What a neat date to meet our baby.
Well. Her arrival turned out to be far from neat.
We were briefed to admit ourselves at Mount Alvernia at 11.30pm the night before the scheduled delivery. We packed our suitcase(*) for the hospital and spent the whole of Sunday just taking things easy and lounging around. The girls had the rare opportunity to have free reign on the iPads as I wanted to be calm, centred and well-rested for the birth – and NOT exhausted from any outings or yelling at them to limit their screen time NOW.
(*We had learnt from experience that while our clothes could fit nicely into one duffel bag when heading to the hospital, it is grossly insufficient for containing all the baby’s stuff that the hospital and visitors bestow upon you e.g. freebies, samples, brochures, diapers, wipes, etc. Not to forget those mountainous chicken essence hampers. The poor husband usually ends up making multiple trips, arms laden with paper bags, to load it all into the car. He got smart the third time around and packed a large bag with lots of empty space and wheels.)
We kissed the girls goodnight and told them that they would be coming to visit me and baby Candace at the hospital the next day. At 11pm, we took a quiet, leisurely drive in the darkness of the night – nervous, but excited.
We were brought into the delivery suite, and I was hooked up to belts and wires to have the baby’s heartbeat monitored while Dan went to settle the administration procedures. At about 12.30am, the nurse inserted a suppository to soften the cervix. Dr C, when explaining the induction procedure earlier on, had said that if that alone did not make the cervix dilate sufficiently for delivery by the next morning, Pitocin would be administered via a drip to do the job.
“Try to sleep,” the nurse said, smiling kindly. Try as I did, I was too excited to sleep. The husband made himself comfortable in the lazy boy and immersed himself in the 4th book of the Games of Thrones saga.
At 3am, the contractions started coming on. Having delivered my first baby with the aid of an epidural and the second without, I had been wavering on whether to have one for the third. It only took me 45 minutes to decide that I wanted one! Haha! The anaesthetist bustled in in a burst of cheeriness (how does she do that at 4am?!), deftly administered the epidural and swaggered out, pro as could be. Because I had requested for the epidural before the contractions got too strong, I felt the biting pinpricks of the needles and wriggled uncomfortably, unlike my first delivery where the intense pain of the contraction surpassed everything else!
Pain relieved, I drifted off into a broken sleep while the husband snored away next to me, with his book fallen on its side.
At 7.30am, the nurse checked for dilation. Her face registered a look of surprise. “Wow, 9cm” she said, “Very fast! I’ll call for your doctor.”
She felt around somemore. Pop. “Oh, water bag burst. You wait awhile ah….” And out she went.
A while later, the machine monitoring the baby’s heartbeat started beeping loudly. The nurse rushed back in. “Baby’s heartbeat falling below 100,” she announced, handing me an oxygen mask. “Here, take this and breathe hard, try to get as much oxygen to the baby as possible.”
The commotion woke the husband and he clambered sleepily to my side. “It’s almost time,” I told him nervously.
The machine beeped on and off. Each time a frantic bout of beeping occurred, the nurse urged me to take deeper breaths from the oxygen mask. “I’ve called Dr C. She’s on her way,” she kept repeating rather anxiously.
This went on for awhile until the nurse said:
“I NEED YOU TO PUSH.”
Wait, what? Push? Now? Where’s my doctor? Why is this nurse here alone? Where’s everybody else? What’s going on? My mind struggled to comprehend the situation, although I didn’t exactly feel much panic, given that Claire had been delivered by a midwife and not my previous gynae.
I obediently pushed. After a few rounds, the nurse said, “Ok. Good. That’s enough. We wait for Dr C to come.”
At about 8am, a rather hectic looking Dr C burst through the drapes. On her instructions, I closed my eyes and pushed hard as the husband stood on my right with arms around my shoulders in support until…
…. POP! I felt the baby slide out.
I opened my eyes.
At that moment, I saw the nurse wince as blood sprayed her in the face and hair. My gaze moved to Dr C, who was splattered in blood. I saw her lift a slippery, wet, blood-covered baby upwards towards the bright lights and carefully place her into an incubator to my right, dripping a trail of blood onto the floor. I saw blood to my left too, far-reaching trails that miraculously missed the Games of Thrones book that lay open on the lazy boy. It was only then that I remembered to look for the husband. He was standing, still as a statue, in shock – with nary a drop of blood on him. Looks like somebody chose the right spot to stand in!
The paediatrician’s face appeared from behind the drapes. “Be careful, there’s blood on the floor!” called out Dr C and the PD gingerly crossed the room with carefully-placed strides.
It finally dawned on me that this wasn’t normal to have SO much blood from a delivery.
“Er. Why’s there so much blood?” I asked Dr C as she sewed me up.
“Part of the placenta detached from the uterine wall during labour and because the water bag had broken, the blood entered the amniotic sac,” came Dr C’s calm reply. “It’s a good thing you were already fully dilated and were ready to push the baby out quickly before she swallowed any of the blood mixture. If not, we would have had an emergency C-section. Dr Ng is suctioning fluids from her mouth and nose now, she’ll be alright.”
Oh. Well, it’s a good thing I had obediently removed the shiny new polish from my recent pedicure since I nearly ended up in the operating theatre! These babies of mine. Why do they have to compete for the most dramatic birth? Girls! Tsk.
Because of the urgency to attend to Candace, I didn’t get to experience skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery, unlike how Coco and Claire were placed like wet, naked mice on my chest at KKH. Still, as I held the gaze of the tiny face peeking out amidst the folds of shiny foil and cloth, I felt my heart surge with love. Skin contact or none, it wouldn’t make a difference – the intense adoration was mutual. She studied me intently, unaware of the drama she had caused by her arrival.
“Hello, you. Painting the town red already huh? You cheeky thing.”
Hello, Candace. You came to us so quietly, so unassumingly and burst into our lives with your dramatic entrance. We’re going to love having you in our family.
Welcome, our littlest one.