I had a life-changing experience not long ago, and I thought I should write about it. So here it goes…
Halfway through our around-the-world trip, we returned to the homeland to settle some stuff. Our plan was to continue with the other half of the trip, which would involve touring around the United States. It didn’t happen – because we discovered we were pregnant! Like any future parents, we were excited and nervous at the same time.
After that, I was constantly reading and watching video after video about pregnancy. Years ago, I had envisioned myself doing a waterbirth. My mind was set on it. I was passionate about having a waterbirth and drug-free delivery. I took up yoga so that I would have the stamina and flexibility. I was game for it.
The only hospitals in Malaysia that offer waterbirth were Pantai Bangsar and Pantai Penang. These 2 private hospitals have provided successful waterbirths since 2009. Sadly, in the middle of 2016, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of Malaysia decided to suspend the practice until official guidelines were finalized. I was devastated and angry when I heard the news. I could not believe it. I had planned for this for years, and they decided to suspend it right when I needed it.
Despite the ugly news, I still went ahead and prepared myself for a waterbirth in the hopes that the MoH would come up with its guidelines by year-end.
Aside from gathering as much knowledge as I could about pregnancy, we signed up for Hypnobirthing classes! Hypnobirthing is all about getting into a relaxing state by using a lot of breathing techniques. Giving birth isn’t supposed to be chaotic, with all that pushing and screaming, the way it’s portrayed in the movies. It’s supposed to be calm, and take place in a peaceful environment (just like how a baby is conceived). Hypnobirthing helped us achieve a peaceful and easy birth. For those who wish to opt for natural delivery, Hypnobirthing will help provide a less painful and traumatic experience.
Now let’s discuss the stages of my pregnancy. For the first 3 months, I was nauseous most of the time, but I didn’t puke. I just felt like gagging whenever I saw food. Raw food? I couldn’t even think about it! Stepping into the kitchen was a big no-no. During my first trimester, big painful pimples started to pop up, one by one, all over my body, especially around my hips. They were mostly the result of hormones, and also because my body was generating more heat due to the extra blood flow to my growing baby. On top of all that – and this was the worst part – I had migraines. Because I suffered from migraines before I got pregnant, I was told that they would either get worse or better. Unfortunately for me, it was the former – and it was hell. I was sensitive to light, ice cream, chocolates and cheese. Just a bit of those and my vision would blur, my gums and hands start to get numb – and only then would the migraine come. Yup, that was how it was for the first three months. Hell.
In the second trimester, it got a little better. My energy was great, and I didn’t feel as drained as I did in the first trimester. I felt normal again. I worked out at least three times a week and felt refreshed.
My “baby bump” started to show in the last trimester, and I loved how I looked. Day after day went by, and I got more and more excited., We couldn’t wait to welcome our baby. My energy wasn’t as high as in the second trimester, and I tired and got breathless easily, but it didn’t stop me being active and healthy.
In week 37, my baby’s head was still positioned at the top of the womb instead of near the birth canal. This is called a breech presentation. We weren’t sure of the cause, so I did all I could to make the baby turn. I started going for twice-weekly chiropractic adjustments after weeks 33/34, and had the Webster technique done during each visit. This helped me to restore proper alignment and balance my spine, which was supposed to give the baby more room to move or turn. But after the fifth visit, the baby still remained in the same position, so the chiropractor tried to adjust other parts of my body (as it was more complex).
Meanwhile, every day I tried using various upside-down positions at home, including the downward dog yoga position. I also sought out my Hypnobirthing practitioner for help, which made me calm (for a little while). In the end, I finally agreed with my gynecologist to do an external cephalic version (ECV). He manually tried to turn the baby to a head-down position, but failed. The baby didn’t move an inch! Do a YouTube search for this procedure and you’ll see what it looks like. There are risks to doing this, so this was my last resort.
At week 39, the one thing I had always wanted to avoid, my nightmare, was the only option I had left: a caesarean section (in my case, the safest way to give birth). I was very disappointed, but at least I had done everything I could to make the baby turn. Maybe it’s fate. First I was denied my waterbirth, then I couldn’t even have a natural birth. I had to learn to accept it. It was tough.
As much as I want to accept it, deep inside I was still hoping that the baby would turn. Week 41 came, and my time was up. Off to the operating theater I went! I was nervous as hell. At that point, I regretted having read so much about birthing. All the pros and cons (the cons of caesareans, especially). I wanted to cry, because it wasn’t the birth I’d always imagined it would be. But I had to stay calm, as the release of catecholamine would have made it worse. So I applied the breathing techniques I’d learned in my Hypnobirthing classes. I did the calm breathing and told myself that it would be all right – especially when the doctor stuck the epidural needle in my back. I hated it!
I was so grateful that Risdan was by my side during the operation. After a feeling of tugging and pulling at tummy area, I heard the baby cry. Oh my God! I’d just had a baby! It was hard to process, as I was drugged and I was drained of almost all emotion. It was overwhelming.
I had a moment to see my baby, and then she was taken away. After I was stitched up, they moved me to the post-operation room. I had to wait for about 3 hours until someone brought me up, because it was a busy day on the operating ward. That 3 hours felt like a whole day! All I wanted was to hold my baby and assure her that I was there.
When I finally got into my room, I still couldn’t believe what had just happened (this is one of the downsides of a caesarean, as it takes a while for the brain to process it all). My leg was still numb and I was dehydrated, but still I couldn’t eat or drink. All I felt was relief that everything had happened smoothly and that my baby was healthy.
Welcome to the world Arya Alexandria