The day I found out I was pregnant, I felt happy and anxious at the same time. Happiness for the fact that I am about to become a mother, and anxiousness from the fear of labor and birth.
The first pregnancy test I took showed a faint positive result because I took the test too early. Any soon to be mom would want to make sure of the result, so Joey and I immediately went to the hospital and looked for any available OB-Gyne to get myself checked. That was around 5pm and most clinics were already closed except for one. It was a male OB-Gyne but we still went in nonetheless. The doctor asked me to get a Transvaginal Ultrasound (a procedure wherein the instrument – a wand, goes inside the vagina) to check the condition of the reproductive system and the presence of the baby’s heartbeat, if there is any. This procedure is recommended for the early weeks of pregnancy to get a more accurate result. The result we got for this test however, was a little disappointing. The doctor didn’t find any gestational sac and heartbeat yet (no baby). He said we had to wait for another two weeks just to be sure, because it might be a little too early knowing I hadn’t actually missed my period yet.
After 10 days, since I couldn’t wait any longer, I decided to take another pregnancy test. The result came back positive, but the lines weren’t very clear still. During this time however, I am already feeling the changes in my body. Tender breasts and the obviously growing belly were the most noticeable things among them.
Two weeks passed and we came back for another ultrasound. It was then when we saw the little sac and heard Matilda’s heartbeat for the very first time. I was already 6 weeks pregnant. That moment I can still remember clearly. It was surreal and we just couldn’t believe we were about to become parents.
The first trimester went by smoothly. I had no nausea nor vomiting. I didn’t experience any weird cravings too. It was all going well until I hit the second trimester. Hormones started acting up and I began feeling constipated. This has got to be the worst part of the pregnancy. Talk about frustration in its highest form! Remembering it still makes me feel sick. By the way, that went on until the last trimester. Yes, I know, poor me. I tried everything from prunes to fiber supplements. I was even eating brown rice for carbs! Nothing seemed to help. It was just really bad.
On the 5th month, we found out I had Gestational Diabetes. This was after I took the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test. Due to this unfortunate result, we had to go to a specialist for the interpretation. The doctor (Internal Medicine-Endocrinologist) asked me to see a dietitian. I found out that the Gestational Diabetes may have been due to my own fault, triggered by drinking formula milk for pregnant moms. Had I known better, I should have listened to my OB when he said I didn’t need to drink that because it’s packed with sugar and it’s just calcium that you need from it anyway. Thinking I actually needed it, because of the claims they show in their advertisements, I caused both Matilda and I more harm than good. So may this serve as a warning for my pregnant readers: you do not need to drink those Mama milk. And always consult your OB before taking in anything. Remember that formula milk should be treated as a drug, taken only as needed. The doctor then said that if diet and lifestyle modification would control my blood sugar, I won’t be needing to inject myself with insulin.
In order to monitor my blood sugar level, we had to purchase a glucometer. It is a small device that checks your blood sugar. Oh yes. I had to prick myself 3x a day, 2 hours after each meal (known as the 2-hour Post Prandial test). It was tedious and I had to keep track of it and show it to my doctor during monthly check-ups. I kept doing this up until the last day of the pregnancy. And because I was very much careful with my diet, wherein everything I ate were measured in portions, my sugar level by God’s grace, was controlled. I didn’t need to inject myself with insulin through the course of my pregnancy.
Just weeks after we found out about the condition, ultrasound results showed that Matilda isn’t meeting her required weight. At first, we thought that it might be because of the strict diet (1,800 calories) I am in, but our doctor suspected otherwise. She had me go through several blood exams to check my thyroid function. True enough, it was due to that. I was diagnosed to have Hypothyroidism. Since I knew that I didn’t have Hypothyroidism before the pregnancy, our doctor concluded it may be a hormonal imbalance. I was given medication that I had to take in once daily, 30 minutes before breakfast.
All these things somehow took out all the fun in pregnancy. I had to monitor my blood sugar daily and also had to have myself checked regularly for hypothyroidism. That required monthly blood extractions too, in order to check if the medication is working for me and Matilda. We also found out from our Pediatrician that there are cases called Congenital Hypothyroidism wherein the condition of the mother may be passed on to the baby after birth. This is very serious and may cause irreversible neurological problems and poor growth if not treated right away. That is why this condition is also included in the newborn screening test.
On the 7th month, after everything I was going through, I went into preterm labor. Doctor found out I had Cervicovaginitis. An infection that usually happens in pregnant women. We weren’t able to trace where it came from and why I acquired it but my OB said this isn’t uncommon and it may be due to the hormonal imbalance I was experiencing. Because preterm labor is a serious threat to the mother and the baby, I was admitted for 3 days in the hospital for close monitoring and also for easier administration of IV antibiotics. After I got out of the hospital, I was on bed rest for 2 weeks. It wasn’t easy, but I endured it.
Given our situation wherein we were in a place away from our family, it made all these trials even more challenging. In my mind, I asked why could have God wanted me to experience all these things. Why God didn’t want me to enjoy the pregnancy just like any normal mother. I knew right then and there, it was Satan luring me to sin. I had to stop. I remembered questioning God was wrong and I have to trust that he has bigger and better plans for me. He gives me trials because He loves me and He knows I’ll be able to get past them. I surrendered everything to God that day and just prayed that He will always keep me and Matilda away from harm and that whatever His will is for us, we will accept it with all our hearts.
- Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 NASB)
- Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NLT)
On the 8th month, praise God we finally hit Matilda’s target weight. I felt some sort of accomplishment that we were able to manage the conditions I had been struggling with. This was also the month wherein I attended Arugaan’s Peer Counselor training for breastfeeding by the breastfeeding diva herself, Ms. Velvet Escario-Roxas. I found out about it through the birthing classes I attended conducted by Ms. Alex Hao of The Pod, back in Davao City.
Ms. Alex taught us (me and Joey) how to manage labor pains and what to expect upon labor and the early weeks of birth. Attending those classes was a very crucial decision. Not only did it give us valuable information, but it also paved the way for me to gain knowledge about my body, the baby, as well as everything you need to know during labor and delivery. Being part of this class was very helpful and I gained mommy friends through this as well. It is a great support group and I encourage every expecting mother to attend one.
After I finished the classes and training, Joey and I came to a conclusion that we wanted to perform the Lamaze childbirth method – a natural, unmedicated form of labor and delivery. It also strengthened our decision for me to exclusively breastfeed our child. I learned that breastfeeding would protect her from possible hereditary conditions like diabetes and the benefits for both mother and baby are just tremendous.
39th week came and I was already very anxious. The thought that I might have to be induced brought a little fear in my already panicked state of mind. The suspense is slowly killing us. And just as those thoughts were crossing my mind, I have been feeling the contractions happening already. We came in for check up and I was already 1cm dilated. Doctor said it might take a few more days so we didn’t think about it much.
The Bloody Show – 39 weeks and 1 day
I knew labor was about to begin when I saw the bloody show. It is just a small amount of blood also called a mucus plug which blocks the opening of the cervix – a sign that the body is preparing itself for labor.
Contractions – 39 weeks and 3 days
When I started to feel the contractions becoming stronger by the hour, we decided we had to go back to the hospital. My OB said I was 2cms dilated and may still go home. That was about 10 in the morning, and so we went home. I took a bath, added some last-minute things to our bags and tried my very best to sleep. The contractions however, wakes me up from time to time and it was slowly getting stronger. At about 8pm, I told Joey it’s time that we go back to get myself admitted. I didn’t want to go to the hospital in the middle of the night and just wanted to settle in before the pain of the contractions started to become unmanageable.
Internal exam result showed that I was already 4cms dilated. And because we were decided on a natural birth, I said no to any medical intervention. The pain that night was just too much I couldn’t bear myself to sleep. I felt really exhausted and I was actually beginning to consider getting an epidural.
Birth – 39 weeks and 4 days
Morning came and I was still at 7cms. The doctors began feeling a bit concerned with my blood sugar that I had to be given insulin. My body wasn’t cooperating well and Matilda wasn’t ready to come out yet. The exhaustion took its toll on me that my knees started shaking and I felt my head spinning. I couldn’t walk any longer. The long sleepless night just didn’t help with the pain of the contractions.
I was just too uncomfortable that I finally gave in. I asked for an Epidural. Boo! I know, I still regret it sometimes and believe me, I tortured myself a 100 times over because I gave up. Joey even said he knew I’d give in to Epidural at a certain point knowing that I had a really low tolerance for pain.
That moment, I realized no amount of knowledge could prepare anyone for the pain that labor causes. It was just REALLY very painful. (Note that I have a low tolerance for pain hence I wouldn’t know how it’s like for other moms). In the scriptures, God really made childbirth difficult after the fall of man.
- To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 NASB)
I still want to prove Joey wrong though, so with the next baby, I will really strive harder and get myself a doula (birth coach) to help me in managing the pain. A Birthing Suite or Water Birth might also be better options next time. The hospital is just not a conducive environment for mothers who aims for a natural childbirth. It’s too cold, the lights are too bright, you don’t have enough privacy and you don’t get to relax at all. Birthing at home would have been so much better but since my pregnancy is considered high-risk, any doctor wouldn’t allow it for me and my baby’s safety.
At about 12 noon, my OB said I was already 10cms dilated and should prepare myself for I am about to start pushing. He asked me to look at the monitor because I wouldn’t be able to ride the contractions since from the waist – down to the foot, I am numb from pain.
I started pushing thinking that was the easiest part. But I was wrong. I was pushing for a total of 3 hours but Matilda just wouldn’t go out. The doctor said my pelvis could be a little smaller than expected so Matilda’s head couldn’t fit through it. Though she is already crowning, her head went back and forth the entire time. Due to this, he said Matilda was already distressed and we had to get her out already. My OB gave me one last chance to push and said that if she still wouldn’t come out, we had to perform a C-Section already. While everyone already lost hope for me, I closed my eyes and prayed. I prayed that God will help me push Matilda out so they wouldn’t need to cut me open.
The Lord heard my prayer and on that last push, at 3:40pm, a beautiful baby girl, named Matilda, all the way from Davao City was born. It was like the movies. I cried as I saw and held her for the first time. Even Joey cried too! It was a beautiful sight.
Looking back, I feel so thankful for my OB because he was very patient with me. Even with Matilda’s Pediatrician who waited all those hours just to make sure he was there when she comes out. Every single staff in the hospital were kind and accommodating as well. They didn’t pressure me and did not resort to CS right away (thank God!) just because my delivery was taking too long.
Always remember that in this life, nothing happens by accident. It was all designed beautifully and with purpose, by our Creator. And being a mother is one of them – it is a great blessing from God. All those trials I encountered prepared me for this very day and the days to come. If not for those challenges, I wouldn’t appreciate His blessings this much today. So never question the good Lord for anything that you might be going through. It may be tough but you have to keep the faith and trust that all these things are made according to His great plans for you as promised on this verse:
- And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NASB)
Are you struggling today? Probably discouraged with life’s challenges? What is it in particular and how are you coping with it? Let’s talk about it! Leave a comment and allow me to pray for you.