Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Baby is Born

November 14, 2007: My due date. Also Lola Donnie’s (my paternal grandma, my sole remaining grandparent) 80th birthday. No. of weeks I’ve been on leave: exactly 3. No. of texts I’ve received from friends asking whether I’ve popped yet: 60 million (groan). No. of times I’ve walked around the neighborhood (often with Ches, sometimes with Yosh or by myself) to naturally induce labor: so much. No. of days left before deadline imposed by Dr. de Vera for me to go into labor before she induces me: 5 (more groans).

Before 5 AM: I wake up with soaked undies. I check to see whether it’s urine or my water bag. I have a good feeling it’s the latter. (I don’t normally pee in my pants haha.) There’s also a bit of blood. Good. I’m relieved and excited and petrified. I wake Ches up and text Doc like she instructed.

5:30 AM: We’re in the labor room. The OBs in attendance (4 young ones) ooh and aah when they read Doc’s instructions in my admission letter – that we were to have a Lamaze childbirth. Especially when they find out we had a successful one the first time around. I guess people just don’t do it anymore. They go to the labor room, get hooked up on an IV with painkillers and sedatives and stuff and wake up in the recovery room not even knowing whether they’ve given birth yet.

I’m told to lie down with my feet up in stirrups while the OBs examine my privates like it’s a pair of shoes on sale. 3 cm dilated. Woohoo! Then I’m strapped to a fetal monitor while an OB asks me the usual pregnancy questions as well as some tricky sex ones (when did I first do it, how many partners, how often). I feel like giving exag answers just for kicks. But never mind. I need all the good karma I can get.

7 AM: Ches gets us a room. A semi-private one is all that’s available. We’re in a bed between someone who’s just given birth to her third child and gotten a ligation, and someone up for a D & C for a molar pregnancy (how tragic is that – to be pregnant not with a human being but with some tissues). Ches and I know all these bcoz they blabber on and on. I swear, it’s almost like having Yosh in the room with us.

Contractions getting regular and painful but I know I have a long way to go. Am having back labor again just like with Yosh so Ches applies counter-pressure while I do my breathing techniques. I read some Hollywood gossip magazine that I pack along for the occasion. Ches reads one of his thick novels. We’re still relaxed and in good humor.

8 AM: A big, dark nurse enters and announces she’s to give me an enema. I could’ve told her I pooped the night before and haven’t eaten anything since, but I recall Mom saying enema gets labor going, so I grudgingly go with her. If I had only known the whole experience would be so draining (pun intended). Enema is the last thing you’d want to try for the first time while you’re in labor. Especially not in the hands of a nurse who’s not exactly Miss Congeniality. (Grr.)

9 AM: I text Mom that we’re in the hospital and to pray for me and Boots and to check up on Yosh.

A pretty OB (whom I’ve seen in the labor room the week before when I went for Boots’ biophysical profile) checks up on me and gives me an IE. 5 cm. Hooray! Turns out she also took Rome’s childbirth preparation classes in Ateneo, tho she said she wasn’t successful at Lamaze, without elaborating.

10 AM: Paula sends me some maldita text about someone in the office. I share the happy news that I’m finally in labor. She threatens to visit with Thom while I’m at my anguished state.

12 noon: Doc shows up looking all composed and fresh-smelling (she’s one of those little old ladies I want to be when I grow old). She brings along her own gloves and wants to use her own Doppler too, so the costs won’t be included in the hospital bill anymore. She’s so good to me, I swear. I don’t know what I’ve ever done to deserve her (tho there’s the fact that she’s known Mom from long ago when she worked as a nurse in the OR-DR). She had one advice for me and Ches after seeing us thru Yoshi’s delivery, which took all of 14 hours of labor and no anesthesia: next time, adopt a baby girl.

And yet here we are again. And she’s still here with us, touching my hand or my tummy to show her faith and reassurance, supporting us all the way and even showing her pride at our efforts to have a natural childbirth when it would’ve made her job so much easier - almost pro forma, I’m sure - if we had chosen the usual painless route. It’s like giving birth in the hands of your own mommy. The only thing missing is the kiss and hug.

1:20 PM: The much-awaited water bag breaks. Ches rushes to the nurses’ station to call for an OB as we’ve been instructed. The pretty-unsuccessful-Lamaze one promptly shows up and gives me an IE. 7 cm. Yehey! But I am now in too much pain to feel any joy. At this point I have stopped texting and reading and thinking and am reduced to no more than a moaning, writhing, poor-excuse-for-a-human-being glob of pain. Sob.

1:30 PM: I can’t believe only ten minutes has passed when I ask Ches the time. Contractions coming in quick and unbelievable. I tell Ches I can’t take it anymore so he goes to look for Doc. A different OB appears and IEs me. 8-9 cm.

1:40 PM: Things happening pretty fast now. I’m brought to the delivery room with me clinging on to Ches’ arm the whole time. I’m changed into a fresh gown (like I could care less about clothing at this point) and moved from one stretcher to another. There’s a bit of confusion when Ches asks for his gown and they don’t let him in. I tell the nurse nearest me that my husband had to be there with me like he was allowed to the first time, and he says they’ll confirm with Doc. I felt like shouting, the reason I’m still breathing at this time is Ches, and I would die in there without Ches, I just know it. It’s a good thing they changed their mind quickly before I could bitch any further, or in my present state I would have made many medical heads roll, I swear.

Doc appears, all dressed up but still very calm. She tells me to push gently at first, then after what seems like an eternity of pain, pain, pain to push with all my might. Apparently my contractions are not coming in fast enough for them coz this resident tweaks my tummy to make them come faster. I wanna yell at her to immediately stop whatever she thinks she’s doing but I also want the whole thing to be done with already so I zip my mouth like Yoshi always tells me to. (Doc and the resident talk about Doc’s lying-in clinic in Marikina and her family of doctors. I remember when I was pushing Yosh, Doc and the staff gossiped about Mike Arroyo and Vicky Toh.)

It seems the head is still high up coz then Doc calls for mosquito power (which I’ve learned from the first time means that someone from the team helps you push the baby out by applying just the slightest of pressure at the top of your uterus). It was mosquito power with Yosh, alright, but this time it was more like elephant power as two OBs pressed hard and heavy on my tummy. I could hear Doc saying the head keeps going back and I didn’t know what I could be doing wrong bcoz I was pushing as hard as I could and I was really running out of energy already and was telling Ches I couldn’t take it anymore. It was really frustrating coz we’ve been in the delivery room a long time and I’ve been pushing and hurting a whole lot and the end didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. (With Yosh, the whole thing took me a mere 20 minutes and like 10 pushes.) The whole time Ches held my hand tight and wiped my sweat and whispered words of love and encouragement.

They were monitoring baby’s heartbeat the whole time and there was a moment of panic when it slowed down. It was at this point when God just completely took over – I heard myself let out a wild grunt and finally being able to push the head out. (This was the surreal part – it was like being there and doing the deed and yet also being apart from everyone and just watching the whole proceedings. That night from the recovery room I would tell Ches it was already God pushing from there, I had nothing to do with it anymore, I had run out of strength.)

The relief in the whole room was palpable. Doc was saying, no wonder the head kept going back in after I pushed – the umbilical cord was wrapped around baby’s neck! This also explained why the heartbeat slowed down. (The next day she would tell us that when the heartbeat slowed down she asked someone to prepare the next room, for an emergency CS. Gosh, I was this close. How devastating would that have been – to go thru all that pain only to need a CS in the end.)

She was also surprised at how big the baby was. (7.6 lbs, we would find out later. The biggest in his batch in the nursery.) The rest of the staff were already congratulating us. Everyone seemed to be sharing in our joy and celebrating our success at another natural childbirth. The resident who assisted Doc, Dr. Tina Serrano, said only very few could manage what we’d just pulled off.

In the meantime, I had to push some more to let the whole body out and by …

3:16 PM: Boots was out. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Ches. Thank you, Dr. de Vera. Thank you, Boots.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Jack passed away on a Monday morning. I had a bad feeling when I saw Regie’s name on my cel, calling uncharacteristically early, and on barangay election day holiday, too. Regie was the kind soul who has been forwarding to me Babette’s updates on Jack’s condition since he got hospitalized upon coming back from the US.

Jack was a very special six-year-old. He had Fanconi Anemia, a rare disease that made him susceptible to various infections and required him to have numerous blood transfusions and confinements. His family went to the US in August this year to attend a camp for persons with the same illness. They missed it altogether bcoz he caught an infection in the plane on the way, so they spent a good part of their vacation in the hospital, which was where he went straight to again upon coming back to the country.

Jack was all the crazy and wonderful things a pre-schooler could be. He went to school and excelled in his class. He played the piano and loved music from Broadway and Johnny Cash. I remember how he threw a tantrum bcoz he didn’t want me to have his violin that I bid for and won in the auction that we had in December last year to raise funds for his bone marrow transplant. He used a code for pretty girls, had a crush on his hematologist and was warned by his dad to stay away from girls like Kris Aquino bcoz they were high maintenance.

How do you move on after you lose your only child, especially one so young and who has barely had a chance to enjoy all that life has to offer? How do you go back home when the center of its energy, the source of all its noise and laughter, is no longer there? How do you get up in the morning when the one person who defines what you do thru-out your days is gone?

I guess, you just have dig deep where you don’t think it possible to find any more strength and courage. I guess, you just have to look up to Jack for inspiration, Jack who the doctors praised bcoz he patiently endured all the poking and treatment and surgeries, when other kids in so much less pain would curse and hit and spit at the doctors.

Goodbye, Jack. We’ll miss you.