IT WAS NOT PERFECT, IT WAS NOT EASY, IT WAS NOT EXPECTED, BUT IT WAS SURELY BEAUTIFUL.
Many have asked me about he kind of birth I ended up having. I didn't want to answer right away because I want to tell the story.
First things first, my desire was to have an all natural birth. Both Joe and I studied from the Bradley books and attended a birth class. So when time of labor came, we were actually doing quite well. We were not panicking or second guessing many things because we knew, more or less, what to expect come labor time.
Early Labor to Active Labor
It was actually 5 in the morning of January 16 when I felt abdominal pains that won’t go away. I knew they were different because they didn’t allow me to go back to sleep despite how tired and sleepy I was. Nevertheless, they were bearable. As a first timer though, I just couldn’t be too sure it was already the real thing.
Already in an early part of my labor in this photo. Labor contractions are surprisingly quite manageable. With good, long breaks (for early part) in between. 🙂
So I went on with my day as if it was any normal day. I went to meet the Filart ladies, Cecil and Patty in SM Aura after lunch and even dropped by my husbands office and played with this little girl Helena. Meanwhile I noticed that the sensations I felt in the morning were getting more intense, though still not painful. When I described them to Cecil, she actually said, “Baka yan na yun!” Anyhow, it was only by 6pm of that day, when we were having a dinner meeting with our web designer, that Joe and I decided to time, what we then already admitted to ourselves to be labor contractions.
A wonderful app on iPad allows us to compute conservative averages of my contractions and intervals between them.
Thinking ahead, I decided to drop by S&R to buy snacks (for Joe in the house and hospital as he assists me in labor) and adult diapers (for the bleeding), if indeed that night was gonna be THE night. Going through the big warehouse, I remember stopping many times just to let the contractions through.
We then went home and packed, and I took a bath- nagblowdry pa ako ng buhok ok at nagaayos ng kilay, para maganda naman ako sa photo ops kung sakasakali, hahaha!!! After the bath, we proceeded timing the contractions, and in between, Joe made reservations at the hospital.
Because Joe and I were sold to the Bradley method of giving birth, I can say that we applied almost every practical thing we found in the book. I must tell you, Joe was an amazing coach- he knew exactly how to support me and was just ready and available to serve what was needed the whole time.
The Bloody Show
Can’t recall what time that was when I peed and there was “the bloody show.” (Joe says around 12 midnight.) Few more hours of more intense contractions at home, which I managed by breathing abdominally or getting into all sorts of labor positions, before I felt the need to check my underwear. There I saw it was soaking in blood. We both didn’t know what that meant so we then decided to call our OB gyn to ask. To be safe, she suggested us to go to the hospital so to check if baby is alright.
When we got to St.Luke’s Global at around 2 in the morning, I was prepped for an internal exam and they saw I was already at 7 cms. The staff congratulated me for doing so well. And I was honestly still pretty much ok from the whole thing. I actually gave the doctor a smile to let her know I wouldn’t be needing any medication.
When I entered the hospital, the staff wanted to put me on a wheelchair. But both Joe and I refused, not wanting to disturb the flow of my contractions. But before I was able to get to the right floor, I had another wave at the hallway which caused me to go down on all fours! Haha! Imagine everyone panicking and my husband managing them telling them not to touch me and that I was just fine!
At the Birthing Suite
We finally transferred to my requested birthing suite after the protocols and there I labored some more and waited till I fully dilated, effaced, and Philip descended. Now this was when things got tricky.
When they checked me at 6, I was already at 8cms. Which was good. Even better when I moved to 9cms by around 7am. At this point, I was already a different being, haha. I was pounding the floor, punching the wall, pulling all bars, pulling my hair also, just because of how painful it was. But the thing that kept me going was my husband’s awesome, awesome, support. He did not waver in trying to hold me up, giving me the kind of hold I needed, the words to remind me that the pain was purposeful and to affirm that I was doing a great job. He also let him be my human stress ball by allowing me to squeeze his hands, arms, scratch his back, like there’s no tomorrow.
If I look like I am half asleep, that’s because Bradley teaches women in labor to ride through the waves of intense uterine contractions with relaxation. And one of the tell tale signs that you’re able to do that is the “appearance of sleep.”
Now when 8am came, I was still at 9cms. Then a few more hours, at 9.75- almost 10, which is the maximum. Nevertheless, I was stuck there for a long, long, time. I don’t know why but we wouldn’t progress beyond it all the way until 12noon. What’s worse, and ultimately the defining factor of my delivery, is that Philip hasn’t descended beyond station 0 – +1, as well. Through the contractions and opening, and even my conversations with him in between begging him to slide down, Philip just wouldn’t budge. He actually stayed in the same position for hours. (His butt I can feel on the left side of the tummy, and his head stuck somewhere near but not past my birth canal.)
As early as 9 in the morning, our doctor was already telling us that we cannot wait too long for this kind of thing. One is because my uterus might burst because of too long of too hard an exertion, and that we might put Philip into unnecessary danger. (The other thing was that my waterbag already broke before 6am, and I was prone to infection. Though they administered antibiotics to me naman for protection.) But I still wanted to try for a natural, vaginal birth. So both my husband and I requested that we wait some more, given that Philip’s is constantly monitored and he stays just fine. Thankfully, our super understanding and patient doctora said yes and left us alone for the next few hours.
Then Joe and I continued to labor. We pushed, we walked, we did squats, went on all fours, did all positions just to move Philip down. He made phone calls to our dearest friends who went thru natural birth to ask for advice. One of which was to rest. To sleep through the contractions to conserve energy.
Yet sadly, it was already past 1pm when doctora came in again to check and saw nothing had changed. It was all the same. I knew at this point that there were more grounds for medical intervention and true enough, our doctor regretfully said that we already must go the way of CS. That was so heartbreaking to hear. I didn’t cry through the pains of being at almost 10cms for 7 hours, but tears welled up at the thought that this was the way I’d end up for Philip’s birth.
At that point I prayed and asked God if He wanted me to wait still. Then I remembered a thing I learned from the birth class we attended. One of the most crucial things about birth is that it’s a team effort between mom and child. It cannot be just me, but also my child to cooperate in the whole process. That thought brought me to place a hand on my tummy and felt Philip’s butt still in the exact same location where it has been for days, if not for weeks. (I realized he had been in that position for weeks now, where I would tell friends to feel his butt cheek in the exact same spot.) For some reason, I knew he wasn’t going down anytime soon. And because before I entered labor we were already decided to trust our doctor if and when push comes to shove, I knew that it was time to let her handle this. Doctora was gracious enough to wait 7 hours for what she usually arrests on the 4th hour. I had complete peace knowing that I wasn’t cheated out of my birthing experience. For a total of 22 hours, I had my way and fulfilled my desire to go into an uninterrupted, all natural, unmedicated, drug-free labor.
I asked doctora when I saw her at my postnatal check up, why she thought Philip wouldn’t go down. Her guess is that my true pelvis is only average in size and that perhaps Philip had a hard time fitting his head through it. My son actually has a slight mark on his head right now serving as evidence that he did try to go through, but just couldn’t.
If I am to follow the Bradley method completely, I think we could have perhaps waited some more. Nevertheless, we were in the hospital and not at home. I knew that my very first step to the hospital makes me more inclined to follow their rules more than my wishes. Best I could do was pray Philip comes before they suggest intervention. Which is exactly what happened. No hard feelings though, since I knew exactly what we were getting into, and also because there’s still a next time. By then we’ll see if I really am a CPD (cephalopelvic disproportion) case, where my pelvis really is not able to handle the passage of a baby, or perhaps I just needed to warm up. Haha! 🙂
When I finally gave my word, everyone started preparing for me to be wheeled into the operating room downstairs. As in my birth plan, I wished to stay awake should I have to be opened up, and have my husband beside me at all times. So they gave me a spinal anesthetic, which only removes the feeling from waist down, but was wide awake while they cut through me to get Philip out. I remember being more terrified about the C Section more than my labor. I suddenly felt vulnerable, like a child lost in the woods! So when Joe had to leave for a while to change into scrubs, I actually begged Doctora Menie to hold my hand and there she began praying for me, for a safe procedure and quick recovery.
For the First Time
Not sure when everything started and ended because my view was blocked. Although I really couldn’t feel anything, I was a bit anxious as I had never been into any major operation, while wide awake, ever before. My husband was chatting with me so to keep us both distracted from what’s happening, but we both stopped and perhaps skipped a heartbeat when we heard, for the first time ever in our lives, the cry of our son, Philip.
Grabbing from my husband’s video of Philip when he was taken out from my womb and cleaned by his pedia. When I saw him, my first thought was “Wow, he’s so white!”
Our handsome reward of a beautiful baby boy finally came on his 38th week of being in my womb, 7.11lbs heavy, 52 cms long, on January 17, 2014, at 2:16PM. A few things here and there and our son was made to latch on me, also as I wished in my birth plan. Gosh when I first saw him, it was love at first sight. Every other concern disappeared. He was worth every contraction, every disappointment, and worth every uncomfortable thing his delivery needed.
I wanted to smother him with kisses!!! It’s like seeing someone you haven’t seen for so long… haaayyy…
Still, A Beautiful Birth
So there goes the story of Philip’s birth. Not what I expected, but a beautiful birth nonetheless. And while it is true that the joy of seeing your child makes it worth whatever birthing method one decides to pursue on the day of her delivery, I call mine beautiful because of its meaningfulness, from labor to delivery, from start to end.
For one, I have so much to treasure in my heart in those eternal hours of laboring for Philip with my husband. From timing contractions, to getting into all positions of labor, to guarding my birth plan, to pushing, and him singing hymns from a worship instrumental we were playing at the birthing suite, as well as showing me photos of us both from my laptop (so to enjoy the last few hours where it is just “you and me”), all those moments when they come flashing in my mind will unfailingly bring me to tears. (Like now!) There are no words to describe how much Joseph and I have grown closer and more united than ever just because of this experience. Philip is worth it. Moreover, so is Joseph and our marriage.
Those were precious hours with my husband in the hospital. Wouldn’t trade that night for anything in the world!
Second is the community of people who stayed with us throughout the labor. My husband was calling our trusted friends for advice every time we had to make a decision during my labor, and many of them were ready to be disturbed in the middle of the night and even offering to speak powerful prayers to me over the phone. It was just so amazing to hear that you had a lot of cheerers on your side, specially when going through one of the most difficult times of your life.
And third is the truth that preparations really don’t count for much in the absence of faith and God’s presence, come game time. I know I said before that women should be making natural birth as a first choice, and that’s exactly what I did. I still believe in it today.
Given I’d be healthy enough, I actually would like to try a VBAC for my next birth (vaginal birth after caesarian). But that is to deviate from the point that a beautiful birth for me is to try and pursue something God has put in your heart, and to stay in His presence no matter what happens. The whole time I was in labor, I was praying. The whole time I was being operated on, I was praying. I begged, I cried, I worshiped, I communed with God together with my husband, and Dra.Menie, and our friends, and that’s what made it all beautiful and unforgettable.
This is Dra. Menefrida Reyes, with our son Philip.
And so in the end I find that I got my wish after all. A birth that supercedes the natural, as it rises to the level of the supernatural. 🙂
If you’re a first time expecting mom and you’ve been wondering what it would be like when you’re finally entering your final hours before your baby is born, I say don’t be afraid. We are all different. Who knows, you might have the grace to have your baby painlessly, or easier than I had it. Who knows I can have it that way next pregnancy, too? After all they say every woman, every pregnancy, and every baby is different. And if not, surely there is grace in knowing that the pain has a purpose- and a very good one at that!
But whatever it is, do pursue it with faith and hope that God will be with you, Immanuel, when that day comes. Peace only comes with the knowledge that no matter what happens, Jesus is the great deliverer, of both you and your child on the day of his birth.
“And to think you were my midwife at my birth, setting me at my mother’s breasts!” (Psalm 22:9, The MSG)
So many people had a hand in my birth and I will not have peace until I get to thank them all.
To David, my brother in law, thank you for driving us to the hospital and for being so available to assist my assistant, hehe. Thank you for being willing to park for us, bring our things to our room, and just being in stand by for your brother and sister in law. We love you!
To my parents in law, Joey and Marie, for covering me in prayer since you found out I’m in labor, as well as providing much of our needs at the hospital. For buying stuff, driving for us, giving us food, for doing everything to make things easier for us new parents. We love you!
My Mama…sorry na ulit hindi ko sinabi sayo kasi alam ko magpapanic ka! But thank you for doing everything you can so you can make life easier for me from the time when I couldn’t get up just about yet at the hospital, until now. We love you!
Joshua, Kristie, Paula and my nieces, Chesca and Nica- for your moral support and joyful anticipation with us!!!
Dra.Menie Reyes…wow…this one is hard. Of course, thank you for being so patient and understanding. But above all, thank you for believing in God. Nothing would have calmed me more in my moments of self-doubt than the prayers you’ve agreed with, and offered yourself. Truly I know this verse was something God gave me about you, “The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them” (Psalm 25:13). I know I wouldn’t have had peace if it weren’t for your mind and heart that are guided by God always! I pray all my children will go through your hands!
To Betty San Luis, Cecil Filart, Anthony and Maricel Pangilinan, and Thammie Sy for coaching the coach! Seriously, thank you for staying on the phone with my husband and coaching him to do his best for me. Thank you for the prayers you also offered, some of which I heard over the speaker phone. I know the pursuit of natural birth brought me closer to you, but what I treasure most is the deepening of our relationships just because you have been gracious enough to be a part of my first ever birthing experience. Joe and I just appreciate you all so so much!
To all our friends who prayed for us, of course, thank you.
To the rest of our family, Bonifacio and Peralejo side, thank you!
To those we don’t know personally but were and are still congratulating and cheering from social networking sites, I thank you for rejoicing with us! It is my joy to share my wonderful life with you.
And to my husband Joseph…you are amazing. Life is easier with you around. Thank you for leading me with strength and certainty. Never have I felt so protected and loved. None of this would have any meaning if I did them without you. I thank you, I thank God for you, and I love you more than ever.