My labor story

My labor story began innocently enough, as many labor stories do: I woke up from a dream and thought I had wet myself. I assumed it was just another one of those pregnancy related indignities. As if the relentless weight gain, the pimple ravaged skin, the gassiness weren’t enough, one must also deal with incontinence? Christ.

It wasn’t until I stood up that I realized my water bag just broke, in slow, furtive trickles that signalled impending labor. After forty weeks, I can only be too relieved.

After making sure it was indeed what I hoped it was, I went downstairs to inform my parents. “Ano wala pa ba?” they asked, the way they had done for several weeks already. I told them as coolly as a cucumber could, that my water bag had broken. Immediately their eyes went straight to my legs, which had by then gushing copious amounts of water. My mom, bless her heart, asked if I had just wet myself. My dad, according to the help, just stared at the small puddle of water that had accumulated around my feet.

I ate breakfast, took a shower, and phoned my husband, who incidentally had a rare work assignment on that Saturday. I told him not to panic and that I could wait for him and that I was absolutely in no pain.

The contractions began while I had been doing my makeup in the car, first in small manageable waves. They were so small and so imperceptible that I even assumed I would be sent home to await real contractions. By the time we got to the hospital, I discovered then and there that I was already 4 cm dilated.

Never too busy for some things

Never too busy for some things

With some smugness, which I now realize is laughably misguided, I thought, this is labor? It’s not so bad after all. I had visions of myself smiling beatifically at the nurses, who would marvel at my fortitude and forbearance in the midst of the harrowing upheaval that is childbirth.

Fast forward to three hours later and I’d begun yelling at the nurses for epidural, saintly mother be damned. I was, to be frank, in a world of pain. I was actually beyond pain, and whatever pain threshold there existed, I had crossed it and landed somewhere between projectile vomiting and hurling invectives, both of which were aimed in the general direction of my hapless husband.

Unfortunately, labor did not progress and by 8 pm my doctor decided that I had no choice but to undergo CS. By then I was semi delirious from medication and I remember signing a form that I didn’t even bother to read.

My husband does not remember much about the few moments before I was wheeled into the delivery room, although he does remember me asking him to check if my makeup and lipstick are still intact. My vanity, it seems, knows no limits.

I was shivering when they wheeled me into the delivery room. I wasn’t fully unconscious when they began the procedure and thankfully I felt no pain, just cold. By 8:37 pm, the baby was out and I was, officially, a mother.

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I had scoffed at those who said you forget the pain as soon as you set eyes on your child. How overly sentimental, I thought. But in my case it turned out to be true. Those first few precious hours with my child in the recovery room were my favorite. It was just me and her, cooped up in our little world. I remember thinking how big she was. And how beautiful and how perfect and how my heart has expanded a million times over. Until now, months after that day, I look at her and marvel at this tiny creature who is my child.

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I suppose the birth story ends the same way it began. In a dark and quiet room, where dreams are made.

Nice to meet you, my darling

Nice to meet you, my darling

Before...

Before…

... and after

… and after

Postscript:
After a few minutes of being ushered in our room, the hospital’s fire alarm went off. As if we weren’t terrified enough at the prospect of being left with a newborn on our own, now we have to contend with this? You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought, while I simultaneously planned our escape. Jaime will have to carry the baby. And I, would I walk? Would I be wheeled out? Thankfully the fire alarm turned out to be a false alarm, much to the complete relief and annoyance of the patients. So how about that? My day started with what I thought was a false alarm, only to end up with a real false alarm. You really can’t make stuff like this up.

Manila Hotel Staycation

With the impending arrival of Stella, Jaime and I figured it would be years again before he and I could enjoy a proper “vacation.” And by proper, we mean a vacation which may or may not involve consuming copious amounts of alcohol and waking up at noon the following day. A vacation which may or may not involve renting a Vespa scooter and zipping around an ancient European city’s crowded highways, with not much thought for safety. A vacation where we can actually sit down and enjoy a proper meal.

And so it was that Jaime and I found ourselves at the Manila Hotel during the APEC holidays. He and I have never stayed at the Manila Hotel, ever. We’ve only seen its facade, and I’ve only had a meeting there once or twice. Jaime has never even stepped foot inside it. We wanted to stay in a place just in Manila, where we could walk around and not just vegetate in a hotel. We heard that the Korean and Chilean Presidents were booked at the same hotel. Not Canadian PM Trudueau though, but oh well. We did miss him by 5 minutes when we arrived, dammit.

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There was no traffic either, hallelujah! We were even allowed to check in early. Upon dumping our bags, we set out for lunch at Ilustrado and some sightseeing at the San Agustin Church and Museum.

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My darling husband works in the curatorial team of one of the country's best museums. So it was like having a tour guide all to myself, for free!

My darling husband works in the curatorial team of one of the country’s best museums. So it was like having a tour guide all to myself, for free!

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The next day, we had lunch at Chinatown and shopped around for hopia. It was Thursday then and all roads were closed for the big APEC dinner that night. Thankfully, a kind Manila police officer escorted us back to our hotel in exchange for a small tip. Parang Apec delegate lang.

We went swimming that night, with me clad in a bikini that I will probably never get to wear again in this lifetime. Not with the stretchmarks and the not-so-few pounds I acquired during the course of this pregnancy, both of which I predict will remain with me for the rest of my life. After room service dinner, we passed out before 10 pm, like the old fogeys that we are.

Checking to see if the flowers were real. Like a true Pinoy turista.

Checking to see if the flowers were real. Like a true Pinoy turista.

After another buffet breakfast that day, we went swimming again. Swimming in a pool when one resembles an inflatable whale has its perks. I loved feeling buoyant, and were it not for the fact that we had to check out, I could have stayed in the pool all day. Jaime would drag me around the pool by my arms, like a child who was learning how to swim.

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I’ve never had a staycation before, but I think this was pretty much how I’d imagined a perfect staycation would be.

It’s a girl!

A while back, I wrote about our plan to throw a small gender reveal party during our family Christmas get together. It was a fun little pakulo and to this day I don’t know how we managed to keep the gender a secret for four whole months. There were some slip ups, but on the whole we managed to keep everyone in the dark.

We bought pink balloons, decorated our gender reveal box, and prepared prizes. I am proud to say that I prepared the “tally board” where guests can cast their vote. (Everyone who guessed right gets a prize, and then we drew one “grand prize winner.” That board, by the way, is really the height of “craftiness” as I can get. Jaime, on the other hand, decorated the box. I’m rather glad at least ONE of us is good at this crafting business. Boy’s got skills, I must say.

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See you soon Stella girl! Everyone’s excited to meet you!

Before we become like ships

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I already know, when the baby is born, he or she will take over our entire life. Mornings will blend into evenings, and evenings will merge again with the day, and so on and so forth, until we can no longer tell the difference. I already know, when the baby is born, that there will come a point, between each and every sleep, and each and every waking moment, when my husband and I will become ships that merely pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, a distant voice in the darkness.

These are the things I would like to remember, before that happens, and before we forget that long before this child, there was only the two of us.

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