I thought long and hard about sharing the birth story of Zac. I wanted it to be kept a memory, our memory. But then, I had shared Aidan’s story and I think Zac’s deserves a voice too. Plus, I want people to know that it is possible to have a drug-free, natural birth after an emergency Caesarean.
So here it is, the story of how my second-born joined the family.
7 June, Saturday
We woke up, thinking that it was going to be a regular Saturday morning. The kid was rolling around in our bed with us and we were talking about going to the supermarket for a grocery run. I got up and went to the bathroom and then I saw it. Blood. Just a little bit when I wiped but enough to tell me that the time for Zac’s arrival may be sooner than later. My contractions were still intermittent but they were getting stronger.
“We are going out for a good breakfast,” I declared to husband. “It may be my last good breakfast for a while.”
We ended up at one of our favourite joints, where Aidan kept demanding “pancakes and banana”. And we did do a grocery run before heading back to put the little man down for a nap. He ended up taking a long 2.5-hour one with Mr Thick, before I woke them both up.
On hindsight, I should have taken a nap too! But a contraction woke me up just as I was falling asleep and I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. Boo.
We headed out to National Museum for Children’s Season and, at the very last minute, I decided to go to Vivocity to get my eyebrows done. Just in case I go into labour soon! Priorities, people.
After dinner, we went home, put Aidan to bed and then chatted for a bit before I decided to hit the sack at 11pm.
8 June, Sunday
Unfortunately, sleep was NOT forthcoming. Every time I drifted into unconsciousness, I would get hit by a contraction. And as it died down, I would try to go back to sleep, only to be hit by another one. Slowly and groggily, it dawned upon me that I was well and truly in labour. Gah!
I started timing the contractions and they were coming about 20 minutes apart. Thinking that I wasn’t going into the hospital anytime soon (I was gunning for the frequency to be about three to four minutes apart), I tried to force myself to sleep.
And so this went on, me drifting in and out of sleep, while being woken up by contractions. At about 1am, I realised that the frequency had increased to 10 minutes and the “biggie” contraction was REALLY PAINFUL.
“We are in labour and I want an epidural,” I announced to an astonished husband, who was geeking out in front of his computer in the living room. We marched back into the room and started packing our things for the hospital stay. And then we sat and waited.
AND THEN THE CONTRACTIONS WENT BACK TO 12 MINUTES APART.
Okay then. At that moment, Aidan woke up in his room and Mr Thick went in to soothe him. I stayed in our bedroom and tried to get comfortable. I couldn’t walk because the pressure down my back was too great, and going on all fours did not help. I could only lie on my left or sit up and hug my pillow.
I remember reading somewhere that how you usually respond to pain would be how you are like in labour and the writer was right. I ended up internalising the pain: I would tell myself that every contraction is helping me to dilate and to move baby down. I would tell myself that this is nothing, this is not a “biggie” (I was getting a labour pattern of two small contractions and one huge one). And when the “biggie” hit, I would tell myself that it’s okay, I can get through this, OUCH OUCH OUCH.
After a while, time seemed to pass so slowly. I was still timing my contractions and they went back to being eight minutes apart. It was so frustrating, I thought that labour was stalling because they were just not moving faster. In frustration and denial, I stopped timing and tried to go to sleep.
To make things worse, I started throwing up at about 4am. At the peak of every big contraction, I would rush to the toilet to hurl. Sometimes, it was just dry heaving. Other times, I was throwing up bile. The pain from the contractions, I could take. But the vomiting was just too much, I could not imagine myself throwing up all the way till baby was out.
I needed that epidural. NEED.
They say that second time around, motherhood is easier. Maybe because you have experience in the bag, maybe because the second child is easier, maybe because you are just a hell lot more relaxed than before.
And it’s true.
We welcomed our littlest over the weekend. Zac joined us on his estimated due date and he’s just perfect. I cannot imagine life without him now and we are all madly in love with him.
The birth experience was an immensely intense one and apparently rather dramatic. Which I had no clue of, until I was discharged and the nurses and doctors heaved a sigh of relief.
But I’ll leave that to another day.
In the meantime, we are very, very happy, trying to get used to life being parents of a toddler and a newborn, and chalking up sleep debt.
We had our 39-week routine check at the obgyn’s yesterday. Okay, I’ll admit it: I was hoping that he would say something about me going into labour anytime soon. At this juncture in time, I can say that I am finally ready to have this baby.
Instead, Dr T waved us off with a cheery, “See you next week!”
“Next week?” I asked incredulously. “Will I be seeing you here next week?”
“I think so!” he replied with a smile.
I left the clinic feeling a little deflated. You see, back when I was pregnant with Aidan, I decided to work all the way until I delivered the baby, so that I could spend all 16 weeks of maternity leave with him. The timing worked out pretty well: I gave birth to him at 37 weeks and the work load had been light since it was already term break.
This time, I opted to start my leave a little earlier because I am just flat out from six weeks of school. Plus, I was hoping that Two would arrive before my estimated due date since his/her brother had been so impatient. That would allow me a tiny pocket of rest and I’d still be able to spend much of my maternity leave with my babies.
Now, I’d be potentially “wasting” at least a week of leave doing nothing, until Two decides that it’s time to vacate Camp Womb. Which means I’d have one less week with Two the Baby before heading back to work. Sob sob.
I really, really, REALLY expected to have had this baby by now.
Hah. HAR HAR HAR. Goes to show just how obedient my kids are.
Anyhow, silly me. Rather than see the glass as half empty, I should take this as an opportunity to take a breather from work. And more importantly, this is a wonderful chance for me to spend some quality, one-on-one time with my firstborn before his life turns upside down.
We’ve gone to the park to play ball (he kicks and I chase, that impish monkey). We’ve taken train rides. We’ve cuddled up and napped together, his little hand lying gently on my swollen belly. We’ve had tea and cake together. We’ve read books and played with trains. We’ve laid on the sofa and listened to music. We’ve sat together on the bed, looking at the rain pelting down on our window.
This afternoon, he asked me to read to him. The book in his chubby hand was Joanna Cole’s “I’m a Big Brother” – one that he loves to be read to. When we were done, he pointed to one of the illustrations and said, “That’s papa and mama and baby and gor gor.”
I told him that he will become a gor gor when baby is here, and will he be a good gor gor?
“Yes,” he said, thoughtfully.
Beautiful, wonderful moments, just me and him. Like how it used to be when he was born.
It’s not all rainbows and roses, of course. He’s thrown countless tantrums over the oddest of things, and his record is 20 minutes of sobbing over yogurt and biscuit while I was fixing dinner. But rather than lose my temper, all I can do is tell him off firmly, ignore him and then give him a hug and a kiss. He’s always so happy and smiley after that, it’s like the waterworks never happened.
Two-year-olds are the strangest creatures.
So that’s where we are at now: waiting for Two to make his watery exit. In the meantime, it’s just me and my little man making some precious memories together.
Sometimes, I wish that my belly comes with a built-in camera.
You see, mama here is awful with all things spatial. While the doctor was able to tell us of your position simply by gently touching my tummy – you are currently engaged and in the most optimum position for a vaginal birth, and that’s unlikely to change, he said – I can never really picture you in that position. I know that your head is down in the pelvic cavity, your back is curved somewhere around the middle-left of my belly and your legs are tucked inwards. Which is why I won’t feel your legs kicking, the good doctor said.
But try as I may, I can’t seem to imagine it. How is it that you are in that position and I can feel your movements all the way to the sides? Was that your hand? How does it feel to be you right now? Why is it that when you hiccup, I feel the motions on my right?
How I wish I could see through the layers of skin, flesh and muscle to see what on earth you are up to in there! And how I wish you have the ability to tell me all of this!
It’s pretty cool though. I’ve always loved the movements of my babies in my belly. The notion that I am incubating my little ones is a powerful one, and a memory that I will always hold very dearly.
As they say, every baby is different and so every pregnancy is different too. Aidan was a cheeky, squirmy baby who was always on the move. I used to call him the in-utero human circus act. He would respond so vigorously to the food I eat, the caffeine I imbibe and the words that I say.
You, on the other hand, have calmer and more measured movements. Right before I go to sleep at night is when you are most active. And you most definitely respond to your brother’s words and touch. Which is super, super cute.
I don’t expect the two of you to be best of friends, I think that is asking for too much. But I really hope that you will be each other’s pillar of strength, guidance and encouragement.
And most importantly, I hope that both of you will always have each other’s back, no matter what. One day, both your papa and I will no longer be around and it will just be you and him in this world.
Just the other day, something hilarious happened. Mama was in the loo, emptying what needed to be emptied. Suddenly, the bathroom door opened and your brother walked in.
“Aidan, mama poo poo,” I said.
He ignored me completely, of course. He walked straight to me, lifted up my shirt, and then leaned in to rub his cheek against my belly.
It was the sweetest moment. And the oddest too. I mean, I was sitting on the loo.
“Aidan,” I repeated gently. “Mama poo poo.”
He looked at me, pulled my shirt down and promptly walked out of the bathroom. I sat there laughing at the hilarity of it, and shed a silent tear of love.
This boy, he has the biggest, warmest heart and I have no doubt that he will love you oh so very much.
As do we all, Two, as do we all.
Almost 39 weeks, my darling. It’s going to be a crazy ride when you get here. Be gentle with us, be patient with us. We’d figure this out together: you, me, papa and your gor gor.
Love you to the moon and back (already),
Aidan insisted on taking a photo with “baby” (and yes, I was wearing pants)
Not too long ago, I delivered my firstborn after a rather short gestation period of 37 weeks and 3 days.
It wasn’t a Hallmark delivery, clearly. I laboured for 18 hours before being wheeled into the operating theatre for an emergency Caesarean. Much of my time in the hospital was spent in nightmarish conditions. And while I had accepted that this was my son’s birth, I have always wondered at the back of my mind if it happened because my labour was mis-managed.
And now that I have crossed this milestone with Two today, I could feel myself heave a silent sigh of relief. It’s like checking one item off my list of worries.
There’s been a lot going on and I haven’t been able to slow down to catch my breath. Work is crazy busy and I am chugging on full steam ahead until next Friday, right before I head into week 39. My schedule is packed EVERY SINGLE DAY with lessons and meetings and commitments. In fact, I am booked for eight solid hours next Monday, with only an hour’s break for lunch.
Sometimes, I wonder if I was crazy to think that I could carry on a full load till the end.
But I am trying my best.
It’s hard, though, trying to juggle work and home, on top of being heavily pregnant. So much to think about.
Have I packed adequately for my hospital bag?
Two still doesn’t have any diapers.
Will Aidan be alright with the transition?
Hopefully we have made the right choice with our new helper.
How are we going to cope with the costs?
Is Two doing okay? Will he/she be too big/small?
I need that VBAC to happen, I really do.
I don’t know if I can last till next week.
I just want to stay at home and sleep.
Just yesterday, I had a meltdown. A was non too cooperative at dinner time and I just about had enough. It wasn’t his fault, frankly, he was just being a two-year-old trying to make sense of the world but I was just done. When husband came home, I went into the bedroom and allowed myself a little cry.
He took over the nightly routine and hauled the little man to bed. I continued to lie down, and texted my girlfriend for some moral support.
(Thank goodness for girlfriend. She gets me every single time, she lets me ramble on about my fears and my anxiety without interruption or being judgemental/patronising/sanctimonious, and then she makes me laugh. And it’s pretty awesome that all our kids are/will be of the same age!)
I hadn’t realised just how heavy my emotional load has been and I needed that outlet to let it all out.
So yes, it’s been 37 weeks and 3 days. We have gone past that and fingers crossed that Two will continue to stay inside until he/she is ready to be here with us. In the meantime, I’m taking a deep breath and living one day at a time.