Tulip Mileina’s Water Birth

There was a part of me that was in denial upon finally confirming we are having another baby. Well, we agreed to try for another one when Matilda turns 2, so, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to find out we are expecting again. However, because it happened so fast, (in just over a month of trying we already conceived) the trauma from my first birth held me back from rejoicing in the blessing of another child.

You see, with Matilda’s birth, I thought was already well prepared. We even attended a birthing class. With a good birth plan, I honestly thought we would manage. On the contrary, almost nothing was followed in that plan. Initially, we wanted to have a Lamaze Birth with no medications. My former OB agreed to it, even signed it, but things just weren’t under our control at that time. I was immediately given an IV, got hooked to a fetal monitor the entire time, and food and water were restricted. Because of too much exhaustion, I gave up at 7cm and asked for an epidural. It led to more complications as I developed a fever, my blood sugar went up the charts, and the numbness hindered me from feeling any contractions at all. This eventually resulted to longer labor and almost caused me a C-section. Matilda came out healthy and normal, but the trauma from all the interventions created a deep wound in my heart. Nevertheless, we still praise God despite all that. He is good for He allowed me to have a normal and safe delivery.

This time around, I wanted a redeeming birth for my second child. I prayed to have an OB who will not just agree to my wishes, but someone who has a great record at following through as well. Because I was friends with Ms. Velvet Roxas, who happens to be a Doula, (I met her through a Breastfeeding Counselor Training) I asked for her help in choosing the right OB for me. She immediately suggested I get Dra. Menefrida Reyes from St. Lukes Q.C. knowing she is a very good OB, and follower of Christ like me. And because I really wanted to have the Lamaze Birth I have been dreaming of, I also got Ms. Velvet as my doula.

Two months passed and preparations had to be made. First, I had to decide what kind of birth I wanted. Either a lamaze or a water birth. I chose to have a water birth, only if God would allow it. Ms.Velvet then asked me to start reading Birthing books, do prenatal exercises and eat a healthy diet. I also watched videos of different types of births and I also joined the group Gentle Birth in the Philippines, to learn from other mothers. I followed the advices that I believed would help and made sure I was not just preparing physically, but psychologically and most of all, spiritually as well.

I think, with every pregnant woman, it’s normal to be anxious, it’s normal to be scared. After all, childbirth is really painful as described in this verse:

John 16:21, “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.” ‭‭

What helped me get through is the faith I have knowing God would not give me anything I wouldn’t be able to handle. He is my source of strength and in everything we do, we must exalt and glorify Him.

As my estimated delivery date came near, I became excited to experience childbirth in a very different perspective. We waited patiently until October 28, 1am, 39 weeks and 4 days gestation, I started feeling mild contractions. The pain was close to having a dysmenorrhea, only it would begin and end in a short while, and it radiates through your lower back. It was then I started timing the contractions and they were 10-15 minutes apart, with a duration of 40-50 seconds. I tried to relax and sleep as much as I can, but the anxiousness of the upcoming delivery started kicking in.

At around 3am, I got up and packed some food to bring to the hospital. I started thawing my fresh buko juice that I froze a few days ago. It would be my replacement for an IV line. The electrolytes in buko juice helps to restore energy which I will need during active labor. I also gathered last-minute items that we will be needing like some snacks for Joey and my daughter, Matilda.

After making sure everything is ready, I started heating up some aromatherapy oil. I used the Rose essential oil as it is good for circulation and is also a natural analgesic. I also sent a message to my doula and OB to let them know that true labor has finally began. This was only the point where I woke Joey up to let him know that I am already in labor. I didn’t wake him up earlier knowing it’s going to be a long day ahead and he needs to rest as well. Before I settled down to sleep, I dedicated a prayer to the Lord as I surrendered to Him everything He has planned in advance for this birth.

I woke up around 6am, updated my doula to let her know the intervals. Contractions are now around 8-10mins apart with a duration of 50-55secs. She advised that Joey and I have contact to speed up labor as semen helps to open up the cervix. I woke Joey up around 8:30 and we followed her advise. Around 9am, I shed a bit of mucus plug. After which, I prepared breakfast and ate with Joey and Matilda. I had the urge to relieve myself after which was good as I didn’t want to poop while delivering the baby! I also then decided it was time to have a nice warm bath and settled that it was time to leave in a little while.

Awaiting the reply of my OB, I considered sleeping some more. I was trying, but I couldn’t. I was feeling anxious thinking if she could make it on time. I just prayed again hoping everything will fall into place. At around 11am, I sent her another message informing her of the progress of my contractions. Joey also felt that something was still holding me back into going to the hospital. He suggested we just have lunch at home first before we leave. I agreed, and at around 12 noon, we started eating but I have no more appetite for food. I still managed to eat a bit and I excused myself as I just wanted to lie down and rest. I was able to take a short nap and when I woke up, Joey and Matilda were both sleeping beside me. It was already 2pm and I just couldn’t take it any longer and decided to ask Dr. Reyes’ secretary whether there is any problem as to why Dra. Reyes is not answering my messages. She replied immediately and said Dra. Reyes is already there waiting since 11am! For some reason, upon reading her message, a strong contraction came. I started timing again and there it was, 4-5 mins apart with 1 full minute of duration. My body has finally surrendered when I found out my OB was already there.

I woke Joey up and said it’s time to go. Around 2:45, we were already en route to St. Lukes Global. Contractions are a lot stronger now and I am starting to moan my way through each of it. We arrived at the ER past 3PM and after taking my vitals and information, they brought me to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit, a separate part of the Labor Room to attach me to the fetal monitor and to perform an IE. A resident OB came in, did the IE and was so surprised to find out I was already 7cm dilated. She then asked the nurse to process my papers and ID tag right away so that they can bring me up to the Birthing Suite. 

Around 4:30, we were finally brought up to the suite and Dra. Reyes was the one who welcomed me. They were already filling the tub with water and I started to change into my sports bra and hospital gown. It was also that time when Ms. Velvet had arrived and immediately commanded me to stand up and walk. She caught me sitting on the edge of the bed and said labor will progress faster if I get up.

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With every contraction I felt my body become heavier. My knees were shaking a bit and I had to lean on something for support, or else I’d fall down and lose my balance. I guess I’m around 8cm dilated at this point already. Ms. Velvet offered to hug me as I let go of all my weight with each wave of contraction. I was already moaning louder as the pain intensified. Dra. Reyes then decided it’s time I go into the tub as she noticed I’m very uncomfortable already.

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Time check was around 5pm already. Joey held my hand as he assisted me in going inside the tub. The temperature of the water was at 37 degrees celsius. It felt warmer than that maybe because I was feeling cold. The warm water immediately gave some sort of relief from the pain. Ms Velvet was there beside me continuously offering me buko juice to drink and some honey sticks for energy.

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At this point, I am beginning to feel really uncomfortable. I was moaning, grunting, crying with each wave of contraction. I would hold on to Joey and my face would just wince every single time. I was given my first IE in the water and I was already 9cm dilated. There was still a “lip” of cervix left and after around 25 minutes in the water, Ms Velvet asked me to stand and sway my hips to position the baby better. I stood up with my legs shaking and held onto her the whole time. My own body weight was just too heavy at this point and I just wanted to sit down.

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After around 10 minutes of standing, my bag of water broke. It felt really weird to have something sort of pop from nowhere as water gushed over my legs. After this, I started feeling the urge to push. That 15 minutes of standing felt like an hour at that time. I was just too tired and I begged to be seated. I was given the go and I sat down on the water for another IE. This time, I was already fully dilated and all we had to do was wait for baby to descend.

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There, it started to sting. I feel like there is something slowly burning from within. It was indeed as if you want to poop something out but it’s just WAY TOO BIG to come through. It was painful on another level this time around. The pain from the contractions was beginning to be masked by the thing they call the “ring of fire”.

I began to push. It was close to 6pm then and all I wanted was for all of it to be over. I was tired and very much in pain, but never did it cross my mind to ask for some pain relief. I didn’t want to be numb. I just wanted to get through it and have my baby in my arms.

I was so distracted already. The pain is over my head as I anticipate every contraction that was about to come. No position seemed to alleviate the discomfort I was feeling. I could hear my birth team coaching me on how I should push, not by shouting and grunting, but by blowing. Blowing as if you are blowing a candle. It wasn’t easy and this was where Joey took over. While Ms. Velvet and Dra. Reyes encouraged me as they kept on reminding me I am doing a good job, Joey on the other hand knew me better. He had to get my full attention so I can focus. He was calling my name and kept asking me to listen to him and follow him. He was blowing and breathing in 10 counts and it was where I started to make better progress as baby’s head started to crown. The blowing helped to get baby to descend and we can already see her hair waving in the water.

I was on the verge of giving up. In my head I was thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?! Why is this taking soooo long??” But then, there’s no turning back. The head is already there! I just have to push! Ms. Velvet then asked Joey to pray. Joey prayed for guidance and safety in delivering the baby and that in all this, may it bring God all the Glory. That this birth is not about us, but about Him. Dra. Reyes was also praying on the side which really made me respect her even more. 

Two big contractions came while we were praying and finally, at 6:21pm, October 28th, Tulip Mileina was born. A water birth baby with one nuchal cord coil.

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At the sight of my baby, the pain immediately went away. We had our Unang Yakap as initiated personally by our Pedia, and waited for the cord to stop pulsating before cutting the cord. That was a good 10 minutes of extra blood, rich in Iron, that was transferred to my little girl. We had our first family picture together with her Ate Matilda who was very excited to see the newest addition to our family. After Joey cut the cord, Mileina was taken by our Neonat-Pedia, Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz, into the room to check on her and to keep her warm. She had her skin-to-skin contact with her Papa while we were waiting for the placenta to be delivered.

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I was given a shot of oxytocin to stimulate contractions and deliver the placenta quickly. That was around 15 minutes after Mileina was born. Right after the shot, I delivered the placenta in one push. That was the easiest part. And then the pool was suddenly stained with blood. Dra. Reyes had to make sure all clots would come with the placenta so she gave me an IE. Water in the tub was already being drained at that moment and my loving doula and OB helped in giving me a bath to clean me up from all the blood.

There was stinging from the tear I got and it had to be stitched, but I felt fine. I actually never felt more alive than I was before that redeeming birth. While I was being prepped for stitching, my baby girl had her first breastfeeding session. She was wide awake and was very hungry. She had to be assisted as she was clipping her lips, but other than that, she suckled like a pro. This was something new to me as Matilda was a groggy baby who didn’t want to be fed when she was born. I’m so thankful we had a good start this time around!

When all was settled, we were finally able to have dinner. I was so hungry and finished one bowl of arroz caldo, as my doula fed me. I was already able to stand and walk by 9pm when I had the urge to pee. It was a bit painful, but nothing like delivering baby.

That night, I was able to reflect about the difference of my 2 birthing experiences. If ever we conceive again, I’d choose this birth over my first one. Even though I didn’t experience the pain in the first delivery, this was so much better because right after the baby was born, the pain went away already. Unlike with my first where the pain came afterwards and I had difficulty in breastfeeding as well due to the epidural anesthesia that was given to me.

Having had the chance to feel all the pain of childbirth as how God designed it, I now have a different kind of respect for mothers who choose to have a gentle and unmedicated birth. It is indeed empowering and a true testimony that, not only God’s design is perfect, but also, that we, women, are capable and strong enough to give birth naturally. With the right information, a respectful and great birth team, plus proper preparation, you can have the birth that you truly want and deserve.

This childbirth experience is not for me to boast about myself, but it is about putting God at the center of it all. We prayed that this will give Him all the glory and with writing this, I give Him all that is due. My faith in Him made it possible to have gone through an unmedicated childbirth. I dedicate this post to my one true God, and His Son, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Meet my Awesome Birth Team!

Doula: Velvet Escario-Roxas

OB-Gyne: Dra. Menefrida Reyes

Neonatologist-Pediatrician: Dra. Maria Luisa Manlapaz

Pediatrician/Official Photographer: Dra. Raissa Paje 🙂

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The Lord is My Healer

I believe it is only fitting that I blog about the recent developments of my pregnancy. By the time I make this post public, I’ll be on my 6th month mark. Oh how time flies! As most of you mommies know, right around this time, your Obstetrician would already request for you take your Oral Glucose Tolerance Test – OGTT test. This is a procedure wherein you will be asked to fast for 6-8 hours, have your blood drawn for it and then you will be asked to take an orange glucose drink, and have another extraction 2 hours thereafter. Normally, it usually takes 4 extractions which includes the fasting, 1st hour, 2nd hour and 3rd hour to have more accurate results, but because I already have a history of Gestational Diabetes in my past pregnancy, this procedure with fewer extractions, was done to me instead.

In my pregnancy with Matilda, it came out as a shock that I got a positive result for this test. Sure, I am fond of sweets, but I have my blood tests done annually to make sure all is well with my health. This is actually one of the things my parents do for their own health and has passed it on to me and my brother, just to know how we are all doing. So, you can just imagine my reaction upon seeing the result of my OGTT test. I was so confused and I felt as if my body has betrayed me.

I was asked by my OB to meet with an Endocrinologist, a specialist in this area, to check on me and help me manage my sugar level. She asked me to get a Glucometer, a small, battery-operated device to check my sugar 2 hours after each meal, and record it in a notebook. She also asked me to meet with a Nutritionist-Dietitian to try having my blood sugar controlled naturally, through exercise and by following a strict calorie count diet, before we decide if I’ll be needing insulin injections or not.

As I was going through this process, pricking my finger 3x a day, eating ZERO sugar and having portion controlled meals, my pregnancy on my 5th month then have become very depressing. I couldn’t enjoy eating whatever I wanted and I felt deprived each time. I was also worried for the health of my baby and just prayed that I’d be able to endure this difficult time.

Apart from that, this condition was also financially challenging as the glucometer strips were very costly and we had to go to 2 different doctors each check-up, plus the fact that we had to revamp our grocery shopping list to much healthier alternatives. This is also because this condition is also linked with Pre-Eclampsia, which is high-blood during the pregnancy, that I had to really watch my food intake and minimize using salt and oil in cooking. How sad is that? No sugar, less salt and almost zero oil in cooking. Just imagine how many times I had to say no to my cravings!

But… With all the difficulty, I am still so blessed that I was able to deliver a healthy, normal and full-term baby. Maybe it was just God’s way of reminding me that He is in control and that through that time, He was trying to bring me closer to Him.

Now on this second pregnancy, I became more aware of my food intake. I tried my best to stay healthy and ate whole food. I switched to red rice, and also increased my vegetable and fruit intake. I also removed the maternity milk, which all the while I thought was necessary-ended up being the trigger for having Gestational Diabetes, because of its high sugar content! So please, never ever take those and just stick to natural and fresh food. Those of which are readily absorbed by the body like indigenous vegetables and fruits. I also continued to breastfeed, which I talked about on my previous post. Breastfeeding helps regulate blood sugar levels, that’s why I made it a point to nurse Matilda up to the time she decided to wean on her own.

During my 1st trimester, we had to check how I was doing, and praise God, my blood sugar was normal. My OB advised that I will be having another test at around 5 and a half months and that too came out normal. Just when I had fully accepted the fact that I most likely have Gestational Diabetes again, all my test results came back negative! God is soooo good! He has healed me! I believe He allowed me to go through that ordeal so that I would fully depend on Him, and not on myself, neither what I can do. This chapter of my life was planned perfectly to make it a testimony of His faithfulness. Thank you, Lord!
And because of that great news, I celebrated by eating some churros with chocolate dip! Finally, I can now eat whatever I want, but of course, still in moderation. 🙂

To summarize, the things that I learned from this are:

1. Health is something you cannot, EVER, be in control of. Only God is in control.

2. Despite God being in control, you also have to do your part in being healthy. Your physical body is your responsibility. It is God’s gift to you, and you have to take care of it and not abuse it.

3. Nothing is impossible with God. He will  give you trials to mold you and make you stronger, but He promises that He will be with you through it all.

Psalm 103: 2-5

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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Breastfeed for a Better Future

Welcome to the Milk Mama Diaries Carnival (August). For this month, we write about the World Breastfeeding Week 2014 – Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life and share how breastfeeding can help the Philippines achieve the 8 Millennium Development Goals developed by the government and the United Nations. Participants will share their thoughts, experiences, hopes and suggestions on the topic.

Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of carnival entries.”

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First, let me start of by talking about the 8 Millennium Development goals. These are goals that were set by the Government and the United Nations way back 1990, and were adopted at the Millennium Summit year 2000. It has been proven, time and time again that Breastfeeding is a key link to achieve all these. In participation of this Blog Carnival, I will share my personal experience and suggestions on how I found these goals to be truly achievable through Breastfeeding, in order to reduce Child Mortality and improve Maternal Health by 2015 .

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The day I found out that I am pregnant, I immediately set my mind to thinking I should keep myself healthy in order to have a healthy baby. I was very diligent in going to monthly check-ups and in taking all that I thought I needed.

Being very diligent as I have mentioned, I drank 2 glasses a day of maternity milk. 2 glasses each day for 5 months! (Why oh why did I ever fall for that again?!). First trimester passed and it was on the 5th month when I found out I had Gestational Diabetes. Since I wasn’t fond of eating sweets at that time, my IM-Endocrinologist suspected that it could have been due to the maternity milk. And true enough, she was right.

It was only when I attended Arugaan’s Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Training which was held in Davao, where I learned that drinking maternity milk, or any formula milk is totally UNNECESSARY. Yes, there is no need to drink it unless you want to stuff your body with extra sugar. This also goes for follow on formula (also known as preschool milk or toddler milk).

Through this training, I also learned that breastfeeding can help protect your child from the risk of cancer, obesity and DIABETES. I was 8 months pregnant then and the moment I heard of that, it was then I committed my heart and mind into breastfeeding my baby girl.

Because I had a high-risk pregnancy, both my labor and delivery wasn’t easy. My blood sugar went up the charts during labor and I had to be administered with insulin throughout the delivery. If you are not aware of Gestational Diabetes, there are risks to the baby, most especially those crucial first few hours after birth. There are cases wherein the baby’s blood sugar become very low and that is really dangerous. One of the best ways to prevent that is to be able to breastfeed, right away. And that is exactly what we did as Matilda’s Pediatrician advised it as well. And because all went well, and Matilda passed all the tests, we were sent home the following day.

Breastfeeding in the early weeks were challenging but rewarding as you see your baby thrive with your breastmilk alone. Witnessing how that used to be wrinkly skin slowly fill up with muscles and fats, the sight of it is just captivating. And as we were on our breastfeeding high, being able to endure the ever famous 6 crucial weeks, we got a call from the hospital saying my baby got a positive result for G6PD in her newborn screening test.

Because I am very much aware about this condition, I knew at that point that breastfeeding is the ONLY way I can nourish and protect my child. One of the main components of formula milk, if you try to look at the can is soy. An ingredient that can actually pose a great harm (in large doses) to G6PD Deficient babies. I just cried and surrended it all to God. After all, I still felt very thankful to the Lord that day and until now that He gave me the chance to be informed and that He led me to breastfeeding. Had I not, Matilda, my very precious child, would have suffered the moment she was born.

Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to babies but to Mothers too. I found this to be 100% true because just weeks after I had given birth, I lost a great amount of weight and I was already back to my pre-pregnancy figure 3 weeks after. Not only that, I also had to undergo a series of tests for my blood sugar and all those tests came back normal. Praise God! Just because I breastfed, Matilda got protected from possible harm and I too, got healed instantly. Again, simply because I chose to breastfeed.

I believe it was all God’s work that He allowed me to experience the hardships of pregnancy, labor and delivery including those difficult early days of breastfeeding. It is through His great provision that I succeeded in this journey.

Looking back, and analyzing the root of the problem, it all boils down to unethical marketing practices of formula milk companies. Imagine, it all started with me drinking maternity milk which would have eventually shifted to formula milk for my newborn baby, IF I wasn’t informed. I was very blessed to get that chance but how about those who are living in the thought that formula milk is superior to breastmilk? My goodness. What a sad reality for them to think this way and it is all because they are misinformed.

One other problem I noticed is our doctors and health practitioners. How can we expect them to be knowledgeable about breastfeeding if this is not being given importance to in medical school? Universities must find a way to incorporate breastfeeding in their curriculum to turn things around. Having a breastfeeding advocate OB and Pedia (or any other doctor) will surely give any mother’s breastfeeding journey a great boost.

I am also thankful we have venues like this where we can share facts and information about breastfeeding. Since these milk companies are out of our control, one of the ways we can help our country in achieving these goals is through constant spread of awareness. A little goes a loooong way when in comes to matters such as breastfeeding. Just one mom breastfeeding in public, a mom posting a breastfeeding photo, or a mother sharing breastfeeding articles over at Facebook, will really make a difference. It will make breastfeeding the norm.

Another thing we can do is to continue holding seminars, trainings, equipping mothers to be able to do mother-to-mother support. This is basically the way to a successful breastfeeding journey. Breastfeeding Pinays, for example, has been such a great venue for support and it has imparted valuable knowledge to moms (even dads) which I know we have all taken to heart.

Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is so much more realistic now more than ever. Take my story for example, because I was informed about the wonders of breastfeeding, we were able to provide Matilda the best nourishment there is. The only thing that will help save her life. We also cannot ignore my improved overall health as it is a testimony on how it is beneficial to mothers as well. With the help of social media and the growing community of mothers who advocate breastfeeding, I can see a future where formula milk will just be used for what is was actually created for – a supplement, always inferior and a last resort. Now I can finally say, Breastfeeding is indeed the way to a better future!

Here are many thoughts and reasons why we should all advocate for mothers to breastfeed for the first 1,000 days of life #BF1st1000days

Jenny shares experiencing the One Asia Breastfeeding Forum

Mec insists to do the Math and breastfeed!

Ams, The Passionate Mom says Breastfeed for a Better Future

Pat says breastfeeding saves money and the planet

Cheryl, the Multi-Tasking Mama, tackles maternal health as addressed by breastfeeding

2011 CNN Hero Ibu Robin highlights gentle births and breasfeeding, even in disaster zones

Felyn stresses that Healthy Moms = Healthy Babies

Monique reminds us that there are second chances in breastfeeding

Normi relates how breastfeeding gave her strength and purpose

Nats thanks Dr. Jack Newman for showing how breastfeeding can be a win-win situation

Em believes breastfeeding is a solution to societal problems

Marge shares what breastfeeding has taught them

Kaity was empowered financially and as a woman through breastfeeding

Madel relates her breastfeeding saga

Jen of Next9 reminds us to do our research and share what we know

Celerhina Aubrey vows to work on one mother at a time

Grace wants to put an end to stories of toasted coffee and similar stuff over breast milk

Diane shares how she prevailed when things did not go according to plan

Hazel appreciates mommy support groups

Roan combines two passions, breastfeeding and architecture

Queenie tackled breastfeeding as the best choice for the environment as well and breastfeeding myths and poverty

Rosa shares how the picture she thought of was realized

Sally believes breastfeeding benefits mankind and our planet Earth

Floraine reminds us that breastfeeding helps combat diseases

Crislyn was happy to realize that she improved her own health by breastfeeding

Armi reminds us how breastfeeding during emergencies is crucial

Arvi tells us how breastfeeding made her look at her body a different way

Clarice elaborates on how breastfeeding saves lives and the planet

Giane reminds us that women empowerment can begin by seeing breastfeeding as more than a feeding issue

Liza thought she was only breastfeeding for her child

The Story of Matilda: A Testimony of God’s Blessing from Pregnancy to Birth

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.

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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.

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Pregnancy

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.

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Birthing Classes

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. 579478_10152220428575711_1279631713_n

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.

Labor

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.

Birth

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.

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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.

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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)

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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.