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Little Nathan’s birth story

25 Nov

Sharing…

I had a pretty rough pregnancy from the start. (Read related post here). Because of complications during the course of my pregnancy, I was at risk for a preterm birth. Still, it did not prepare me for it. I prayed, trusted, had faith in God, believed and was confident I would complete my pregnancy to term but, cliche as it is, God had other plans.

July 27

On July 27, on my 24th week, I rushed to the hospital because I was bleeding heavily and was, eventually, admitted for threatened preterm labor. Why I bled was a mystery but I was just so thankful that everything was well then, that my bleeding stopped, and that I didn’t give birth yet.

Since then, however, I’ve had intermittent, painless contractions every day for the remainder of my pregancy. I stayed in bed and took medications to make them stop but they never worked for me.

August 26

A month later, Eugene was admitted for surgery. I went to the hospital to take care of him. I didn’t think anything untoward would happen to me there as I wasn’t going to do anything but lie in bed (which was what I really did). Also, I had clearance from my doctor to go to the hospital to keep my husband company.

Eugene was admitted Sunday, August 26 and had an operation the following day, Monday, August 27.

August 28, 9 PM

Around 9 PM the following evening, Tuesday, I noticed my contractions were getting on a regular pattern and were starting to get painful. I got a little nervous because I was only 28 weeks into my pregnancy (roughly 6.5 to 7 months). I tried to relax my body and remain calm. But they really bothered me because my contractions were different. And painful.

I prayed. I specifically prayed for my contractions to stop, for the pain to go away, for my cervix to not dilate, and for my pregnancy to complete and reach its full term. I prayed really, really hard.

12 MN

I got in touch with my doctor (obstetrician/OB). She prescribed me to take Adalat to control my contractions as she said I might be developing resistance to the one I was already taking (Isoxilan) kaya hindi mawala-wala contractions ko.

I initially didn’t want to take the drug for two reasons. One, I was trying to avoid any movement (walking down and out of the hospital to buy the medicine. There was nobody to ask to do it for me). Two, the drug is for treating heart conditions and hypertension and I was afraid it might have side effects on my baby. But my OB said that with the way I described my condition, I could go on preterm labor/birth and I needed the drug to control my contractions ASAP. Also, because the drug takes some time to take effect. Hmm… the benefit seems to outweighs the risk so I took it. I didn’t time my contractions then but I estimate they came every 15 minutes and lasted for about one full minute.

With my condition, I know my OB, Dr. Catherine Howard, would advise for admission again. But before she could tell me that, I told her that I didn’t want to because we couldn’t afford to and my husband is already admitted in a hospital himself. She understood my situation but she was very concerned that I might need injections so she still advised that I go to the hospital (in Cardinal Santos Medical Center/CSMC which was where I planned to give birth) or, at least, get myself checked in The Medical City (TMC) since we were already there (for Eugene’s surgery).

August 29, 4.30 AM

I wasn’t able to sleep at all that night. At about 4.30 AM the following day, Wednesday, August 29, I updated Dr. Cathy and told her that my condition is not improving. My contractions were not slowing down but were actually getting stronger, closer, and more painful. She advised me to take another dose of Adalat. And to go to the hospital again. Or get myself myself checked in TMC.

5.30 AM

I took another tablet of Adalat but I hesitated going to CSMC because… just read why in my previous post.

I planned, instead, on going home. I texted Pastor Sam (Eugene’s co-pastor) and asked if he could fetch me from TMC and drive me home as I planned to just sleep and rest in bed hoping and praying it would make my contractions stop. Ptr. Sam texted back and said he would fetch me at 9 AM.

7.30 AM

Around 7.30 AM, my doctor called. Eugene took the call as I was in the bathroom. When they hung up, Eugene said that Dr. Cathy was upset because I didn’t want to go to the hospital and she told him daw to out-talk me into doing so. Well, I got convinced. (Buti na lang). So I texted Ptr. Sam and asked if he could drive me to CSMC instead.

8 AM

Eugene started to text friends and asked for prayers for my condition. And because I was getting impatient for Ptr. Sam to arrive, he also asked if there’s anybody available around who could bring me to CSMC sooner than Ptr. Sam could. Actually, Eugene suggested I just book a Grab. But I didn’t want to go alone.

Dra. Bebet, a friend from Church who is like a second parent to us, volunteered to fetch me from TMC and drive me to CSMC. I was so relieved when Eugene said Tita Bebet said she was going to get dressed na because Tita Bebet lived very near so I anticipated she’d be arriving very shortly after and I’d be getting help earlier than expected. I waited, getting more impatient with each contraction that came. Still, Ptr. Sam managed to arrive first so off I went with Ptr. Sam and Ate Betty, his wife.

9 AM

We left TMC a little past 9 AM. Surprisingly, traffic along Ortigas Avenue going to CSMC that Wednesday rush hour morning was moderately light. Thank God. If it was not so, I might have… have not made it to the hospital on time :).

10 AM

We arrived at CSMC a little before 10 AM. I went straight to the Delivery Room (DR) Complex and upon entering, I cried. Madaming dahilan. I cried because I was in pain. Also because I was overwhelmed with the situation I was in. And I was alone. Eugene was left in TMC still confined. Though Ptr. Sam and Ate Betty brought me to the hospital and were waiting for me, I still felt alone without my husband. And I cried because I would need again to undergo all the medical procedures I have endlessly been through in the past which have actually left me still in trauma.

I was given a shot of Terbutaline, an asthma drug which is also used as a tocolytic (contraction suppresant). Dr. Cathy wasn’t in yet but was already on her way. I told her earlier that I am still in trauma with the pelvic (speculum) and cervical exams done to me in the past so I was very glad when the resident doctor told me that we would need to wait for Dr. Cathy because she has given instructions that she will be the one to check me.

She arrived a few minutes after. Though she tried to speak calmly and nicely, she was really upset that I didn’t go to the hospital sooner. She was concerned it might be too late to control my contractions.

I was really in pain and was lying in bed (which made the contractions more painful). I would hug the resident attending me whenever I’d feel one coming and I would groan and say, “Ang sakit, ang sakit!” Dr. Cathy, on the other hand, would say, “Don’t push, don’t push. Relax lang.” I was not pushing.

Dr. Cathy’s face got really worried when she checked my cervix and said I was 5 cm dilated and that my water bag was bulging. She was pretty upset with me. Hehe. Well, actually she was very concerned with me and she said that she would’ve really wanted to avoid the situation I was in (preterm labor). She knew I was very concerned with the expense that we would be needing to incur (again) so we had a small, serious talk about it.

She decided to sedate me. I was also given another shot of Terbutaline and I also took another tablet of Adalat (3rd dose). With all the drugs I had in my system, I was getting upset why my contractions wouldn’t stop.

Dr. Cathy told me to call my husband. I dialled and gave my phone to her. She explained my condition to Eugene and said that she will sedate me to control my contractions and relieve me from pain. She also gave her number so they could communicate since she said I would fall asleep for about a couple of hours once sedated.

I would have wanted an unmedicated birth again, but I was in pain so I welcomed the procedure of being sedated. It was a lot more painful than when I labored with my daughter. Dr. Cathy later on said that preterm labor is really more painful than ‘regular’ labor.

Anyway, when Dr. Cathy said I was already 5 cm dilated and that my water bag was already bulging, I honestly doubted if it was still possible to stop my contractions and prolong my pregnancy. Though I didn’t want to give birth yet and I didn’t want to give birth to a preemie, I was, on the other hand, afraid that if indeed my contractions could (still) be stopped, I would be spending the rest of my pregnancy in bed, either in the hospital or at home. I know my doctor will never allow me to get out of bed until my 37th week.

There was pressure in my pelvis with the next couple of contractions that came. I said, “May pressure, may pressure,” while holding on to the resident beside me. Dr. Cathy said, “Don’t push, don’t push. Relax lang.” I wasn’t pushing. Pero sa totoo lang, when I felt the pressure, I knew I was going to give birth soon. I know wala ng magagawa at hindi na kayang pigilan pa ang contractions ko. It was just a matter of time. But I didn’t say that.

With the next contraction my water bag broke. Like when my water bag broke when I first gave birth, it literally popped and splashed. “Nabasag,” I uttered. Dr. Cathy checked and said my fluid was not clear. I asked if it was meconium but she said, “No, no. It’s (old) blood,” her voice more worried than ever.

Dr. Cathy called Eugene again. She updated him of my condition and said that with my water bag ruptured, I have no other option but to deliver.

Prepared for delivery

I can’t remember the chronology of the events that happened next. Basta I was prepped for delivery. I was inserted with an IV line. Then I was given a sedative and I instantly felt calm and relaxed. Ahhhhh!!! Ang sarap pala ng feeling ng sedated. Haha. Napaka-kalmado. May sedative ba na OTC? Haha.

I did not fall asleep (which I thought I would; half dose lang yata kasi binigay sa ‘kin). Though sedated, I was fully awake and was fully aware of everything that was happening around me.

A resident checked my cervix again. Addressing a nurse, she said, “10 cm, Station +2.” I was really surprised I dilated to 10 in just a matter of minutes. I know I would be crowning by the next station (Station +3) so I know I would be delivering very, very soon and my earlier hunch was true.

Dr. Cathy ordered steroid and magnesium sulfate shots since it will be a preterm birth. (The steroid helps to mature the baby’s lungs and the magnesium sulfate is for the baby’s brain). I then heard her asking who was the neonatologist and anesthesiologist (and if I’m not mistaken, a perinatologist) available around. A nurse was asking me questions like my current weight (for the dose of anesthesia, I suppose). Though everyone in the room was calm, the atmosphere was rushed. There were several times I heard Dr. Cathy say bilisan na to the nurses and residents around.

My doctor talked with my companions, Ptr. Sam, Ate Betty, and Tita Bebet who followed in CSMC. She updated them of my situation and told them I’m up for delivery.

I saw them in the entrance of the DR Complex peeking when I was wheeled into the actual DR. Tita Bebet must’ve introduced herself because as Dr. Cathy came back, she told me, “Nephro pala yung isa mong kasama.” With that, I asked if Tita Bebet could be allowed inside the DR as my companion but Dr. Cathy said she could not because she was not a family member. I pleaded. I told her, “Doc, I don’t have family with me right now.” Dr. Cathy held my hand and said, “I will be your family.” And she held my hand until it was time to push.

There were further preparations when I was brought to the actual DR. I was hooked to several monitors, i.e., blood pressure, oxygen, fetal heart rate. Nakakaloka ang dami. Hehe. (It’s my first time inside a DR and I’ve never undergone any surgery or major medical procedure before kaya it came as a shock to me). I was also given a skin test for an antibiotic.

I heard my doctor ordering the anesthesia. I asked if I could forego it but I was still given a shot. I think she decided that I needed it because I was hysterically in pain earlier. Or maybe because it was an emergency and there would be no time to administer it if I would decide I want it later on (or if I would be needing a C-section). By the time I was brought to the DR, I was, however, not in pain anymore so I wanted to try to deliver without one (or maybe it was also because of the sedative). Also, because when I first gave birth (unmedicated), once I finished transition, was fully dilated, and was in the pushing stage it was no longer painful. It was only painful during the dilation stage (and it was so much bearable). So I was pretty confident I could do it again and I would’ve wanted to avoid the side effects it could have on my baby. Still, I was given a spinal block. And I instantly felt numb from my waist down.

May isa pa akong hirit sa doktor ko. I told her I didn’t want an episiotomy. Hehe. (Makulit at maarte akong pasyente eh).

Delivery

I think there were more than 10 people in the DR. (Which again came as a shock because when I gave birth with my daughter there were only 5 persons in the room: me, my husband, two midwives, and my doula). A nurse was whispering to my ear each procedure being done to me.

Because I was numb, I couldn’t feel the pressure or the urge to push so I had to rely on the people surrounding me to tell me when to push. I’m sorry I can’t help but compare my son’s birth with my daughter’s birth. With my daughter’s birth, I led and directed (myself) when I needed to push. My midwives simply watched and waited on me. I was not coached when to push and nobody counted from 1 to 10. With my son’s birth, everyone surrounding me coached me to push. They were literally a cheering squad. They shouted, “Mommy… Inhale… Exhale… Inhale… Push! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!!! Good job, Mommy!” Pause. Until the next contraction.

I actually didn’t push the first time I was told to push. Two reasons. One, I was numb so I “didn’t know” how to push. It was so wierd to not feel anything at all and not to be in tune with your body considering my previous experience. And two, because I was afraid to strain my pelvic muscles and be sore and in pain days after giving birth, which was also my previous experience.

I asked, “And’yan na ba?” meaning if the baby was already crowning. And they said, “Yes, ma’am, andito na po. Malapit na, ma’am.”

That gave me the will. So the next couple of times my cheering squad cheered me on, I pushed. Pero konting effort lang. Hahaha. (In fairness, I had a smooth post partum recovery and didn’t have any pelvic pain after giving birth). 🙂

Baby was out at the 3rd or 4th (or 5th) push. Basta konti lang at mabilis. I gave birth on August 29, 2018 at 11.24 AM. (I was not due until November 18). I asked if they could delay cutting the cord and if I could hold my baby (skin-to-skin) but my doctor said he needed to be handed over to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) doctors and nurses to check if he could breathe on his own or would be needing help. They did allow me to touch his legs (or feet) for (just) a second, though. I also didn’t even get a glimpse of who he looked like. I heard him faintly cry, though, which was a good sign.

I asked, “Anong gender, anong gender?” In a rush Dr. Cathy checked, turned to me, and said, “Boy, boy, boy!” while handing my baby over to the NICU team. (When we talked about it afterwards, Dr. Cathy said she was surprised and a little bit annoyed that I still managed to ask what my baby’s gender was when my birth and everything about it was an emergency. She said she only realized that Eugene and I didn’t know the gender of our baby prior to giving birth some time after… after everything was done na).

When Dr. Cathy said my baby was a boy, I instantly felt at peace and a sense of completeness. I was so grateful. And happy. I silently prayed, “Thank You, Lord.” For a moment, as if time stood still, I was in a bubble not absorbing the reality that he was a preemie. I was at peace that everything was and will turn out fine. And I felt that we were finally “complete” as a family. I felt so serene…

Until my bubble burst-ed and I realized I was not done yet (and I was alone in my moment of bliss. I meant Eugene my husband was not with me). I asked Dr. Cathy if she would be giving me a shot of pitocin to deliver my placenta and she said she was. It took some time (30 minutes or more) before I completed the 3rd and final stage of my labor.

My doctor checked my placenta afterwards and from there she said that I had what was called a placental abruption (which was responsible for my preterm birth). Hmm… I’m tamad to explain what it is so hit your BFF Google na lang if you’re curious to know what it is. Haha. But let me just say that it is a major medical emergency and there is no treatment for it but to deliver ASAP.

Recovery

I was wheeled to the recovery room after being cleaned up and stayed there for almost 7 hours because it took that long for my anesthesia to completely wear off. Staying in the recovery room was so b.o.r.i.n.g. I was all alone in a corner. I wanted and tried to sleep but I was so alive and awake, blame the after-birth hormones.

Buti na lang I was able to sneak my phone so I was able to message and update my family and friends of the drama that I’ve just been through. Haha. There were messages congratulating me for my new baby boy and asking me how I was. I was thankful for the messages but I somehow felt a little sad kasi the birth and the gender has already been announced. I would’ve wanted to be the one to do it but… Oh well, it’s done na. I’m over it.

Meanwhile, while all these drama was unfolding, Eugene has been cleared for discharge in TMC. I think there has been a few negotiations pa with his doctors to discharge him kasi medyo nagka-complications pa s’ya with his surgery but he was cleared na naman from it. After being discharged, he rushed from TMC to CSMC.

It was almost 8 PM when Eugene and I saw each other when I was wheeled to my room. I was so relieved and so happy when I saw him. Fresh from surgery, he went to me. I am so thankful. I broke down soon after. I haven’t seen my baby yet and the reality of the situation we were in were just starting to sink in. (The neonatologist has talked with me earlier while I was in the recovery room and discussed my baby’s diagnosis). I was so unprepared for it, for everything, physically, emotionally, mentally, financially.

(Trivia: I was so unprepared for the birth itself that I only have my wallet, mobile phone, and medications with me when I went to the hospital).

I was discharged two days after. Our baby was discharged after 44 days in the NICU and a total stay of 48 days in the hospital.

He weighed only a kilo and measured 35 cm long. He was so tiny and dark and, when I saw him, he was hooked to so many devices and his face and head was bruised and swollen that he looked so kawawa that I didn’t take a picture for the first 3 days of his life (regretted it).

We named our rainbow baby Nathaniel Dave. Nathaniel means “gift of God.” Dave is after his Tatay‘s second name. It was the name we prepared during my first pregnancy if our firstborn turned out to be a boy (because we neither know our firstborn’s gender before birth).

I did not get the birth I wanted for my son, but I am still thankful that everything turned out fine. Preemie as our little Nathan is, 11.24 AM of August 29, 2018 was God’s perfect time for him to be born. Later still and he could not have gotten out of my tummy alive. All was in God’s hand. He was in control.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

It was his 4th day when I was finally allowed to hold this very tiny and fragile baby for the first time. This is also our first picture together.

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