Updated: Jan 9
There have been two important women in my life; one who bore me and gave me up; and one who found me and raised me as her own.
My Background Story
My parents adopted me in Manila, Philippines in February 1984 at 6 months old. The unique part was that my American mom knew me before she adopted me. She volunteered at the American Women’s Association through a program called C.R.I.B.B.S. where she played with the babies at my orphanage. Apparently, I was one of her favorites.
As an adopted person I have an unconventional perspective of family and motherhood. I don’t believe that ‘blood is thicker than water’ but I do know that the relationship with ourselves reflects how we treat others and how we face life’s challenges. I’ve had some negative experiences as a new mom, but to me they were lessons, not scars.
I remember thinking pregnancy must be a magical time for women. Then, when I was actually pregnant I discovered that’s a load of crap. (Ask any pregnant woman in her third trimester.)
So before I tell you about my birth story, let’s go back about two months before the day my son, Liam, was born:
Two Months Before
Imagine, I’m sitting in my follow up appointment after an unexpected premature labor scare. I was working nights as a neurotrauma critical care nurse. I was on my feet for 12-14 hrs each shift.
I was exhausted.
My OBGYN is a man who once told me he had “an honorary vagina.” His rationale for this is being in proximity of many vaginas and seen many births. Meanwhile, the combination of my nurse-self + my pregnant fat ass was sitting there all uncomfortable, wanting to pee every five minutes, and all I wanted was a damn hot dog!
When I told him I thought my job was possibly connected to my baby trying to come out early. His response was, “Studies have shown that pregnant physicians who worked 24+ hours didn’t show any concerns with the baby’s condition…” After that, all I heard was, “Blah, blah, blah.” Clearly, he wasn’t listening to me.
In addition, my strapping husband who looks like a Viking is 6’2”, dirty blond hair, and has green eyes. I’m a 4’11” Filipino woman; just shy of the legal height of a dwarf.
So, you could say I had my concerns about the baby’s size coming out of my area.
The Next Following Weeks
Fast forward the next following weeks:
I was admitted to the hospital FIVE times before I actually gave birth, each attempt on a Tuesday, and twice I had to have a magnesium drip for 12 hours each. (The two main reasons for this drug is to prolong preterm labor and to protect the baby’s brain.)
As for my side effects:
Basically, I was drooling out of my mouth and staring into the unknown daydreaming about nothing while having hot flashes and trying not to throw up.
At some point between the third or fourth hospital visit, my physician smartened up and told me, “maybe you should stop working.”
The BIG Day
Then came the BIG day, June 20th, 2017. Yes, it was on a Tuesday. It was around 1 am in the morning. I’m by myself since my husband was working a 24 hr-shift at the fire station. I’m peeing on the toilet thinking about my dead cat of 10 years who I had to put down a month earlier. I was crying my eyes out. I felt so pathetic because I’m not a super emotional person, but between the pregnant body that looked like I was carrying twins, the constant pain, lack of sleep and now the loss of my dear cat.
I was a hot mess.
As I stood up from the toilet and as I walked forward a massive amount of fluid burst onto the floor...and my first reaction was to mop it up. So, I’m mopping and trailing all this fluid around the house and finally, I snapped out of it, “what the hell am I doing!?!”
I grabbed a bath towel shoved it between my legs, got the Go-Bag and … drove to the hospital by MYSELF … yes you heard me. Partly, because my mind is like; “you’ve done this five times already.” And the other half, “You can do it!”
The Hospital Admission
I was admitted at 8 cm dilated. Then my husband showed up at around 3 am. Finally, the nurse wanted to know if I plan on having an epidural.
You have to understand something about myself. I’m a mut when it comes to belief systems; a blend of science and spirituality; nurse and healer; a mixture of type A and B personality. For the most part, I don’t like taking pharmaceutical drugs.
I’ve felt minor contractions for the past two months but the real contractions started and holy cow I couldn’t breathe! In that moment my nurse-self came out, “YES, I’LL TAKE THE DRUGS PLEASE!” I was so glad I did.
Labor is exhausting-according to my husband
I was in labor for 12 hours. The last two of those hours I was pushing. When I tell my birth story in front of my husband to a group of people he normally likes to add that he too was pushing with me. Every time I pushed, he’d squeeze the bed railing as he watched me push. He likes to add how tired he was during this time.
What is with the men in my life taking all the credit!?! First my physician, now my husband? Seriously? I’d say to my husband: “Did you get hemorrhoids? Did your vagina tear? Did you feel like you were delivering a bowling ball out of your area? NO! Go away this is my story!”
The last 30 minutes was the most interesting...I vaguely remember the female doctor telling me, “We have 15 minutes until I take you to get a C-Section.” When I set my mind to something, I do it, and oh baby, this kid is coming out right NOW.
I pushed like my life depended on it and funny enough, that’s exactly what had to happen:
I remember pushing, pushing hard and I all wanted to do was take a freakin’ break. Then...all of a sudden the doctor yells, “We have a shoulder!” (My heart dropped, the baby was stuck.)
A swarm of nurses bursts through the door, my vision starts to narrow.
As a nurse, typically in my world when you see a team of nurses surrounding the patient’s bed that means someone is going to die or is dead.
My nurse pushes my husband out of the way, takes down the side rail, steps on it, and says, “Sorry honey!” She jumps in the air and for a split second everything slows down.
She looked like a WWF wrestler in mid air:
Her fist drops down and stabs around my pelvic area and I remember making a “HHHHHHHHHHH” sound as all the air gets knocked out. There are nurses all around me. One at my left ear shouting, “PPPPUUUUSSSHHHHHH!!” another nurse yelling on my right, and the doctor is yanking the baby’s head at this end. Meanwhile, my husband and mom are in the corner speechless.
I remember the last few seconds, I started uncontrollably crying; not because I was scared but it’s like my body knew it was ending. I was still pushing for my baby’s life, and...then POP! Sweet relief, the pressure was gone.
A few seconds later...I heard the baby cry...
I imagined my day a lot more peaceful, intimate, and not life-threatening. Life likes to give us surprises, keep us on our toes, and make us really appreciate the unexpected moments.
The best moment of my life was holding that little trouble maker in my arms, all wet and funny looking. Now I was crying because I’ve never felt so much love for something that was so small and delicate.
I felt reborn in that beautiful and speechless moment. I’m now responsible for this little guy’s life, this person I barely know but would do anything for. I’m grateful for not having to give up my child for the sake of survival, like the woman who bore me, I’m grateful for my mom who raised me as her own, and now I’m so grateful to be a mom. Thank you.
This story was published in the January 2020 issue of Roanoke Valley Family Magazine! Check it out here.
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