Zoe Raymond Tan Shares Her Birth Journey

That was a magical moment

We had a cousin who delivered three weeks early, even though our Estimated Date of Delivery (EDD) was a day apart. That made the three weeks leading up to the delivery date rather agonizing.

We were both in eager anticipation.

At the same time, I felt more aches and pains with the increasingly heavy bump. In each of those last few weekly visits to the Gynecologist, I would tell Alvin, “I’m admitting myself today”, and March 6, was finally to be the day.

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Concerned about the dropping amniotic fluid level,  Dr Han, the gynae, recommended delivery on the morning of the 6th. She was estimated to weigh 3.2kg!

My cervix had yet to dilate at 9am, so the gynae did a membrane sweep and that encouraged dilation to 1.5cm almost immediately! It sure didn’t feel comfortable! We headed over to the labour ward where I was hooked up to the Cardiotocography (CTG).

At 10am, I was given a tablet to induce labour. It is said to take at least six hours for the cervix to fully dilate otherwise an extra tablet was required. 

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Hoping to speed up dilation, I resorted to squats and walking about the delivery floor and had a chance to take this photo before getting bed-bounded by the epidural. 

At 1.30pm, a check showed that I was only about 3cm dilated. Contractions were slow too. Dr Han suggested an epidural and to break my water bag to hasten dilation. 

Dr Wong came to administer the epidural which thankfully was quick (not a big fan of needles). I was instructed to curl up as much as I could with the help of a nurse. My legs felt warm at first before gradually becoming numb. Then it was back to waiting — a dreadfully long wait, made somewhat better by my husband’s company and comedies.

The nurse came in to check on how far along I was at 7pm. To our dismay, I was only 5cm dilated. It was then that I learnt that contractions may happen but dilation may not!

I was actually feeling very weak when I took this shot, but I didn’t want to worry my parents — especially my mum, who was waiting outside.

I was starting to run a temperature of 38 degrees at this point. I was given antibiotics intravenously, to no avail. Dr Han came to check on me at about 9pm and my temperature had climbed to 38.3 degrees. She examined me again. 5cm. She could already feel Arielle’s head but not her ears, meaning there was no chance her head would pass through my pelvis.

Though Arielle’s heartbeat was still regular and normal, we took Dr Han’s advice to deliver Arielle via caesarean section to avoid prolonging the delivery process possibly endangering Arielle or myself.

At 9.15pm, preparations were made to get me into the operating theatre. Both sets of parents, together with my sister, Zonia and her fiance, Jason were already outside waiting for us. They gave words of encouragement and accompanied me to the entrance of the operating theatre. 

Alvin was whisked off to change while I was wheeled to the operating theatre. We opted for local anesthesia so I’d be awake and Alvin could be by my side. There was also a sheet in front of us so we could not see the procedure, thankfully. 

I felt groggy and nauseous as fear started to kick in. I felt a little claustrophobic from the sheet around me. But Dr Han assured me that I was fine and my blood pressure was alright. I focused on my breathing with techniques I learnt from prenatal yoga classes. Alvin came in soon after — with him holding my hand, I felt secure, my breathing was calmer, and I no longer felt nauseous.

And so it began.

First picture of Arielle in my arms.

I still felt a little pain and Dr Wong offered me laughing gas which I rejected; I didn’t want to feel anymore handicapped. The pain from what was going on behind the sheet was tolerable. 

There was a lot of pulling, stretching and pressing. I closed my eyes, only opening once to look at Alvin for reassurance and support. Soon I heard cries! Two gagging cries, and then strong, LOUD cries. 

Dr Han presented the baby to us, and then quickly handed her over to the nurse for a quick clean. Arielle was wrapped up and placed on my chest. 

That was a magical moment.

Finally, I had my daughter in my arms for a good hug!

I looked at her up close for the very first time, and my eyes welled up in tears. 39 weeks 5 days of carrying her in my womb, 12 hours trying to fulfill a natural delivery before the caesarean and finally, here she was — big and healthy on my chest. 

Arielle was 3.395 kg — much bigger than what my body could have handled for natural delivery. Alvin left the operating theatre with Arielle while Dr Han continued working on me. I was more awake at this point and was very chatty.  I asked many questions! I must have been very relieved that Arielle was finally out safe! I had to be monitored for another half hour before I was finally warded at midnight.

In the ward, I had my first bonding session with Arielle — latching! She latched on very well the first time give me a confidence boost I needed. I wanted so much to be able to breastfeed her. Arielle was brought to me every three hours to latch and the nursery staff would take her back after an hour.

It was exhausting but I looked forward to seeing her so much! My mind would be reeling and my ears peeled for the sound of the cot being wheeled in. Three days passed very quickly at the hospital.

Words cannot describe how happy and excited I was on our car ride back home. The little place in our room which I’d spent weeks preparing little by little for her was all ready to receive her. 

I still cannot believe this little human came out of me. She was responsible for the strong kicks every day, the one who gave me backaches and also the one who accompanied me through a full 23 weeks of yoga practices. It is going to be an exciting, fun-filled journey, an experience we will relish. 

Our one little wish —please don’t grow up too quickly!

Little Arielle turns one month old today. Congratulations!

This is Zoe Raymond Tan’s personal account of her birth journey. All images, opinions and thoughts are hers.

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