I, like most Singaporeans, chose the best obstetrician on the street the moment I got pregnant. I was very excited about having the child! Looking back, I was foolishly more concerned about the hospital room than the birth. Birth was an inconvenience. Hours or maybe days of pain to be numbed by the so called Happy-dural. I was in the time of glamourised c-sections. Too posh to push they said. Choose your date and go back to work. Choose an auspicious date! It made total sense. After all, the babies were safe and the process controlled.
I gave my obstetrician the go ahead to do anything he thought was necessary. After all, my concern was the child and not the birthing.
The day came, and I fought contractions in self pity under bright lights while my husband sat in a comfortable arm chair 2 meters away constantly on the phone to the family. I thought that was his role. What I needed though was to be comforted and loved. I felt like I was alone. The nurse walked by, saw me pressing my head into the bed rail and briskly informed me that the anesthetist would be coming. The epidural was applied. I lay there on crinkly pillows and laboured passively until it was time.
I was told to push. I pushed despite the lack of sensation. A medical student was shown how an episiotomy was performed. I was cut and my baby was pulled out by vacuum. (After which, my OB told me I could have pushed on my own.) I was so excited to see my baby up in the air like Simba from The Lion King. However, Baby E looked angry. He then finally cried in outrage. (To this day, I believe this vacuum procedure produced his sensitive temperament.) Baby E was taken from me to be changed soon after by dad under warming lights and he went wild in anger.
While nothing too bad happened the first time around, I decided to do things differently the second time. This time I was determined to have a natural birth. Wrong place, wrong time. Giving birth in Singapore usually means a high intervention route if you do not seek out the birth you want and instead go with the flow. That is, what everyone does. This is especially so if you used the same factors I did the first time around. (Nice hospital. Best obstetrician.) Obstetricians are trained for surgery. Who does not like a planned schedule? Births are anything but scheduled! I do sympathise.
Natural birth I learned was healthy for my child. I wanted the best. It seemed like I wanted the impossible. I started thinking about having a doula. Everyone around me thought I was mad including my husband. No one in my family had done it except my grandmothers. No one was giving out trophies for enduring pain, so why? (Turns out there are many good reasons why.) Attending HypnoBirthing classes was a god-send. We learned so much and more importantly, changed our beliefs about birth. We had attended hospital antenatal classes before and we had left none the wiser, probably more worried!
Indeed, birth with Amari was beautiful. I labored with sing song moans and labour was shorter because I was relaxed. I used amazing oils and was surrounded by calm music. My husband was a participant in the birth and enjoyed the experience. I really enjoyed him being part of it and staying close and holding me. After 20 minutes (too short! ) floating in a god sent (not really) warm bath, Amari was born on land alert and calm. So different to the first experience. This time, I felt the transition to becoming a mother...and the experience was spiritually and emotionally enriching. I think that was the closest to God I had ever been.
About the doula, I would definitely have a doula if I were to give birth again. My husband is great but he's not a woman who knows how it feels and what to do!
Birth has a life lasting impact. Parents and kids are missing out not placing more importance on the process that could change important factors about their babies like immunity, disposition and even intelligence. (Allergies and asthma are becoming too common as well.) The birth process can also determine a mother's smooth transitions into motherhood. (post partum depression is becoming too common.)
Perhaps this is my little bit of contribution to the world. If there is a way to change the world, shouldn't we start at the beginning?
So this is how my passion began.