Second Pregnancy. Second Birth Story.
🌟 LEAP OF JUBILEE JOY 🌟
Jubilee Joy is here! Yes, that’s the first and middle name of our second daughter. It’s not a common name, but one bursting with joy. Indeed, her loud cries filled the delivery suite when she popped out of my birth canal. “What loud cries she has!”, was our first thought.
So was my second birth easier? Even after all the prayers and books, not really… but all things work out for the good. If you are looking for faith-building testimonies for supernatural childbirth, you might want to look elsewhere. For others interested in my birth story at NUH, here goes.
27 Feb 2020, Thurs
Before I begin my birth story, it’s worth taking a step back to 27 February 2020. I went to Tuberculosis Control Unit (“TBCU”) for review. Took X-ray, and fluid in my lungs didn’t come back. Hence, after 6 months, I was officially discharged from TBCU! Yays, my journey with Tuberculosis has finally come to an end. 6 months is not long per se, but days stretched when in turmoil.
No more antibiotics, frequent polyclinic and TBCU visits, no more illness. No need to worry about the antibiotics and logistics interfering with my confinement too. Moreover, if I hadn’t been discharged from TBCU, baby might have to do many intrusive tests upon birth. The paediatrician NUH assigned to baby Jubilee said the likelihood of congenital TB is low. Hence, there was no need to test the baby after my discharge.
My heart leaped in joy! Time for celebration. Baby Jubilee to come into this world in trumpet proclaiming my freedom.
28 Feb 2020, Fri
Hubby’s morning conversation with Baby EX on the way to school.
EX: Why did you bring this luggage?
B: Jubilee might be coming, so we are bringing this hospital bag along to see doctor. Do you want her to come today or tomorrow?
She thought for a while
On 28 Feb, 3:30AM, I woke up for the toilet. And when I’m back to bed, mild contractions hit me. On and off they came. I drifted in and out of sleep until 5:00AM when Baby EX woke up way earlier than usual. Wore my cross necklace and the contractions stopped. I did tell God I want to rest today with Baby EX hanging out with my parents (been so busy and tired for weeks), satisfy my Godiva ice cream craving, and have a leap year baby.
In any case, I had gynae appointment that day. Prof Su Lin Lin from NUH checked my cervix. With a soft cervix and 2-3cm dilation, she said it’s anytime soon. I was going to deliver the very same day or the next day. She asked if I want to be admitted, and of course I said no. Nothing beats waiting in the comfort of home. And better to walk around to induce the labour naturally.
“I hope it will be tomorrow,” I replied her with a casual remark. Hubby had the same sentiments too, even though many people, including my mother, think it’s not good to have birthday only every 4 years. We, on the other hand, love a birth date with a story to tell. Perhaps that’s the desire God put on our family’s heart.
Anyway the cervix check/vaginal examination (“VE”) was so painful that I was still reeling in pain after 10 minutes. Traumatised insertion. Prof Su ordered CTG to read the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. During the process, different nurses kept coming in to check on me, making a big fuss on the baby movements. Asking me and that. Making me so stressed out, thinking something might be wrong. That’s why Leila (from Leila and Co) didn’t recommend CTG monitoring during labour because it might lead to unnecessary medical interventions too.
After we left NUH, we went to have Yakun bread, Sushi Tei for my favourite avocado roll and finally enjoy Godiva 1-for-1 ice cream. Satisfy my cravings first. Thank God!
Back home after lunch, I was so tired and tried to nap. Napped a little, because the contractions were not letting me rest. About 3:10PM, I came down the bed and felt a heavy press down on my vagina. Then there’s the bloody show when I went toilet. Mucus plug was out!
Did some work on my laptop and the contractions were completely gone. Good thing baby hasn’t come yet, because my website has some frustrating technical problems. Knotty problems that seemed almost impossible for me to resolve, then came across this simple method online and tadah, the errors were mysteriously gone! I was surprised, just like how my contractions came and mysteriously gone the next. Was I experiencing prodromal labour? Such labour has real contractions but they come and go and labor may not progress.
With my website problems resolved, at least I could give birth in peace. In the evening, I walked and did squats to induce labour. The contractions were back, albeit still irregular.
Contractions seemed tapered off or gone at some point when I was lying on my bed to rest for the night. Yet like the night before, the moment I shut my eyes to sleep, waves of contractions hit me. 11:21PM. There’s hope for a leap year baby.
29 Feb 2020, Sat
“You can monitor a bit more. And if you have the feeling of wanting to poop, it means you are closer to labour,” the nurse from the delivery suite advised me on the other end of the line. 3:36AM.
I was feeling strong contractions and couldn’t sleep at all. So I woke up to prepare breakfast for Baby EX and almost woke hubby up. Irregular but painful contractions. The intervals became closer. Early in the morning about 5:00AM, I had that pooping sensation. After three times of such, hubby coincidentally woke up to ask if I was alright.
So I told hubby to get ready for hospital. Left home about 5:50AM. Good thing I asked my mum to stay over and look after baby EX. My mum happened to wake up early to send us off. Should have waited a bit more for Baby EX who woke up shortly after at 6:20AM. We could have left the house later because while on the way to hospital and at the hospital, my contractions spaced out into longer intervals. I felt guilty of suddenly leaving baby EX for a few days without a proper goodbye AGAIN. The last time was the hospital stay for tuberculosis.
The ride to the hospital was super fast and bumpy. I had no contractions throughout the ride, until I alighted. Went to the delivery suite and then decided I was not in such pain to be admitted. Hence I walked around the hospital garden until 8:00AM to see if contractions were getting worse. I almost went back home, but decided to head back to the delivery suite for them to do the cervix check/vaginal examination (“VE”) and gauge my labour progress. The on and off contractions were frustrating and testing my patience. Apparently, irregular contractions could be due to baby being in an non-optimal position and thus labour takes longer. Position well for natural birth, Jubilee!
At the Delivery Suite
Against all my prayers, the doctor on duty at the delivery suite was a male doctor. And it’s the Indian, male doctor I met at the subsidised NUH gynae clinic. I didn’t like him because he kept pressurising me to take the Oscar test. And now he was pressurising me to let him do the initial VE.
Prof Su knew my concern and thus indicated on my birth plan to let the midwife do the VE if it was a male doctor on duty and for non-emergency situation. However, the male doctor was reluctant to let the midwife. He wanted to negotiate with me, saying he would do the first VE and the midwife to do it thereafter. “Anyway, you should be giving birth within 8 hours. I will still be here and be the one to deliver for you if Prof Su can’t make it.” Like saying, I will get to see it anyway, so what’s the big deal. Okay, exaggeration here, but I think he meant it along this line. (Good thing Prof Su made it in time for my delivery!)
He really wanted to make the initial assessment himself for Prof Su. But I really didn’t want.. so I said I would just trust the midwife’s judgment. Then he reluctantly agreed and assured me she is very experienced and he would trust her.
“3cm and cervix stretchable,” the midwife reported. That meant if the water bag burst, I would go into labour very fast, so the male doctor suggested I admit. He also called Prof Su, who thought I should admit too, because based on her VE yesterday, she thought I was going to give birth the same day. But after a whole day of contractions, I’m only dilated from 2 to 3cm? Didn’t seem like labour would progress fast.
Anyway I didn’t like this midwife, who kept asking me if I want epidural, sounding as if to persuade me to have it, “I show you the form first?” she said. I almost gave in, until hubby said don’t get swayed by her. On hindsight, I think she wanted to make her life easier with one less screaming mama.
At the Hospital Ward, Waiting
Since the professionals said I would give birth today, might as well start using the hospital ward now. We had to pay for the full day for hospital ward anyway. And phew, they have single ward! This works out for the good in a way. Get to “reserve” the room in case the limited single rooms run out by the time I gave birth.
Also, I could do whatever labour positions or soothing methods with hubby in the single ward. Things that I might be embarrassed to do in the delivery suite or shared ward. And the ward has a more homely feel than the clinical delivery suite, and that improves my mood for delivery.
The contractions while in the ward were really painful. Some methods that relieved my pain include:
- Breathing techniques taught by Leila.
- Praying in tongues.
- Leaning in on the pain and enjoying it (sadistic but helped for a while).
- Praying God to bring me to heaven with each wave of contractions.
Only had one white bread in the morning, and some milo and biscuits for lunch. No appetite. All my energies gained from the chicken essence and energy drink were expended in the morning. I got really sleepy after lunch time. Dozing off to sleep, but of course unable to because of the contractions. I was getting tired from the long labour.. and very impatient too. “Why doesn’t the baby want to come out?!”
So I shook myself awake and told myself to get the labour going so I could have proper rest after baby is out. I tried to change into many different positions (another way to induce labour) and sure enough the contractions started getting more painful. Soon I could feel the urge to push. Decided if I should tell the nurse or not. I think it would be nicer to deliver in the ward.
At around 3:30PM, I told the nurses I wanted to go to the delivery suite. They asked me to eat a bit first because it would take a long time at the delivery suite.
Back to the Delivery Suite
About 4:00PM, a new midwife attended to me and prepped me, saying the one assigned to me was currently busy. One midwife is assigned to a few mummies. I’m hoping it’s not the first one who did VE for me. I almost asked if this midwife prepping me can be my one – she’s nicer. Turned out the midwife assigned to me is another experienced lady. She’s steady and calm, good for the anxious me.
Before she did a VE on me, she said judging from my face, I should be 4-5cm dilated. I’m like what… another 1 cm only after so long?! Anyway she checked, and I was thinking /praying to be 7cm, and it’s 7cm! Phew.
4:30PM, they called Prof Su. The midwife suggested breaking waterbag so that the labour would progress fast. She added that Prof Su would take her time here because I didn’t want to break water bag. If she come too fast, she had to wait too. Guilt trip me again. Hmm. I wanted nature takes its course. Even if break, I also want Prof Su to be the one doing it.
I estimated/hoped that Prof Su would come at 5:00PM and she did! Wanted her to come earlier because I wanted a 5:55PM baby, but in the end still a nice number at 6:06PM.
Prof Su came and said she saw the head coming but the waterbag or SAC was there blocking the way. So she suggested to break the waterbag for the baby to come out faster. So yup, decided on that again.. to break at the brink of delivery, like Baby EX.
The Push and Delivery
I felt like pushing but I was not fully dilated. So had to control a bit. But it was painful. 🙁 They kept saying they see the baby but why was she stuck and not slide out?!
During my first birth, I got so tired from pushing until my arms ached. Second time, I was still unsure of the correct method to push. I had to rely on this last minute read I came across while waiting in the ward. It’s J-breathing of Hypnobirthing. I recalled the definition and tried to put it into practice. It did help me to push right, based on the midwife responses.
The ring of fire is no joke. The hole below felt like it was burning every time I pushed for the baby to be out. So fiery, it made me reluctant to make a push. But I had to push the baby out! 进退两难。
Why were my friends’ second babies all come out in two to three pushes? But after so many pushes, my baby was still not out? Who said second childbirth is easier?
Then again, my perspective was warped by pain. Hubby said my labour this time was shorter and that I pushed fewer times, probably fewer than ten pushes, although he felt that the intensity was higher, like I pushed harder. I tried different labour positions. I liked the one on all fours, with elevated front. In this way, I could keep my legs open while pushing. I just couldn’t keep my legs open, as ordered by midwife, if I was lying on my back to push. There were so many other things to take note. Midwife asked me not to shout and concentrate my energy and push from my abdomen and chin down.
In the end, I still birthed on my back because the midwife kept saying it’s easier for her to see the baby this way. And easier for them to deliver and stitch this way too. So I told her and my husband to press my legs for me while I pushed.
If you want a fully pro-natural birth, home birth might be a better option.
When they saw Baby EX’s head out, I was asked to stop pushing. Prof Su put her whole hand in and pulled her body out. This time when only the head was out, they asked me to give another push for the body to be out. I also needed to push for the placenta to be out.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.Psalms 28:7c
And that’s it!
Shouts of Jubilee came after a painful ordeal. The first thing that caught our attention was her loud cries. Indeed Jubilee Joy! She didn’t look as big as Baby EX, but many people upon seeing her photo said she’s chubby and of good weight. Could it be the photo angle or her chubby cheeks? 3.16kg, a few grams more than baby EX. I was still worried about her weight when she was hovering less than 10th percentile during my TB period. My binge eating paid off!
Jubilee really held on against all contractions and came as a leap year baby on 29 Feb! A birth date people will remember. A birth date with a story to tell. In the bible (Lev 25:8-12), the year of Jubilee came every fifty years (after counting seven times seven years: forty-nine years). And now, Baby Jubilee’s birthday comes every 4 years.
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.
The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
“ ‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.Leviticus 25:10-13
Prof Su went on to put two local anaesthestic jabs around my vagina and asked if I wanted laughing gas for the stitching. Then decided later to stitch without first and see if I could bear.
The midwife said because I had a rapid labour, the uterus was expelling much blood and clots. The ward nurses commented that my labour was fast too. Perhaps they didn’t see the long early labour I had endured. And probably guessed my dilation wrongly based on the pain on my face.
In any case, she came at God’s appointed timing. This bundle of joy. And although she took some time to be out, I birthed her as I would like — no c-sect, no induction, and no epidural. Now, let’s embark on this new journey of four together.
We love you, Jubilee.
Fresh48 Photography by Orange Studios.
My acquaintance, also a mother, who instead of congratulating me upon reading this, got super offended by my post. In a harsh tone, she accused me of putting down medical interventions.
Firstly, that’s not super nice/respectful to treat a mother who just gave birth, hormones raging, baby blues hovering around. Secondly, why so offended at my personal choice? Going natural is my choice, just like medical interventions are to her and some mothers.
Just in case you are like this acquaintance of mine, I just want to clarify, I am not against medical interventions, I just didn’t want to have those for my birth, knowing some of the implications of these interventions. For e.g., induced labour is more painful than if nature takes its course. Moreover, studies have shown that in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (O&G), medical interventions are used more often than necessary. Above all, respect another mother’s choice, if you disagree, please speak in grace and love, not in toxicity.