Birth Stories: The birth of K (or, I did it without epidural!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

** This post was originally published in September 2011, and is republished and updated with more details as part of our family's celebration for K's 4th birthday. Can you imagine that? My Princess Warrior is FOUR today! To God be the Glory!

Eph 2:10   For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


Months passed since discovering the positive sign on the test kit and I finally made it to the last two weeks of the pregnancy. ZY prayed for K every night, that she will be a healthy baby, and that I will have a smooth delivery. The whole family waited eagerly for our precious baby to arrive into our world. 

This pregnancy was the most horrible and worst of the three - my morning sickness lasted the whole pregnancy, and felt more like whole-day-sickness with vomiting episodes that struck at any time of the day. I resorted to taking anti-nausea pills just so that I could eat my dinner and keep them down. Friends comforted that my hCG hormones must be very high and that would mean a healthy baby. Whatever it was, I only had a bump of a 5-month pregnant lady in my last trimester of pregnancy.

I had decided earlier that since this was my third birth, I should be "experienced" enough to watch out for early signs of labour, hence I didn't take a break from work to rest before the due date. Ha, who am I kidding? Colleagues who know ZY have his contact number, and they were prepared to send me to the hospital if I had gone into labour while at school.  

Two days before D-day (or should I say, K-day?), I started feeling the contractions while teaching. I wasn't sure if they were just Braxton Hicks or labour pains. The contractions were like menstrual cramps, and they came in small waves every 10 to 15 min. I finished my work as usual, but I was hobbling around in between classes. The following morning, ZY sent me to my obstetrician, Dr Kee, just to make sure that everything was alright.

Dr Kee did a Cardiotocography (CTG) and an ultrasound scan and assured that baby was fine. It looked like she could still stay in for another week. Her expected due date was 27 Aug. With relief, I went back to work. However, when night came, the contractions got stronger. 
The pain escalated throughout the night and each contraction woke me from my sleep. Some were so painful that I moaned while tossing and turning on bed. 

I did not get to sleep much. There was also a little bloody discharge, possibly a 'show'. Dr Kee advised us to get myself checked at his clinic immediately when it opened in the morning, so ZY packed his stuff and I took my hospital bag. We explained to L that his little sister could be coming out that day, so Mommy and Daddy had to go to the hospital. We made arrangements for my mom-in-law to fetch the kids and helper to stay at her place for the next few days while we busied at the hospital, and we proceeded to the clinic. 

Tired and hungry, I started craving for some goreng pisang (fried banana fritters) or hot prawn noodles from Longhouse food centre. Hunger pangs and labour pains are a bad combo, but the pains were too intense to bear so breakfast was sacrificed. When I reached the clinic around 9 am, Dr Kee checked my cervix and announced that I was 5 cm dilated

What!! 5 cm already? I was in labour since 24 hours ago?!

He insisted that I went to the hospital immediately and he would reach shortly later to check on me. 

"The third delivery is usually very fast," he said.

We were excited! We would see K today! 18 Aug! One week earlier than expected! Ch and L would be able to see their baby sister soon! We made calls to our parents to tell them of the good news too.

I was greeted by a friendly receptionist at the hospital who gave us directions to the delivery suite. Once there, I changed into the hospital gown and the nurse strapped me to the CTG machine to monitor my uterine contractions. ZY and I chatted for a while, then he went to get his lunch while I rested. 

Dr Kee expected K to be out by noon, but strangely, activity slowed down. My contractions only came every 30 min, and there wasn't any progress with the dilations either. 

I got bored and checked the Facebook updates frequently, as well as "Whatsapp-ed" my close friends. They laughed when I told them I was texting them from the delivery room. ZY also managed to take a short nap on the couch.

During the wait, a nurse asked if I needed an epidural. I had ordered for epidural for my first 2 deliveries as I was not prepared to bear with prolonged pains from an induced labour. So this time round, I was quite ready to use it too. But the nurse seemed to hint that there was no need for it. 

"The third delivery is usually fast," she said. Ugh, the same comment again. 

No "happy-dural" this time? Really?

I hesitated, undecided of the option. 

Trying to convince myself, I asked how painful the labour pains will be when they come. She looked at the CTG chart and said that it should be as painful as what I was experiencing at that moment, but with a shorter frequency. 

I imagined the pain. Perhaps it won't be THAT painful since each contraction is still bearable. I "Whatsapp-ed" friends for advice. K's godfather encouraged me to go all natural and even created a song about it! 

(sing to the tune of "I have decided to follow Jesus)
I have decided sans epidural,
I have decided sans epidural,
I have decided sans epidural,
No turning back, no turning back.

So the courageous decision was made. No epidural this time!

After a long wait, Dr Kee arrived slightly past 3 pm and ordered for an oxytocin drip to increase the frequency of my contractions. After breaking my water bag (have I mentioned that I hate this procedure very much?), he left for his clinic, saying that he'll let the drip do its work and promised to be back soon. He assured that everything would be done by 4:30 pm.

He barely made it to his clinic, which is a few minutes drive from the hospital, and was recalled back because 
I felt surges of labour pains shortly after. The contractions got more frequent and stronger. The drip is so amazing! 

The midwife saw that I was going into distress due to the pain and suggested I try nitrous oxide gas. 

"NO NITROUS OXIDE! It doesn't work for me!" 

I tried the gas during Ch's delivery and it almost made me faint. But this midwife looked like she knew her stuff. She assured the effectiveness as long as I obey her instructions, and it would cost much less than an epidural anyway. 

Reluctantly, I turned into a tamed cat. 

With controlled and deep breathing, true enough, the gas worked! Each contraction was more bearable now, but the urge to push got stronger and stronger. I shouted that I had to push baby out, but the midwife said no because the doctor had not arrived yet.

It is bad enough to endure the labour pains. But it is a totally excruciating game to go against nature and HOLD the baby in the womb when all she wanted was to come out!

Then everything went hazy. I remember crying, perhaps from all the action and the emotions built up inside me. I took a while to recover from the daze, and Dr Kee stepped into the room. 

That moment of relief when I saw him was indescribable.

Things went fast after that. Calmly, Dr Kee suited up with a face shield and a long-sleeved outfit. I was surprised but amused with the face shield. Seriously? Am I going to make such a big mess on you?
Photo credit
I was told to push as hard as I could. Without epidural, it was so much easier to feel the contractions and that helped with pushing. However, by the second push, I was exhausted. I slipped into the hazy state again. I don't want to push anymore!! I'm too tired!! I remember ZY shouting something like "Just one more push!" into my ear. And I remember Dr Kee rushing me to continue pushing as baby could not be in that position for too long. 

With my final little bit of energy that was left, I gave a long push... and I felt it. I felt K slip out of me! 

Time check... 4:03 pm!

I did it without epidural!!

The nurse put K in my arms. baby! She wasn't exactly beautiful or cute as she was so red and wrinkly, but still... she's my precious girl whom I carried for 39 weeks. 

ZY took a few photographs of us, and the nurse suggested breastfeeding her. 

Now? I thought. I'm just too tired to do this! I requested to delay breastfeeding though I knew it was not advisable. This was a bad decision, really, as K rejected latching on for almost a month before I managed to wean her off the bottle. 

K was warmed up and measured, while my placenta was removed. I rested on the delivery bed. I was totally drained out and famished! Then I remembered the prawn noodles that I didn't manage to eat. Argh! I was so hungry that I had gastric pains! Regret, regret! 

Looking through the photos that ZY took that day, I realise that he wasn't in any of the photos! Poor Daddy! 

"As usual," he would say. 

So, here's a photo of Daddy pushing K to the nursery (imagine he's in the photo lah!)

On hindsight, if I were to do this delivery again, I would:

:: Get my goreng pisang or prawn noodles before going to the hospital! There are two schools of thoughts for eating before delivering a baby. If you have been scheduled for a C-section, the doctors probably will advise against eating. For those going natural, eating may pose a problem should there be a need for emergency C-section. However, without having some food, I did not have enough energy to push K. This is dangerous as baby can suffocate in that position for too long. 

:: Still do it without epidural! It's a wonderful experience to be able to feel K when she came out of me. For Ch's birth, I could not feel anything at all as I was on epidural, and I had difficulty pushing without feeling any contractions. I had to COUGH Ch out, literally. For L's, the epidural effect lessened and this made pushing easier. The contractions felt more like mild, numbing cramps. 

That being said, if you really need epidural to feel more comfortable during the delivery, I would say go ahead. If feeling less pain will help you conserve some energy to push baby during labour, using epidural will be a wise choice. 

:: Bring my iPad along for some entertainment while waiting. There was a television in the delivery room, but I could do with better entertainment. 

:: Breastfeed K in the delivery room. K was whisked off to the nursery, and then to the NICU due to some complications after I left her with the nurses. She stayed there for 8 days, and was converted into a bottlefed baby. I had to surmount tremendous difficulties to get her to breastfeed exclusively.

Happy 4 year old, my dear K!

^This post is part of the ‘Birth Stories’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other exciting birth stories please click on the icon below.

If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this one here ( by Debs G over at Owls Well

About Debs G:
Debs is a Sunda Scops Owl who married a nice British Barn Owl and is raising a trio of hungry young owlets in a highrise tree in Singapore. Debs is a trained medical professional who is currently training to be A Parent. At next week's stop we will be visiting Debs G again at Owls Well as she recounts the birth story of her second born, Little E. 

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  1. That's amazing that you were brave enough to commit to going without the epidural - and even have enough humour to make up a song about it! I can understand why you decided at the time not to attempt breastfeeding - labour is not only physically exhausting but also mentally and emotionally draining.

    Thank you for sharing your birth story...and happy 4th birthday, little K!


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