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