In the early morning of Saturday, November 28, I gave birth to our second baby, Perrine Rocio Lampard. Now that we’re back home, I can start digesting the whirlwind experience of her fast and furious birth.
I never managed to share too much about my pregnancy here, the way I did when I was pregnant with Patriot, but it was a long and physically tough time for me amidst COVID-19, working full time, and family life with a 3 year old. Mentally though I felt more inspired and motivated than ever to take care of myself and pursue passions and projects while my little girl was giving me super strong kicks from my tummy.
The Last Month
The last month of my pregnancy, I was so ready to give birth. By the time my due date was 2 weeks away, I had started my maternity leave and made sure to rest up thinking the baby could come at anytime. I spent an entire week “resting” and was going out of my mind with boredom so by the week of my due date, I switched gears and ended up at Disneyland with Patriot twice in one week, Christmas shopping, and basically pretending like I wasn’t approaching 40 weeks of pregnancy.
Leading up to the big day, I had been going to the Chinese Medicine doctor for acupuncture. When I was pregnant with Patriot, I started having contractions after just one session at 39.5 weeks pregnant, but this time around I had 4 acupuncture sessions, including one the day after my calendar due date, and still not a sign of labor.
Earlier That Day
At the last appointment the Chinese Medicine doctor did say the “points” felt much more loose this session and that maybe baby was ready. I was feeling super tired afterwards though even though it was only 10AM and went home for a nice nap. That evening I got dressed and brought Patriot with me to the DEFT office to celebrate the company’s 6 year anniversary. I was still feeling fairly normal. I had dinner and was just feeling the usual aches and pains of being 40 weeks pregnant so around 8PM I took Patriot home, put him to bed, and laid down too.
I messaged Peter at almost 9AM that my back was cramping and thought maybe we’d get some baby action over the weekend. By 9:40 I messaged him to come home. I was having some back pain and some cramping but I still wasn’t sure if they were contractions or not.
I started timing the waves of cramps and it seemed like they were fairly regular around 5 minutes apart but very short around 30 seconds long. Around 10PM the contractions already started to become irregular though they were still quite painful. We both tried to get some rest that night and I put on my Hypnobabies tracks and managed to get a bit of sleep. I would lie down, sleep, wake up if I had a contraction, then repeat.
With Patriot I had early signs of labor and was in early labor with irregular contractions for several days so I naively thought, oh I’m in early labor and still have a long ways to go.
Around 2AM my contractions started becoming more regular again though they were still quite short. Peter suggested we go to the hospital early anyhow so that I wasn’t struggling too much during the journey and triage on arrival.
We called an Uber and made our way to the hospital. In the car the contractions felt really strong, but again, short. Typically they say you should go to the hospital when your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute each, for 1 hour. At this point mine were about 6 minutes apart, lasting for 30ish seconds each, for only the last half hour.
At the Hospital
I really thought we were going in too early, but I’m so glad Peter made me leave when we did. At the hospital we made our way to triage for the delivery ward. It’s such a weird experience at the public hospital in Hong Kong when you are going into labor because both times, I’ve been in real pain during contractions. Meanwhile a nurse or midwife is asking you things like, can you step on the scale to weigh yourself, is this your HKID #?, can you check this your name?
You’re trying to focus on your body, but at the same time you’re forced to do a bunch of casual admin. Luckily this time around I was more empowered to force them to wait for me to answer or do things in between contractions, not during, and they eventually checked me to see how far along I was. Just like when I first arrived at the hospital when I was in labor with Patriot they said I wasn’t dilated. The nurse said my cervix was loose, but not dilated and I texted Peter the news just after 2:30.
They handed me a box and some paperwork and sent me downstairs to the pre-labor ward. Unfortunately husbands are not allowed here so I was sent inside with the nurse where once again I was having intense pain during my contractions, but forced through a bunch of admin – when did you last eat or drink? pee in this cup. COVID test can’t be done until X time because you drank water at Y time. blah blah blah. I was having a hard time focusing for obvious reasons and the nurse could tell.
“How far apart are your contractions now?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t been timing them since I got here.”
“Well how many have you had since you got to this ward.”
“I don’t know. 3?”
Cue slightly panicked look.
“Ok go to your bed and I’ll come check how far along you are again”
It was around 2:45-2:50AM and I was brought to a nearby bed and the other nurse tossed me a delivery gown. I took this as a positive sign since normally they give you a bright pink set of PJs to wear when you stay in this ward. I remember squatting down on the floor in pain in between trying to undress and put on the robe before the nurse quickly came in and checked me.
From here on everything felt like chaos. This is also the point where if you are squeamish or the thought of giving birth is terrifying to you, you should probably stop reading.
She said, you’re dilated. Need to go to the delivery ward now. They quickly shuffled me onto a gurney and tossed my bags on. At this point I knew she was right. I was feeling ROUGH. I felt this wrenching in my stomach and urge to vomit. They gave me a bag to vomit in and I must have been yelling at this point because later a woman in my prenatal group messaged that she heard me come in to the prenatal ward in the middle of the night and start screaming I WANT TO PUSH.
They wheeled me back out of the ward, where Peter was clueless and waiting outside and back up to the delivery ward. I remember them telling him they weren’t sure if he would be allowed in yet, so at this point we both thought he would be joining me shortly.
Once I was in the delivery room my contractions were so powerful and I was having such immense pain in my lower back and lower abs (but still no feeling whatsoever of tightening or contracting in the rest of my stomach). I tried moving into different positions on the bed and the nurses/midwives were all yelling at me HEY LADY STOP. LADY STOP YOU’RE GOING TO FALL DOWN. STOP LADY.
Finally I yelled back STOP YELLING AT ME and everyone calmed down and they helped me to move into different positions safely. At this point I was wondering where Peter was and they informed me that because I didn’t have my COVID test results, he couldn’t join. I was shocked. I begged to take the COVID test now so that he could come in but they insisted there was “no time.”
I remember loudly sobbing immediately and yelling DOES HE KNOW? And they brought out the phone to call him and explain. If you know Peter, you know he wouldn’t take news like this easily and didn’t want to take no for an answer but eventually they passed the phone to me to talk with him. I can’t remember what we even said to each other but I didn’t have much time to think about it anymore because of the contractions. This was around 3:10-3:15AM.
I was yelling more about how I wanted to push and the midwife checked me and said, ok it’s time to push. Everyone moved into position to help me deliver. I tried a couple of positions but in the end wound up flat on my back bearing down. They insisted this would be most effective and that they would help me through it if we “worked together” AKA if I stopped screaming at everyone. I have to give credit to the staff despite the hospital’s horrendous policy against allowing birthing partners. They coached me well, wiped my sweat, and took all of my verbal abuse in stride.
I always read people say the baby crowning is the most painful part of labor and delivery but I’ve never felt this way personally. For me it’s always the most surreal part. I could feel Perrine’s head come out then her body slip out and it honestly wasn’t painful at all because of the immense relief I felt afterwards that it was done and the contractions had stopped. I was even luckier this time as the midwife who delivered Perrine was very focused and calm and helped me to deliver without any tearing whatsoever.
It felt like hours of pushing but finally Perrine was born at 3:30AM on the dot. While the whole experience was a blur and felt endless, she was born just ONE HOUR after the nurses told me I wasn’t dilated at all.
For reference, for a first baby, active labor takes an average of 8 hours and 1-2 hours of pushing. With Patriot I was in active labor for 3 hours and pushed for 20 minutes.
For subsequent babies, active labor is much quicker – the average is about 5 hours of active labor and 5-10 minutes of pushing. My active labor and pushing combined was an hour or less.
Some people have said it must be amazing to have such a quick labor and that I’m so lucky, but honestly it was a bit traumatic as there was no time to process anything that was happening. Labor is such a physically and mentally taxing experience, but it was literally like the baby slammed her foot on the gas and went from 0 to 100 miles per hour directly into my cervix.
I had so many plans for what I was going to do during labor this time around and thought I would have a few days of early labor “signs” so that I could finish packing up a few final items. Share the early hours of the experience with Patriot and most of all, that Peter would be with me for the delivery. In the end NONE of that happened.
The only perk of giving birth during this COVID wave in Hong Kong was that the test results took a long time. A really really long time. So I was kept in isolation in the delivery room for 12 hours after I delivered. I had my own room with Perrine, with a tv, and meals delivered – a luxury in the public hospital where I would later be wheeled off to the postnatal ward which is shared with 6 women in a hall and 4 or so halls in a ward.
I soaked up not having to move a muscle for 12 hours and spent my time snuggling Perrine on my chest and calling and messaging Peter and Patriot.
Overall my experience at the public hospital was not as blissful as my experience giving birth to Patriot because of the chaos, rush, and COVID restrictions (no visitors were allowed after I delivered either), BUT in the end we paid 195 HKD (~25 USD) for delivery and one night’s hospital stay. A massive difference from the private hospital registration (63,000 HKD for a vaginal birth with no epidural) I had cancelled just the week before, plus the security of knowing I was in the best place for emergency care for myself and the baby should anything go very wrong.
Thankfully Perrine and I both left the hospital safe and healthy and we are all enjoying quiet time at home adjusting to life as a family of 4.
Welcome to the world, Perrine!