As all mothers can attest, the birth of each child is unique but all special and heartfelt in ways that only mothers can truly understand. No matter how many children we have, each experience will always feel like the very first time; no matter how much preparation we make in advance, nothing can ever prepare you enough for the emotional and physical outcome of the birth day journey.
The Journey Begins
The day started early enough — I could hardly sleep, anyhow. Mummy and baby’s hospital bag: check. Medical documents and wedding certificate: check. Husband in tow; check. We left the house at 5:30am knowing that upon return, we would have a new addition to the family.
Tips on what to pack
Essentials in Mummy’s Bag: 1. Clothes to last the hospital stay and a going-home outfit for day you are discharged. 2. Toiletries. 3. Nursing bras and disposable underwear. 4. Post-op belly band, if, like me, you’re having a caesarean and you don’t want the hospital to provide one for you. 5. Slippers 6. Breast pump, if you intend to use one. 7. Formula milk, if you intend to specify what you want your newborn to be fed with rather than leave it to the hospital’s choice. 8. Sweater/ Cardigan because hospitals can be chilly 9. Lip balm and moisturiser – most don’t realise how dry the air in hospital is. 10. Important documents – Admission documents from gynaecologist which will include a medical test report. Marriage certificate/Identity cards of parents.
Essentials for Baby: 1. Coming-home outfit 2. Blanket to swaddle the baby on the way home 3. Beanie or hat for baby’s head 4. Baby bucket or car seat 5. Cord blood banking kit (if you have opted for private cord blood banking)
At The Hospital
Registration at the hospital took longer than expected as there were at least five other expectant mothers in the queue and only two counters were active. I was in no hurry as I savoured the last few moments of feeling baby inside me. She was unusually placid; her usual tumbles and turns were mere flutters and gentle prods. It was as if she knew she would be starting a new life out of the comforts of the womb soon and like me, she was drinking in the tail end of the nine-month journey quietly, contemplatively.
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What to Expect
1. Be prepared to pay a deposit upon admission. Check with the hospital’s billing department for the details in advance as charges for every hospital differs.
2. Some hospitals will take you to your room in a wheelchair. If, like me, you feel well enough to walk the way there, you can politely decline the offer.
3. Before they bring you to the room, they will take your final pre-birth weight for the record.
It was almost 7:00am by the time I was led to my room. I had opted for the family suite as it had a separate living area where guests could hang out if I needed some privacy without being surrounded by hordes of visitors, as was the case with most hospital rooms. And lo and behold! Who would have thought that a good friend and colleague was already there waiting for me with a welcome gift for baby — a Pigeon Newborn Pure gift set. Perfect! As I had forgotten to bring my moisturiser. I’m sure baby wouldn’t mind mummy having a go at her gift first.
Over the span of an hour, I was asked to change into the operating gown, requested to sign the operation indemnity form acknowledging that I was fully aware that I was consenting to the procedure and the administration of the general anaesthesia. They also came in to shave down the pubic area but I had prepped for that with a visit to my regular hair-removal salon. Before I knew it, I was ready to be rolled into the pre-op waiting area. A final reassuring kiss from the hubby and off I went as he waited in anticipation for the little one’s arrival.
1. For caesarean births, some hospitals will insert the plug for the IV drip into your hand while in the room. You can request for them to do so in the operating theatre closer to the procedure.
2. I would also advise all mummies to ask for the catheter to be inserted ONLY after they have given you some form of anaesthetic in the operating theatre. The pain is simply not worth being brave about.
I didn’t have to wait long. The moment they pushed me into the operating theatre, administered the GA, had me count backwards from 10, 9, 8…. I blacked out. When I regained consciousness, all I felt was excruciating pain on my abdomen and searing, hot sensation in my throat. Even after three caesareans, I will never, ever get use to that post-op waking moment. Unlike natural or regional anaesthesia, where you are awake for the entire procedure, there is no immediate body-to-body contact with the baby. It will be near impossible in that groggy, drugged out state. I couldn’t wait to get back to my room to hold my newborn.
Hello Baby Laura
After what seemed like an eternity, I was wheeled back into my room and into the comforting presence of my husband and the new member of our family. The painkillers were working and although my mind was foggy and I was still disorientated, I had to hold my baby. And the moment she was laid in my arms, a perfectly formed miniature version of me, all that pain I just went through, and those challenging 38 weeks of pregnancy, bed rest, medications, pains and discomfort — it was worth it.