While I was in hospital, in between feeds and sleeps when I had some time to myself, I started documenting our birth/labour story before my mummy brain wiped out my memory. Leading up to our due date, I remember reading up so many different birth stories – I found it so fascinating! I love how each one is so unique and empowering. I hope you enjoy reading our story x
Our last meal 🍴
On the morning of my due date, Sunday, 21st January, I woke up with the bloody show! Also had light cramping, like period pain. Finally, signs of labour 😍 Could today be the day? Tungy definitely seemed to think so but somehow I thought it would probably drag on for another day or so. We were, after all, booked in for an induction on Tuesday and I had a feeling Max wasn’t coming out sooner.
I started feeling very slight tightening in my tummy, but wasn’t sure if they were contractions or not? Tungy tracked them regardless to see how far apart they were and how long they were lasting. It was kind of hard to gauge the duration, but they were around 20 mins apart to begin with. So we called the birthing suite just to give them a heads up!
Then we went about a normal day, doing some chores, getting some last minute groceries. We even ate out for lunch! Didn’t know at the time it would be our last meal out before meeting our baby 😊
The contractions kept coming throughout the morning, not so intense that I couldn’t hold a conversation, but enough of a tightening to know there was definitely something happening!
Labouring at home 🏠
At around 1pm, the frequency of the contractions suddenly increased, from the initial 20 mins apart to 4 mins apart! They were also getting more painful, but still not so intense that I couldn’t talk through them.
I was confused what to do at this point because I remember from classes that we should be going to the hospital when contractions are about 5 mins apart, and mine were 4 mins apart. But I just didn’t feel like it was time to leave for the hospital yet.
Firstly, I didn’t want to be dramatic and show up only to find I’m actually still in early labour (after all, I felt like I was still coping okay). I had this vision in my head that we would leave for the hospital when I’m in much more pain. Though in some ways I wanted to avoid that too because I didn’t want to be in THAT much pain in the car ride to the hospital, since I can’t really get into a comfortable position! Or worse yet, if my labour progresses unexpectedly quickly and I end up giving birth on the way!
Secondly, I think I was becoming a little anxious at how it was getting all too real, ie. the moment we leave home. It really dawned on me that this was it, once we leave the house, the next time we come back, we’ll have a baby!
Funny side story, we remembered Tungy was preparing a crispy pork belly dish in the fridge that we had to cook now, otherwise we’d probably end up in the hospital for a few days and it’ll go off. So I told him to go and get it cooking so we don’t waste it! It takes about an hour and a half in the oven so I thought to myself, okay, we need to stay home until at least the pork belly has finished cooking, haha! I just need to survive these contractions until then. It’s good, I think it gave us a time frame to work with!
Finding comfort in the bath tub 🛀
We called the hospital again to update them on our situation. I wasn’t hinting I wanted to come into hospital yet, and I’m glad the midwife didn’t think it was time yet either. She advised us to try taking some Panadol and run a warm bath, see how I go. She was right to prolong labour at home as long as possible, because we managed to stick it out for another 3 hours.
Sitting in the warm bath did help for a while. Intermittently, Tung would run back downstairs to check on the pork belly, lol. Priorities! Eventually, my feet felt all wrinkly and pruney in the water and I didn’t feel really comfortable anymore so I decided to hop back out. Laboured some more just in our bedroom, the contractions were starting to get to the point where I couldn’t talk as much through them. I was also starting to feel a bit dizzy and nauseous. A real shame because Tungy finished his crispy pork belly and brought some up for me to try. It smelled divine! I had some anyway and it was delicious 😋
Around 4pm, we decided it was time to call the hospital again and hoped this time they’d suggest us to come in. I could only imagine the contractions would eventually become more intense and closer together and it would be time for baby to come out! I didn’t know how fast it could all progress but I didn’t want to risk not being at the hospital when it was time to push! The midwife agreed and that was it! We prepared all our last minute arrangements and headed for the hospital! 😱 Such a surreal moment.
Car selfie! 🚙 📷
I decided to sit in the back seat of the car because I knew I’d be having at least 3 contractions on the way to the hospital and there’s no way I could deal with it well in the front seat. So I opted for squatting at the back with my U-shaped pillow 😂
I definitely remember one of the contractions on the M4 and another one on a small road along the railway line at Westmead. It was full of speed humps and made for a more painful contraction!
Made it to the hospital in one piece 😊 Got another contraction as I was walking through the door of the birthing suite area, haha. The midwife was so lovely, she just told me to hold the wall and take my time. They must see that all the time!
Hooked up to CTG 💉
We arrived at the hospital around 4.30pm and made our way to our birthing suite. The midwife, Simla, hooked me up to the CTG to check baby’s heart rate, which was healthy and happy, thankfully. It could also measure my contractions, which I found so fascinating! As a contraction came on, you could see the number rising! It felt so validating that Tungy could see it too, I guess to prove to him I haven’t been faking it this whole time, haha! I remember I actually couldn’t look at the number rise. It made the contraction feel so much worse! At some point Tungy commented on the number and how high it was, I had to tell him to shut up because it wasnt helping!
In fact, I discovered during labour that I didn’t want Tung to say ANYTHING during my contractions, contrary to what I had previously advised him, lol. I thought it would help for him to say encouraging things like, “You’re doing great!” and “You can do this!”. But somehow it made me feel irritated and honestly I just didn’t want to hear a peep from him, so I could focus on getting through my contraction. I had even previously advised him to maybe breathe with me, to remind me to breathe more deeply. When he tried it once, it sounded like he was mocking me! And it made me want to laugh, which just made me angry and irritated! What did help was when he massaged my lower back and stroked my arm and shoulders :) Bless him.
Anyway, I had to stay lying on the bed while I was hooked up to the CTG and it occurred to me that lying down was a really terrible position for me to be in when a contraction came. It just felt so much more painful and I couldn’t cope as well. Luckily I wasn’t hooked up for too long so I could get up and labour how I wanted. Just before that, Simla checked me and advised I was already 5cm dilated, halfway through labour 😁 I was happy to hear that! But still worried about how much longer it would take to reach 10cm.
Pain was getting intense here. Thankful I got one of the limited birthing suites with a bath tub
First pain relief option I chose was to hop into a warm bath again. I felt pretty dizzy and nauseous at this point so I had to bring a vomit bag with me, lol. I must say the contractions were getting much worse at this point. It felt like there was less time inbetween them too! I was mostly leaning forward over the edge of the bath, at some point biting onto a towel through each contraction. Tungy did a great job constantly pouring water onto my back and letting it run down and massaging my lower back area. That really helped.
The midwife, Simla, came in at some point and told me to let her know when I start feeling an urge to push, like I really need to poop! Haha. Funnily enough, I had been feeling exactly that! But I thought, she only just told me I was 5cm dilated, I couldn’t possibly be at pushing stage already could I? Anyway, since I was feeling some urge, she advised that I get out of the bath, since they are not qualified for water births at Westmead and they didn’t want the baby coming out unexpectedly in the bath 😂
I remember thinking while I was in the warm bath, “Shit, I haven’t had any pain relief yet. Everything I’ve been feeling so far has been raw labour pains!” I had a little moment to myself and gave myself a mental pat on the back. But then I was also thinking, “Shit, how much longer will this labour go on and can I actually deliver this baby without any pain relief?!” I also remember thinking at this point, I wonder where is my OB? Is she here at the hospital already or on her way? If I’m getting the urge to push and it really is time for baby to come, I want her to be here! 😥 Anyway, didn’t have too much more time or energy to think about that anymore because the contractions were getting INTENSE. Simla did another check and told me I was now 7cm dilated.
Too much happening at this time to be taking photos! I needed Tungy supporting me with both arms and hands. So here’s an earlier photo of him by my side 💏
After I got out of the bath, I was sitting on the edge of the bed and the midwife, Simla, suggested I lie back down. This is when my dear husband remembered what I said to him previously, and told her on my behalf, that I didn’t want to be lying down on the bed for labour or birth as I just didn’t find it comfortable. That I prefer to be on all fours or squatting. Simla was so supportive of everything I wanted, so she said okay let’s try and get you on the bed on all fours before your next contraction!
On a side note, I think it’s fascinating the way labour works, how it’s somehow designed to give you a MUCH NEEDED break inbetween contractions to communicate with those around you, to make any adjustments and just prepare for the next one.
Turns out I was too exhausted to be on all fours or squatting. Maybe that’s why so many women end up giving birth lying down. I just couldn’t move from my position sitting on the edge of the bed. Simla started suggesting pain relief options to help me cope better, as she could see my situation was deteriorating. She offered some happy gas, which I figured, what the hey I might as well try!
Happy gas really helped me in that last, I think it was like half an hour? of my contractions. At this stage I was in PAIN and I was so stressed about every upcoming contraction. The breaks between were getting shorter and I didn’t really feel any relief in that time. I still felt residual pain and exhaustion from the previous contraction. But the fact that the gas made me really light headed and drowsy, it sort of helped me disconnect from what was happening.
I remember one hand gripping onto the handle of the bed and the other hand gripping (quite tightly, lol) onto the back of Tungy’s neck. I was also leaning and resting my head towards that arm so he was carrying a lot of my weight! But I do remember consciously making an effort to grip his neck in a way that would at least feel like a massage so maybe he would actually enjoy it? 😅
Again, no photos at this point. But here’s a close depiction of how shit I was feeling at the time 🙊
I was in a pretty dire state at this point. The contractions were so intense and painful, I could hardly keep my eyes open or even lift my head. I just tried to focus on getting through one contraction at a time with the happy gas. The midwife, Simla, kept reminding me to breathe fully into the tube, like I was expelling the contraction out. That was so helpful, I was so grateful for her support and guidance.
I remember between contractions, Tungy started asking me if I wanted to consider epidural. All I could say was, I don’t know because I didn’t want to say yes. I was quite stubborn going into labour that I would try my best to avoid the epidural, unless labour dragged on too long and I was absolutely exhausted.
Simla then mentioned that there was an anaesthetist coming in shortly for the lady next door and we could catch him before he leaves. I stayed quiet for a while, battling in my head whether I should just give in or if I could keep focusing on each contraction, one at a time. The way she said it made me think this was my only opportunity and if I miss it, I wouldn’t have any chance later on and it really stressed me out!
My biggest uncertainty and fear at this point was not knowing how much longer I had left, so I asked Simla to check my progress so far. Turns out I was 9cm dilated and I was ready to try push! So Simla broke my water and our baby was on the way!
Everyone was way too occupied at this point to be taking any photos. But here’s the moment right after the pushing stage, when Tungy had the honour of cutting the umbilical cord (in black and white to spare you the bloody mess) 😊
The pushing stage was actually better than active labour, for me personally. When I could just use the contraction to push instead of riding it out. It felt like the energy was being channeled somewhere.
Entering this stage I remember feeling (1) relieved, because I didn’t know how much longer I could cope with the contractions with just happy gas and I didn’t want to succumb to the epidural. I was so grateful for a relatively quick and trouble-free labour so far, and (2) slight anxiety at how long this stage might last and how much pain was coming my way, but mostly (3) so much excitement because I knew how close I was to meeting our baby! Throughout this stage, I kept visualising the moment he/she will be brought up into my arms and that really kept me going!
So I’m lying on my back, with Simla holding one of my legs back and Tung holding the other. He was also holding my head up and pushing it towards my chest. This was CRUCIAL and so helpful during the pushing. With each contraction, I could just hear Simla saying, “Push push push push push that’s it, like you’re doing a big poo poo! Push into your bottom!” And occasionally she would say, “No no dear, not into your throat. Not in your chest. Push into your bottom!” Oh God I was getting so confused. Who knew there were so many different ways of pushing?
Despite the exhaustion, I felt so alert and in control. I was so focused and eager to get it right and help my baby come out. Between contractions when I had some energy I would say, “I’m so sorry! I don’t think I pushed properly that time. Can you explain to me again how to do it properly?!” and then turning to Tung and saying, “Keep pushing my head towards my chest, that helps a lot! Thanks hun!” Basically if I was making a grunting noise, I was doing it wrong. There should be no noise when you push into your bottom.
Pure bliss ☺💕 We did it!
After maybe 4 or 5 waves of contractions and pushing, my obstetrician Dr Huynh arrived! Tungy later told me she was stuck in a bit of traffic. I’m glad he didn’t decide to tell me at the time, haha. It was such a relief to have her presence and hear her voice! She filled the room with confidence and a sense of direction.
Things moved pretty quickly once Dr Huynh arrived. Despite the pain and exhaustion I was feeling so positive and mentally energised. We went though a few more contractions and I remember constantly saying in between them, “Thank you everyone. Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it.” I also looked over at Tungy and said, “I love you. Love you so much hunny.” Sounds so silly but I wanted them to let everyone know how grateful I was that they were all here to help me and our baby.
At some point (I’d lost all track of time by now) Dr Huynh got started on an episiotomy and warned me about the sting from the local anaesthetic. She then assured me within the next contraction or so, our baby will be here 😍 Those words had such a huge impact on me and I’m so glad she kept me informed the whole way. The next contraction came and I pushed with all my might, knowing this could be the last until I meet my baby. I can’t express how excited I felt! Unfortunately it wasn’t enough pushing that time, I heard Dr Huynh saying, “Don’t worry, next one. One more”. So the next contraction came, again I pushed as hard as I could and then the moment of truth… at 7.29pm:
My baby! Held up right before my eyes and onto my chest. My baby in my arms, my husband by my side, I have no words to express the love, the joy and the excitement I felt at this moment.
And that’s our story 💕