It’s hard to believe that Baby P is finally here. Patriot Peter Lampard joined us at 2:51AM on July 1, 2017. I mentioned in my Third Trimester Recap that the last few weeks of pregnancy went by so slowly but I had no idea how much more slowly time would move once I started going into early labor.
Earlier that Week
By Sunday, June 25, I had started taking evening primrose oil supplements and mentally willing for our sweet babe to come out! But by my chiropractor appointment on Monday, Baby P still seemed to be a long ways from being born.
On Tuesday I had my first acupuncture session. I had never had acupuncture done before so I was a bit nervous but I wanted to see if it would help get Baby P moving along. A few needles were put in on the appropriate pressure points and they were hooked up to a TENS machine which sent electrical pulses through the needles for an extra boost. I felt a few contractions during the session, but wasn’t sure if there would be any lasting effect. Most soon-to-be moms, require a few sessions. Later that day and continuing into Wednesday, I was starting to feel a bit crampy. I thought I could feel something was starting to happen inside this belly of mine, but I wasn’t sure if it was just excitement that made me think labor was just around the corner.
I also rented a TENS machine from the acupuncturist and she showed me how to set it up on my pressure points for 30 minutes, twice a day, to help move things along.
Peter’s parents were arriving from the US so on Wednesday we made our way to the airport to greet them. I didn’t want to get everyone excited, in case I wasn’t actually going starting to progress into early labor, so although Peter knew everything I had started experiencing since my acupuncture session, we didn’t tell anyone else yet.
Wednesday night we went out for a nice family dinner and while I was sleeping that night, I started having some very mild contractions. They were still irregular so I brushed them off as Braxton-Hicks.
By Thursday morning, June 29 aka my actual due date, I still wasn’t having any regular contractions. I went for lunch and went into the office. I wasn’t feeling too great, but again, I didn’t think I was in labor yet, so I just continued on with regular life.
That evening we had planned a special dinner out with Peter’s parents and by 6PM my contractions started becoming more regular. They were still far apart, but Peter was SO excited. He was timing every contraction religiously during dinner and even though I didn’t want to disturb our meal by constantly tapping him for every contraction, he insisted.
During dinner my contractions were about 10-15 min apart but they started to become more irregular as the night progressed. Despite my excitement, I managed to get some sleep that night (and I’m so thankful I did!) and only woke up a few times in the night from contractions. I kept timing them, but just as they started becoming more regular, they would stop again.
This continued on for most of the next day. Start. Progress. Stop. Start. Progress. Stop.
Was this baby ready to come out?!
Peter’s parents came over for lunch that afternoon and I went for a long walk on the treadmill in the hopes that it would help my labor progress.
I also had a hot shower and had a masseuse come for a nice massage at the apartment.
For the past few weeks I had been following the Hypnobabies course which is a childbirth hypnosis training course. I listened to it during the 24 hours or so of my early labor and it helped tremendously during that time. I can share more on Hypnobabies on a later day, but during early labor, I tested the techniques by going into hypnosis for contractions and also experiencing the contractions without hypnosis. There was a big difference. When I went into hypnosis during the contractions, I almost wasn’t even sure if I was having a contraction at all. I could feel some tightening but no pain.
After 24 hours of stop and start labor, I was finally getting strong, regular contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart. Peter and his parents packed up all my things, called an Uber and in between one of the contractions, I hurried out to the car to head to the hospital.
At the Hospital
I worried about going to the hospital too early. I gave birth in a public hospital in Hong Kong and depending on how busy the hospital is and how your labor has progressed, you might not get put into a private delivery room right away. Instead, you’re sent to a shared pre-delivery ward. Here you share a room with 3 other women who are also in early labor and you are not allowed to have visitors except from 12-1PM and then again from 5-8PM.
It was about 9:30PM when we started making our way to the hospital and my contractions were stronger but still manageable. We arrived at triage for the OB ward and at this point I was starting to get really irritable. I kept my headphones in, listening to my Hypnobabies tracks, and sipping water, but the lights inside the hospital were so bright compared to our comfortable, dark bedroom I had been laboring in earlier and it was really jarring.
When we arrived there was another woman ahead of me in triage. She wasn’t in labor but they had to check her first and I waited for what felt like ages, alone (no one else was allowed to wait with me in triage), and a bit confused before I finally got to see someone.
At this point I was pretty grumpy and frustrated. The midwives checked my blood pressure, asked me a few questions and then sent me walking out the doors to the pre-delivery ward.
Nooooooooo. I was really confused at this point about what was going on and although Peter could bring me to the pre-delivery ward, he wasn’t allowed inside. After changing into my pink hospital issued pjs I was told to lay in bed for 1 hour while they monitored my contractions and monitored the baby’s heart rate. The other women in the room were watching tv, eating, chilling.
I was laying on my back (an extremely uncomfortable position for me during my pregnancy and especially during my contractions) and told to lay still during the monitoring. My contractions were painful and I was so stressed out and confused that I couldn’t concentrate on my hypnobabies. I needed to be in a different position, but the staff wouldn’t let me move.
Finally a midwife came in and checked my cervix to see how dilated I was. The progress?
She said I wasn’t dilated AT ALL. Oh. My. God. I was freaked the f*ck out at this point.
- These are what contractions are like BEFORE you’re even dilated?! What would they be like once I had actually dilated?
- I was going to have to stay in this shared room, alone, without my husband, with these other ladies happily, comfortably strolling around while I writhed in pain OVERNIGHT?
I shed a few tears and messaged Peter. I was pretty upset at this point. Luckily, shortly after, another midwife suddenly appeared.
“Your contractions are really close together”
No. Sh*t. Lady. HELP ME.
She said she was going to check my cervix again and I asked her to wait a moment until my contraction ended.
Nope. She said she wanted to check it while I was having a contraction and immediately proceeded to give me the only painful cervical check of my labor. I let out a yelp and she kept apologizing before finally letting me know that I actually was dilated and that they’d let me go to the delivery room.
While the pre-delivery and post-delivery rooms in the Hong Kong public hospitals are shared and only open to visitors during specified hours, the actual delivery room is private and you can have one other person with you at all times.
I was dying to see Peter so I quickly hobbled out of my pjs and into a hospital gown before hopping onto a gurney to head to the delivery room. Peter got dressed and joined me in the room shortly after.
I was so excited to see him although at this point it had been about 2 hours since I had first left the apartment to head to the hospital and my contractions were getting stronger. I had no idea how far along I was and the midwives were pretty hands off. They hooked up the contraction and fetal heart rate monitors to my belly and then left us to do our own thing.
I really wanted to move around but everytime I would, the monitors would slip and the midwives would come in to scold me so I was stuck laying on my side during each contraction.
As it turns out, Patriot was in the OP position (occiput posterior fetal position) or “sunny side up” so the back up his head was pressed against my tailbone. This explained so much about my early labor– my contractions were mostly felt in my back throughout my labor and often babies in this position have labor that starts and stops.
This made my contractions really painful on my lower back and I was desperately yelling for Peter to push harder on my lower back which provided a somewhat relieving counter pressure. I also used entinox (gas and air) during labor– though I didn’t find it very helpful and at one point it caused me to throw up all of the dinner I had eaten earlier that evening.
I was tired, in pain, and so thirsty. The only thing I could have was ice chips. I had my hypnobabies tracks playing in the background but I should have put in my headphones because I could not concentrate on it at all and completely lost focus on any hypnosis plans. My back was killing me and because of Patriot’s positioning, I had a really strong urge to push.
The midwives kept telling me to stop pushing and discouraged any positions that would make pushing easier. It was too early and every time I would push, Patriot’s heart rate would drop. This made the staff nervous and they urged me to stop pushing.
If you’ve ever given birth, you know it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to stay still when your body doesn’t want to. When I did manage to focus on my breathing and use my Hypnobabies techniques, my body would completely relax (Peter was impressed seeing the strength of the contractions on the monitor and how I breathed through them comfortably) only to have a sudden reflex to PUSH.
I couldn’t help it. As much as I mentally didn’t want to push, my body physically wanted to. And it did.
The midwives were not happy about this because the fetal heart rate kept dropping every time I had the “push” urge. I was told later that this is common with babies in the OP position because the heart rate is difficult to find or because contractions cause the baby to press awkwardly on the umbilical cord, making the fetal heart rate seem to drop.
During one of the contractions I felt a big gush of liquid shoot out of me and I asked Peter if my water had broken or if I had just peed everywhere. He buzzed for the midwife and calmly asked “Did her water just break or did she pee everywhere?”
It turns out my water did finally break, but it also turns out that Peter is definitely not the type of dad who wants to sit in a waiting room until a clean baby and mom are neatly presented. He was right in the thick of things the entire time and I love him for that.
At one point about 5 midwives burst into the delivery room after seeing the fetal heart rate drop on the monitors– having more hospital staff in your room is never a good sign. Soon after, I asked for an epidural. Peter knew that I didn’t want one initially and hoped to have a completely natural birth, but he was so supportive throughout my labor.
The midwife said she would consult with the anesthesiologist, but it would depend on how busy she was (i.e. if there was someone who needed a C-section, they would obviously take priority over me). Soon after, the anesthesiologist came into the room. She had reviewed everything and proceeded to go through the details of how my labor was complicated, blah blah blah…I don’t know what she really said. I wasn’t listening. I really just wanted to know if she was going to give me the epidural or not.
Peter will tell you how extremely grumpy and angry I sounded but I remember how I interrupted her in between one of my contractions to ask, “SO I CAN’T HAVE IT?”
It was nearly 2:30AM so I really didn’t need her to explain the details. I just needed to know the outcome. Was I getting the epidural or not?
I was not.
With the baby’s heart rate being so irregular, it was too risky. She even said that I may need a C-section if I couldn’t get my sh*t together.
Okay she didn’t phrase it like that.
She probably said something about how we may have to do a C-section if the baby’s heart rate doesn’t stabilize because I’m pushing too soon. At that point I was so tired that even a C-section didn’t sound so bad. I just wanted this to be over.
I was so so tired. So tired.
And frustrated. And thirsty. Ice chips were not cutting it.
Then a miracle happened. The midwives (perhaps seeing how jaded I was after I was rejected by the anesthesiologist) asked if I wanted to try pushing out the baby now.
Um, yes. I didn’t know that was an option. I was only 3cm dilated.
After I agreed, everyone went into motion. They sat the bed up a bit, pulled up the stirrups and got into position.
Yes, friends, I was about to push this baby out the way every birthing class, blog and book I had encountered during my pregnancy said was the absolute worst, most unnatural position to give birth in — on my back, holding my breath, and pushing as hard as I could.
By now it was 2:30AM. I was beyond exhausted. If the midwives had told me to give birth upside down I would have done it. I wanted nothing more than for them to tell me exactly what to do and to get this baby out so I could have a glass of water and some rest.
Since this was my first baby, the midwives said this would take at least an hour. I was only 3-4 cm dilated (babies are delivered when you are 10cm dilated). I had a long way to go.
Luckily I was one determined lady and I can follow directions really well. The midwives said to tuck my chin to my chest, put my feet into the stirrups, hold my breath and push as hard as I could during each contraction.
Screw the prenatal blogs.
I did it and it felt damn good. It felt incredible to finally be allowed to push when my body wanted to push. I could care less what position I was in.
The midwives and Peter were really supportive of my progress but I really had no idea what was happening down there. I was concentrated on pushing during my contractions and nothing else.
Pushing was hard work and I was getting really hot in the delivery room. I asked Peter to help me take off my hospital gown. He hesitated for a second,
“Um, but then you’re naked…”
The midwives were about to deliver a baby out of me. They didn’t mind my nudity.
As I was pushing, the midwives asked if they could do an episiotomy. Throughout my pregnancy I was so scared about having an episiotomy. I really didn’t want one and had written so on my birth plan. However, they very bluntly explained that it looked like I would “tear from my vagina to my anus” if they didn’t do the episiotomy and that it would be much better for them to do a small cut instead.
The tear sounded terrible and again, I was tired and didn’t want to think at all so I agreed to whatever they thought would be best. They assured me it wouldn’t hurt at all.
After a few more pushes, I heard Peter saying, “I can see his head! I can see his head!” I made a big push and felt the baby crown. At that exact same moment I felt a super quick sting from the episiotomy and the baby felt like it just slipped out.
The transition from 7-10 cm, crowning, and the episiotomy are all usually the most dreaded and painful parts of labor but honestly this was the best part of the whole experience and actually pretty pain free. The crowning and episiotomy were so quick that I only felt a sting for a second, just as the midwives had promised. Feeling the baby come out afterwards was the most amazing high– a combination of bliss and relief.
The whole experience of starting to push to the baby being delivered felt like it only took 5 minutes. Remember, the midwives had told me before I started pushing that this would take at least an hour.
It the end, it wasn’t 5 minutes, but somehow I managed to go from about ~3cm to 10cm and push the baby out in 20 minutes. Usually first babies take a while to come out and subsequent babies come out much more quickly. At this rate, the midwives said that for my second baby I should come to the hospital right away.
After Patriot was born at 2:51 AM, I remember laying on the bed in a tired daze. After a few moments, I heard our baby cry and the doctor confirmed for us that it was a baby boy. Soon our tiny, red, wrinkly baby was on my chest. We did a delayed cord clamping and Peter cut Patriot’s umbilical cord.
Peter and I spent about an hour with just the three of us in the delivery room doing skin-to-skin and cuddling. Peter was over the moon with joy and I was too (but also completely exhausted).
After we left the delivery room, Peter and his mom helped get my things settled into my spot in the shared post-delivery ward and spent another 30 minutes or so with me.
It was about 4:30AM when the midwives checked Patriot’s temperature and said he was too cold. I had to do skin to skin and lay with him under about 5 blankets for 2 hours. For safety reasons the hospital does not allow you to sleep with the baby on your chest– and especially not with 5 blankets piled on top of the baby.
I ended up awake doing skin to skin until 6:30AM. The lights in the ward came on around 7AM and breakfast was served around 7:30AM so it was really difficult to sleep after that.
By now I had been up for nearly 24 hours. I was beyond exhausted and running on adrenaline. Patriot and I spent 2 sleepless nights in the hospital before heading home.
All of my prenatal care through the public system had been free and my delivery + 2 nights in the hospital came out to about 50 USD.
The 2 nights we spent in the hospital were a bit overwhelming, but I loved having Patriot (mostly) all to myself for the first couple of days (the public hospitals have limited visiting hours) and it was so worth it to finally have our baby out safely into the world!