Warning: This is a long (uncensored) narrative.
It was a typical Friday morning that started with a quickie breakfast made up of Corn Flakes, fruits and milk. I was in a hurry to catch my appointment with my obstetrician at 9 o’clock. Yaaawn. Why did we schedule this check-up at 9 o’clock again? I mean, with the weekday Manila traffic and my pregnancy-related ability to oversleep, 9 o’clock is like 4 AM. It’s an ungodly hour. But then again, this is an important consultation I couldn’t and wouldn’t dare to miss.
So there I was at 8:30 AM… casually waiting for the doctor, covertly taking short naps in weird sitting positions.
10:15 AM. Sheesh. I wish lounges at OB-GYN clinics have beds or at least comfortable Lazy Boys for their patients.
“Good morning, Aileen! Come on in!”
Puzzled, I followed the doctor to her office… Who is this?! She’s not my doctor!!!
I was about to ask her about what’s going on but she beat me to it, explaining that my doctor had to attend to a family emergency abroad so she’ll be the one to handle me today. Today?! So I’m 37 weeks pregnant who’s popping anytime soon, and I only have a “doctor for the day”?! Great! This does not bother me at all!!!
After a series of follow-up assessments, the doctor finally gave me “the finger”. Or from what I remember, fingers. If the image gives you vile thoughts, put them away. Internal exams are NOT pleasant. Anyway, after the “rough” IE, I bled a little. Was that because she poked too hard? Or did I just exhibit a bloody show? Those were the first questions in my head.
You see, child rearing stories and tales always find their way to expecting mothers. One of the myths I heard was: “If the first thing that came out of you is blood, your birthing experience will be painful. If it’s water, it’s going to be easier.” Well, I don’t really know if that’s true but one thing’s for sure:
MINE WAS PUNCH-YOU-IN-THE-GUT-KICK-YOU-IN-THE-CROTCH-TEAR-YOUR-EVERY-BONE PAINFUL.
“Let’s check you in today. You just have to sign the admission forms at the hospital and we’ll find you a room,” the doctor said.
“You’re already dilated at 1cm, 20% effaced. If it doesn’t progress by the end of the day, I’ll give you Oxy to induce labor.”
“Can I just stay at home while waiting?”
“That’s not possible. We will be held responsible if something happens to you.”
“Then I’ll sign a DAMA (Discharge Against Medical Advice).” Long story short, my husband picked me up and we decided to stay at my parents’ until D-day.
Two days later, I remember it was a Sunday, I still haven’t felt anything nor experienced anything out of the ordinary. I even had a dip in the pool! Or, at least my feet did.
We were beginning to worry because it’s been over two days and no change seem to occur. So we planned to go to a hospital the next day… But hey, if you’re a first time pregnant mom who’s having this same experience, don’t worry too much. A lot of moms have been effaced and not so dilated for days or even weeks before their actual delivery. Just make sure to keep in touch with your OB-GYN.
At around 3-ish AM, I woke up to pee (with eyes half closed). Yaaawn. What started as peeing ended up with massive waterworks down there. This is not normal peeing, I thought to myself. The fluid doesn’t even feel like urine! —yes, urine has a certain unique warm feeling. Haha! Suddenly, I woke up — all senses active and every fiber alert. Ohmy! My water just broke!
“My water broke!” I hollered, looking down at my soaked feet.
Believe me, everyone came rushing out of their bedrooms almost as if there’s a fire.
For some reason, we rushed to the nearest medical facility. It was a small hospital that seemed to be filled with angry medical personnel.
Two obstetricians checked on me, which means 2 of them took turns on doing IE. Just great. Double trouble.
I was at 4cm with 100% effacement, barely feeling anything. My husband, Rael, held my hand the entire time.
“How do you feel? Tell me if it’ll start to hurt, okay?”
“How about epidural? I think it’s best if you tell the doctor you want to have it now.”
“I think… I’ll skip the epidural…. I want to feel it. I want to feel the pain during labor. I feel like it’s the ultimate thing to experiencing motherhood.” — I know. I sorta regret that now.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. Don’t worry, I’m at 4cm and I don’t feel a thing. How painful can this get at 6cm more? I think I can handle this.” — Yeah right, I can.
Suddenly, I had a huge contraction. I squeezed Rael’s hand a little and breathed deep.
“Was that it? How painful was it in a scale of 1 to 10?”
“I’m relieved you have a high pain tolerance.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Another contraction. I closed my eyes, squeezed Rael’s hand a little and breathed deep. Aaaahh, this is easy. And I always thought labor is hard.
Another contraction. Same routine.
My mom and dad, who, by the way, were very attentive to everything I say, do and feel and always tries to make me as comfortable as possible, came to me.
“How are you doing?”
“I think my pain tolerance is really high. Labor pain’s a far cry from what I expected. Mas sakit pa ang migraine.”
Time check: 6:30 AM. The contractions grew a little stronger and closer to each other. I knew I was “getting there.” But worried of the fluid I lost, I was given Oxytocin to induce labor.
Contraction. Mmmmmm—-aahhhh… That’s how I sounded in my head. The pain grew stronger but still tolerable. The contractions also became more frequent.
The first doctor came in to check on me. She slipped her glove-covered fingers inside… “You’re already dilated to 8cm. A little more wait and you’re there.”
Whew. I was so relieved to reach 8cm and still calm. The pain was at 5 or 6 tops, and I can just squeeze my husband’s or mom’s or dad’s hand and I’m okay. Knowing the labor’s going good, my mom asked Rael to buy something outside. She took his place in holding my hand and ——
Knock knock knock!
The second doctor arrived. Again, she checked on me. Uhm, didn’t the other doctor check it like 2 minutes ago?
“You’re still at 4cm. This is going to be a loooong day for you. The pain’s going to double… triple, even.”
“What? Doctor (I won’t mention names) just came here and said I’m already at 8cm. And my contractions are getting more frequent by the minute…”
The doctor stuck her fingers in again. “8 cm? Let’s see….” She examined me, gazing into the unseeable distance. “Nope. It’s still 4cm. Or 5cm.”
The first doctor came in.
Doctor Still-4cm told her, “I examined her again. She’s still at 4-5cm”
Doctor Already-8cm wore her gloves, and IE-ed me again. I understand they’re doing it to monitor the progress but IT. IS. JUST. NOT. COMFORTABLE. Can you stop fingering me??!!!! I was already screaming inside my head, furious, but I just didn’t want to get mad on the day I was going to give birth.
“5 cm? Let’s see…” She looked puzzled, almost as if she’s saying Doctor Still-4cm was wrong. Frankly, she even gave me that look.
“She’s still at 5 cm. The pain’s going to get worse,” Doctor Still-4cm said.
The pain is going to get worse. Crap.
If this is still 4 cm, and I still have 6 cm more to go, what kind of pain would that be???? And shouldn’t I be on a higher level of dilation since the pain and frequency were progressing??? Gosh. I was thinking I could maybe go on for a couple more hours. I mean, this pain was what I wanted. I wanted to “feel the ultimate motherhood experience.” Yeah yeah yeah, so much for that.
“How long would she be in labor, Doc?” My mom asked. She had zero experience with labor. All 4 of us were born C-section.
Doctor Still-4cm said, “It depends but I’m guessing 10-12 hours more. It’s still 7 AM. She’s going to give birth later this afternoon or tonight.”
10-12 hours more??! And the pain’s going to get worse??! I started to panic but I tried to suppress it. I wanted my mom to calm me down, squeeze my hand, tell me it’s going to be fine and that I can do it.
“You heard the doctor. The pain’s going to get worse.” She looked kind of worried but that’s not really the response I wanted to hear.
Wow, thanks, Ma! I thought. Where’s Rael? Where’s Papa? I need someone to tell me I’m fine!!! I started to panic ——
“That’s right. The pain’s going to be three, four times more painful. But that’s normal,” Doctor Still-4cm warned.
I looked at Doctor Already-8cm and she looked worried. Or bothered. But she was just standing by the door. Save me, Doctor Already-8cm!!! Make me feel better!!! I was screaming in my head. Later on we learned Doctor Already-8cm is a midwife and not a doctor. Maybe that’s why she gave the “stage” to Doctor Still-4cm. But why? Midwives are very keen on these things. And she looked like she had a lot of experience under her belt as opposed to young Doctor Still-4cm who looked like she just got out of med school. (No offense to new doctors. I know a lot of you are brilliant, but this experience is real and in reality, that’s what most patients feel about new versus senior medical attendants.)
I don’t know how I calculated the pain I was going to endure but I was thinking of the 10-12 hours more, 3 or 4 times the pain, 6 cm more to go and it’s still 7AM……… I’M GOING TO EXPLODE!!!!!!!
“What?! Three times more painful?! Is there any way we can hasten the process? Can you give me faster drips of Oxy? Can I just have C-section? I want a C-section. I WANT A C-SECTION!!!!”
I was already feral, almost as if I was exorcised. My mom tried to squeeze my hand, hug me, calm me down. It didn’t work.
I scanned the area for my husband. “Where is Rael? Where is Rael?? I NEED RAEL!!!!”
By the time he arrived the room from buying food outside, I was already screaming, Emily Rose style. He rushed to my side and I held him tight. “I want a C-section. PLEASE TELL THEM I WANT A C-SECTION.”
I can’t remember every little thing that happened next. I only know I was already freaking out and the doctor’s voice telling me the pain’s going to be threefold for the next 10-12 hours kept playing in my head. People were looking… God, I can just imagine how embarrassed my husband and parents must have felt… I wanted to calm myself down but I can’t. And screaming already seemed to be the only way for me to let it all out.
“IF I CAN’T GET A C-SECTION, I WANT AN EPIDURAL!!!! GIVE ME EPIDURAL NOW!!!!”
The doctors and nurses also seemed to panic. But I’m not really sure because everything I see became blurry and fast-paced.
My heart was racing. I couldn’t catch my breath.
“I WANT AN EPIDURAL!!!!!” Boy, was I the epitome of hysterical about-to-give-birth moms in the movies.
“We don’t offer epidural here, Ma’am. We will just transport you to a bigger hospital,” said Whoever-The-Fvck she was. Seriously, I don’t know who talked to me, and I didn’t care. I just wanted an epidural. Or a C-section.
Again, I don’t know what had happened the next few minutes but I’m sure I was still throwing into disarray. The next thing I knew, I was in an ambulance. Rael was beside me, my mom was in front beside the driver, and my dad was tailing us in his car.
Every time I had contractions, I would scream in pain. It felt like every fiber and bone inside of me were torn apart, and the pain was just everywhere but nowhere. It was indescribable. It felt as if every inch of my body was painful but then I can’t really pinpoint the pain. Is it my back? Is it my abdominal area? Is it my head? Is it my thighs? Is it my vagina? Who knows.
Rael would squeeze my hand or my leg every time I had contractions. It felt good. My mom would also touch my leg. It also felt good. But then suddenly, their touches became electrifying. I wanted them to hold me for comfort but when they do, it would feel like the labor pain would feel more real. I don’t really know how to explain it or describe it. I JUST DIDN’T WANT THEM TO TOUCH ME.
“Hold me! Hold my leg!!!!!!” I would scream when I’m in pain.
Rael and Mama would hold me.
“DON’T TOUCH ME!!!!!!!!”
Yep, it was a crazy ride. Good thing the driver was very slick. He drove swiftly in zigzags, overtaking all the other vehicles on the road. I can hear the loud siren, and I pictured urgent 911 situations I see on TV.
When we got to the hospital, they rushed me straight to the DR lounge in a gurney. I can’t honestly remember if I was still screaming but I’m quite sure I was crying.
“Did I poop? I think I just pooped! Huhuhu, this is so embarrassing!!!” I bawled, gesturing Rael to check my butt.
He shook his head. “You didn’t poop. Just breathe, okay? You’re almost ready.”
“But I felt something from down there!!!! I pooped!!!!”
A doctor came to see me. She slipped her fingers inside of me. Oh great, 3 different sets of fingers in 4 hours.
“8cm,” she said. “Let’s bring her inside the delivery room.”
As they wheeled me into the DR, I held the doctor’s hands and pleaded, “Doc, please give me a C-section. Please, Doc. Have mercy….”
She squeezed my hand a little. “You’re almost there, Leen. No need for C-section.”
“Noooo. I need C-section….” I was whining in tears, this time without the bawling and the screaming.
I looked at my dad who looked extremely pained at the sight of his baby girl going Emily Rose in public. “Pa… help me….”
I was wheeled in to the DR. Meanwhile, Papa was talking to the doctors about what they can do to alleviate my situation. He also took notes of all the doctors in the DR, and did a quick background check on them. Lol. Yep, that’s my very protective father. Anyway, I just learned about these events from my mom and Rael.
The delivery room had 3 areas for patients. There’s a large “waiting” room for expectants, another room for actual deliveries, and there’s a recovery room for moms who just gave birth.
I was put in the first room. The “waiting” room.
With my legs spread wide, tucked in stirrups, I felt “too open”. I looked around and saw maybe 3 or 4 other women on the same position. Nurses, doctors and other medical staff came in and out, passing through my wide-open, almost uncovered legs. IT WAS INSANELY EMBARRASSING if you think about it. But you know what? With all the pain and swirl of emotions going on, embarrassment and self-preservation would be the last thing you’d care about. I mean, who would want their lady flower to be displayed like that, saying “HELLOOOOO” to everyone? Plus there’s that constant crapping feeling! Tbh I even touched my butt to check if I really crapped!!!! Well, good thing I didn’t!!! Imagine if I touched my butt and I did crap. How would I wipe the shit off? Blech!
After a gazillion more contractions and 3 hours of feeling like a scuzzy porn star in a crap movie, I was finally wheeled in to the second room and transferred to the delivery table.
My first push wasn’t hard enough so I mustered all the strength I have left for the second one.
One, two, three, PUSH!
I closed my eyes, pushing until I thought I would blackout… And then I felt one massive clump plop out of my coochie.
The head is out!
“You just need to push one more time, okay? This is going to be a lot easier so just give us one big push,” the doctor said.
So came the contractions…. One, two, three, PUSH!
Mmmmmmm…. I couldn’t push any harder, and pursed-lip breathing doesn’t seem to help… I… have… to…. breathe…. in…….
I don’t know if it took very long for the body to come out but I remember feeling the limbs pass through my canal.
Waaaa!!! I heard my baby cry. It was, by far, the most non-annoying cry and most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard in my life.
The nurse placed my baby boy on my chest. He was pink and hairy and just absolutely divine.
The doctor was sewing me down there. She said little anesthesia was given but it never felt like there was anesthesia at all as I felt every single stroke. It was painful, yes. But my mind suddenly forgot to register pain in my system. I was just enthralled to have my baby boy with me. So beautiful.
I was transferred to the recovery room with Ezra. A nurse came in to assist breastfeeding. Probably to check if Ezra can latch well, too. When we positioned tiny Ezra near my bosom, he immediately took the nip and latched exceptionally well.
“Oooh, he’s really a boy!!!” the nurse quipped.
And the rest is history…
Childbirth is in no doubt one of the most beautiful things in the world. When our kids ask us how it went, we usually say it was magical… It was life-changing… It was one of the best days of our lives. While these are true, the behind-the-scenes chaos and incredible pain are matters that are hard to forget.
Now on typical Friday mornings, we usually start it with a quickie breakfast made of Corn Flakes, fruits and milk. As I prepare these, tiny feet that produce strong footsteps come rushing down the stairs. He rubs his eyes, greets me a good morning and gives me butterfly kisses on the face. Oh, this is worth every chaos, hysterical bawls and labor pains. This is such a perfect way to start my day… definitely a moment I couldn’t and wouldn’t dare to miss.