(WARNING: THIS IS A LONG & VERY PERSONAL POST!)
According to the doctors, Pia’s estimate due date was 29 March 2012, which would be a Thursday. A week before, I had gone to the clinic for my regular check-up and since I was not experiencing any contractions and/or any other labor signs, I was advised to come in again on my actual due date for another check-up i.e. if I still did not start labor. Actually as per doctor’s recommendation I should have stopped reporting for work 2 weeks before my due date, but since I (1) wanted to save up my maternity leave for after I actually gave birth to allow me more time to rest and bond with Pia, (2) still had to finish briefing my reliever at the office (too many things to teach in such a short time), and (3) was not feeling any discomfort, even Braxton Hicks’ contractions, I decided to continue reporting for work until actual labor begins.
The weekend before my due date, i.e. Saturday, 25 March 2012, I reported for overtime duty to give my final briefing to my reliever, Wendy. We worked from 9AM to about 1PM, if I recall correctly, and I was still feeling fine after we separated ways. No pain, no discomfort, still no signs of labor. Saturday evening passed uneventful. The following day, Sunday, I distinctly recall speaking to Pia in my womb; telling her that it’s ok to come out already, since Lola is already here. Lola is my mom, Mama, who had already arrived a few days before from the Philippines to help me with my birth, recovery and taking care of Pia. Sunday morning also passed uneventful. Late afternoon, I started feeling a little back pain but thought nothing of it as the feeling still came and went at irregular intervals. I even attended the 530PM Sunday Mass with Mama and Rhenee and although I could feel the back pain again several times during the mass, it was still bearable . After mass we went home for a quick dinner then went back to church to show our presence and support for the ongoing Christian Life Program that our Catholic community was conducting. I was chatting with my CFC sisters, Len, Jane & Gerly, in the hall about the excitement of welcoming Pia and some commented that my face looked ‘different’ already especially when I would get my back pain. My close friend, Jovert, even told me, after sharing with him what I had experienced so far, to go to the hospital already but I still said, no, I’m still okay and that I would just go home first, because if indeed what I was having were contractions, they were not very regular yet and I didn’t want to end up going to the hospital and being told to go home.
We went home close to 11PM already. I was still complaining of back pain and so my mom and I decided to record and time my intervals to see if there was already a pattern forming. Then I excused myself to go to the bathroom and when I sat down at the toilet, I saw that my panty already had blood on it! This is it! I had read in my pregnancy preparation books that this was one confirmed sign of labor so I hurriedly told my mom and Rhenee. Mama told me to take a warm shower and change into comfortable loose clothing, then off to the hospital we went. En route to the hospital, I began sending text messages to my family and friends about what was happening, asking especially for their prayers for a quick, normal, healthy delivery and birth for Pia. When we arrived at the hospital and the nurse/midwife checked me, I was already 4cm (or was it 3cm?) dilated! This is really it! I was feeling nervous and excited and fearful all at the same time, but through it all I kept praying to Mama Mary and St. Pio, for Pia and for myself too, that I would be able to have a safe, normal and quick delivery.
Since I was still at the early labor stage, the nurses took me to the Stage 1 Labor Room. I had to stay there by myself while Rhenee and Mama stayed outside of the ward as they were not allowed to stay inside with me. My labor steadily progressed while I was in the Stage 1 Labor Room. My contractions became more and more intense and the nurses could hear me breathing heavily through each and every contraction. There were 2 other mothers with me in the room; they were sound asleep when I arrived and still sound asleep when the nurses wheeled me to the delivery room when I became 6cm dilated at a little past 2AM. The nurses notified Rhenee and he was allowed to stay with me in the delivery room but Mama was not allowed in. So it was just Rhenee, myself, the midwife, and nurses in the delivery room. There I was laid down on the bed and asked if I wanted any medicine for the pain but I refused any drugs as I didn’t want them being passed on to Pia. I had already planned to have a natural, drug-free birth and although the contractions were really painful, I just kept breathing and praying through the pain, one contraction at a time. Rhenee was there with me the whole time, encouraging me, praying over/with me while documenting what was transpiring. Mama was outside of the delivery room, waiting it out and praying too. And I knew that scores of other people, esp. my family in the Philippines was praying for us too.
Everything was going well for a time, i.e. my cervix was slowly opening every hour … 6cm, 7 cm, then at 8cm, it suddenly didn’t want to open further for over 2 hours! The midwife called for the OB-GYN on duty and she checked me and told me that if I didn’t progress further, they would have to do an emergency caesarian section, esp. if Pia showed any signs of stress or difficulty. Rhenee and I had to sign the consent form to have the caesarian and I remembered praying even harder after that because I honestly didn’t want to have the procedure done as much as possible, but of course, if it had to be done esp. for Pia’s sake, we would do it. So after Rhenee and I prayed together, he went out to Mama to update her and to ask for more prayers from everyone who was waiting on news from us. It was already about 7AM by this time, meaning I had been in labor for the past 7 hours and the contractions were already very intense and closer and closer together. The night duty midwife had to say goodbye to me already because her shift was over, but she left me with some encouraging words: “You are very strong. You can deliver your baby normally. Just keep doing what you’re doing, focusing on your breathing. And of course, continue to pray.”
And that’s what I did. Breathe. Pray. Pray. Breathe. Pray. Pray. And I think it was after another hour or so I when my cervix began to open again, praise God! The contractions were more intense than ever and the intervals so short, I could hardly catch my breath and when they checked me, I was already 9cm dilated! They kept telling me, don’t push until I tell you to push, but I just couldn’t hold the pushing anymore and no matter how hard I tried from refraining to push, I just couldn’t – I was tired and hungry and I felt my body telling me it’s already time to push Pia out! It was now close to 9AM and would you believe that I still had the presence of mind to tell Rhenee to call my office because they did not yet know I was already in the delivery room! Hahaha!
Anyway, back to the pushing. So it was push, push, push, rest. Push, push, push, rest. Push, push, push, rest. Rhenee: Come on, dear. A little bit more. I can see her head already. Push, push, push, rest. Push, push, push, rest. Rhenee: A little bit more dear. Come on. Push, push, push, rest. Push, push, push, rest. Push, push, push, rest. Rhenee: One more big push, dear. Her head’s almost out. Push, push, push, rest. Push, push, push, rest. And then, finally, at 9:44AM, Brunei time, Pia was out! All 3.58kg of her! Rhenee: I love you, dear! I love you! Ang galing mo! (You’re awesome!)
After cleaning her up, they brought Pia to my breast to drink my colostrum, so we were skin to skin for a while. No words can describe what I was feeling at that moment. No words. But mostly I think I was just grateful and relieved that labor was over, and I had made it, and that Pia was finally here, healthy and normal. Praise God!
You know how some say you’d cry after seeing your newborn baby? I honestly didn’t cry at that point. The tears only fell when I finally saw Mama in the post delivery room. That’s when I started bawling!!! Grateful, blessed, joyful tears. Grateful for the gift that we had been given. Blessed to be a real mom at last. Joyful for the miracle of life, love and family.