Fraught with complications, Linda Tay takes us on this turbulent and nail-biting journey of the birth of her first child. In her own words, this is her story. (All pictures courtesy of Linda Tay).
- Name: Ari Zen Amarnani (a boy)
- Date of Birth: 15 January, 2018
- Time: 02:26hrs
- Weight: 2.4kg
- Height: 48cm
- Parents: Bikesh Lakhmichand & Linda Tay
We have been married for three years and we live in Cyberjaya, Selangor. Ari is our first child and he was conceived during our trip at Santa Barbara, USA.
The day after my birthday, my body felt like it was going through some changes. I brushed those feelings aside thinking I would be having my menses soon. I waited for two days but my menses did not come. There were no symptoms of pregnancy, no nausea at all. But I decided to get the pregnancy kit from Guardian Pharmacy (I got the Guardian brand, the cheapest of all).
My husband didn’t know anything about this. Back home, I didn’t want to wait for the next morning to do the test as it is supposed to be more accurate so I did the test immediately. What a surprise it was: two lines!! I snapped a photo and called my hubby. I still remember asking if he was driving or at his office. He was driving so I told him to calm down first because I had good news. He didn’t believe at first so I sent him the photo of the pregnancy test.
Confirmation of Pregnancy
We scheduled for a doctor’s appointment and during the check up, it was confirmed I was five weeks pregnant. We were both overjoyed.
The journey of my pregnancy was pretty easy at first. I didn’t have cravings or pregnancy symptoms at all except feeling extra tired. Because women above 40 have a higher chance of giving birth to Down Syndrome babies, we did the requisite Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) to determine if our baby was high or low risk for Down Syndrome. The result showed low risk, phew…
The next test we did was the detailed 3D scan to check if there were any congenital defects such as cleft lips, extra or less fingers and toes, hole in the heart, and so on.
During my 26th week, suddenly in the middle of the night, I felt a sharp pain in my stomach. The pain was relentless, coming at me like a freight train that I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a very bad case of gastric but I wasnt. Peanut was moving as usual so I was somewhat relieved.
When the pain became unbearable, Bikesh rushed me to hospital. The worst part was, the jam had begun as our gynae was located at Prince Court Medical Centre, Jalan Ampang. At Jalan Tun Razak, we were stuck for 15 to 20 minutes because the cop decided that our lane could wait. I was furious as the agony was getting worse. When we finally arrived, we were lucky because our gynae had also arrived at the same time.
Immediately he ordered for pain killers and further tests. Prince Court was full house at the time and I had to wait inside the waiting room writhing in pain. I knew then I was yelling for the pain killer but they could not give any to me until I was checked in to a room.
After a distressing long time, I was finally given a room and given the shot! I was having contractions. At 26 weeks, this was going to be a gamble according to our gynae. If I gave birth at 26 weeks, the baby would have 50/50 chance and if he survived he would be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) until he reached full term.
Our gynecologist advised us to check with government hospitals as NICU is expensive in private hospitals and especially if the baby needed to be in there for 14 weeks. At that moment, we didn’t want to take the risk of having to transfer to a government hospital hence we decided that Prince Court Medical Centre would be handling everything.
Key Hole Surgery
However, it wasn’t just contractions. The doctor suspected appendicitis. After a few tests, the specialist confirmed that it was and he would have to remove my appendix in half an hour. He did not want to wait any longer as the risk of the appendix rupturing was high and in my case, during pregnancy!
It would be a painful key hole surgery with three key holes needed as most of my organs had shifted to make room for peanut in my belly. For key hole surgeries, the first hole would be for the camera inserted through the belly button, while the second and third holes would be below the bikini line to ensure no visible scars later.
However, in my case, it could not be done that way. Hence the first hole was made below my chest above the uterus while the second and third holes were on my right belly. There wasn’t time for us to discuss. I wasn’t even ready for surgery, I was in shock and pain. Thankfully, the surgeon was my husband’s schoolmate’s brother-in-law and he said, “Don’t worry, your wife and baby will be safe.” I never thought it would be appendicitis while being pregnant!
Terror in the Operating Theatre
I had to sign a lot of forms while they wheeled me into the operating theatre. I was very, very scared, so scared that I pleaded for my hubby to come in but they said no. The room was cold, extremely cold, and I was shivering, and I noticed as I looked around in terror that the walls were white, everything surrounding me was white.
Before I could process any of my thoughts, I was shifted to the operating table and I was looking up at the bright glare of surgical lights like what we see in movies. In my confusion, I heard the nurses talking about me, they said it was such a pity that I had to go through this during pregnancy and before I knew it, the anesthesiologist told me to count backwards from 5, 4, 3 and…. I don’t remember anything after that.
When I Came To, The Pain Kicked In
When I woke up, I was in my room. My husband was there and he told me he waited anxiously outside for the outcome. I remember crying and shivering and asking for a blanket because I was freezing. The nurses put a layer of blanket on me and turned off the aircon. I immediately knocked out again.
Hours later when I became fully awake, the pain kicked in. It was an excruciating surgery because I felt like every inch of my body had been cut. Every six hours they injected my bum with pain killers. My buttocks took turns, left and right, till they turned blue. Blood tests were run nonstop until both my arms were bruised. I was so dehydrated they couldn’t find my veins. Baby peanut was monitored every hour and so far, he seemed to be doing good. He was a strong baby.
The doctor mentioned that I would feel pain especially on the main key hole. They couldn’t get the camera in through my belly button so they had to scrape through from above the uterus. Hence, I would feel sore below my chest, which indeed was the case. The worst was when baby peanut decided to do his bout of Kung-Fu, kicking up a storm. I was dependent on pain killers all the time.
My hubby told me that the appendix looked huge and inflamed. I was so lucky it didn’t rupture! Here are the photos of the scars on my belly.
I walked a lot during my pregnancy as I was into the Pokémon Go game. I was very active; I couldn’t sit still. Experienced mothers told me that walking helps with labour.
At 36 Weeks
Fast forward to 36 weeks. On Saturday, 13th January 2018, we had the usual prenatal check up. Our gynae mentioned it could be anytime from now so I was advised to walk less and rest more.
The next day, we decided to fix the baby cot and then we headed out for a hearty banana leaf meal at a new restaurant in Cyberjaya. I ate a lot on that day, I felt so hungry. After the heavy lunch, we went back home to relax. Later, we had a light dinner of cheese and crackers.
I was taking a warm shower to get ready for bed when suddenly I felt as if I want to pass motion although I knew it wasn’t poo. And then the pain began. I was on the floor panting in between the pain. Blood was discharging. Bikesh tried calling his friends with kids but they didn’t answer so he decided to google contraction pain.
The funny part was, he was using the iphone timer to time my contractions and it was a one minute gap. According to google, one minute gaps mean time to give birth!
Water Bag Breaks in Car
It was around 11pm. We rushed to Prince Court, lucky it was night so there was no traffic. Panting in between the pain, I told my husband to drive faster. Halfway through the journey I felt something burst. A gush of water flowed out and I knew that my water bag had burst. I could feel as if baby peanut was coming out. I shouted out that my water bag had burst, his head was there already and he’s coming soon.
My husband told me to HOLD ON, we were almost there. We were at the traffic lights in front of Prince Court. He sped like never before and upon screeching to a stop at Emergency, he shouted for a wheel chair. The nurse who assisted me looked shocked when she saw that I was drenched from the waist down to my sandals. I was wheeled to the labour room where two midwives were ready to assist me. One of them checked the opening of my cervix, (it was painful when she inserted her fingers) and she told me I was 7cm dilated. She would prep for our baby’s birth like right now!
No epidural was given, only gas. My husband called it laughing gas. It wasn’t useful and most times I didn’t need it but they kept putting it to my nose and instructed me to breathe it in whenever there was a contraction. By the time my husband came into the labour room, I was 8cm dilated. The midwife taught me how to breathe during the push. About half an hour later, she checked my cervix again and told me it was time to push. Again, I wasn’t prepared at all. I was still processing what was going on. I heard her say, “15 seconds push, take a deep breath, 15 seconds push, take a deep breath, 15 seconds push, take a deep breath and rest”. Both midwives were like cheerleaders, in a way it was entertaining. My hubby joined in to count too. Every time I felt like pooping I had to push for 15 seconds for three sets. Then they said they could see baby peanut’s crown and hair!
Halfway through I couldn’t push anymore. I was exhausted and out of breath. Baby peanut was “stuck” for a while. Although there was so much encouragement I was drained beyond revival. Still, I kept on trying, I pushed and pushed as hard as I could but without yelling out loud from the pain. I couldn’t scream as I was trying to concentrate on pushing and breathing at the same time!
When our doctor finally came, he told me to continue pushing. During the short break in between, I felt a sharp pain. My hubby was quiet. He told me he saw the flash of a sharp pair of scissors as our gynae cut my perineum. My husband is the sort who cannot stand to see blood so it took a lot of courage for him to be in the delivery room with me.
One final push later and baby peanut was out. He gave a loud cry but we could hear that his breathing was loud too, as if he was trying hard to breathe. He was purple, so purple that it was freaking us out! The midwife let me hold him for a while after she cleaned him and while doing so, our gynae told me that I would be feeling sharp pain while they stitched the episiotomy. He did inform me that they had already given me a shot in my thigh to reduce the pain but I totally ignored him as I was worried about baby peanut. He was so very tiny, so fragile but so precious.
I could feel every single stitch that was going on but I didn’t scream or cringe. Our gynae later told us that my pain tolerance must be extremely high. Not many of his patients could tolerate the stitching and the midwives told us it was their first time seeing a mother who didn’t yell during childbirth.
Baby Ari was born on 15 January 2018 at 2:26am at 36 weeks!
Baby peanut was ushered into NICU as his heart was beating faster than usual and he needed oxygen. He was in NICU for eight hours and then he was back with us. The nurse told us although he was tiny, his cries were the loudest!
He had jaundice which was pretty normal. We stayed in the hospital for five days so that I could learn how to breastfeed him. It wasn’t easy, in fact it was really tough but with the right guidance and positive mind set and most importantly, the support of my husband, I could finally do it.
We didn’t have a confinement lady, it was too last minute but we catered confinement food. In the end I personally felt that it wasn’t necessary to have a confinement lady. With the support of my husband, we managed it all ourselves.
I must say that despite the rollercoaster ride and the scares and worries, giving birth was the best experience of my life. Until today, Bikesh and I can still remember the details of our amazing adventure. Ari is one year old now, doing very well and taking his first steps into the world he was in such a hurry to come out to explore.
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