from my system, because I was on the drip and strapped up to a fetal monitor, and completely unable to go to the bathroom.
By 4pm,, I was only 2cm dilated, so my doctor suggested to break my waters to hasten the contractions. We agreed and it was done. The process was not painful, but the contractions after my waters broke was much more agonising than before!
Around 6pm, I had to request for some pain relief because the contractions were almost unbearable. I received gas, which made me heady and nauseous. But it did work quite well to downplay the painful contractions. I used the gas on and off for about an hour, and I had to ask for an epidural because the gas was making me feel very unwell and the contractions had gone up in intensity and was starting to go beyond my tolerable capacity.
My doctor came in about 8pm and brought another doctor who administered the epidural for me. My whole body felt tingly but the pain was virtually gone. I would know when a contraction came, but there was no longer any gripping pain compared to what I had felt before. I couldn’t begin to explain the relief I felt from the epidural. It was… a sanity saver to say the least.
After I had settled in nicely with my epidural, my doctor started discussing with me if I would consider the idea of a C-section. She knew my birth plan had already completely been defied by this point, and thought I would prefer to still keep the idea of a natural birth. But I was too tired from waiting for twelve hours – coupled with the fact that I had not slept a wink the night before from the excitement of my baby’s pending arrival – my husband and I decided to go for surgery.
We entered the surgery room around 10pm and at 11.36pm Joshua was born! He weighed 3540 grams and his head circumference was 36cm. My doctor exclaimed that the large head was probably the reason why he did not descend into the birth canal, because his head was too big and he simply couldn’t!
All in all, my labour experience was nothing like what I had planned it to be. I did not have a natural birth, and I had used gas and epidural. Nonetheless, I give thanks for being blessed with a healthy (and hefty) baby boy who is the light of my life!