We had a busy weekend. There was spring cleaning to be done for Chinese New Year, and the hubby was busy running about trying to settle various errands. The nesting instinct had hit me hard: I was folding a mountain of laundry, making stocks to freeze for the family, and I was trying to clear out the study cum guest room in anticipation of the MIL's arrival. Amidst it all were the contractions, which were coming at a rate of about 3 an hour.
Then CNY eve rolled by, and we made the decision to stay home in the morning in case the contractions got stronger. They did increase in frequency, and by evening they were coming at 8 an hour. We texted my gynae, who told us to go to the hospital, so there was a flurry of rearrangements: my dad dashed off to the airport to pick up MIL with Lil J, and we went over to my mum's to eat an early reunion dinner with the other two boys.
We had a quick dinner, and my mum chased us off to the hospital. Since the contractions were not painful, we decided to take a walk first before going in. We ended up having fried ice-cream, then we drove down to the hospital at around 7 pm. They did a check: I was only 3 cm dilated. However, my gynae was worried that the labour would suddenly progress quickly since this was our fourth child, so she told us it was best to just wait it out in the hospital.
They ran a CTG to check that baby was ok, then I was free to walk about. So we did, in the hope that the walking would help hasten the labour. We walked up all the stairs we could find, we walked to the car park and cleaned out the car. Upon cleaning out the car, we remembered we had some overdue library books, so we sneaked out for a quick drive to return the books, with me still in the hospital gown! Upon returning, we did more stair-climbing, and then it was back to the labour ward.
10 pm and my gynae was back to check on us, only to find that the labour was still not progressing... so she gave us the choice if we wanted to augment the labour. We decided to go ahead, since we had been there for what felt like ages! She broke the water bag, and left with instructions to start the pitocin drip after four hours, if my contractions didn't intensify enough.
The contractions started to become stronger and more frequent. For those four hours, I paced up and down, hoping that the labour would continue to progress. I tried blogging in between contractions (since I couldn't sleep!), pausing to grab or pound the table whenever the contractions came. Meanwhile, hubby, exhausted from all the running about, was sleeping. But at the end of the four hours, I was still only about 3-4 cm dilated, and the contractions were still not frequent enough.
I woke the hubby to discuss with him whether we should get an epidural. Initially, I had hoped to do without, since I thought the labour would be quick. However, it seemed otherwise, and I was worried I couldn't deal with the pain. In the end, we decided to try without. (Anyway, it was hard to get an anaesthetist on CNY eve, and the hubby wasn't registered with the private hospitals, so he couldn't give me one!)
The pitocin went in at about 3 am, and the contractions started to intensify. Initially, it was bearable, since there was still a three minute interval between the contractions, and the hubby helped me along by trying to get me to do some deep breathing. Half an hour went past. The frequency and intensity of the contractions increased, and everything just went hazy from the pain. Suddenly, at some point in time I could feel the baby coming down, and was gasping for the hubby to tell the nurse. They did a check, realized I was at 9 cm, and dashed to call my gynae.
Along the way, I think I started to scream. The hubby helped to hold the gas mask over my face, while I was grabbing at the side railing of the bed, and trying not to wretch his arm off from the pain. The entonox made me feel like I was floating outside my body, and while I still felt all the pain, the dissociation seemed to help. At times, I could hear the screaming, and I was wondering "who is this crazy woman screaming?", only to vaguely realize, hey, that's me!
So my gynae arrived while I was screaming away (thankfully the hubby had clamped the mask firmly over my mouth, or I think I would have screamed the whole place down!), and I heard her distant voice through the haze of it all, to stop screaming and start pushing. I think I did try to push (while screaming in between), and after a few half-hearted pushes, Baby J suddenly slid out, and started wailing. It was slightly after 4 am, so the whole process took about an hour. This little girl is our Chinese New Year present, and she was the second baby to arrive on CNY for the hospital. :)
It was quite the experience giving birth without an epidural, since I had opted for one during the births of all three boys (you can read Junior J's birth story here, and Lil J's here). While I experienced breakthrough pain during Junior J's delivery, I had a second epidural, so I was still numb when he came out. This time though, I could feel everything, from Baby J sliding out, the afterbirth, and the stitching. I'm just glad that the whole process was pretty quick, and going without the epidural meant that I got back on my feet faster after the delivery.
Anyway, hello baby! We're so glad you're finally here!