Thoughts on the labour process
1. Be prepared. I nicked some disposable incontinence pads from the ward and put them on my mattress along with an old towel. Really glad I did this because when my waters broke in the middle of the night, I did not have any control over it and would have otherwise soaked the bed with liquor! I also packed my hospital bag about a month in advance and prepared a birth plan so that I would not have to answer stupid questions during labour.2. Don't Panic! After my waters broke, it took a while for the contractions to kick in, and even then I was not really sure if I was getting contractions or not. I freaked out for about an hour, ran around waking up the entire household (and possibly the whole neighbourhood), and then frantically rummaged through my cupboards looking for advice from Impey. After MDH calmed me down, we decided to wait until the contractions were roughly 5 minutes apart before heading for the hospital, so it meant I got an extra 3 hours of sleep in before we had to leave for the hospital. In retrospect, I could have waited until the contractions were stronger or more uncomfortable, because upon arrival in the delivery suite, the midwives sent me away to sleep for another 5 hours!3. Epidurals are great and everyone should have them!!! The labour process for me was actually quite peaceful. I had my epidural early - basically I waited until I was contracting at a pain score of 7-8 out of 10 (10 being the worst pain imaginable) for about an hour just to see how much I could tolerate without any pain relief. I had been in labour for 12 hours by then and had only made very minor progress. Most women during the first pregnancy will progress by 1cm every hour, so I had a minimum of 7-8 hours left to go and realised that I would be totally exhausted from the pain by the time it came to the 2nd stage of labour (i.e. pushing time). So, I decided to skip the entonox (laughing gas) and the pethidine injections and go straight for the epidural. It was the best decision ever - because after the anaesthetist administered the epidural, I went to sleep for 6 hours, during which the midwives augmented my contractions using a syntocin (oxytocin) drip. I woke up refreshed and ready to push! I don't know how I would have had the energy otherwise because I pushed for 90 minutes and was totally exhausted by the end of it, even though I was pretty much pain-free the whole time. Additionally, I was very relaxed after the epidural, which also meant that the baby was relaxed as well.
Culture Shock #3
I am shocked to realise that:Most Singaporeans are flexible when it comes to the usage of gender-specific terms in everyday language, that is, the use of the gender-specific terms such as 'he/she' or 'him/her' have become interchangeable. In fact, the speaker may even change the gender of the subject mid-sentence, completely unaware that an error has been made (eg. "I spoke to him and she told me to go ahead."). These errors are actually more common than one would suspect and do not appear to be related to race, age or educational level. I have grown used to hearing my fellow colleagues point to a man and say "I already asked about her pain levels". I have also grown used to patients gesturing towards their daughters and saying "Oh, this is my son."MDH was very confused by this to begin with and wondered if, perhaps, transgender operations were actually rather rampant in conservative Singapore!My theory is that this stems from the fact that culturally there are very few gender-specific words found in the asian languages used commonly in Singapore. In mandarin chinese for example, the words for 'he/her/him/he' (ta) although written differently on paper, sound exactly the same when spoken and thus are effectively gender-neutral. I asked around and it turns out that the bahasa melayu word for 'him/her' is also gender-neutral (dia). I haven't found out what the tamil words for 'him/her' are, but I wouldn't be surprised if they sounded similar as well.
Thoughts from the 16 week ultrasound scan
Oh my did the radiographer just say what I thought she said? She's going to check for the heartbeat first before turning on the scan screen. Well, of course, there's going to be a heartbeat. Right? Right? What if there isn't? Oh, but there will be! But...what if there isn't? Why isn't she turning on the screen yet? Why is this taking so long? Turn on the screen, woman! Turn on the screen turn on the screen turn on the screen Oh my God if you don't turn on the screen right now I'm just going to die right here right now so turn on the screen turn on the...Oh!Okay, there is a heartbeat. This means it's alive! Oh my word, I hope there's nothing wrong with it, there could be just so many things that go wrong during the developmental stages and didn't I just go on holiday 8 weeks ago oh shoot oh shoot all the radiation from the flight and I ate multivitamins as well with vitamin A in it before that and I only just started taking folic acid. I don't drink enough milk, though. All those horrible pictures of malformed foetuses in jars in my embrology textbook why did I eat that pate on holiday and play with those stray kittens I'm such a bad bad bad person...Oh!The baby has a head and four limbs. And fingers. Five. Toes too. Two. I mean, five. The bones look all in the right place and so is the spine (bifida? bifida?) which is plumb normal thank God thank God for spinach. It's got skin and the skin goes...all around the whole body oh good the stomach and intestines are on the inside of the baby the heart has four chambers and it's beating and the blood is going the correct direction there's a brain on the inside of the skull and and oh the baby looks so perfect look it's waving at me and kicking and I can't believe how big it is at 16 weeks and and...I'm a mother.