Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Birth stories of my 6 children

My first 5 kids were all born 2 years apart, and their birth stories went almost exactly the same way.

No Braxton Hicks, no water bag bursting beforehand, no pre-labour signs. They were all natural, with no epidural, and lasted approximately 3 to 4 hours long (or short. Thankfully!)

The height of the pain, where I remember uttering to the hubs through gritted teeth "I-am-go-ing-to-die" probably lasted no more than 20 minutes. I'm sure I would have begged for pain relief if it was any longer.

And after all that agony, I would declare to the hubs that I am NOT going to go through this again.

But I did. Again, and again. It's funny how we forget the pain just as quickly.

Kate's birth, on the other hand, was totally different. She was breeched and needed a caesarean.

Here's their birth stories condensed into one post.
Kate, our 6th child
#1's birth story

With #1, I was studying overseas and the norm there was "natural births". So I went along with it. No epidural, no doctor.

We were given material to read, where I learnt that labour pains should be seen as helpful and productive, and the imagery of our pregnant body as a lotus flower, with the contractions aiding us to push the baby out. Pain is our friend, not foe.

Ok, I was brainwashed.

At 39.5 weeks, I was getting a little worried that there was no sign of impending labour.

I chanced upon a magazine which had an article "10 ways to bring on labour".

I decided on the easiest, which was to go for a long walk.

I accompanied the hubs on the golf course and walked for a few hours. A day or two later, labour started.

I felt the first contraction in the morning. It increased in intensity very quickly and I timed it. Very soon, they were less than 5 minutes apart, consistently.

This was it!

The hospital was a 15-minute drive away and by the time I walked into the lobby, I was in such pain that someone quickly approached me with a wheelchair.

I was wheeled to the labour room without even registering.

The room was huge and cosy, and even had a jacuzzi!

I started having an excruciating backache and the 2 midwives filled the jacuzzi with warm water to try and ease the pain. I was barely in for a couple of minutes before I told them that the pain was unbearable. In fact, the pain in my back was worse than the contractions.

They got me out and guided me to the bed to check my progress and I was fully dilated! They immediately helped me onto the birthing stool, to give birth in a kneeling position.

Everything happened so quickly and I don't even remember pushing.

THE BABY LITERALLY SLID OUT.

She was bundled up and placed on me, and the midwives helped her to establish some sucking. Apparently, if you do that as soon as possible after birth, it would improve the chances of successful breastfeeding.

We were encouraged to room in with our babies, and that night, I slept with her right beside me on my bed. It was such a surreal night.

Looking at this tiny living, breathing baby was a defining moment I will never forget.

The wonderment of having created a new life was at the same time incredible yet humbling.

#2's birth story...

With #2, since my labour was so fast, I decided not to use the birthing stool.

Instead, I read that I should give birth lying sideways, and should let the baby crown for a few seconds to stretch the perineum before pushing baby out to minimise tearing.

Round 2.

The same sequence happened, but I was more prepared. 

When I felt the first contractions, I calmly fetched my hospital bag and told the hubs we had to go.

I informed the midwives that I wanted to give birth lying on the bed, on my side, instead of using the birthing stool.

I settled in nicely on the hospital bed, enjoying my favourite CD which I had brought along.

As the contractions became intolerable, I started screaming.

It must have been a hilarious sight.

Me lying on the bed, hubs on one side, 2 midwives at the foot of the bed.

Dead silence, then 3 seconds of agonised screams, and dead silence again.

This went on for what felt like 15 minutes until one of the midwives calmly said, "If you stop screaming and conserve your energy to push, the baby might come out sooner."

She was right, of course. I stopped screaming, pushed a few times, and #2 was out. Done.

The hubs asked the nurse when was the earliest we could be discharged. As he had to cook the confinement food and ferry them to me 3 times a day, he was keen on having me home asap.

The nurse replied, "If mum and baby are well, you could leave after 4 hours."

Beg your pardon? 4 hours?? Yippee!!

My mum was shocked to see us walk through the door that evening with baby in hand, and commented wryly, "You 2 look like you went shopping."

For the next 5 days, midwives came out to our house to check on us, weigh the baby, and assisted with breastfeeding and other issues I had. It was marvelous.

#3's birth story...

We were back in Singapore by then. After dinner, we took the 2 kids to a mini fun fair in our neighbourhood.

After walking there and back, carrying them up and down the rides, I told the hubs that I had over-exerted myself and my contractions would start that night.

I had come to understand my body well and could feel the subtle changes of impending labour.

I tried to get as best a sleep as I could, but it's not easy with a huge belly and constant urge to go to the toilet!
In the wee hours of the morning, I felt the first pang of contractions. I had a nice warm shower and we got into the car.

The hubs assessed my condition, saw that I could still have a conversation, and knew that he had enough time to make a detour to the market to buy some black chicken. Yeah, the hubs is chill like that.

He drove home and quickly started boiling the soup. We then made our way to the hospital.

I decided not to have an epidural, and to go through it the same way I had done the previous times.

The environment here is a little different, and the doctor and nurses did not seem to be pro-natural birth. (Or maybe it was just my gynae)

I had discussed it earlier with him and he said their philosophy was to provide a "pleasant birth".

As the contractions went into full swing, the hubs held my hand and tried to soothe me.

When I finally released it, his palm was bleeding. Oh well, they have to share some of our pain, don't they?

#4's birth story...

With #4, I was sick of entering the hospital with everyone staring.

I wanted to walk in, register properly, and settle in. Besides, with every subsequent birth, the labour was getting shorter and shorter.

No going to the market!

Bad move.

Once I was changed and the nurses strapped me down to monitor the contractions, it started slowing down.

For the previous 3 times, because I was moving, the contractions continued to get stronger.

This time, as I had not passed the 'point of no return', by lying down and relaxing, the contractions diminished in intensity.

My gynae had already been called and he gave me an oxytocin jab to hasten the contraction as he did not have time to wait around.

I was a little thrown off by the change of events, and with the lack of support for a completely natural birth.

The labour pains came on much stronger, and in the end, I took the gas that was offered and thank goodness baby came out very quickly, because I felt so horribly nauseous.
#4 cuddled by #3 (day 3)
#5's birth story...

Finally. I was pregnant with a boy. To me, children are God's gifts, and it didn't matter if it was a girl or boy.

My dad-in-law and the hubs, on the other hand, were eager for a boy.

I decided to change a gynae, partly because he was not pro-natural, and partly because he was so popular that we had to wait for close to 2 hours for every check-up.

A nurse friend recommended a lovely gynae and he was supportive of my decisions throughout the pregnancy and delivery.

Everyone seemed thrilled, and asked about his EDD. (I guess the anticipation of finally having a boy after 4 girls was exciting. Or perhaps, they were all excited for me that I could finally close shop.)

His EDD was on the 17th, but I told them I would have him out on the 8th. Not only was it a nice number, but the pattern of his birthday would be easy to remember.

Caesarean? They enquired. Nope, natural birth. I was so seasoned that I could "tell" my body to go into labour.

Upon reaching the hospital, I informed them that the doctor's instructions was to call him immediately as he knew my labours were very quick.

He arrived at 7.45am, and was disappointed that I was so far from being fully dilated.

I saw his crest-fallen face and told him, Doc, don't worry, I promise you can go home by 9.30am.

Well, I was a few minutes late. My boy came out at 9.33am, on the 8th, as I had predicted.

With #5, the hubs and I were done.
My one and only son
As the kids entered their teens, they started retreating behind closed doors.

The hubs was less involved as the girls became more independent and wanted their space, and I got annoyed that he spent more time playing golf than spending time with the kids.

Everyone was drawing apart.

I kept praying for more unity in the family. My parents were feeling the void very sharply as they looked forwards to spending their weekends taking the kids on outings, which they were reluctant to go on anymore.

I also didn't like the way I had become. I have been scolding them so much that I had unknowingly morphed into this mean mummy monster. I prayed for humility.

God works in mysterious ways. He answered all my prayers by giving us Kate. She was born 6 years after #5.

This last pregnancy was more difficult than all the previous 5 combined. I had a nasty rash all over my body which itched so badly I couldn't sleep. My gynae could only give me steroids, which I refused to take.

I turned to TCM and he explained that my body had shifted from a Yin consistency to a Yang. I had to avoid all deep fried foods, dairy, seafood, beef, and chicken.

I was miserable. No desserts, no snacks, no fried foods. Every meal was steamed fish, veggies and fruits. The rash also left rough, dark patches on my limbs.

I was bedridden for the last 3 months because my scaitic nerve was pinched and the kids had to push me to the toilet in a study chair. I had to rely on everyone around me for help. I learnt humility and compassion for the sick and elderly. 

For the first time, I became aware and grateful for every little thing, which I had taken for granted. Being able to walk, being able to eat whatever I wished, being able to go out of the house.

In my helpless and dependent state, I saw my children through different eyes, and witnessed the beauty in #3, who never wavered in assisting me through those 9 months.

You know what was so astonishing?

The birth dates of the 4 older girls ran consecutively, with a gap in the middle.

10, 11, 13, 14. We were missing the 12th.

The birth months of the 5 kids each coincided with 1 adult. Me, my parents and my in-laws. Only the hubs had no child born in the same month.

We were joking that if the baby was born on the 12th of October, the puzzle would fit perfectly.

Kate's EDD was on the 21st, but as I got nearer to term, my gynae broke the news that the baby was breeched, and I would need a caesarean.

He had to schedule the date very carefully because it couldn't be too late as I might go into labour. It also couldn't be too early because my babies were all small, weighing between 2.6 - 2.9 kg, and this baby looked to be about that same range. He wanted her to pass the 2.5kg mark.

He did the calculations and said, "We'll schedule the caesarean for the 12th of October."

We were stunned.

On the morning of the 12th, we checked in for the scheduled caesarean.

I changed and was pushed into the operating theatre. The nurses asked me to please move over to the OT bed.

I told them that I can't quite do that.

They looked at each other in bewilderment and must have thought this was a very uncooperative patient!

I was given general anaesthesia and off I went into dreamland.
I'm so done
Later on, my gynae told me excitedly, "Did you know that you had already gone into labour? Thank goodness we had scheduled you in for a C-section!"

How do Singaporeans say it?

Double confirm.

Guess her birth was really meant to be.

I woke up after the caesarean feeling terrible, in pain, and not able to move. The hubs put Kate next to me and whispered, "Look, she's perfect."

Just like that, everything I had gone through and suffered was worth it.

Kate will be celebrating her 3rd birthday soon.

I never knew a little child can effortlessly draw a family together, and bring so much joy to those around her.

I am also extremely thankful that I have this chance to finally enjoy every moment with this little one.


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This post is part of the "Birth Stories" Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other exciting stories, please click here.


Owls Well "Birth Stories" Blog train


If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting stories, you can start with this one here by Vera. She is a don't-stay-at-home mum of 2, who loves exploring new places with her kids in tow, cooking up a storm and planning theme parties. During her downtime, she writes at Life is in the Small Things, sharing little adventures, parenting misadventures and everything in between.

At next week's stop, we will be visiting Karen, a mum to 2 wonderful children who muses over at Mum's Calling. She believes it is almost every woman's calling to be a Mum. While fulfilling hers, she finds the journey truly rewarding and enjoyable. She is convinced that Motherhood is life changing and full of surprises. Over on her blog next week, she shares the birth story of her firstborn girl.






~ www.mummyweeblog.com - a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~




16 comments:

  1. God truly works in amazing ways! I marvel at how perfect His timing was for each of your kids, and reading your post is a timely reminder for me to trust that He has a plan for us too, as we plan to go for our next round of IVF soon, after failing the last one.

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    1. Yes, Adeline! God's ways are sometimes beyond understanding, especially at that point in time. But if we open ourselves totally to his will, his timing and plan will be more perfect and beautiful than any we could have imagined or planned.

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  2. Wow, that is an exciting round up of stories! I think it is so interesting how your birthing philosophy evolved over time - as well as the fact that you were even able to control the date and timing of labour! I wonder if that is why you went into labour just moments before your scheduled C-section with #6. Thank you so much for hopping on board the birth stories blogtrain and sharing your stories!

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  3. Yes, through trial and error! Now that you mention it, might be.. My body and mind were so psyched up for her coming out that I went into labour! Thank goodness not any sooner, or it might have been a complicated C-section as my labours are too quick. In fact, Kate was stuck and my gynae had to make a second incision to curve upwards to gently tug her out.

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  4. I am so amazed by your story! And so impressed that you can remember each birth so well! Praise the Lord for baby Kate - truly she was perfectly timed in every way.

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    1. Haha,thank you Lyn! Yes, indeed. I can only wish for her to grow up to love and serve the people around her.

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  5. Wow, Michelle! I think it's so amazing how you can choose the date to go into labour and give birth! It was truly God's timing with baby Kate. She's definitely a blessing!

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    1. Haha, yes, I can feel all the sensations quite acutely in the later births.

      Yes, she is!

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  6. What an amazing story!!! Now you make me want to bake a little girl too haha

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    1. Thanks, Yann! Haha, go, go! Support you!!

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  7. You are such a chill mom to know when you're going to labour and their birth stories are nothing short of amazing too!

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  8. I had a little goosebumps reading your birth stories. It's just so amazing how God had planned each child for your family, and each one perfect timing too. Your kids, all 6 of them, are your greatest reward! :D

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    1. Yes, I tell the kids that each and everyone of them were in God's plans from the beginning. If we but do God's will, the reward is beyond our wildest dreams.

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  9. Yes, we are both very chill. We didn't bother going for the antenatal classes, and after my first check up, I told the hubs not to waste time to accompany me as the wait was so long! The nurses were worried for us as we were really young and had no family with us, but when she did a house visit after #1 was born, she was amazed that we took everything in our stride and were doing well taking care of her.

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  10. Pregnancies and births are just so amazing! It doesn't deter us to have more. And yours is one to envy with short labour births. I strugglled being in labour for many hours, it was crazy!

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    1. Yes, I'm real lucky to have very enjoyable pregnancies and easy labours the first 5 times. Oh gosh, yes, I've heard many stories of long and difficult labours, but no matter what, it's all worth it, isn't it: :)

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