The narration for this entry consists of the following:
i) present story – *Labour of Second Child* (birth via induction); and
ii) flashbacks of my first labour experience – *Labour of First Child* (natural birth).
People often say, subsequent pregnancies tend to go faster, in the sense that a mother will go into labour earlier as compared to her previous pregnancy. My maternal instincts read the same, telling myself to be prepared early this time around, for the arrival of my second child. Somehow, words like fast and quick kept flashing in my head.
By the 36th week of my pregnancy, I was pretty much prepared and equipped to bring home the new addition to the family. If you’re wondering why the 36th month, it’s because a pregnant woman goes into full term by week 37, which means she can into labour any day as the baby has readily developed for the outside world (although not wholly).
I pulled out all the baby gear that were used by my firstborn and went into a ‘nesting’ mode as I had the urge to spring clean, change the orientation of certain furniture in my bedroom and put everything in order. I had everything figured out, it was all ready:
the changing station
the downstairs nursery
my hospital bag
All that was left was to wait.
As soon as I entered week 37, I was getting even more eager. I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be; I couldn’t wait for things to kick off! When you’re pregnant and about to ‘explode’, the desire to give birth actually overcomes any labour jitters, for a number of reasons. For instance, you feel so immobile you just want the baby to be (safely) out as soon as possible. You tend to also get agitated and restless, counting down to the day your baby makes an appearance.
The week goes by and there are no signs of labour.
I was still adamant that I will go into labour earlier, this time.
The week goes by, without any indication of labour.
No bloody show, just mild contractions which were not painful, but caused great discomfort.
I’m feeling sooooooo heavy at this point. (You can read more on this in my previous entry: Pregnancy Update: I Feel Like a Giant, Immobile Blob)
**Labour of First Child**
As I entered Week 39, labour was initiated by powerful waves of contractions, which were not painful (yet). They came intermittently, so I breezed through this phase without much agony.
Then came a bloody show. Although it did not signify that labour was imminent within the next few hours (some women get bloody show days before they actually go into labour), I made a trip to the hospital.
Upon a vaginal examination (VE) by the nurse, I was not dilating and therefore sent home…….only to forcefully be awake that whole night, due to immense surges of contractions. This time, they were ultra painful. The agony was starting. (Read more on this labour story at Part I: My Labour Story: What? It’s Showtime??!)
As my contractions did not stop, we made a second trip to the hospital the next day, and arrived around 7pm. (Yes, I stalled for a looonngg time because I was in so much pain and couldn’t gather the energy to get up. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone though; once you’re in pain, go to the hospital!!)
I gave birth that night, one week before the due date.
- Number of Hours of Contractions: 24
(irregular patterns, with significant time spaced in between)
- Number of Hours of Active Labour: 4 hours and a half
(just an estimation; active labour starts after a 4cm dilation and I’m not sure exactly when this happened until I was at the hospital)
**Labour of Second Child**
I’m at the hospital.
For a follow-up with my O&G.
I’m at 39 weeks.
Still no signs of labour.
I didn’t even make it to my 39th week appointment the last time, because I had already given birth. So much for thinking it was going to happen earlier.
I was getting nervous. When am I going to give birth? Well, I do have one week before the due date. And due dates are just estimations.
“Okay Nadia, this is the plan,” my doctor said.
“If we reach your due date without you going into labour, I am recommending that you get induced. If we wait past your due date, the size of the baby might be too big for you,” she explained.
I’m a petite girl, hence a big baby isn’t that ideal when you’re aiming to give birth naturally.
The ultrasound revealed that the baby’s weight is currently correlating well with my physique, but is slightly heavier than my firstborn (a baby girl) at this juncture.
“He might not necessarily be bigger, but yes, definitely heavier. This is usually the case with boys; they have bones with higher density,” my doctor said.
Back to the part of being induced.
Giving birth naturally is definitely my first option, but in the instance that I don’t have much of a choice but to opt for a c-section, I shall abide.
When the doctor mentioned ‘induce’, I admit, I was devastated. I didn’t see it coming.
I was disappointed and frustrated, too. I felt like I was letting my body down. Or my body was letting me down. Whichever way.
I questioned over and over again, why can’t it be exactly like last time?
“No two pregnancies are the same, even with the same mother,” my doctor reiterated. It was a fact I had already known, but still expected my experience this time to be similar.
My doctor and I were looking at the calendar on her desk.
“How does an induction take place?” I asked. I had never really thoroughly delved into anyone’s induction experience before.
“If there are no signs of labour up to the night before your due date, come to the hospital and get yourself admitted. The process will then start,” my doctor told me.
“Will it hurt even more as compared to having labour kick in naturally?” I asked, nervously.
“We’ll be gentle on you,” my doctor reassured.
I walked out of my gynecologist’s room feeling very disappointed.
* * *
The week went by with mixed emotions. I was getting fed up waiting for signs of labour – any signs. I didn’t want to be induced but this was beyond my control.
I did stop and ask myself, why am I getting so worked up about getting induced? What’s so bad about it? Your doctor has recommended a routine medical procedure, why are you so worried?
My days and nights as I approached my due date were spent reading and researching on getting induced. I read about people’s experiences on the internet. I asked friends who went through an induction before. It was to a point my sister told me to stop reading things online, because not all of it is true. It was only messing with my head. Each person had a different story to tell, it was hard to know what to expect.
I had so many questions.
Is it more painful?
How long will it take for me to get into active labour?
Will labour be longer or quicker?
How many rounds of induction will I have to go through?
How long will I be at the hospital?
Despite the questions, I knew I was in good hands.
*The Night Before My Due Date*
Yes, I’ve reached the cut-off point.
I was so reluctant to go to the hospital. I had to accept the circumstance.
The nurse had told me during the 39th week consultation to check myself in at the hospital at 10pm. It was weird. Loading my luggage into the car, I told myself, the next time I’m back – it’ll be with baby. God-willing.
**Labour of First Child**
After a bout of contraction pain at home, my mom insisted I make a move to the hospital before rush hour begins, as people start their commute home from work. I was in constant pain — it was definitely a cue to get to the hospital!
I braced all the strength I had, to get up, get dressed and be on my way to the hospital. Traffic was just beginning to build up and we made it to the hospital without hassle. Along the way, my contractions were pretty bad but still widely spaced apart. Each time a contraction struck, I held onto the dashboard, while breathing in.
We reached the Emergency Department at around 7pm. I became a fast-lane patient because I was a 39-week pregnant woman, having regular contraction pain. As soon as a nurse attended to me, she checked and I was already 4cm dilated.
So that was what the pain was all about.
Generally, our bodies are designed in such a way that when we get contractions, it preps the cervix for birth, causing dilation.
I gave birth four hours later. 😉
**Labour of Second Child**
The air was calm, the night was still. I loaded everything that was needed into the car. It looked like we were going on a one-week holiday, judging by the amount of things I had packed. I’m not a good packer. LOL.
It was weird because we were making our way to the hospital for me to give birth. But I was feeling no pain. It was like a night out to the movies or a late-night coffee run to a nearby Starbucks. I guess this is how it feels to a have a pre-planned birth — a pre-scheduled c-sect for instance. I had intended to get my hair done at the salon that evening, so I could “look” my best giving birth.
I scratched the idea because I didn’t know when it would actually happen. I wear the tudung anyways, so I wouldn’t exactly be camera material. Haha.
I was strapped to the CTG machine, which monitors the baby’s heartbeat and measures contractions. The baby was active and doing perfectly well, while my contractions were very mild.
An hour later, the nurse checked for any dilation via a VE.
They had my blood withdrawn as well, and the first round of induction medication was inserted. The nurse gave me a half dosage of medication. It’s a pill called Pitocin which is inserted vaginally. I had to lie down for one hour to make sure the pill would take effect. At this point, everything is executed by the awesome nurses at the hospital, with instructions from the doctor via text messaging.
I was strapped to the CTG machine again, for another round of assessment. I had several intense contractions, but they occurred between wide intervals.
The TV was on, I was watching some cooking show. I was bored and couldn’t sleep. Partly because I was uncertain of how things would unfold in the next hours. And also because I made sure I had a lot of rest earlier in the day, to anticipate giving birth at any time.
Although it had only been a few hours since I left home, I missed my toddler SOOOOO much. I watched videos of her on my phone over and over again.
The nurse then told me to get some sleep, because the next round of induction would be at 5am. Guess the first round was not triggering anything.
Just before the nurse came in, I woke up. She strapped me to the CTG machine once again which readings showed several intense contractions.
The nurse then inserted medication through the anus to trigger bowel movement so that I won’t soil the baby when I give birth. I remember how immediate the effect of this medication was the last time. After about 3 minutes, I needed to go…..
I showered right after because I didn’t know when I would get to next.
That’s when I started getting very painful cramps. After I stepped out of the shower, I took my telekung from my pink luggage, wanting to perform Fajr prayers. But my cramps were too painful I couldn’t stand up for sixty seconds in a row if I had to.
Another round of induction medicine was inserted, this time a full dosage.
The painful cramps continued.
How would I describe the cramps?
Came and went.
Then came again not long after going.
So painful you can’t focus on anything else.
I tried to distract myself by playing some groovy songs on YouTube, but it was too painful to be dancing. My mom reminded be to recite my dua’s, too.
Will I be in this pain the whole day?
My doctor had clocked in for the day and came to my room to check up on me. I was so happy to see her, despite the pain.
“When I come back again, let’s do a little walking shall we? The baby’s head hasn’t dropped low enough for labour yet,” she said.
“Um, okay. But I don’t think I can. Tak larat, Doktor,” I said.
“Okay, we’ll see when I come back.”
I was laying on my side — the most comfortable position at that moment. I felt some water trickling – down there. It was normal to have discharge during pregnancy, especially nearing labour. But it didn’t stop. I buzzed the nurse in, to check if my water had broke. The nurse did a VE and checked but couldn’t be absolutely sure because it wasn’t that wet. She did tell me though, I had dilated 5cm!!! At first, I couldn’t believe it. It’s happening!
I was hungry and hoped breakfast would arrive soon. I needed to eat despite the pain I was feeling. They served pancakes that morning which I gobbled down as much as I could. I didn’t want to go into labour with an empty stomach because having enough energy was pertinent. I didn’t want to end up feeling very giddy after giving birth too.
* * *
The pain was so bad I buzzed the nurse in again. I told her the pain was massive and that I wanted an injection of pethidine, a painkilling drug which is administered at the bum. It doesn’t totally eliminate pain (like the epidural) but it causes you to get groggy, which helps shift your focus from the pain.
Honestly, I was on the brink of asking for an epidural but I was in so much pain I couldn’t decide.
**Labour of First Child**
During labour with my first child, I managed to power through without epidural. When the nurse asked if I wanted this form of pain relief, I told her no, because I was still able to manage the pain.
**Labour of Second Child**
My expectation this time around was the same — that my pain threshold would be able to victoriously uphold the same standards.
I don’t have anything against the epidural but it was something I wanted to avoid if possible.
“Sakit sangat la, Nurse,” I admitted.
“Ada rasa nak teran tak?” the nurse asked me.
“YES!” I said to myself.
In fact, I felt like I needed to do a Number 2, really badly.
**Labour of First Child**
I did not experience cramps/contractions that were coupled with the urge of wanting to ‘teran’ or push. My contractions were waves (literally) of muscle movements at the abdominal area. I only felt like pushing towards the end, when was I fully dilated and my doctor was ready to deliver my baby.
**Labour of Second Child**
The pain had only kicked in about an hour and a half ago, and I am already feeling like to push.
The nurse saw that I was in agony and when I answered “Yes” to her question of whether I felt like to ‘teran’, she immediately recognized the fact that I was about to go into labour!
She did a VE and it turned out I was already dilated at 8cm! In a matter of minutes, I went from 5cm to 8cm.
“Saya nak bagi tau diorang untuk prep-kan labour room,” the nurse said hurriedly. She was moving fast.
She came back in with a wheelchair to transport me to the labour room, which is just across the hallway. I was in a lot of pain but had no choice but to get out of bed and plonk myself onto the wheelchair. I was actually hoping they could wheel the same bed right into the labour room, honestly.
The nurse practically sprinted to the labour room. So much so, a nurse standing at the counter who had almost bumped into us said, “Eh, macam nak masuk race F1 je.” LOL.
I was in a great deal of pain, which was probably evident by the way I appeared. You know those movie scenes where there’s a woman who is in heightened pain and about to go in labour, being pushed on a wheelchair en route to the labour room, and knocking down whatever or whoever gets in the way?
Noooo, it wasn’t like that.
I won’t exaggerate. Hehe.
* * *
Seconds later, I was in the labour room and as soon as I stationed myself on the bed, it was already time to push.
My doctor came in. “Okay Nadia, it’s time!” she said.
If I remember correctly, amidst all the pain, I replied somewhere along the lines of, “Let’s get this going!”
“Nurse, nak injection (pethidine),” I pleaded.
“Dah tak sempat. Kita amik gas (entonox) okay,” she said.
So of course, epidural was out of the question too, obviously. This laughing gas was all I had to keep my sanity on the road to bring a baby safely into the world.
Soon, I was surrounded by a team of nurses and my doctor. Hats down to all of them; they were superb. They guided me all the way through and never stopped giving words of encouragement. Pushing was harder this time — I had a slightly bigger baby.
“You can do this, Nadia. You’re doing so well. Masya-Allah. I can see his hair already,” my doctor said. This is why I love my OBGYN so much. 🙂 This type of encouragement really boosted my strength and will, especially during a time like this.
Since I was on zero pain relief, everything was more real than it was during my first labour (in which I was given pethidine). I was more awake and more aware.
A lot of things ran through my mind.
I asked God to make this a smooth process, despite the fact pushing was not so easy.
During all the pain and pushing though, the guilt eradicated. Hehe. I do deserve a nice room in light of what I’m going through!
Know what else flashed through my mind?
A snippet of reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians. LOL.
Remember this scene where Kourtney was in the labour room and practically delivered her own baby, while being filmed? She was actually looking at the baby as it came out. For some reason, this popped into my head, although I did not deliver my own baby. Left that to the experts.
“This girl is strong. She’s not on any pain relief,” my doctor told one of the nurses who came in a bit later.
The nurse was stunned. “She can smile some more!”
Yeah, I did.
When contractions hit, that’s when you push. Each time the readings on the CTG machine showed I was having one, the nurses told me to push. Honestly, I had forgotten the proper way to push. They were there to guide me.
Tilt your head.
Chin down, until it touches you.
Don’t scream or use your voice.
Energy should be focused on pushing, not on screaming.
Another tip people give is to not lift your bum while you push, for fear it could cause excessive tearing. Yikes.
* * *
I don’t exactly recall how many pushes it took (maybe 5 or 6?), but Alhamdulillah, I safely gave birth after entering the labour less than half an hour ago. Pushing was definitely easier with my firstborn – a baby girl.
- Number of Hours of Contractions: 2 hours (not too widely spaced in between)
- Number of Hours of Active Labour: Probably the above 2 hours + 30 minutes
So THIS is why words like fast and quick constantly ran through my mind. Perhaps not when labour would start but rather, the duration of being in labour. My instincts were right after all?
Another observation I made was that my contractions felt more like sharp stings of constipation or amplified diarrhea, rather than those muscle waves used to illustrate contractions. During my first pregnancy, I definitely felt those waves. It may have panned out this way this time because I went into labour so quickly.
*Moral of the Story*
Whether you’re giving birth naturally, via induction or via c-section:
the safest way
is always the best way.
While going natural is the ideal route, a doctor may recommend a certain method over the other for valid medical reasons. Some women can’t give birth naturally, some need to be induced and some have mixed experiences. Either way, it definitely does not make one less of a woman.
My mistake was expecting my second pregnancy to mirror exactly the way my first one went. No two pregnancies are ever the same, whether it’s between two women or involving the same woman. I blamed myself for needing an induction this time around, when actually:
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING INDUCED!
On top of that, who said I did something wrong to cause this? Sometimes our body decides to work differently.
I caused myself so much distress when things didn’t go as anticipated. I also caused distress reading about other people’s experiences as it made me question the situation even more. I learnt that there is no textbook manual to tell you how things will exactly go. Not every single thing under the teachings of obstetrics and gynecology come with a solid explanation or scientific proof.
My reluctance for an induction was because of the uncertainty that came with it.
How long will it take for me to start having contractions?
Will it hurt even more?
How long will I be at the hospital, just waiting for things to happen?
Will the medication interfere negatively with my body or the process?
I had a distorted perception on getting induced, when in fact, it’s a clinically approved procedure. Many women go through the process and gave birth to healthy babies, just as they would if it was natural from the get-go.
Moreover, my doctor had good reasons to induce me.
Eventually, I was quite happy with the outcome. Perhaps it was due to an induction that my contraction pain only lasted for 2 hours. Two hours!
Whatever pregnancy journey you must endure,
NEVER let anything damper your spirit and strength.
It’s OK if your pregnancy suddenly takes a turn. The very most important element is the safety of mom and baby. Trust that everything happens for a reason and trust that God will always take care of you.