This is the first time I go online in a week. And it feels strange that I don’t know what to say or how to begin. At times, I still find myself adrift on the deep and dazing – and at times, ambivalent – surrealism of giving birth.
Two-day old Lia
I was thinking of posting an entry about hospital expenses and other nice-to-know stuff for moms who are due to give birth, but that feels too technical and too blogger-ish for such a life enchanting experience. So, instead let me just tell things to you from a perspective of a mother who is watching her four-day old daughter sleep one quiet afternoon.
It all started with a show
A series of rooms
The progression of the labor itself was rather quick, Jigs and I didn’t even have the chance to bid dramatic goodbyes. At 5:35am – an hour following initial assessment – I was already 5 cms dilated. The pain started to shoot bad around the hips after only fifteen minutes, and I bit my crochet headband every time I contracted. Interns took turns in doing internal examinations while murmuring to each other, “Baseline lang lagi. Mababa ang heart rate ng bata,” and said I was already 6 cms dilated. Ten minutes passed and I was already at 7 cms.
I was rushed to the delivery room. Within an hour, I would be transferred to the operating room, then to the recovery room, and finally to a small room at the third floor.
Holiest of all Wednesdays
I cried in despair and in excruciating pain from there to the OR. The pain was so overpowering and intense, it felt like I was doomed to pass out any minute and never wake up. The best I could do was to avoid bearing down unless the nurses and doctors told me to do so.
When Dra. Betty arrived, she did another IE and shook her head. “8 cm na ‘to, pero ang taas-taas pa ng baby mo. Nag-labor ka na sa bahay. Dumating ka dito, 4-5 cms ka na daw, 70% effaced. Mahaba pa lalakarin ng baby mo; Ayoko i-risk. Delikado.”
She called for Jigs to come to the delivery room. “Tingnan mo ang heart rate niya,” she continued.
I blinked at the fetal monitor. It read 105.
“Ang normal 120-160. Baseline natin 110. Ang heart rate ng baby mo bumabagsak pa sa mababa sa baseline pag humihilab at umiire ka. ‘Pag tinuloy natin na i-normal yan, baka mapano ang bata.”
Without blinking, we agreed to an emergency C/S.
Dra. Betty obviously was frantic as I was being prepped for surgery. “Stat C/S! Bilisan natin kasi fetal distress na ‘to,” she told the staff.
Back to the aeon of clinical duties and scrub suits, whenever hospital staff mentioned fetal distress, none of us nursing noobs liked it because it only meant one of two things: more work because conditions are critical, and two, the possibility of losing one person on the table, who’s usually not the mom.
I felt an immediate sense of relief after that shot of morphine, numb from the waist down but conscious the entire time. This would make a great poem, I thought. A limbo of a room. How the lights blinked back, the beeping monotone from the monitor, the silver lid of the clock. Anest at T5 done. 7:59am: first cutting time.
I turned to the cardiac monitor. Mine was fine. Lia’s heart rate remained at 99 the entire time.
A few minutes after the first cut, a faint cry emerged from the other side of the curtain. Dra. Betty peeked at my side of the veil. “May cord coil ang anak mo, pero isa lang naman. Umiyak naman siya isang beses kahit mahina. Pinkish din naman. Okay ang anak mo.”
She cried again, more vigorously this time. The tears began to trickle down my face as I repeated to myself, “Buhay ang anak ko. Anak ko yung umiiyak na ‘yun!” A nurse showed Lia to me a first time, let me kiss her on the cheek, then placed her on my breasts to latch. It was an inexplicable moment – awe, relief, joy, humility and the first sense of postpartum motherhood rushing in all the same time.
“I thought I was gonna lose you on that operating table, kiddo.” I started crying, till finally it sank in: I am a mother now, and this is my daughter I am cradling. She’s no longer just an uncomfortable kick in the belly at 2am, or a blurry figure during ultrasound check ups, or an idea. She is for real. She is alive.
I still have tons to learn as a mother. Now nine days old, difficulties of rearing Lia are becoming more evident and hard-hitting. I thought the last trimester was already superbly tough, but giving birth and becoming a full-time hands-on mother took tough to a whole new level.
The past week has been a walk through fire. Asleep mostly during the day, I have to pull all-nighters all the time as I breastfeed exclusively (which means feeding every 2 hours ’round the clock) and because Lia cries ballistically from 8pm to 5am (she’s one of those babies who never stay longer than ten minutes without crying). Frequent poops, pseudomenstruation, and colic plague us on a daily basis. There are times I’d get frustrated and heartbroken that she cries despite having taken all necessary measures.
I wouldn’t pretend that I enjoy every minute of motherhood.There are times I feel like passing out, and times where I suddenly bawl out from the difficulty and external pressure. But that doesn’t also mean I resent taking care of Lia and love her less. Painstaking as this experience is, it is still one of the most incredible things that happened to me, to us. If anything, I feel that the more it gets difficult, the more that I appreciate her,my husband and being a mother.
My life is truly blessed with people that matter.
Biggest thanks to everyone who prayed and shared our journey through pregnancy till birth, and these people who visited us during our three-day stay in the hospital:
Mama and the rest of the gang para sa sandamakmak na fruits, take-out food, and heartwarming homecooked meals tuwing dadalaw sila. Also for the banig, unan at iba pang epektus.
My sister, ang unang dalaw. Salamat sa pagtali mo ng nanlilimahid ko ng buhok and for helping me sit up on bed and walk during the first day.
The sister-in-law and her husband for the beautiful bouquet of pink roses and for helping us gear up on the last day going home.
Macky and Ronald sa nakakakabag na kwentuhan at nakakapang-laway na doublecheeseburger meals.
The in-laws for all their help. Seriously. A blog post is not enough to thank you.