Scroll to the bottom for Merrill’s recount of events.
I can’t believe our baby girl is already 3 weeks old. Time really does flies. I’ve been meaning to write this blog post since we got home from the hospital but it’s not easy to get some time to sit down in front of the PC properly to type. Anyway the initial plan was for a natural birth but due to some personal issues, we decided to opt for induction. I did try to induce labour naturally (eating pineapple, having sex etc) but it didn’t work so off we went to the hospital at midnight on Friday (technically Saturday). Before we left for the hospital, I made sure I had a shower and washed my hair as I wasn’t sure how long labour would take.
When we arrived at the hospital, we were taken to the delivery suite. I had to be hooked up to the CTG after which the nurse inserted a tablet that contained prostaglandins into me. This is to help ripen the cervix further and to stimulate contractions. At this point I was 1.5cm dilated, same as when I had my checkup the day before. I then had to lie in bed for the next 2 hours. When the 2 hours was up, the nurse came in to administer a fleet enema. After a visit to the toilet, I was allowed to sleep. It was hard to fall asleep though. Partially because of the excitement and partially due to the fact that the hubby was tossing and turning on the extremely uncomfortable sofa bed the whole time. I remember at around 4am I heard a very loud crash outside. It sounded like a car accident so I walked over to the window to take a look. I couldn’t really see anything as my view was blocked by trees so I didn’t think much of it. It was only later at around 6am when the nurse came in to give me some toast for breakfast that she told me it had been a fatal car accident (the one involving the Ferrari and taxi). I was having contractions by now but they weren’t regular and were between 5 – 10 minutes apart.
At 8am, I told the nurse that I would like a shower to freshen up so I was taken off the CTG. She also recommended I walk around as the gravity can help the baby to move down so throughout the day the hubby and I would take walks around the tiny hospital garden and the maternity floor. My obgyn, Dr. Chow, came to check on me at 11am and I was only 2cm dilated so he inserted another tablet into me. At 2.30pm, he came to check on me again. My contractions were now around 5 minutes apart and I was 3cm dilated. He stretched my cervix and also stripped my membrane but told me most likely I would need to be put on oxytocin. He considered breaking my water bag at this point but in the end decided against it. The nurse came in at 4.30pm to insert the IV needle into me in preparation for the oxytocin. She also recommended that I think about getting an epidural as the contractions would be a lot more intense with the oxytocin. The anaesthetist was in the delivery suite next door so if I wanted one now would be a good time. Quite a few friends have told me how painful and intense their contractions were with oxytocin so at this point I was tempted to go for an epidural. However I figured since the contractions have been bearable till now, I might as well try without and see how I go. Not to mention I wasn’t too keen on having a big needle poke me in my spine if it could be avoided. They started me on a low dosage of oxytocin which was to be increased every half an hour. Within an hour, the contractions were 3.5mins apart. At this point my back was also starting to ache so I had the hubby give me back rubs. The funny thing was even though the nurses told me my contractions were quite strong according to the readings, sometimes I couldn’t feel them at all. Which was a good thing I suppose as it allowed me to drift in and out of sleep.
By 10pm, the contractions were a lot more intense. It felt like very bad period cramps but mostly it was my back that was bothering me. I got up and walked around the room hoping to ease the pain. After an hour of this, I gave in and asked the nurse for entonox. Just when the nurse passed me the mask, Dr Chow came in to check on me. After examining me, he told me that I was still only 3cm dilated. There has been no progress in the labour at all even though I have already been on the oxytocin for 6 hours. The baby was also still very high up so he recommended I go for a csection. If I were to persist on, labour could drag on for another day or more and chances of complications would increase. He also mentioned that it was likely the baby’s head was too big for my pelvis so I might still end up with a csection in the end. At this point I have already been in the hospital for almost 24 hours so after a quick discussion with the hubby, we agreed to the csection.
Very quickly, I was wheeled to the operating theatre. The anaesthetist asked if I would prefer a spinal or general anaesthesia. Having had a general anaesthesia before when I underwent my laparoscopy, it was tempting to opt for it as it would all be over before I knew it. However this meant that the hubby would not be able to be in the operating theatre with me which is something that I knew he really wanted. Most importantly, I would not be able to hold my baby the moment she came out. The spinal it is then. Anyone who had an epidural before would tell you that it’s not a pleasant experience and a spinal anaesthesia is similar. I had to keep my back curled up into a C and make sure I did not move when given the injection. Not an easy thing to do considering I had a big belly in the way and also coz it really hurt when the needle was inserted. The first time I couldn’t stop myself from wincing so the anaesthetist had to remove the needle and re-insert it. When the anaesthetic was injected in, I had the sensation of an electric shock going all the way down my legs. Not pleasant. Shortly after, I started feeling pins and needles before the numbness set in. At this point, I started to panic a little and started to regret not going for a GA. It was a very scary feeling not being able to feel the lower half of your body at all and the numbness also made it harder to breathe. I had to concentrate on my breathing in order not to hyperventilate. Dr Chow then started cutting into me before the hubby finally came into the operating theatre.
My memory of what happened after is kinda hazy as I think the anaesthetic made me groggy. I remember Dr Chow talking to me but I either didn’t reply him or took a long time to do so. I also remember the hubby holding my hand throughout the operation. At one point a nurse got behind me and started pushing hard on my stomach. I vaguely knew that it was to push the baby down. I then heard Dr Chow say that the baby’s shoulders were stuck. There was more pushing and the next thing I remember was someone saying that the baby was out followed by a baby cry shortly after. That is pretty much all that I can remember about the csection so I will leave the hubby to fill in the blanks.
Karissa enters the world
After the nurses cleaned up the baby, they put her on my chest. I remember looking at her and being in disbelief that our baby girl has finally arrived. I could not believe how my heart could be so filled with love for someone so tiny and whom I have just met. My tears would not stop flowing as I was so overwhelmed with emotions. I knew then that I made the right decision not to have a GA. That moment was just too precious to give up.
So this is the story of how our baby girl came into this world. While I was disappointed I ended up having a csection, it didn’t really matter in the end. What’s important is that she made it out safely and is healthy.
Karissa Jiaxin Yap was born on 12 May 2012 at 2342 measuring 49cm and weighing 3.4kg. She is perfect.
Merrill’s Edit: Daddy’s Recount
D Day was for the most part, a largely uneventful day. Much waiting… much frustration… much fist shaking at my wife’s uterus. By nightfall on the day, I wished the doctor had been blessed with divine powers and could part Erica’s birth canal like the red sea and order Karissa to come marching through. Unfortunately, he was only blessed with the power to administration Oxytocin and managed to part her by a meager 3cm over the course of 22 hours. We were admitted just after midnight on the 12th, and I had spent the whole night curled up on a broken delivery room recliner like a domesticated feline. While I don’t have much recollection of falling into a deep slumber, I assume I did as I must have been the only person at Raffles that slept through the horrific Ferrari collision just outside our window. This was probably a good thing too, as I would have without doubt headed straight down with my camera and stumbled upon the gruesome scene.
It was an uneasy day as I wasn’t sure if or when the contractions would suddenly kick up a notch, or if Erica would suddenly go into pain and need me to assist. While I wanted to venture next door to Bugis to get some real food, I didn’t want to be away from her just in case the action started. My day was largely spent kicking around the room and taking Erica for laps around the Raffles garden courtyard. I actually really enjoyed those small walks, as short and simple they were.
Every time the nurse came to do a check up, I hoped beyond hope that her lady bits had saw fit to suddenly dilate in an accelerated manner over the last few hours. Unfortunately, progression was minimal. It started to look like it would be an extremely protracted labour that could stem well into the next day, or worse, the day after. The baby was still very high, contractions were far and dilation still stuck at 3cm. Things all changed in a heartbeat when Dr Chow marched in at 11pm and said “It’s clobbering time!”, or something to that effect… It kinda shook me up a little bit. Here I was preparing for nothing to happen for the next many hours, and suddenly here the doctor was telling us the baby is coming out now! To say I was excited would be a massive understatement! Firstly, they asked me if I wanted to be in the operating theatre with Erica. Of course I said yes! Then they asked me again if I was sure, and if I would faint at the sight of blood. This was a serious matter as they have had many husbands before passing out at the sight of all the blood. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be one of them, but well… guess you never know.
They whisked Erica out of the room and the nurses told me to meet them down on Level 7. I asked them if I should bring the camera, they said I couldn’t take pics in the operating theatre but that I could take photos after. They told me that I could come up later and get my gear. I arrived down to Level 7 and got all suited and booted to be by Erica’s side in the operating room. When I met up with Dr Chow just after I got changed, he asked me if I brought my camera. I told him it was a big DSLR and that the nurses said I could get it later, but if I could photograph the op, then I could go get it now. He seemed hesitant and explained that cameras weren’t technically allowed in theatre, and asked if I had a phone camera with me. I said yes, but it sucked, and that I had a compromise of the two, a the Sony Nex-5N, that I would be able to hide underneath my scrubs. He seemed a little hesitant, but agreed. Whew…
So basically I got my camera and waited to be ordered by the nurse into the theatre. When I finally do get in there, the operation was already well under way with Erica being carved up like a side of beef. I was directed to a stool next to her where I proceeded to hold her hand for the entire operation. Dr Chow said to me that I could only film from the moment the baby was taken out, and to get the camera ready as it would happen very quickly. And so I left the camera rolling as you can see from the video. Dr Chow kept talking to Erica, probably to gauge how lucid she was, but she wasn’t really responding. He was asking her if she worked out as her core seemed very strong. I don’t know what he saw, but all I could here right now was a very loud “SNUK SNUK SNUK” as they cut/sliced/severed her musculature in order to get the baby out. The sound gave me goosebumps.
I don’t know what people’s pre-conceptions of a caesarean operation is, but it’s far from what I thought it would be. I thought it would be an extremely delicate operation. It wasn’t. The sheer amount of force involved in getting Karissa out was incredible. The male nurse as can be seen in the video was standing over her, repeatedly shoving down hard to I imagine push or assist the baby down, as K was sitting very high. And even once Karissa’s head was out, it took a surprising amount of time for the rest of her body to be evacuated. It seemed like she was stuck in there. Again… the force. While a little disconcerting, these are all experienced personnel and I have complete trust in them. And so I sat, prayed, stared and grabbed Erica’s hand even tighter… and filmed of course.
And then she was out. Our baby… our precious gooey grey zombie baby. When I heard her first cry, I suddenly felt like I was taking my first breath in an eternity. All my fears, all my worries… they all disappeared when that first wail burst from her lungs. The feeling was simply incredible. They placed her straight on the table to wipe her down and shove tubes in her face. I’m guessing that it’s to clear the liquid from her various airways now that she’ll be powering up her lungs for the very first time. Babies are truly a miracle of god’s creation. This tiny being spending months sightless and in blackness, surviving only via her placental lifeline. Then suddenly, she’s pulled from the comfort of her watery sanctuary into the world with no preparation. Light… sound… touch… taste… smell. The 5 senses all combining to hit her hard for the first time. Her muted awareness of the world shattered like a bolt of lightning. Lungs that she’s never had to ever use suddenly fired up for the first time in the short span of a few heartbeats. It’s do or die. And it’s simply amazing.
I couldn’t cut the cord, officially, because we needed to retain as much cord blood as possible for the stem cells. So they reserved just a little for me to cut. That thing is tough as you can see! It’s like cutting through a hose with safety scissors. Once that was done, mummy and daughter were united for the first time. Even within the stark confines of the operating theatre, it was a moment that was so… real, so beautiful. I couldn’t even begin to describe it such as would do it justice. The moment was for lack of a better word… raw. It seemed like every emotion that I’ve witnessed in my life until now had been censored… edited… muted. This was moment that was as raw and uncut as could ever be. This was purity.
This… is my family.