“Know that you will find joy after the trial. And that you will be happy and thankful that you have suffered.”
These are the words I got from a bowl of messages from St. Therese of The Child Jesus. I attended the mass when her relics were brought to the Shrine of St. Therese 2 days before I gave birth to Summer Maria. At that time I was on the verge of impatience as my hands and feet and belly were so swollen waiting for the big day to come. Gladly it only took a few days before I got wheeled to the delivery room.
True enough, I can only be thankful that the worst is over. But that’s getting ahead of the birth story. Here’s the blow-by-blow account:
April 15, 2013. Breaking water bags don’t always make a sound – or a river
4:10am. Remember those TV commercials when women would see flowing water through their legs? Or those mothers who tell you that you’ll hear a sound once your water bag breaks? They’re not always true. I just had my panties soaking wet, I thought it was the regular discharge brought on by pregnancy. Nevertheless, I called my OB and she instructed me to change. If the wetness continues within 10 minutes, I should call her again. So it did happen again, but stopped quickly. I didn’t make the call until around 6am.
6:00am. Contractions started 5:00am and lasted for an hour. It came every 5 minutes. They were tolerable – much like dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps). I don’t usually get them when I have my period so the pain that morning was very distinct compared to belly contractions I felt days before labor day. Some women’s nesting instinct would mean making some quick house clean-up or storing food in the fridge. I’ve had that for weeks already. But on this particular morning, I could not resist the temptation to lather tuna spread on my pandesal for my breakfast! Haha! I figured if I go into labor today, I need food for energy.
Then, I finally called my doctor. She asked if I wanted to head to the hospital. I’m actually booked for an appointment with her that day by 1pm. So I just said I’ll wait until I cannot hold it any more and I’ll probably check in before 1pm. And of course she agreed. OBs do not want women na 1cm dilated pa lang. Hehe.
7:00am. In between contraction intervals: I took a bath, packed additional items to my hospital bags, texted family and friends that we’re anticipating the birth today. My aunt came after a few minutes to check on me. Husband and I were still watching TV that time. I could not believe I actually made it until sweldo day (the 15th) before giving birth hehe.. Mother’s instinct, I guess. I had an inkling I will give birth on the 15th.
Stronger, Closer, Longer: Contractions that spell labor!
So my aunt asked how far in between am I getting the contractions. I said, it’s every 5 minutes. She was surprised I’m still not heading out the door! I was actually planning to get out by 8am, but she insisted that Romer should get a cab now na! I think sineryoso ko talaga ang “Don’t rush to the hospital until you can’t bear it anymore.” Hehehe! Obviously, I didn’t know what kind of pain I was waiting for.
7:30am. Out the door and into the cab ride. Warning: Do not try to wait any longer if you’re giving birth on a Monday and you’re Makati-bound. The traffic spares no mercy even for cars with pregnant passengers!!
8:00am. Emergency Room check-in. I remember getting out of the cab and asking the guard for a stretcher. Haha! Until now I can’t believe they made me stand there at the hospital door waiting for the wheel chair. There wasn’t one outside, so an aid had to get one inside pa. I felt terrified! Husband was in full charge of our belongings and documents to show to the ER staff.
8:30am. First IE – 3cm dilated. Signed some papers for epidural procedure. Got hooked to an IV. The ER Nurses at St. Clare Medical in Makati were nice and efficient. Husband was busy giving out the admission slip from our doctor and made the initial cash deposit.
9:00am. I got wheeled to the labor room. Everyone was kind to me. Luckily, I was the only patient there. I got the fetal monitor device strapped onto me. They were checking my contractions, too. From my doctor’s orders, they made me take Buscopan via IV to help me dilate.
Doctors come in groupies
9:30am. My OB Dra. Lynn Ramirez-Amurao has arrived in the labor room. She was calm and did an IE immediately: 6-7 cm na! She asked for the nurses to get me sedated so I can rest during contractions. She also phoned the anesthesiologist These doctors, they are a tag team: from the OB – to the Anes – to the Pedia. Parang SEO team lang
12 noon. I was under sedation, thank God. Labor was tolerable. When the anesthesiologist has arrived, I was given the epidural. Yes, it was painful and makes you feel cold. I was bent into a fetal position as the needle was inserted at my back. It was okay. A nurse was there to comfort me during the procedure. They didn’t numb me 100% from the waist down. I had sensations on my right leg every time the baby’s head descends. I got back into a lying position afterwards.
Epidurals also have side effects
I was told the baby is moving back upwards again because the pain reliever relaxed my muscles. And so I was asked to go back from a lying position to the previous fetal position.
It was lunch break when I felt that the pain was already too much in my right leg. That means baby is ready to be out. I was lucky to spot my doctor when she passed by my bed. I called on to her and told her, “Ang sakit na doc!”
Delivery Room Drama
1:00pm. My OB checked the baby’s head – it was ready to go. But she noticed its heartbeat was fluctuating! The horror! That was when she called every one to move fast, fast, fast! She instructed the nurse to increase my oxygen supply so the baby can breathe more. They wheeled me immediately to the delivery room. I fought the panic by praying. I didn’t want to give in to the danger. I know God promised me this baby.
No to C-Section No Matter What!
1:00-1:30pm. They got me shaved, legs spread out and lifted up. Since there was no other patient giving birth, the whole nursing team was onto me. Yes, everybody saw me down there – except me! I was getting exhausted from the pain of my right leg. Confused at the same time because I’m not quite sure how to push (So for all FTMs, I suggest you get yourself into a birthing class!).
My muscles were tensed. I was instructed to inhale deeply, then hold my breath for 10 seconds while pushing. No sound to produce (ano ‘to, Scientology??). Everything they said about giving birth was true – Mahirap, at buwis-buhay! I couldn’t hold my breath for 10 counts. I had to gasp for air in the middle of the counting because I just couldn’t take it any more. One of the male nurses had to push my stomach (like what you do sa toothpaste) to assist my pushing. It was terrible, I was about to puke every time he did that. The doctor asked him to stop for a while and allow me to ‘make bwelo‘ and push by myself. I felt relieved but after 3 pushes, I still can’t get my baby out into the world.
Then the OB blurted out, “I’m telling you pag in 15 mins hindi pa ito makalabas i-ccs kita. Konting-konti na lang. Ilabas mo pa ng konti yung head and I can get it out. Tiisin mo lang. Kanina ang galing mo mag push.“
Oh my God, I really did not want to have an emergency C-section. 15 minutes na lang, I should DO IT! THERE IS NO TURNING BACK. I was praying desperately – asking for Mama Mary’s intercession. I knew I needed help. Thoughts came running into my mind: I have to get my baby alive. I have to give my husband his child.
“Suddenly I realized how grateful we all should be to our own mothers. Words are simply not enough to tell you how a mother can willfully risk her life for her child and family.”
Even though there were points in time during the whole saga when I wanted to call it quits and just give in to a CS procedure, I knew in my heart I just have to give it ONE MORE PUSH!
I hear my doctor repeatedly say, “Romela, tiisin mo yung pain. Isipin mo yung baby mo. Kung nahihirapan ka, mas nahihirapan sya .” And so I called on to the whole team, “Okay everyone, let’s do this one more time!” I had to say that every time I feel the contractions coming again. You only push when there is a contraction. My OB had to cut me deep (skin and muscles from the vajayjay then a bit angled to my right butt muscle so it won’t reach the anus. Sorry TMI. 4th degree episiotomy ito – the most painful one!). I shouted, “Ang saket!!!” That was the anesthesiologist’s cue: Additional pain reliever, please!
My OB had to resort to cutting me so the forceps can enter and lock into my baby’s head. Note that not all normal deliveries require getting a cut. In my case, I was really having a hard time pushing. Finally after like my nth push in time, my baby’s head engaged and the forceps got locked in.
Then I felt a very warm sort of air getting released out of me as I saw my baby up into the world! She didn’t immediately cry for a few seconds. Then after a while, that was when I heard her wail out loud. Thank you, Jesus!
1:37pm. Summer Maria Ortega has gotten out of her placenta shell
Nurses are great in anticipating events. In just a few seconds, I saw my red digital camera being flashed onto me and my baby. That was the first time I saw her up close. I think I smirked a bit, haha! I didn’t know if I should smile or throw a tantrum after all that was done to me. Hehehe!
But I was just.so.relieved.
My OB and a nurse spent some more time stitching me up. I didn’t feel anything. I was so sleepy and I felt my tummy deflated. I was still a bit awake when I heard my OB say that she’ll note down sa Philhealth na “Assisted Birth” instead of “NSD” so I can get a bigger discount. She had to use the forceps, kasi.
Ay salamat naman. At least hindi ako na-cs… may discount pa! What I didn’t know was the pain that was to endure. All my mommy friends tell me how painful it is to labor and give birth. But no one has told me about the pain of episiotomy. I’ll save this one in another post.
2 hours I spent inside the recovery room. My nurses are now having their lunch. My husband has seen our new bundle of joy. And me? Oh well, I was always half-asleep and eager to see my husband and baby. Take note, I gave birth without our parents with us in the hospital. It was just me and Romer. I felt so grown-up!
To cap it off, I just want to say that God is good. He delivers on time – and makes all things new.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17