Labour was (somewhat) uneventful, and relatively quick.
I was already on leave when it happened. I woke up, thinking what to get for breakfast. I remember feeling lazy and didn’t want to get out of bed. So my husband decided to drive out and pick up food from a nearby restaurant.
Starting feeling mild contraction (similar to period cramps) sometime around 9. I didn’t want to tell my husband yet thinking it was Braxton Hicks (I haven’t had any throughout my pregnancy). By the time my husband came back, just before 10, I was still having contractions. I tried to eat at the time (starving!), but I didn’t finish my food, worried it might actually be real contraction. I’ve heard horror stories about throwing up in the labour room.
By the time I told my husband, he called JPMC (after giving me an earful about not telling him earlier).
The first call: they told us to monitor the contraction (we used an app for it – Contractions)
The 2nd call (2 hours after): they told us to come in
I was still in denial at that point.
My husband readied the car – hospital bag (only finished packing days before) and baby car seat. And I showered, prayed and (reluctantly) went to JPMC.
I told my husband not to tell anyone yet. So a quick bye to the in-laws (“No, we’re just going for a check. Really.”), and off we went.
By the time we arrived, we walked to the maternity ward (Yes, walked. They offered a wheelchair. But you know, still in denial about being in labour), and everyone seem to be expecting us. They told me to get into the labour suite and change.
By then it was almost 2. I was 5cm dilated upon initial check. After that it was a big blur.
They had to break my water with this probe (which was uncomfortable and borderline painful). Then the contractions became more intense. They offered gas and pethidine (because I requested it in my birth plan). They said pethidine can help me rest between contractions. But because it’s too frequent by then, I declined.
I forgot everything I learned at that point. My husband was my constant reminder. Every time there was contraction coming, he held my hand me a bit tighter and told me to breathe. He kept talking to me, and making me laugh (“do you think if I use this, the nurses would notice?”). Good to know he remembers what we learned from Danura’s birth class!
The contractions were painful, and at times unbearable. There was a point that I just gave up. I let the contractions be. I was too tired by then.
By 4, I was ready to push. The nurses told (reminded) me how to. Surprisingly enough, the contractions weren’t as painful. I was alert. The urge to push was really strong. It was something I couldn’t control. My doctor and midwife told me when to push, and they were really encouraging. They acknowledged how tired I was. They were really inclusive – my husband was involved in every way. I was crowning, and my doctor actually asked my husband if he “wanted to see”.
By 5, Alhamdulillah, my son was born. A healthy 3.875kg baby boy. They placed him immediately on me, and then taken away for checks. After stitching (painful!), they handed my son back for breastfeeding. They let me stay to recover for a bit, before transferred to my actual room. By then I was too drowsy, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Sleep, and (for some weird reason) McDonalds.
I didn’t regret going to JPMC for the delivery. Here’s why:
1. It’s our first pregnancy and I am a very private person. I didn’t want anyone there except for my husband. And I want him there every step of the way. And they let him. He was there during my contractions (Phase 1 and 2), and during birth.
2. They followed through with the birth plan. I requested minimal checks, minimal people in the room, the painkillers. Even the lights (wanted it dimmed)! The doctor went through the birth plan with us some time in the 32nd week. We didn’t know what to expect (medicine-wise), so she explained and pretty much decided what we should have. I was scared with the thought of natural birth (my baby was huge, even with the prediction from the scans), but my doctor was fully confident and relaxed with the idea (she said, “we can always try natural” which I find hilarious).
3. Before the day, we went for a quick tour. So we knew which room we wanted. But the rooms are first come, first serve basis. They confirmed the room when you were first admitted. Because in my case, I went straight to the delivery suite, I didn’t get to go to the room first. I remember vaguely, my husband was called aside to ask which room we would like. What’s funnier was, they asked my husband what I would like to eat for dinner. Yes, in the middle of labour.
4. You can call for food, in the event that you’re still hungry. RBC delivers straight to the room.
5. The nurses there really takes care of their patients (mummy and baby!). They taught us how to change diapers, how to bathe baby, how to burp. They acknowledged how tired you are. So if at 3AM, you’re too tired and can’t get baby to burp, they’ll be more than happy to help.
For me, the experience was rewarding. But I couldn’t have done it alone.
The one person who really helped was my husband. He made sure I was hydrated throughout labour, he made sure I was comfortable. I might’ve ruined his shirt that day (I kept pulling it every time there’s a contraction coming), but he didn’t leave my side. He reminded me of our birth lessons (breathe!), the dzikir, the doas. I think for me that’s the most important part – you have someone there to support you. He was my rock, and for that, I am forever grateful, Alhamdulillah.