Arabella’s Debut to the world on July 18, 2017 -birth experience with a Doula

Arabella’s Debut to the world on July 18, 2017 -birth experience with a Doula

Baby Arabella decided to make her appearance on July 18, 2017. It was nothing like how I imagined. Overall, I had a very positive birth experience, which in large I attributed to having a Doula and a supportive spouse.

No words could describe what I felt the moment Arabella was placed on my chest. It was surreal. Ten months of carrying this living being inside me and when I finally met her eye to eye, I was speechless. However, I wasn’t overwhelmed with joy and love for her. She looked at me in the eyes, I just remembered being exhausted after 40 hours of labor and my mind drew blank. To be honest, I have yet to embrace motherhood, there’s so much to learn and nothing out there really prepared me for what happens after her birth. More of that in another post.

During my pregnancy, I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from other moms and just like every first-time parent, I was anxious. I’m not the kind of person who leaves things to chances, but this birth experience taught me that there are often things completely beyond my control. The best I could do is to educate myself on the risks involved and take measures to minimize them.  I also learned to surround myself with empowering messages. I turned away from conversations about things that went wrong at other births. I keep reminding myself that every birth experience is unique. In hindsight, having a positive mindset and trusting my own instinct were essential in ensuring a smooth labor. My doula also helped coach, inform and encourage me to stay strong. She engaged and exercised my rights as a patient with my gynecologist. I really felt empowered about giving birth.

On Sunday afternoon of July 16th, my water broke. My due date was July 20th and we’ve been patiently waiting for the big day. Although the third trimester was getting pretty uncomfortable for me, I was thoroughly enjoying my last few days of “freedom”. I tell myself, Arabella would come on her own schedule.

A quick phone call to the hospital, I was told to wait at home for the contraction to start. I had no idea how quickly this process would start, so I ate and showered to get myself ready. Then it was pretty much a waiting game. I started to feel period cramps in the evening and decided to sleep through it. It was a sleepless night because I was counting baby’s movements every hour. Next morning, I saw blood and called the hospital again. My gynecologist answered my call and she told me to come in immediately since it’s been 14 hours after my water broke and she was concerned about possible infections to the baby.

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I hesitated. I wanted a natural birth experience with minimal medical interference. From my own research and conversations with my doula, I knew exactly what it meant if I were to get admitted into the hospital now. My doctor would get me started on Pitocin in order to speed up the contraction process and that goes against my whole natural birth preference. Also from my own research, I know Infections within 24 hours of my water breaking is not statistically significant, however, I weighted my options and decided not to take the chance.

Once we arrived at the hospital, we were admitted. I changed into the hospital johnny and the nurse strapped the belts around my waist to monitor the baby’s heart beat and track my contractions. My doula already explained this to me, so I handled the whole process with composure. It felt just like a business that had to be taken care of. I did not panic and I was not nervous. For some reason, I believed that the higher power would look after me and little Arabella. She’s been so good to me throughout the pregnancy, I trusted that she’d cooperate and all I needed to do was to gather up my strength and maintain my stamina.

My contraction process stopped completely after my doctor gave me a strict deadline. I had about 5 hours to start the contraction on my own before she’d get me started on the drugs. I fought against it. My Douala told me that it was my legal right in the United States to decide what I want my doctor to do with my body. It was such an empowering statement. I felt strong, in control, and completely calm. I fought to give my body another 12 hours.

My doula was right. Hospital really isn’t the best place for laboring. Subconsciously, I felt like I was running against an invisible clock. I made absolutely no progress after my doctor did the vaginal exam. After 12 hours, I decided to get help from modern medical science. My doctor did a membrane scrape and I was put on Pitocin right after.20170717_175819

I don’t know if the extra 12 hours helped start the contractions faster, I was very sensitive to the drug. My contractions started fifteen minutes after Pitocin was administered. I wanted minimal dosage, so I was fortunate enough that the doctor was happy with my progress and they did not increase the dosage after half a hour. Again, I was very clear when I communicated my wish to my doctor and she respected that. I did not want to leave my body at someone else’s discretion and I gave my own body the best chance it could have.

A couple of hours later, the contractions became shorter and more intense. I was no longer smiling. I called my doula and she came just when the pain started getting unbearable. My husband held my hand as I concentrated hard to visualize the whole laboring process as a flower blossoming in my mind. I kept on telling myself that the pain was not going to hurt me, that it was a natural process to bring this beautiful being into the world like a flower. As more Pitocin were injected into my body, contractions came in more frequently and a lot more intensely. My doula started massaging my lower back just when the contraction came in, it helped ease the pain right away. My doula then taught my husband how to do it. It felt great to work as a team with your spouse through this labor intensive process and to know you were not alone.

A few hours in, I could feel the contraction coming in even more intensely at even shorter intervals. My doula also noticed from the chart that I had a few clustered contractions. Instead of coming in like waves, it felt like minor period cramp at the start and then gradually getting more intense until it was painful for about 60 seconds; I was in constant pain. My body went into survival mode and I could not breath. My husband coached me through breathing with my doula’s assistance. Once again, it was so empowering to find strength through my husband’s gaze.thumbnail_20170717_211524

My doula had 16 years of birth experience, so she suspected that my child’s position was not optimal. She got me started on some pelvis adjusting movements, they were EXTREMELY painful. I felt like my bones were breaking. After 7 hours, I couldn’t go through any more contractions. I decided to get on epidural.

My entire body was shivering and my husband was told to leave the room. Doula requested to stay and it was granted. She held my hand to steady my pose while I was getting my epidural. My contraction was coming in every minute or perhaps less, her calm presence really helped me go through those last few contractions before the epidural kicked in.

After 35 hours, I finally got a break and rested for couple of hours. My doula made sure that I was in a good resting position and put a peanut ball between my legs to help move the contraction along even when I was sleeping. Around 3:30am, a doctor came in for my third vaginal exam and told me that I was ready to deliver a baby. At this point, I was starving, thirsty, and had a total 4 hours of broken sleep. Once more, my doula came to the rescue when it was delivery time. She helped get me into position and taught me how to push. She gave me updates all the time on how things were going. I was exhausted beyond words, but after hearing that the baby’s head was coming out, I summoned the last strength I had and pushed the baby out in 15 minutes, 20170718_050821

With a loud cry, Arabella made her debut to the world on July 18th at 4:28am, she weighed 6 pound and 12 oz and as a few of my friends pointed out, she has really long limbs and digits. I don’t know if this means she will be a piano player or a gymnastic. Whatever she decides to do in life, my role is to support her unconditionally and provide a safe and nurturing environment for her.  This is a promise I’ve made for her and a commitment for myself.

Even though I didn’t end up having a completely natural birth, I was in control and I felt empowered to make decisions on what to do with my own body. I’ve come to appreciate my own body and my spouse so much more after this delivery. I’d highly recommend having a doula by your side for your delivery. If anyone is interested, my doula’s website is http://www.enteradoula.com/, I’m not getting paid any commission to promote her service, but being one of the 10% women who broke their water before contraction and I still managed to have a great delivery experience, she helped make that possible.  20170718_050720

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I learnt to deal with prenatal depression during pregnancy

How I learnt to deal with prenatal depression during pregnancy

Getting pregnant does not always mean that you will do a happy little dance and dial every family member’s number to share your wonderful news. I was depressed and at first, I thought this was abnormal. I googled “prenatal depression” online and I was surprised that not that many people openly talked about it. I want to share my personal journey and what I learned from it. Hopefully my story can show other people who are going through the same thing that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite being Asian, I don’t have pressure from my parents to be a mom. I’ve lived independently since I was 17, so I was fortunate enough that my parents did not interfere with my choices in life. Many of my friends are overachievers and are happy being singles.  To them, raising a family means they may have to take times off from work or sacrifice their freedom, a trade off they are not willing to make. For a while, I thought the same way. Then I realize, I was deeply discontent with my own life.

Something is missing in my life and I can’t pinpoint what it is. Perhaps parenthood is the answer? After turning 30, having kid has been a question I weighed on my mind. After all, I’ve always wanted a family, so why put it off any longer?

Uprooting my life to Boston when I turned 28 and getting married was a new beginning for me. I switched career and worked hard to get my CPA license starting from scatch. Three years later, I find myself at a cross road. I’ve agonized over having a baby for almost two years. When I finally summoned the courage to start a family. I realize, it’s not as easy as you think and unlike what we see on televisions, I was not overjoyed when I first found out about my own pregnancy.

In fact, for the first three months, I could not accept the reality. I was depressed. I was excited by the arrival of this gift, instead, I felt like a failure. I did not feel like I could provide the life I wanted for her because I was not where I wanted myself to be.

To everyone else, I have everything I need to start a family. To me, I did not feel ready at all. My vision was to be a business owner, which would allow me the flexibility and money to provide well for my family. I’m nowhere near my goal. I felt guilty for putting off my dreams and making excuses not making things happen. I felt unfit to be a good mom. I did not want my child to see her mom struggle.

I never knew you could be depressed after pregnancy. Is this going to make me a terrible mother?

Then my mentality changed. I don’t know what triggered this transformation, but my perspective about my own life completely changed.

I’ve learned to take more actions and tackle every day problem in life step by step.

I’ve learned to see problems in my life as opportunities for improvements.

I’ve learned to accept the present and be more intentional with my own life.

This pregnancy has made me embark on a self exploring journey and taught me some valuable lessons that I wish I knew.

Lesson 1: There is never perfect time for things you want to do, perfect time is always now

Sheryl Sandberg said in her book “lean in” that a woman should never intentionally brake on their career because they are planning to have a family. It’s a vicious cycle, if you slow down on your career for family now, you will have a more difficult time playing catch up after your kid is here. I am guilty of this myself.

I took a pause because subconsciously I was preparing myself for my role as a mom at some point down the road. I made excuses not to try as hard in my job. I held off on writing my own business plan. I took mastermind class with entrepreneurs I aspired to be, but I never acted on any of their advice. I stayed stagnant.

Then when I was blessed with such precious gift called a new life, I did not feel ready because I have done absolutely nothing to create the life I wanted for myself. If I always went at full momentum, I’d be closer to where I wanted to be and I would definitely be at a happier place to start a family.

Lessons 2: Accept the present, celebrate it, and be intentional about what you do every day

Part of the reason why I felt depressed was that I did not accomplish what I “expected” myself to do. I was disappointed with myself. I hated myself for not pushing myself harder. It makes me feel even worse when I see other moms who seem to have everything all figured out. They have better jobs with higher pays, awesome benefits, and they can provide more for their kids.

I lost sight of what I valued the most because I was too busy comparing myself to others, which led me to nowhere. I was comparing myself with people I was not aspired to be in the first place. It was completely unproductive.

After following entrepreneurs like Seth Godin, Chase Jarvis, and reading book like “the end of jobs” by Taylor Pearson, I made a conscious choice to give up corporate America. I need to accept the good and ugly that comes with my own decision.  I need to live more in the present moment, celebrate and appreciate what I have right in front of me.

I need to set an intention every day to work towards my goals. This means that I will be intentional with what activities I spent my time on and who I spent my time talking to. I will only engage in activities that propel me to move forward with my life and stop wasting time ranting and being idle.

Lesson 3: More than anything else, what your kid needs the most is a happy and confident parent

I was worried that my current circumstance would not allow me to provide a good life for my kid. Then an epiphany came to me, I need to focus on myself first before worrying about sending an unborn child to private school.

First of all, change is the only thing that’s constant in life. Your current situation is not permanent. There’s no reason to get depressed over your present, especially if you are already taking actions towards your goal.

Secondly, if I can’t find a way to my own happiness, I definitely will not make a good parent. I need to remain emotionally healthy in order to weather through all the ups and downs that come with parenthood. The best way to achieve that is to focus making myself better first and direct all my energy to get myself closer to where I ultimately want to do, so I can be in a good position to provide for my family and be a pillar for them.

The more depressed I was, the more guilty I felt. It was not healthy at all. When I adopted this new attitude and took more actions, I felt my life was set in motion.

I still faced obstacles, but instead of getting frustrated, I now have a calmer outlook about life. I see every problem as “figure-out-able”. This attitude really changed my life around. New opportunities came knocking on my doors. My relationship with my family also improved. We now worked so much better as a team and we were able to accomplish a lot of things in a short period of time.

I learned a lot more about myself and my relation with others after this experience. I learned my own shortcomings and devised a way to work with them. My baby has taught me a lot about myself, about life, about what it really means to be a parent even I even met her. I feel eternally grateful for this gift. I don’t think I’d ever closely examine my own life if I was not blessed with this present from god.