"It was 14 Oct 2016. Rae and I were expecting our second child. She had already started to experience discomfort from the early stages of labour.
Early stages of labour
Parts of the mucus plug for the womb (the “show”) had started to come out during her visits to the washroom. The frequency of her contractions had also started to increase throughout the course of the day, from over an hour apart, to half an hour and less by evening.
In preparation for his arrival, we were forewarned that labour would be a lot faster, especially active labour. We also took our experience from our first boy’s delivery and made our own guesses. But never in our wildest dreams had we guessed what was to happen that day.
Planning for a natural delivery
We knew that the second, and subsequent deliveries had a tendency to be a lot faster than the first, so we assumed that we could head in close to midnight for birth, since my wife wanted this birth to be natural, without any epidural.
That way she would get to walk around at home, instead of being made to lie down in a bed for cardiotocography (CTG) monitoring, and be restricted from moving about. I could also help ease her labour with massage, and do breathing exercises with her.
Rae had her birth plan all laid out. She walked about during early labour, doing her breathing exercises, made sure she stayed hydrated and caught up with rest in between contractions.
Her lavender essential oils were in the diffuser to make the environment as calm as possible. I supported her with light massages on her back and hips, and helped her pace her breathing throughout the contractions.
Leaving for the hospital
We planned to leave home by 11:30 pm. Her brother had kindly offered to send us on a slow drive to the hospital, so it all seemed well planned. She had started to feel the pain from her contractions from 10 pm onwards, a little later compared to our experience with our first child.
But by 11 pm, her pain exceeded discomfort and we made our preparations to leave, picking up the pre-packed backpack near the door. The moment we walked out, her contractions started to become more excruciating, she was even pausing on the way to the car a few times to deal with the pain.
She was going into active labour.
Ready for labour
On the PIE, she grabbed my arm as I guided her breathing. She was beginning to break out in cold sweat. I tried to call the delivery ward at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), but we had been too silly not to save their phone number in our mobiles although the number was on the appointment card for the O&G clinic.
Things got a bit more nerve wracking as we got onto the CTE. Her grip got tighter, a clear sign that she was in more pain (my arm actually started bleeding).
As we entered the CTE tunnel, she told me that our baby was coming out.
Baby coming out
She flipped onto her back and I had to position her legs, while my brother-in-law took this as a cue to drive faster (within speed limits I must add). She started telling me that she could feel our child crowning. I kind of told her firmly not to push, we were almost there.
She had reached full dilation within that short period of active labour, and time between the contractions had decreased to less than half a minute apart. We desperately tried to call Rae's friend and my elder sister, both of whom work at SGH’s A&E, hoping to alert the labour ward’s nurses that we were having an emergency, but could not reach them.
I placed my hand on the opening of the birth canal. I could feel the tip of the baby’s head pushing through.
It was now or never
The first thing on my mind? This was it! And at that very moment, something took over me – on one hand, was my wife, and on the other, was our second child, coming into this world. Both were in need.
There was no stopping it, there was no telling our child to wait. Some parents have asked me if I was scared. I certainly was, but at that very moment, there was not even time to dedicate to being afraid.
The seat was wet with a pool of amniotic fluid, nothing was sanitised, there were no medical professionals on hand and certainly no room for error, my wife and our child needed me and I could not back down, lest that endangered them both.
There was no way I could sit by, and hope for nature to take its course. Some sort of primal instinct took over, and I tried to emulate whatever I could vaguely remember from the first delivery.
I got her ready for birth and as we entered the second tunnel, more of our baby’s head started to emerge. I continued to guide her in her breathing, and gently held the baby’s head up so he did not end up face down in his amniotic fluid.
As we exit the tunnel to the last traffic light before SGH, our son’s head came out. It was then that I told her to push with the contractions, to get the rest of the baby out.
Singapore dad delivers baby on highway
Our child was born at 11:43 pm, and we simultaneously pulled into the carpark at Block 5 of SGH. Within seconds, he broke into his first cries. My brother-in-law jumped out of the car and ran to get help.
But the birth was far from over. As my wife caressed our child to comfort him and bond with him, I realised that his umbilical cord was partially wrapped around his leg and neck. It did not form the dreaded loop that could strangle him, but as my wife held him up to soothe him, the cord went taut around his leg and put pressure against his neck.
Initial tense moments
Rae was in a state of shock and her focus was entirely on our child. I told her to wait but she insisted that he needed comfort. She had not seen the cord.
I yelled at her in a way that I would never do again, “WAIT!”. That one word resonated and echoed off the building, repeating my cry with enthusiasm. My wife got startled and froze.
I then pried our child from her arms, unwrapped the cord and gave him back to her, as we waited for the nurses and midwife to come down with their equipment. We also wrapped him up in a shawl from our backpack to keep him warm. Our child was now as safe as we could have made him.
Eventually, when the nurses arrived, cord blood was taken and the umbilical cord was clamped by the midwife. Rae was wheeled to the labour ward to deliver the placenta and our child was kept under close examination by the doctor.
Our boy had some blood clots in his eyes which the doctors said came from the trauma of my wife going into active labour while seated upright. (It’s been about seven weeks now, those blood clots have since disappeared.)
He was found to have higher than normal volume of haemoglobin, the haematocrit ratio they call it, due to the delay in getting his umbilical cord clamped. We had waited for more than 5 minutes in the car before the cord was clamped, as the nurses had to get their sterile equipment ready to bring to the carpark.
His haemoglobin levels settled down eventually over the next few days.
In reflection, we were quite fortunate my wife’s deliveries have been as smooth and uncomplicated as they could get.
Early labour had started in the morning and in hindsight, we should have already been hanging around the hospital by dinner time just in case.
Had the birth been a breech birth, things would have turned out very differently. Downhill for sure.
Rae had her wish come true for a natural delivery, it was certainly as natural as it could get.
The one thing I wish could have been different? The place of birth as listed by the ICA on our child’s birth certificate- "On the way to Singapore General Hospital, Singapore”. Not a common line to see on birth certificates!"
This real life account was sent in by Singapore dad and blogger, William Yap JianJie (thegasolineaddict.wordpress.com). He helped his wife Rae deliver their son 'River' on the night of 14 Oct 2016. Baby River, meanwhile is oblivious to all the commotion he caused, and is blissfully enjoying the pampering and attention. Here's wishing the family lots of love and happiness.