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P.O. Box SM 431
Manila, Philippines

Kara's Childbirth Experience

This is coming so late we don't know if anyone is still interested . Or if anyone can benefit from our story.

When we were in labor (yes we, I think Dondi was as wiped out as I was), I deliberately made sure I was present at the moment because I wanted to know what labor was all about because no mother, not even the articulate ones, could really tell me what it was really like, except to say "masakit," That , plus a naughty smile. I was never satisfied with that answer. Being a media person used to imagining how I'd write or film each experience I go through, I thought I could come up with a better description.

Well, I can't. Except to say, "talagang masakit!" Those Bradley videos made it look easy. Not one mother in those video tapes showed them in real pain or at least the pain I was in! Don't get me wrong, I didn't go ballistic or hysterical. My expressions at its most unbearable was "quiet!" and "help me!" The pain kicked in when I was dilated pass 7cm. So I think I've paid for my sins in this lifetime and the next already.

Before that we were so glad and mayabang that I hardly felt the contractions. When it started to kick in, we got though it with the things we learned in class-- the relaxed breathing, massaging techniques. That position, forgot the name, where I hug Dondi as if we were dancing, was the most helpful during super duper hard labor. The residents on duty were so impressed. "Ano nga yan? Bradley, sure ka hindi La Maze?"

But labor, and transition took so long. I downed all their ice chips supply and used up all their bedpans, the gracious hospital staff had to get bedpans from other floors. After more than 12 hours of labor, It came to the point where I was willing to pay P10,000 for a glass of ice cold water. No one obliged.

Contractions were good. I was fully dilated. But I plateaud at negative one station for several hours. So the doctor said, we needed a CS before it got too dangerous for the baby. When my obgyn discussed this with us and we obliged, there was no anesthesiologist available.

First thing in mind, my goodness, my doctor took me seriously when I said no anesthesia! You must understand, she is conservative, head of the OBGYN department and Bradley and La Maze are not popular words in her vocabulary. Although she agreed to almost everything in our birth plan, I sort of suspected she didn't expect us to withstand the pain and simply scream epidural from the beginning. We were impressed she took us seriously pala and didn't request an anesthesiologist on standby. Shame on us, so little faith. That moment I fell so in love with my doctor. And felt guilty for not trusting her enough.

Not to mention, a few days before that moment, she sort of predicted this. I didn't have signs of progress , for eg. as my due date neared, the baby would ascend, plus, from being 80 percent effaced, I was totally not. Not to mention, she hinted that even if I did it naturally, the baby might be too big for a vaginal birth. And of course the longer we waited, which we did, the bigger our angel got. She said she suspected a CS scenario, but she wanted to nature to take its course so we could have it our way.

We have to admit, we've a bit jaded with the medical profession and a lot of things that interfere with what's natural, but at the labor room, we were humbled. Our doctor was gentle, would ask our approval every step of the way, she would intervene at the right time, and at moments when she knew we exhausted every option. I guess there is some reason why some medical stuff are called medical advances. Because of her openness to this new technique called Bradley, we learned to be open at the labor room.

So, back to the anesthesioligst, there was no one available. So my father, a surgeon too, who also couldn't understand why I wanted to do it naturally, phoned, rather, summoned, an anesthesiologist, who lived in Alabang. Ka layo! I had to labor longer and pay for more sins siguro. After a million hours of labor, I was ready to pass out but had to carry on. At that point, my brother helped Dondi massage me.

I got that epidural, it didn't really numb the pain totally. The peculiar thing is, after the shot, I started to shake and chill uncontrollably. This is one of the reasons, we wanted to do it naturally. I've had other surgeries and always had a weird reaction to anesthesias despite the skin allergy tests.

I behaved almost like an epileptic and couldn't talk straight. My doctor had to do the CS with me in that condition. It's normal daw for some patients on epidural to shake after the operation or delivery but not the moment it's been infused. There was some explanation to it but I can't remember!

I was awake during the procedure. My Dad holding one arm, Dondi, the other, to help control the shaking. Yes, it was a family affair, my two brothers were also there. One is a doctor too, the other a medical student. Quite embarassing, but as I've said, my doctor is very nice. And I did feel better with the men in my life around. My Mom wanted to be there but my Dad had to put his foot down. Buti na lang because...

When our baby girl popped, there was a faint cry. Then silence for some 20 seconds. From afar I could see her laying still, so quiet. That was the longest 20 seconds of our lives. The delivery room was so quiet and still. I asked my Dad what the matter was and he didn't say a thing. I looked at Dondi who didn't look at me, he simply shook his head. My brothers avoided my stare.

I was later told that that was an apgar score of 1! I didn't want to look and didn't know what was going to happen next. I just kept bargaining with the heavens to let her be.

Other things entered my mind like did I labor too long just to prove to the medical world, including my family of doctors, that natural is best and the only way to go at the expense of my baby's life?

Should I have seriously discussed CS earlier when my doctor warned I wasn't progressing when I was overdue and didn't wait for the bloody show or for my bag of water to break?

Did I not do the Bradley stuff religiously enough and subject our baby to all that anesthesia to make her groggy?

Then she cried. And everyone in the delivery room was relieved.

She picked up on the fifth minute beautifully and scored perfect that time. So everytime she cries these days, it's music to my ears. You can't imagine how scared we were. Nothing at that moment could matter except her. I guess even now, nothing else could matter more.

"The only lesson I can share maybe for
your subsequent birthing experiences
is to be open."

It's good to be armed with all the information and options. Know and plan what you want but once you get into that labor and delivery room, keep an open mind. You don't know what can happen and there may be many quick decisions to be made. (There were other situations we had to make decisions on but masyadong mahaba i-kuwento.)

And don't think that just because you couldn't do it naturally, you failed. We all tried. We all benefitted from the exercises, the bonding with partners during pregnancy and labor. I know Bing , our La Maze veteran, felt bad about having to go through CS, but as Panjee and I discussed, what matters is baby and mother are fine . (O sigue, pati Daddies!) Not to mention, you should work with a doctor you trust. She's part of the husband and wife team.

In fact my brothers, who have been teasing me about not being able to survive labor without screaming for epidural from the start didn't tease me. They were shocked I went that far. But more than that, they knew it wasn't a test of endurance of pain.

They saw the wisdom in taking a class and reading up (before, they said I read too much). One of them said, it was good you knew everything that was going on. So everything that had to happen you were fully aware of and had some degree of control over. We could talk to our doctor like doctors. They knew they couldn't make decisions for us. Thanks to Chiqui and the kuwentos of our other classmates.

So, our little angel is fondly called Mariana Eugenie, named after Mother Mary and Blessed Marie Eugenie, whom we prayed too for our little one. Her nickname is, well, mahaba pa rin, Ariana.

She was an ounce short of 8 pounds and 49 cms. She didn't look newborn, she lifted her head in the nursery so quickly and moved it from side to side. She's gorgeous, in fact, honestly, we can't tell who she takes after. She's got lots of hair and two dimples! Will send her picture one of these days.As Jen warned, her only flaw is being born on Erap's birthday, April 19 at 2:37 am.

Thanks for all your never ending prayers and support. We also always have all of you in our nightly prayers. Now good luck to us parents. So one day when our babies are grown and being nasty and difficult, we'll tell them all about each other's stories.

So Mommies, are we better daughters now?


Kara and Dondi

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