- 03-23-2011, 04:09 AM #1Registered User
- Join Date
- May 2009
Stand and Deliver: My most recent birth experience
Stand and Deliver: My most recent birth experience
(Note: This is a long post)
Pretty excited to share my birth experience here with all of you. Over the past several months we've had many a discussion (sometimes quite heated too) here about pregnancy and birth, especially pertaining to interventions in childbirth.
I have to say that although I took a 12-week husband-coached, natural (meaning, unaugmented/unmedicated/vaginal) childbirth course before my son was born in 2007 and went through a 43-hour-long natural childbirth with him, I really feel like in retrospect I didn't know ANYTHING either about childbirth or natural childbirth until the end of this most recent pregnancy. There really is SO MUCH to know and learn and experience when it comes to this topic.
So, without further ado, for those who have been following the discussion, here is my birth story. I hope it will be encouraging to other women who will give birth in Hong Kong.
My due date was March 17, 2011, St. Patrick's Day. I had “a feeling” this baby would come early just because I had been having intense, sometimes painful Braxton-Hicks contractions since I was 5-months pregnant and over the previous 8 weeks they had gotten a lot more frequent. My mother's birthday is March 14 so I thought that maybe the baby was waiting for that day as my son was due on my husband's birthday and even though I went into labor (naturally, without induction) on that day—he took a long time to actually be born so he was born at the end of the next day—missing Dadda's birthday by one day. Anyway...so as my 3-year-old son commented to his grandparents one day, “The 'mui mui' (Cantonese: 'little sister') is taking SO LONG to come out!” When the 14th came and went, I started to feel the same. I had a very strange dream about two days before the 17th in which a friend from back home told me, “If you don't have that baby on her due date, I'm not going to give you any more cookies.” Ha! Funny thing is that this friend e mailed me the very next day to ask how I was doing.
The 15th and 16th I was having intense contractions sometimes for hours in the evening. Actually, about 2 weeks before my due date I really thought it was “go time” while we were out eating dinner one night—turns out it wasn't.
On March 17th, after the consistent use of Raspberry Leaf Tea, Evening Primrose Oil and sex for about three weeks, at about 2:30 am I started to have what I felt might really be labor contractions but since I had been thinking that for a month already it took until 4 am before I told my husband, “Okay, this is for real, I think.” About 6 am, we called our neighbor who has a car and told her to be on standby as I was in labor.
Got my son up for kindergarten and when he left at 8 am, my husband and domestic helper began filling up a kiddie swimming pool with warm water that we had placed in our living room (we'd blown the thing up and put it in another room, awaiting the day—we don't have a bathtub). It took probably almost 2 hours for the pool to be full but I was still utilizing it—getting in sometimes to sit and go through a contraction (honestly, it made the pain go from Level 8 to Level 4 almost instantly). But, the water was a bit too warm for me so sometimes I'd get out and lay on some towels on the couch for a contraction.
I was having the “wonderful” back labor (feels more like butt/hip labor to me, though) that I had with my son—felt like fire in my sciatic nerves and as if my hips were being pulled apart (which if you think about it—they kind of are).
The other things I was doing was walking around my house and when I'd have a contraction, I would push my hands up against the wall in a “wall pushup” position and have my husband give me counter-pressure with his fists directly on my hips and lower back. Let me tell you, COUNTER PRESSURE is the antectdote to back labor. I didn't even know what counter pressure was when I gave birth to my son—so glad I read about it this time!
I would also stand in one position and rotate my hips in circles. I did this more in the first 4 hours of labor. As I did it I would breathe and vocalize in a low moaning register and sometimes just say the word “open” over and over again encouraging dilation.
So, the first four hours of labor were pretty manageable—I was able to talk and sometimes laugh. The contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes and lasting for about 45 seconds-1 minute.
The next 4 hours of labor were becoming much more intense. In fact, at around 10:30 am I said to my husband, “You'd better call our friend and tell her to get ready to come over because I don't know how I'm going to handle these contractions inside of a car where you can't give me counter pressure as easily.” So, he called her and with the help of the domestic helper prepared the bags. I got in the shower to clean up as I knew it would be my last for awhile. Got dressed and by this time the contractions were coming every 3 minutes exactly and lasting for at least 1 minute. Got outside the apartment (we live in a pretty rural village in the New Territories) just in time to have a loud contraction right in front of a little store where all the old gossipy ladies in the village gather every day. You should have seen the look on the store owner's face—her eyes were as big as saucers.
My friend was nice enough to bring along a bunch of towels. In the car, I squatted down on the floorboard behind the passenger seat, holding on to the headrest as our friend drove the 30-45 minutes to the hospital (we live near Yuen Long but we were giving birth in Chai Wan). In between contractions where I leaned my bottom back on to the back seat for pressure, vocalized loudly, praying most of the time, I was even able to carry on somewhat of a conversation with the driver—nearly until we'd reached the hospital. Along the way, I'm sure I peed but I think I also started to leak amniotic fluid.
Got out of the car at the hospital just in time to have another really loud contraction right on the sidewalk. The attendants kept yelling, “Get her a wheelchair!” I told them, “I don't want a wheelchair! I can't sit down!” (by this point, I had such intense pain and pressure in my hips and bottom sitting was like the ultimate torture). So, I waddled inside the doors of the hospital just in time to have another contraction in which I held on to the ears of a statue that looked like a Mickey Mouse wannabe. Waddled over to the checkin counter just in time to have another contraction, this time, in the “wall pushup” position with my husband giving counter pressure into my hips. Meanwhile a row of old Chinese men donning surgical masks sat messmerized staring at me. Got through check-in quickly and then in the elevator had another contraction. By this point, contractions were coming every 1 ½ minutes and lasting for about 1 minute.
Got up to the triage station. I had to wait my turn as another lady was being assessed. Meanwhile, had another contraction pushing against the wall with husband giving counter-pressure. I vocalized loudly and a nurse descended upon me telling me strictly, “Deep breaths!” I snapped my fingers in her face in a “Shut up and let me get on with this” manner. She was visibly taken aback. After the contraction, I apologized to her and said, “Sorry to snap at you but when I'm having a contraction, don't talk to me.” Honestly, throughout the whole process, it would have been better if the nurses had just kept their mouths shut—I know it's “their job” to try to coach you through labor but as they say where I come from, “This wasn't my first rodeo” and I had a labor coach who was doing a fine job already. I was breathing—those deep breaths—how do they think I managed to have enough air in my lungs to vocalize so loudly. At one point, later on, a nurse said to me, “Please don't yell. When you do that, it scares me.” Ha! I'm thinking, “Lady, scaring you is the least of my concerns right now...get it over it.” They also tried to put me into this long-sleeved hospital gown with a high neck that was unbelievably hot. I refused to wear it and told them I would wear my own t-shirt to which they exclaimed, “But is it clean?!” I told them, “Well, I put it on about 45 minutes ago so I'm guessing it is.” It wasn't 30 minutes after I had arrived at the labor room before I was 100% naked, though—the whole hospital attire thing wasn't working for me, let's say.
After all the checking and prodding in triage they said I was 4 cm dilated and I could go into the labor room. A couple of nurses who looked like high school interns (Candy Stripers is what we call them where I come from) were nervously trying to get me into a wheelchair again but an older, wiser nurse came along and directed them to grab our bags and then told me, “No hurry...we can walk down there.”
Got to the labor department and what seemed like 12-15 nurses and staff descended upon us. They first wanted me to lay down on the bed and get hooked up to the fetal monitor. I told them that it was simply not going to happen—not only did I not wish to be continually monitored, it was physically torturous for me to lay flat on a bed.
They then were frantically trying to read my birth plan and playing a game of 20 questions with me about it. But, because of the contractions coming ever 90 seconds or less and lasting for over a minute, they got very few answers to any of their questions. I guess the most substantial agreement that came out of that conference was that yes, according to my birth plan, it was acceptable to put a heparin lock in my hand (the entry point for an IV) in case I needed fluid, medication or blood later on. That was inserted.
They asked if I wanted nitrous oxide. I said, I wouldn't mind trying it as I had researched and learned it's quite safe to use in labor as its effects are very temporary. However, they told me I'd have to lay down in the bed to use it because it causes dizziness and so I had to decline. After they tried their hardest to get all these confirmations on my birth plan out of me we asked them to dim the lights on their way out.
There was another woman next to me laboring but her water had already broken and she was laying flat on the bed in stirrups. Throughout labor you could hear the nurses telling her to not make any sound and she pretty much was able to oblige—I only heard a few whimpers from her. I felt sorry for her having to hear me vocalize so loudly but that's life. Later on, in recovery, I got put with a roommate who had serious sinus issues and snored louder than my father (and that's LOUD) all day and night—so I paid my dues later.
Because we had made it known that we didn't need any labor coaching from the staff, there was little more meddling they could do so they made themselves scarce—all 12+ of them went over to help the other woman.
Here, I'd like to say that I'm really glad I don't understand Cantonese all that well. For example, throughout labor when they would come to check me (and they were SO SLOW at doing everything)--such as doing intermittent fetal monitoring with a portable wand—and then I would have a contraction in which I wouldn't let them touch me as it was simply to painful to have them sticking me or poking me with objects—instead of waiting patiently for a minute for the contraction to pass and then going back to work, they would simply just leave—usually without accomplishing the mission they'd set off on.
My husband, who speaks Cantonese as his first language, said they would usually be murmuring something about, “Ha. They want to do this their way, huh? Well, they'll be begging us for help later.” They just really took the fact that I didn't need them bossing me around quite personally and were a bit miffed.
Also, a note of advice that my husband followed which seemed to work well—if you speak Cantonese—pretend you don't and make the staff speak with you in English—it gives them less power to argue with you and actually makes them take a more respectful tone with you. This advice comes courtesy of other English-speaking Chinese friends who have dealt with the public hospital.
So, meanwhile, in labor I had basically two positions. One was the “wall pushup” position. When I got too weak or dizzy to stand, I would go lay on the bed on my side and go through a few contractions but those contractions were at least 50 times more painful than the ones standing up—the only reason why I even laid down at all was simply to regain some more strength to stand.
I was making a mess and the staff had taken off so it was like a real chore to try to get them to even give us a towel or paper napkins or something. We had brought a bunch of underpads to the hospital but in the rush, they had been stored in the locker and my husband wasn't about to leave me alone to go get them (although the nurses kept badgering him about them—at one point one of them told me “Tell your husband to go buy some pads!”). We kept telling the hospital staff, “We'll give you two full packs of the underpads after labor to use but we need to borrow some now.” They were SO STINGY with those stupid underpads and never did bring us a napkin. My husband was actually rummaging in his bag pulling out Starbucks napkins to use!
Oh, a side note. For those of you who have been through labor, you know it's a bit graphic and for those of you who haven't and think it's a neat, tidy and clean process, you'll be very surprised. It's a well-known fact that in labor there's a lot that comes out of a woman and it ain't all baby. So, from the time we arrived at the hospital at around 11 am-noon began the “pushing down” phase. Every contraction felt like a grunting, huge urge and I can't say that I was actually pushing down but I know my uterus was—it was totally out of my control. All that pushing led to some poo coming out. Now, this happened when I gave birth to my son as well and the midwives handled it like it was no big deal—they just cleaned the mess and we kept going—totally professional and did everything with dignity.
But, as I said, we had no napkins or anything to clean with and all the staff were somewhere else so my husband, bless him, picked up the poo with a Starbucks napkin and was looking for a bin to toss it in when a nurse came in and exclaimed loudly, “Oh my God! Where did that come from?!” She was so freaked out by a bit of poo! It really makes me wonder where on earth she received her training from. It was so rude, it was comical and just speaks volumes about the staff we were dealing with. My husband kind of laughed to himself and thought, “Sweetie, where do you think it comes from? Do I need to get a medical dictionary out for you?”
By the end of everything, I had left at least two bloody handprints on the wall, a completely soaked underpad with various fluids on the floor, a blood and poo smeared chair and various droppings of other kinds around the room. I'm sure that they don't see that every day in the public hospital!
The nurse at some point had checked me and said the bag of waters was still intact and bulging out but I was about 8-9 cm dilated. We were debating whether or not to break the waters as if we did break them it could actually cause me to go backwards in dilation—maybe down to 6-7 cm and it usually makes the contractions much more painful as then the baby's head is directly pushing on the cervix without the cushion of the amniotic sac. We had asked the nurse to come back and check me one last time and if we were already at 10 cm we planned to have them break my water. But, every time a nurse would come to check me I would, of course, have a contraction (again, they were SO SLOW at getting stuff done!)--I was having a 1 ½-minute contraction every 1 ½ minutes at this point. During a contraction I couldn't bear to have them inserting fingers in me so I wouldn't let them touch me. Instead of just biding their time for a few more minutes to get through a check, the nurse would just take off—again, mumbling to herself about how awful we were. Serious bad attitudes, let me tell you—it's a good thing that I was so in the zone that I couldn't have cared less. But this went on for 2 hours! They couldn't make it through a cervical examination in 2 hours!
So, I was lying on my side and went through a contraction so intense that I literally was rolling my Rs and screaming like a banshee by the end. I looked at my husband and said, “Okay, for this next one, I have to get up and get to the wall, I can't go through another one like that lying down.”
So, we got to the wall and began the “pushup” with counterpressure when there was a splash and whatever was left of the amniotic sac broke and splattered all over the wall in front of me. I reached down and I could feel my daughter's head. I tried to communicate to my husband, “This baby is coming now!” He had been instructed in a really blaise manner earlier to “Let us know when her water breaks” so he leaned his head around the corner of the cubicle and called, “Her water broke.” He still didn't realize that she was crowning.
I told him, “I can feel her head.” So, I'm holding her head and the nurses come running around the corner and by this time my husband knew the baby was coming out so he got down in front of me to try to catch her. He had had the opportunity to catch our son when he came out with the birth in the States so he knew what to do but he was concerned as he had no gloves on and had been handling my poo earlier. The nurses started freaking out and they threw a green canvas mat onto the floor over the underpad I had been using and it was probably about a minute from the time I felt her head until she was completely out, lying there on the canvas. She had great color but they aspirated her because they said she might have swallowed some of my blood.
At this point, my husband had gone behind me and was propping me up in a squatting position on the floor. The herd of nurses had finally returned, all focused on the baby (who was doing well and crying—not blue at all—pink and rosy) and they called over their shoulders, “Hey, get her to the bed.” My husband was like, “Hmmm...do you think with the 15 of you, maybe one of you could give me a hand 'cause I'm supporting her full weight and she's exhausted.” (side note: I weigh at this point at least 40 kilos more than my husband!) Finally, somehow they got me to the bed.
They put syntocin into me as a preventative measure as I had hemmorraghed with my first birth. The placenta delivered well and I did have a bit of tearing (probably from the force of standing—I know they recommend that you slow down and EASE the baby out but at the point when she was born I had no choice in the matter—I couldn't have stopped that contraction's force if I had wanted to!)
After they showed my daughter to me to confirm that I knew she was a girl they told my husband, “You need to go out now.” He asked “Why?” They replied, “Well, we have to sew her up and there will be blood.” To this, my husband, with a big ole' blood stain on the leg of his pants, blood all over his hands and on his shoes scoffed, “Blood?! Do you think I haven't seen any blood today?!” The nurse laughed a bit and agreed that he could stay.
Later my husband told me that the husband of the other lady giving birth had been told when the baby was about to come out, “Are you sure you want to stay? This is VERY DANGEROUS! The baby is going to be born! It's VERY DANGEROUS! We have to focus on the mother and the baby and we don't have time for you to pass out. There is going to be blood.” This was the woman's third child and still the husband himmed and hawed about it and seemed to not be able to make up his mind—in the end, he stayed.
For the sewing-up part, I tried out the nitrous oxide and LOVED IT! Maybe I loved it a little too much! By the end, I was singing a merry little tune!
They left us for three hours in the labor room for observation in which time I breastfed and the baby did well with that. We had earlier booked a bed in the special acommodation ward in the hospital. The charges were a little over $2,000 HKD/day but that was all-inclusive and considering we were originally going to go to a private hospital, the amount we paid ($7,200 HKD for everything, start-to-finish) not only was about 1/10 of what we paid with my son's birth in the States but also was worth every cent.
I have to say that although the staff we dealt with at the labor and birth of our daughter had poor attitudes and no comforting skills at all (one nurse half-heartedly, and stoically stroked my hand a few times once during a contraction—it was very odd and uncomfortable) the staff we dealt with after her birth were all amazing—especially in the F8 ward (private/special accomodation) of the hospital. They address you by name, they make it their job to get you whatever you need (you even have your own call button), the room I was in, I shared with one other woman and they just treat you really nicely. In the F8 ward they have a wall of apprecation that is jam-packed full of letters and pictures. And the letters aren't like “Thanks for the good job”--they say things like, “My stay in the F8 ward changed my life!” The F8 ward also serves people who are recovering from major surgery and other procedures. I highly recommend booking a place there if you give birth at Pamela Youde and you feel the expense is not too much—it made my first few days of recovery great. And also...visiting hours are from 8 am until 9 pm every day which you'd think would be a hassle but in my case I found that great—that my husband and family could be with me the entire time. Also, although children under 12 are not usually allowed in the wards, F8 makes an exception as long as the children behave well—so my 3-year-old and his 5-year-old friend were able to visit me every day I was in the hospital.
I was kept for three days in the hospital for observation and the paediatrians and doctors were all great. In fact, on my last day, a young doctor came for rounds to “inspect the wound.” I think he was a bit in awe because I was breastfeeding and as far as I could gather, I was the only woman in the ward who was exclusively breastfeeding. He commented that I knew how to operate the electric bed very well. After he had inspected us he kind of just stood there for a minute and then said enthusiastically, “Well, you can be discharged today and I really hope for all the best for you and your family!” He was like grinning from ear-to-ear. I've never seen a happier doctor in Hong Kong.
My daughter has a small blood-blister like thing at the back of her neck and the paedaetrician was able to help us follow up on it with a dermatologist. They checked her cord blood and found that she needed more testing so we went in for another blood draw today as the index for her thyroid were a bit low. But, all along, the staff we dealt with after the birth in no way tried to scare or bully us and totally treated us with dignity and respect.
So, that is my second birth experience. My labor was 12 hours, start-to-finish, much less than the 43 I went through with my son. As I wanted, it was a spontaneous, unaugmented, unmedicated labor and birth—and she was born ON her due date without induction! I only was at the hospital for 4 of the 12 hours of my labor which was just enough. My husband did the bulk of the work supporting me (and his sore arms the next day were a testament to that). We really worked as a team. We made the baby and together we pushed that baby out! Ha! Love it! I feel more in love with the man than ever!
So far, no baby blues. I could get up and bathe myself about 6 hours after labor which was awesome as it had been a full 48 hours with my previous birth. I am doing really well! My daughter breastfeeds well and sleeps well and is what I would call an “angel baby”--totally different experience from the “spirited baby” my son was and is.
And I have to thank God for this entire experience. There were so many people praying for us and I just feel like totally in awe of the experience—it was a total blessing!
- 03-23-2011, 08:19 AM #2Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
- Hong Kong
I'm glad that it was mostly great!“If you want to get to the castle, you’ve got to swim the moat.” Richard Jenkins in Eat Pray Love
- 03-23-2011, 08:24 AM #3
Congratulations! You're so brave!
- 03-23-2011, 09:35 AM #4Registered User
- Join Date
- Jul 2008
- Tsuen Wan
I laughed through much of it. I have never heard such a detailed account of one's birth experience. I have to say though, that I don't feel like I have missed too much, especially with my recent neat little pre-packaged c-section experience. In a way, you can equate the brutal pain you natural girls go through right before birth the the brutal pain we cesarean chicks experience right after birth.
Congrats that you were able to achieve what you set out to, and that you now have a beautiful little baby girl. I hope she stays an angel.
- 03-23-2011, 09:50 AM #5Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2010
Wow, you just scared the living daylights outta me... 21 weeks pregnant with my first and my husband's also from HK. Planning to give birth in Prince of Wales in Shatin. And now I'm literally shaking scared! :( I guess it's kind of like, once you're to that point there's no thinking about it or going back, but... Seriously questioning myself right now!
- 03-23-2011, 10:54 AM #6Registered User
- Join Date
- Jan 2011
- Chai Wan
Was thinking of you yesterday as i thought where's thanka2? Maybe, waiting for my beer! LOL :)
- 03-23-2011, 10:56 AM #7Registered User
- Join Date
- Dec 2008
- Gold Coast
Congratulations thanks2. I am delighted that you and your daughter are doing well.
- 03-23-2011, 12:09 PM #8Registered User
- Join Date
- May 2009
Also, my friend once told me that she thinks of childbirth somewhat like Christ going to the cross. I know, that sound awful but really, if you think about it--He went to the cross because He was the only man for the job. The truth is that labor is one of those things that "the only way around it is through it" and there is no turning back. Oh, how I wish, I could have just gotten half-way through and said, "Tag! You're it! Start pushing, husband!" But, the sooner you accept your role and decide in with your will that you will go through it and go through it well, the better things are.
My baby isn't even a week old and I'm already almost ready to go through it again if my next birth would be equally good.
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