My labor began at 3 PM, August 10. Edric checked me into the High Risk Pregnancy Unit (HRPU) of St. Luke’s Medical Center, Global City. We opted to do this with previous pregnancies as well because Edric gets to stay with me in a private room and it’s alot cheaper than the Birthing Room. Plus, the HRPU is right beside the delivery room which makes it convenient for someone like me who births pretty quickly. (I’m talking about the pushing part.)
Like my previous experience with St. Luke’s, it was easy to get a room and I was very well attended to. I’ve heard negative reviews by other women about this hospital, but personally I have always been impressed with the level of service given by St. Luke’s QC and Global. I can officially say that I have had 5 births with them that have been consistently positive in terms of service. However, it really depends on who your doctor is, how involved your husband is, your emotional climate at the time of your birth, expectations, and the kind of birth you have.
Since I have Lamaze births, all I need is a private room where I can be with my wonderful husband; the security of knowing my doctor is around; the liberty to labor the way I would like to; and the mental, emotional, and spiritual readiness to face the challenge of getting through labor and childbirth.
This time around, certain factors were different. My labor started earlier than usual. (I tend to give birth on my due date.) With this baby, I was 39 weeks/3 days when I went into labor. But the timing was great. We were hoping to give birth this past weekend because Edric had a free week…no tapings for his ANC show, no major meetings. So going into labor early was a welcome surprise. My doctor was still at her clinic in St. Luke’s Global, too. It gave me piece of mind knowing she was near. With my other babies, she had to come from the home or from other engagements. Unfortunately, with this pregnancy I had GBS, so I needed to have an IV antibiotic administered through my left hand. Thank God for big veins which were easy to locate on my hands. I owe these to my caucasian mother. The nice juicy veins on my body are a needle’s dream.
My initial Internal Exam showed that I was 4 to 5 cm. I was kind of disappointed. I wanted to be in the hospital closer to 7 cm. But, looking back, I have no regrets. Edric wanted to be safe about this pregnancy and my doctor told me it was better to be in the hospital. After all, my four previous births progressed quickly after the onset of labor, so we all thought the same thing would happen with this one.
Well, this was not the case. What we all expected to take just a few hours turned into over 12 long, exhausting hours. The problem was I was stuck at 7 to 8 cm. My baby’s head didn’t descend and engage into the pelvis like the doctor anticipated her to. This means that my contractions weren’t as regular or as strong as they should have been either.
I tried distracting myself by reading my Bible, watching TV, and walking around everywhere. In fact, the nurses were surprised that I was pacing back and forth at 7 cm but I could still hop up and down! I did that a couple of times in the room while watching CSI: New York…anything to try and make my labor progress to the next stage.
It must have been close to 2 AM when my doctor told me that the best recourse would be to break my bag of waters. But she encouraged me to rest first. So I tried to sleep. I slept in between contractions and it allowed me to regain some energy. Edric slept, too!
By 6 AM when I had not dilated further, I knew that breaking my bag of waters was the next logical step. Walking, swaying from side to side, hopping, going on my fours and rocking were not working. Intervention was needed.
Here were my fears…Breaking my bag of waters would escalate the pain. And if I didn’t progress further, I would need oxytocin to make my contractions stronger which would make the labor even more difficult. If this happened, I would probably need an epidural. My doctor was honest with me and told me that these were all possibilities.
So I struggled inside. I struggled with self-doubt. I struggled with worry. “Lord, I prayed for a quick and easy delivery. How come this is turning out to be my hardest?”
My doctor wonderfully suggested that I take a warm shower before she did the procedure. This was a first for me. I never got the chance to do this with previous babies. But it was a brilliant suggestion! It made me relax. And in the shower while pausing for each contraction, I surrendered my feelings and fears to the Lord. I really asked for his grace and strength to get through the home stretch. Edric was 100% there, too. He asked people to pray and he assured me that he would be with me all the way.
Well, when my doctor did an IE again, she was more hopeful. Previously my cervix was posterior and then it shifted into the right position. The procedure of breaking my bag of water was quick and simple. Then the strong contractions started to kick in. Okay, brace yourself, this is it! I was preparing to stick it out for as long as I could but I was hoping and praying it would not drag on.
Breathing through each contraction wave, I employed the same trick I always do…just think, you are one contraction closer. And amazingly, each contraction brought to mind a bible verse that I could cling to. What a comfort the word of God was.
Ever faithful, God allowed the most painful part to be swift. After just 45 minutes, I was checked again by one of the assisting doctors who said that I was ready to be brought to the delivery room. Wahoo! I was excited but of course the discomfort was heightening.
Think of a bowling ball in between your legs. It’s a bad picture, I know. But, think about being told to hold that bowling ball in. Well, that feels a whole lot worse. My baby was on her way out and would stop for nothing. But, the nurses had to keep my legs closed while everyone prepped for the baby’s coming. Fortunately, everyone moved fast. Edric rushed in dressed in scrubs to take my hand. My doctor was ready in about thirty seconds (she has mastered this), just in time for the next big contraction that pushed my baby out. After a second push to get her body out, it was over.
I held our daughter, Catalina, in my arms and my one thought was, “Lord, you ever amaze me!” She had a head full of dark hair, like my second son Edan, almond shaped eyes, a cute little nose and mouth. I couldn’t wait for her siblings to meet her! Edric got to cut the umbilical chord which is always a highlight for him.
Afterwards, I was cleaned up, stitched (for my episiotomy), and brought into the recovery room to rest. Catalina was wheeled in by my side and we both stayed there for at least 2 hours. I got to feed her and hold her, and when the kids came, they got their photo-op with my doctor and Edric. (I also gave them gifts to make them feel special.)
I have had six days beyond my birth to reflect on the ordeal of labor and childbirth. Here are some insights that I have been pondering…
First, there is something out-of-this-world incredible about the moment when a child is born, especially when you experience labor without anesthesia. Personally I feel that it gives me a foretaste of what it will be like when the earthly, perishable world is traded for the heaven God has promised us. Whatever agony I endured is eclipsed by that moment of perfect happiness. I look back on the long, arduous hours and the desperate desire for them to end and I think… I am glad I pushed myself to the limit. It was worth it!
Like Paul said about the sufferings of this world,For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
It was inexplicable bliss, peace, relief, and joy when I finally held my baby in my arms. How much more magnified the joy of those who are faithful to the Lord till the very end? I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7, 8 NASB)
I reveled in the victory of pushing my baby out but the reality is I could not have made it to that point alone — Edric’s reassuring support, my doctor’s expertise and years of experience, the accommodating nurses, the prayers of family and friends, and most of all, the deliverance of the Lord — these factors had to be present.
We don’t cross life’s finish line as champions alone or experience our greatest victories without the help of others. We all need one another’s assistance, encouragement, empowerment. We especially need God’s grace!
When I reached the limits of my capacity to labor on, I cried out to the Lord. I was completely dependent upon him. And he did not fail.
Although I was so disappointed when my labor did not happen the way I wanted it to, I surrendered to the Lord’s will and chose to trust in him. Then he made his grace available. He let my baby come out at the perfect time.
God does not fail us. He may not always allow circumstances to turn out the way we imagine them to but it doesn’t change who he is and how much he loves us. Let us never lose hope in the Lord or forget that he is for us. The question is, do we really seek him? Is our life oriented towards him? If it is then be encouraged by these verses…
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. (Lamentations 3:22-25 NASB)
AT PRESENT, CATALINA IS CONFINED IN THE HOSPITAL…story to follow…