I was 3 days over my due date when contractions finally started around 5:30 in the morning. They were about 10-12 minutes apart lasting a minute or less. At 7 AM I decided to take a warm shower. This time the contractions were getting closer together and getting a little bit more intense. My husband paged my midwife on call. She called us within minutes and she spoke to me and listened as I had my contractions. We agreed to meet at the birthing center around 9:30.
I had breakfast with the girls as my husband prepared the stuff we needed to bring with us. As soon as we were all set, we drove our girls to a friend’s house, and off we went to the birthing center, which was about a 40 minute drive. The contractions got to 4 minutes apart and more intense, but still manageable.
When we finally arrived at the birthing center, my midwife was already there waiting for us. I used the exercise ball a lot when I felt the contractions starting up again and walked around when it eases up. I was 8 cm dilated but cervix was still intact. My husband and I decided that if my water doesn’t break on its own around 1 PM, we would ask the midwife to intervene and break it. At 1:20 PM, Brianna, my attending midwife, broke my water. The contractions quickly became more extreme, I started grunting. The excruciating pain that I felt assured me that I am going to meet my baby soon. Barb, the other midwife that was there to assist Brianna, helped me gain back control of my breathing. I started pushing half an hour after my water broke. I pushed as arduous as I could! It was a grueling pain… but a pain with a purpose indeed! A part of me wanted to run away from the pain. My whole body twitched in agony. I clenched my husband’s hand with my left hand and the sidebar of my bed with my right as the waves of searing pain surged into my back, around my abdomen, and down below.
When I finally felt the baby’s head came out, I felt a huge sigh of relief. I waited for that quick gush of slimy body coming out of me, but that didn’t happen. That’s when I knew something is not right. Brianna kept asking me to push. When I felt the urge to push again, I gave all that I can. The pain was sharp! But despite my effort, the baby wasn’t coming out. I felt something was lodged. I remembered another mom’s experience about the doctor breaking her baby’s collar bone because the baby wasn’t coming out and her contractions stopped. A lot of things went through my head despite the burning pain that was consuming me. “Mind over matter”, my dad used to say. I did not wait for another contraction, as they were becoming far apart. I willed to push my baby. The strength God can give a woman in labour is astonishing! After one long insufferable push, the baby finally came out! It was 2:19 in the afternoon of the 21st of February. Finally, I felt relieved. The moment we had been waiting for had arrived.
“You’re right Sweets, it’s a boy,” was the first thing I heard from my husband. A boy! I knew it! (I could finally trust my instinct again). And then I heard our baby give a soft cry. The sound was so delicate and beautiful.
I had a marginal cord insertion with this pregnancy so my umbilical cord was shorter. Instead of handing the baby to my arms right away, Brianna laid him down on my tummy, with his lower legs dangling between mine. I could see the top of his head. You can imagine my eagerness to hold him close. After I pushed my placenta out, Brianna cut the umbilical cord and handed me my first baby boy. I nestled him in my arms, and he immediately tried to nurse. Skin to skin, we bonded.
“Does he have a name?”, one of the midwives asked. Ian and I looked at each other. I asked him if he’s still okay with the name we have for the baby, and he said yes.
I looked at our baby again and I said “Edward Timothy”.
It’s a combination of our father’s names. Mine being Eduardo (a Spanish name, which we changed to Edward to make it an English name), and Ian’s dad, Timothy. As I searched for the meanings of these names, here’s what I found out:
Edward is an English name derived from the Anglo-Saxon form Éadweard, composed of the elements ead “wealth, fortune; prosperous, blessed” and weard “guardian, protector”. Used in the royal family by three Anglo-Saxon kings and eight kings of England since the Norman Conquest.
Timothy is an English form of the Greek name Timotheos meaning “honouring God”, derived from timao “to honour” and theos “god”.
Edward Timothy. What a beautiful name! It sounds so regal and dignified.
Once Edward was lying peacefully on my chest, my attending midwife immediately worked on stitching my tear. She applied some freezing compound, but I still felt the sting of the needle when it first went through my skin. The next stitches didn’t hurt. After the stitches were done, Brianna did some examination. She looked a bit concerned. She called a doctor to check on my tear. Dr. Wilhelm could not see the tear very well so she undid my stitches. The probing was getting painful so she put some more freezing compound.
She confirmed what I fear might happened if I go over my due date.
I had a fourth-degree perineal tear, which means the laceration extends to the rectum and the tissue underneath it. Dr. Wilhelm said that the surgery is complex and beyond her specialty so she called for the resident surgeon. They were hoping they can just perform the surgery in the room, if not I would have to go the operating room.
While waiting for Dr. Graham, the resident surgeon, my midwives check Edward’s vitals and what not.
They were surprised to find out how much the baby weighs. He was 9 lbs and 6 oz! Just 2 ounces shy away from being a 9.5 pound baby! He’s 21.5 inches long, with a head circumference of 36.5 cm. In short, he’s a huge baby. For my petite body size, he’s enormous!
When Dr. Graham finally arrived, he introduced himself to me, and then proceeded into examining my tear. The piercing pain from probing what the “situation” was, was more than I could bear. And so he asked the “poor girl” to be prepped for surgery in the OR under general anaesthesia.
They hooked an IV to my left hand, and gave me some antibiotics. The antibiotics sting as it goes through my vein.
From the bed, I sat down on the wheelchair. My husband gave me a kiss and told me he and Edward will be waiting for me back in the recovery room, which offered me some comfort. And then the nurse wheeled me to the OR. Brianna stayed with Ian and Edward until I got back into my room. The anaesthesiologist discussed with me the pros and cons of going under general anaesthesia. After that, I signed a waiver. I was then transferred into the operating table and was strapped down. A few seconds after they put the oxygen mask on my face, I went to sleep. An hour and half after, I woke up. Groggy. Not knowing how long I had been out. I was transferred back into my room not long after. I looked at the clock with haze vision. It was 8 o’clock in the evening. The surgery went well. I felt no pain.
Brianna checked up on me one last time before she left. The evening nurse attached a catheter to me. I felt a slight pinch when she inserted the tube. It felt weird. No wonder my grandma doesn’t like wearing one.
Ian gave Edward to me when I was finally fully conscious. For the first time, I was able to examine his face. He looks so much like our firstborn Mira when she was a baby, only he’s 2 pounds heavier and with less hair than the girls. Despite his chunkiness, he has some very defined features already.
“What a handsome little man!” they all said. And a handsome little man he is indeed!
When he looked at me, I noticed he has dark blue eyes like his dad! I wish it would stay that way.
The succeeding hours that night felt long, with Edward being awake every hour wanting to feed. Finally around 4 AM he settled down, and I was able to take a nap. Around 6:30 AM a nurse came in to check my vital’s and the baby’s. He had his newborn screening tests done that day too and blood sugar tests. His glucose level was a bit low when they first took it after he came out so they wanted to monitor it. He passed all his tests with flying colours!
My catheter was removed the following day. I had some swelling on my feet when I first got up from being in bed after the surgery. It felt strange to walk with my swollen feet. I wanted to remove the IV too but they kept it on for another day in case they needed to give me morphine for the pain. But I told them, I didn’t have any pain where the stitches are. Instead I have pain in my abdomen when I breastfeed Edward. It’s a sign that my uterus is contracting which is a good thing. Another pain with a purpose. So I bore with it. They gave me some Tylenol every few hours to manage the pain. Eventually that annoying, tormenting cramping pain in my abdomen subsided.
When Dr. Graham visited me the following day after the surgery, he confirmed with me what I already know. “The surgery went well.” However, there was a pause in his speech. Like there’s a but coming. He didn’t leave me hanging too much and went straight to the “unpredictable complications of the complex surgery”. His own words not mine.
Not to be graphic, what he told me scared the living daylights out of me. As if the risks of the surgery is not alarming enough, the fact that it would take months to heal was not the news I wanted to hear. I was devastated! I wish my husband was in the same room with me at that time, but he went home to get our girls. I haven’t seen them since we left to go to the birthing center.
The girls came with Ian later that morning. They were both happy to see momma and excited to see the baby that was no longer in my tummy. Mira told me they bought some flowers for me. They were beautiful! Ian set the vase down by the table next to my bed. It made the room a little more homey. Having all my favourite people close to me made my day seemed better already. Our girls’ joyous smile meeting their little brother for the first time made it extra special!
Ian took the girls home eventually. He came back to stay with me and Edward once our friend Bobbi made it to our home to look after our girls. We stayed another night at the birthing center because Dr. Graham still wanted to see me the next day before we are discharged.
Edward had his first bath in the morning of the 3rd day. He screamed as the nurse wiped him down. He kicked and threw some punches in the air. Feisty, strong little man, I tell you! A few minutes after, he was all clean. Ian put his blue sleeper on which matches his dark blue eyes.
When Dr. Graham visited me and checked my stitches the following day, my husband and I heard a more positive news. He asked me to take stool softener and olive oil orally to not aggravate my stitches when my bowel movement starts. I was asked to see him again in 2 weeks, and he told me I will be under his care until everything is healed.
When he left the room, I bawled my eyes out. It’s as if a heavy burden on my chest was lifted up. Ian came close to my bed, and held my hand firmly as he held back his tears.
On our last day at the birthing center, two lovely ladies who are dear to my heart gave us a visit – my dear friend Bobbi who stayed with our girls overnight until the afternoon of the next day so Ian can stay with me at the birthing center; and momma Hundt who is like a mother to me. She brought me a delicious bar of dark chocolate because she found out that my dark chocolate supply was getting low, and gave Edward a cute sleeper with wild animal prints!
When Mira found out that momma was finally coming home, she was ecstatic! I heard she was pretty sad the night daddy took them home without me. I was happy to be going home too! Three days away from the comfort of our own bed seems long enough already. Little did I know that our drive home that night was just a beginning of a long arduous journey towards getting better.
It is now Day 9 since Edward was born but I already found myself lost in a pool of mixed emotions. These past few days I have found myself crying out of joy, relief, despair, frustration, anguish, and yes even out of love! To summarize my conflicting emotions, I feel….
- blessed to be able to go home with a healthy baby boy
- overwhelmed by the uncertainties a 4th degree tear can cause me in the future
- grateful for God’s grace that has been sustaining us through this journey
- scared of the unpredictable complications of the surgery
- thankful that my husband can take 4 months off work to help us get through this hump
- frustrated that I can’t help at all in the house; I can’t even tuck our girls to sleep because their room is upstairs and I cannot do stairs yet.
- stirred with the thought that I have to wait a year before considering having another baby
- petrified I may not be able to give birth naturally without the risk of another 3rd-4th degree tear.
- elated watching Edward sleep peacefully in my arms
- indebted to my husband for all his efforts to look after me, our kids, our dog Sandy, and the house (please forgive the mess when you visit!) without any complaints
- utterly annoyed that I have to follow a certain diet for a while, that I cannot eat anything and everything the way I used to; for someone who LOVES to eat this is a terrible thing!
- appreciative of our family and friends who had been praying for us; looked after our girls while we were at the birthing center; brought us meals since we got home; and offered to take our girls so we could rest
Yes it is only Day 9 since Edward was born and so it is still early for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But just like my husband keeps telling me, “everything will get better”. I just have to keep reminding myself that.