“If the doctors make you induce, you may as well just ask for a c-section,” cautioned wise Christy at dinner, months ago. It was just a short girls’ catch-up sesh near Christy’s spot in Stuy Town. I remembered what she said clearly. I also remember Nancy looking nice in a pinkish purple MAC lipstick.
How glorious to have energy to think about lipstick shades those months ago. It was also around that time when I met Christine, a Nassau doula and lactation specialist. She told me pretty much the same thing about inductions usually leading to c-sections. “Just think about it. The woman is strapped down for hours to a monitor, IV and god knows what else,” as I paraphrase her from my hazy memories. “It’s almost impossible to push the baby out with gravity working against you. And once you’re in the hospital, they start to count the time you take. If you go over their limit, there will be pressure from everyone around to have a c-section. And most women usually cave in at that point because they are exhausted, scared and in pain.”
I didn’t want another surgery after having a shitty recovery from the old ACL-replacement ordeal years ago. So I decided I would try to go all-natural to avoid that chance. The medical professionals I explained my opinion to looked at me like I was one of those anti-establishment hippies. (C’mon, I was raised in Singapore. How could I possibly be that much of a renegade?)
Then my due date came and went. The baby was still inside at 40 weeks and 3 days. This was the time right before Hurricane Irene hit the Bahamas. My regular and very understanding obgyn was on vacation, so one of his partners took over. This new (to me) guy was more aggressive than empathetic, and pushed me to induce, even though I said I wanted to go into labour naturally—I had no health problems that indicated I needed induction before the hurricane.
This doctor did convince me to room-in at the hospital in case I went into labour during the hurricane, as the roads would have had fallen trees and loose power lines blowing around.
So I “checked in” for a couple nights. It was good to take the precaution, but it was sorta hard. Every staff member without boundaries would stop into my room to offer advice on what they would do if they were past due. I would argue that there was not really a cause for alarm. But not according to the personnel. I learned from every yahoo in scrubs who had cracked open a medical textbook that my petulant decision would result in the death of my baby. Whether it was through the baby pooping meconium and drinking her own contamination, or my old calcified uterus hardening and not giving the baby oxygen, or that I would have a stillborn and never be able to have another child again because I was so old. Nice bedside manner, staff of Doctors’ Hospital! And none of these people were my doctor, or even his replacement.
But there were some nice UK-trained midwives who actually agreed with me about natural birth being better than intervening aggressively if I was in good health. And they sympathized. One put it this way,” Imagine having to fight so hard just to do things naturally. Makes no sense.”
Anyhow, I was alone in the hospital for two days as Davidson was not allowed to bunk in with me. The hospital was in a state of emergency because of the hurricane, and was not cramming people in. Fair enough. So I had to stay calm and face down all these psuedo-professionals by saying no (to induction) over and over again. Because I had a gut feeling that my baby was ok. Though I’d say they did shake my faith in myself and my health because I was cooped in with them.
The hurricane passed and I asked to be discharged since I was not in labour. I had to bargain hard with my OB’s replacement. He wanted badly to induce. By then, Davidson and my mum were allowed back in and their presence gave me the confidence to say no to the guy. I was also happy to see another colleague of my regular OB at the hospital, and I preferred that he deliver the baby if I went into labour soon. Ah, the Bahamas.
I went home, and started sharp and regular contractions at midnight! It was time to call the doula. She got to our place in less than an hour, and was amazing. She massaged me in between the pain, and was just great to be around. My mum was trying really hard to be supportive of this labour style, while my mother-in-law found it necessary to interrupt our flow constantly with what she considered her medical expertise. It was a total of 12 hours of “work” at home, and 3.5 hours in the delivery room where I refused to be strapped down. The surges were way more painful on the table than when I was standing. This meant no epidural and no IV drip. They did put the fetal heart rate monitor on me but it kept slipping off.
There was a point when I was feeling blinding, sharp pain every minute. Then I may have said, “I feel the urge to poop.” The midwife examined my cervix and said it was time to push. We got on the table as I was slipping in and out of consciousness. Still, I tried to push, and realized I had no idea what that meant or should feel like. My mum started to tell me in hokkien to act like I was pooping.
Then I remember Dr. Dupuch (the guy I liked for the job) saying he could see the head. So I kept acting like I was pooping and then I heard some crying. Then something little and slippery was placed on my chest.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” Davidson exclaimed.