The baby finally arrived on 121001, missing 110110 by only 2 hours.
I wish I had a humorous account of the birth story involving me yelling out words that must now be censored, and/or threatening the Resident Bureaucrat with grievous bodily harm (the pregnancy books had said that this might happen, so I had warned him beforehand). Unfortunately, I have no funny story to tell.
This is not because impending motherhood transformed me into a kinder and gentler person, but because everything happened so quickly, I had neither the time nor the energy to do anything.
The day had started off pretty uneventfully. I was woken up at 4am on 110110 by the baby's head pressing on my bladder - as usual - but this time, I also had mild cramps.
They were the same crampy feelings that I had been experiencing for days before that, so I thought nothing of it. Labour was the furthest thing on my mind then. In fact, during the days of waiting for the baby, I was pretty sure I was going to be pregnant for years, sort of like Nezha’s mother, and that the baby was never going to arrive.
When I woke up again at 7am - by the baby's head pressing on my bladder, of course - I discovered I had a show*, but again, I dismissed it, because my pregnancy books said having a show didn’t mean labour was going to start straightaway and things could, in fact, drag for another three days to two weeks. I sms-ed my doula to be on the safe side but she didn't seem overly concerned, so I went back to sleep.
Later, I spent the day chatting with my twin and trying to write a post lamenting how late the baby was, and then I answered a phone call from my mother querying: "You still not giving birth yet? You got to hurry, you know. It's almost Chinese New Year."
Okay, I'll send that feedback in writing to the baby.
It was not until 5pm that day that I realised I had been having those early morning cramps all day (I'm a bit slow on the uptake), which was when I thought maybe I should time them to see if there was pattern to it.
They were 7 minutes apart and 30 seconds long each time.
So those cramps were really contractions and I thought that they might be for real. I sms-ed the Resident Bureaucrat, who was at work, and my doula again.
The Resident Bureaucrat called me in a panic, wanting to know how I was. My doula was a lot calmer. "We want to wait until your contractions are 60 seconds long," she said. "In the meanwhile, eat dinner."
I like that. Eat dinner, that I could do.
So I ate dinner (and a lot of other stuff, but I'm too embarassed to list down what I ate), then I sat down to watch the crappy Channel 8 drama Together, while the contractions got more intense.
So, naturally, the gravity of the situation didn't hit me and I tried to log on to facebook after the programme ended. But every time I tried to sit up to sign in, I would be hit by contractions so intense I had to go lie in bed to ride them out.
In the meanwhile, the Resident Bureaucrat had rushed home, eaten his dinner in a hurry and then worked himself into a panicked frenzy, packing last minute stuff such as my specs and his shaving kit. He quickly took a shower and poured out half the bottle of shampoo by accident, shaved, cut himself, brushed his teeth and snapped his toothbrush in half.
It was amusing on hindsight.
Because I was still in a semi state of denial and couldn’t believe I was really going into labour, I told him not to hurry. But he was sure the birth was going to happen tonight "at 4am". On hearing that, my first thought was whether I could pop by the 24-hour McDonald's at my house to buy a Fillet-O-Fish before moving on to the hospital. One always needs breakfast.
Although, privately, I thought it was going to take much longer and drag until the next day. Also, I didn't fancy giving birth in the middle of the night, which would certainly disrupt my bedtime. So it would be better if it happened only the next day.
As it was, things never go the way I want them to. At 11pm, the contractions were coming 4 minutes apart and were 60 seconds long, which showed delivery was probably not far off. So I called my doula, who came to my house, sat with me and helped me breathe through the contractions for the next half hour. But when they got even more intense, she suggested we leave for the hospital.
Before I left the house, I asked the Resident Bureaucrat three times whether he had taken my handphone along with him, and then insisted that he turn back to get my watch and refused to move when he didn’t want to do it. I also tried to change out of my pyjamas into a nice dress so that I would swan into the hospital looking presentable, but my doula, probably the only person with her wits around her, told me to just go in my sleepwear. It’s amazing the petty things I can be concerned about when faced with bigger issues. Labour? What labour?
Leaving the house in the middle of the night in my pyjamas and mismatched shoes and making a dash for the hospital felt like I was embarking on a big adventure. (I need to get a life.)
On the way there, whenever I was hit by contractions, my doula would tell me to “visualize your cervix opening” and all I could think of was “**** my cervix! What a drama queen! Couldn’t it just open quietly with a whimper instead of shouting ‘Look at me look at me look at me!! I’m opening!’!?!”
Anyway, by the time we reached the hospital at 1.10am, the drama mama cervix had fully dilated and at 1.58am on 12012010**, the baby was out***.
The birth happened so quickly, I didn't have time to do anything I had planned, such as hand out copies of my birth plan, eat my chicken biscuits, use the relaxation techniques learnt in my hypnobirthing class****, listen to my relaxation CDs or use the massage oils and rice sock heat packs I had packed into my labour bag. For that matter, we didn’t even have time to see to the hospital admission and it had to be done later.
My doula had also made an attempt to fill up the bath tub in the labour room that I was in, when, midway through, she abandoned her efforts because the way things were going, she saw that I wouldn’t have time to enjoy the tub. (Although I wouldn’t have minded soaking in the tub after the birth.)
It was a good thing I forgot to take the chocolates I had wanted to pack in my hospital bag, because it would have meant just another thing to take home later.
Anyway, it was a good birth; I didn’t have to be induced, it was quick, I didn’t cave in and ask for an epidural (not that I would have time), there was no cutting involved and I got to deliver in the position I wanted (not lying down).
But I suppose if I had to do it all over again, I would eat my chicken biscuits the moment I recognise the cramps as contractions, because now, they sit, on my kitchen counter, mocking the fact that I’m unable to eat them. Thanks to that wonderful period called confinement.
*If you want to know what's a show, go google it, because it's too gross to explain here.
**Come to think of it, 12012010 is not a bad date either. 4D anyone?
***I have deliberately omitted an account of the birth itself to protect those with a delicate sensitivity. Also, me thinks a retelling of the event will act as a pretty good birth control method, and I don't want to be responsible for making people decide not to procreate after reading my story.
All I will say is the birth involved a lot of loud animalistic grunting and enough blood to resemble a murder scene. And resulted in a baby who looked like he was a cast member in the Night Of The Living Dead (blue, covered with blood and gross waxy stuff. Fortunately, he did turn pink shortly after.)
****Even though I never got to use the techniques learnt in hypnobirthing, I still highly recommend the class. And definitely engaging a doula.