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I'm back into the real world after two days being confined and pampered in the hospital ;> Now Kei is one week old. Anyway my handsome and caring husband has written the summary of the birth process in the previous entry, and I'll try to write down more details of the birthing experience before I forgot, so here goes. This story will come in several parts: the preparation, the birth story itself, and some afterthoughts. These stories are personal story of mine, and I share it here for my family and friends. And it's gonna be long because I want to dump as much details as possible that I can remember.
Technical (Medical) Preparation
I couldn't help to think that the hemorrhage that I experienced during Noe's childbirth is related to the drugs given during childbirth, mainly to induce contraction. The induction through drugs increases the risk of bleeding, and I am one of the unfortunate few who have the risk turned into reality. So this time around, I really really hoped to have the delivery process as natural as possible - drug free (ranging from induction to painkiller), in order to minimize the risk of such drugs. Luckily this time around the pregnancy went on quite well, with ample amniotic fluid in the womb, and the doctor said that there is no need to speed up the delivery through induction. This is unlike my first pregnancy when I was on the verge of pre-eclampsia and the doctor strongly suggested induction.
Aiming for drug-free birth, I needed to equip myself with references on natural process of childbirth. I would recommend "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin. It outlines the technical aspects of natural birthing process and the hidden risks of medical intervention. You can read this book, but with a pinch of salt because it is heavily biased against the medical approach of childbirth, so sometimes the language seems to exaggerate the risks of medical intervention. For me, the book has helped me in outlining a sensible birth plan while keeping in mind the medical risk that I have to bear.
At the end, doctor said my birthing process couldn't be totally drug-free, considering my history of post-partum hemorrhage. I'm considered high risk, hence the doctor needed to safeguard against repeat bleeding episode by prescribing SOP. Upon the delivery of the baby, doctor will flush me with synthetic oxytocin through IV to speed up uterine contraction and prevent excessive bleeding. Well, at least the beginning part of the delivery process itself can be attempted drug-free.
I also prayed really hard not to have cesarean delivery as I am very scared to have my womb sliced. Luckily there hasn't been any indication that warrants cesarean (such as placenta previa), so I kept my fingers crossed, hoping to not have emergency cesarean after trying for natural birth (such as in the unexpected situation of brow / facial presentation).
On the side note, me, Indi, and Dian are trying to make a small video on breastfeeding. Breastfeeding during the first hour would be part of this video. Since I have never do early-latch-on within the first hour of birth, I sought Doris Fok's help (my trusted lactation consultant). It turned out that she was also enthusiastic about this video that she agreed to help me breastfeed the baby as soon as birth as well as giving input on the video concepts. At the end, she did much more than just helping the initial breastfeeding, she also became my birth coach and confidante that has helped me physically and psychologically even during pregnancy.
Mental Preparation and Coping With Death
Ina May Gaskin's book also strongly emphasizes the power of mind and positive thinking for childbirth. It even proposes that child birth can be totally painless when approached with positive attitude. Quoting "Childbirth without Fear", Ina May argues that the exaggeration of labor pain comes from the fear of pain itself, and to sum up, it is important to maintain positive attitude towards childbirth so that your state of mind would help to minimize the "pain". In short, the book tries to bring child birth to the women who bear the child herself, rather than surrendering to the mechanistic medical approach that sees child birth as pathological (sickness-related) problem.
Having read such an empowering book boosted my confidence to try for drug-free birth. But then something unexpected happen. My cousin passed away during childbirth, just three weeks before my own due date! Her death has made my mental preparation for my own childbirth even more challenging. My cousin's death which was caused by amniotic fluid embolism during childbirth freaked me out because of two things. First, I'm due for my own childbirth within 3 weeks after her death. Secondly, it was inevitable that I became really distraught because my own past childbirth process was complicated by pre-eclampsia and severe hemorrhage. That practically put me into the high risk category, even though I don't experience pre-eclampsia now. So basically the first few days after her death I was very much distraught, and I couldn't sleep at night thinking about her death and my own impending. I became very scared of childbirth that faces me in a few weeks time. But I couldn't explain to myself on what exactly made me distraught and scared.
My religious/spiritual upbringing taught me to always surrender to God's will (pasrah) and not to fear death because it is inevitable. But why now suddenly I feel so scared? I try to understand the reason behind those emotions. After thinking and reflecting, it became clear to me that my fear of death was because I do not want to leave my young family alone. My fear of death is because I don't want to see my young family miserable without me, because this is what I've seen in families where the mothers unexpectedly departed in early age. Eventually they cope with it, but not before going through very difficult times. Having witnessed this, I spent a few nights after my cousin's death thinking, imagining, and crying about it.
When I finally spoke to my husband about my feelings, he listened with full empathy, and finally said jokingly, "Why should you worry and cry about your own death? It's me who's going to be troubled by it, if it happens!" Hmmmm, that's true, I am not the right person to worry about my own death, aren't I? Glad that my husband takes my worry light-heartedly, and uplift me. Basically he wants me to not to be troubled by my cousin's death, and to think positively about my childbirth.
Indeed, talking to people has helped alleviate my fear. I talked to people in parenting and AFE Victims forums, and they gave me positive support and scientific explanation about the AFE condition. So is my doctor, who pinpointed the risk and scientific facts on AFE, and why I shouldn't worry about it because the chance is very small. My doctor even said jokingly / tragically, that should AFE happens to me, there's nothing can be done by the doctor because it is so fast and undetectable.
Doris, who has been my confidante for the current pregnancy and who will accompany me in the delivery suite, also listened to my concerns attentively and even suggested something radical. She suggested that I write, specifically, a final will, to safeguard all my concerns if the worst thing happens. So I follow her suggestion, writing a will while imagining the worst case scenario. It was amazing, once my concerns were locked into the writing of will, my worry began to subside and I began to assume a "surrendering" (pasrah) state of mind: to pray for the best with God's help, but to also prepare for the worst when God intended it to happen, while approaching childbirth itself in the most positive mindset possible.
We don't know how Noe would react with the arrival of the baby, so we prepare him by telling stories about pregnancy and baby. I show books with baby photos and pregnant women, and even make simplified story about babies coming out of belly through the underside of mommy and then the baby goes to breastfeed. In the story, Noe and baby would share breastfeeding together. Indi would make drawings of our family, with two kids, on paper and board, and Noe would name the family member. Indi would draw baby on my belly and Noe would say, "Baby!", then kiss my belly. So far he has been always very gentle and loving to other babies such as Aina. We hope and pray to make an easy transition for him.
Preparation of the Household
During the last weeks of my pregnancy, Indi and I was pretty much occupied preparing our house for the new resident. It was rather tricky to juggle our work, spending family time with Noe, and organizing our house without domestic helper, but yes, we survived. The first thing we needed to do is to get rid of the junks and clutters in the house as much as possible. Basically, items that we haven't touched or needed for the past one year go to the bin (either recyling bin or trash bin). Books, no matter how dearly we love them, were donated to the neighbours or the National Library, except for few books that are special for us. Dirty, broken, used toys are put into recycling bin. We were also surprised to find so much junk clutters, hidden in cupboards and shelves.
For me, it's difficult to prepare the baby room for the second baby rather than the first one. For Noe, we practically didn't spend much time buying and organizing stuff, because most (if not all) of our stuff were gifts! The good thing about gifts is that they are already wrapped, rather clean, and organized based on age. So, what we needed to do is just open them up and store it into the baby clothes shelves.
But for the second baby, we needed to reorganize the unused baby items that we have plonked together into the big boxes in the storage. We made a mistake of not organizing the items when putting them into storage. That means we didn't really know what's in those boxes and had to reorganize them all over again. Then come, gallon ziplock bags! What a godsend! We sort the baby clothes according to age (0-3mo, 3-9mo, 9-18mo, 18-36mo, etc) and mark the ziplock bag accordingly. The good thing about those bags is that we can make it into cheap vacuum bags that saves space, yet visible to see what's inside. Great idea for organizing things! We then grab the bags marked 0-3 months old, and throw them into the laundry. When they're crisp and dry, off they go into the clothes shelves, waiting for the baby to arrive.
The next step is just to wait for the big day.