What It Took Me to Be Called MOM: A Throwback of My First Pregnancy and Rafa's Birthday

September 11, 2015

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord.  The fruit of the womb is a reward."  -- Psalms 127:3

Time flies.  In November, my son will be turning two already, but I still haven't written anything about two of the most life-changing milestones in my (and every woman's) life -- getting pregnant and giving birth.  So even before Rafa turns another year older, allow me to share with you a blog post that would reminisce my journey to the challenging world of motherhood.

My First Pregnancy

"Lord, please..  Please give me two lines.."  Those were the exact words I silently uttered in prayer as I anxiously waited for the red lines to appear on my pregnancy test kit.  Ronnie and I prayed hard every night for it; that our marriage may be blessed with a baby.  So just imagine our overwhelming joy when we saw the positive result of my PT!  We were so overjoyed, we haven't even gotten the chance to think about how we would make a unique pregnancy announcement.  We just took a snap shot of the positive PT and uploaded it on Facebook -- which managed to yield hundreds of likes from families and friends.  (You see, Rafa, everyone liked you already even before you were born!)

My journey to motherhood had never been easy.  My first trimester was marked with great struggle against morning sickness (feeling of nausea and vomiting that lasted all day long) which caused me to lose weight, sensitivity to strong scents (particularly sautéed onion & garlic, perfumes, and Arabic incense) which made me feel like throwing up, and syncope (I tend to feel dizzy when standing for long periods and I literally passed out one time in the middle of a Eucharistic celebration which really scared the hell out of my husband).

I also had these rashes which suddenly appeared on my breast and tummy that would itch like crazy, to the point that I would hate getting dressed because any cloth that gets in contact with it would automatically trigger itching.  It was extremely uncomfortable, it interfered with my sleep!  I had to even put socks on my hands just so I wouldn't cause a break on my skin when I scratch them.  I thought I was already suffering from Atopic Eruption of Pregnancy but my dermatologist said it's just normal for women to have extra sensitive skin during pregnancy and prescribed me an emollient cream and a steroid ointment.  The emollient cream somehow helped manage the itching, but the rashes stayed (I didn't use the steroid ointment for fear that it might have a negative effect on my baby).  Eventually, all the rashes and the itching disappeared without treatment after I gave birth.

The second trimester made me feel a lot better as my senses slowly turned back to normal.  However, I eventually experienced several spotting episodes which required me to be put under medications (oral, suppository, and IM injections) and be stuck in bed for several weeks.  We were even advised by my OB to rush to Corniche Hospital (Abu Dhabi's maternity hospital that specializes in preterm deliveries) the next time I bleed.  It was really scary!!!  Good thing Rafa managed to make it 'til term and came out healthy -- all because of the power of prayers!  Indeed, God is good ALL THE TIME!

Rafa's Birthday

I was exactly on my 39th week of pregnancy when labor contractions came in the middle of the night and disrupted my peaceful sleep.  I tried to sleep through it at first (I mean, who wouldn't when it's just half past 12am?) but the feeling of discomfort became more frequent and intense which made getting back to sleep an impossible thing already.  So I grabbed my phone and timed the contractions -- it came every 15 minutes.  I decided to wake Ronnie up and said "manganganak na yata ako."  Then off we went to Al Noor Hospital, which is just about 15 minutes away from our place.

At the hospital (around 3am), I was immediately checked by the midwife-on-duty who confirmed that I was indeed in active labor and dilated 4-5cm.  During that time, the contractions had increased in intensity and were coming every 5 minutes already.  It was painful, but still tolerable.  The midwife who assisted me even gave a compliment how composed I was despite the pain.  I was actually pleased by her remark, but truthfully, I was scared for I didn't know how long I would still manage to be in control of my labor.

I was transferred to the delivery room, had my clothes changed into a hospital gown, had an IV line started, and hooked to a fetal monitor. 

I've already had a tough pregnancy with Rafa and I didn't want to have an even tougher birthing experience, that's why I've always asked him beforehand not to give me a hard time with labor and delivery.  Good thing Rafa is an obedient baby, so we had progressed through labor pretty quickly -- which meant longer and more painful contractions that came in shorter intervals.

Epidural anesthesia could have been very effective in managing my labor pains, but the 'kuripot' side of me decided not to get one because most, if not all, health insurance companies in Abu Dhabi don't provide coverage for such procedure.  (It's very expensive at a price of AED 2,500 or 680 USD -- just for the anesthesia alone!)  However, I had difficulty tolerating the pain when I was about 6-7cm already, so I asked for pain medication.  A few minutes later, a nurse came in and gave me Morphine via IV, which caused me to feel dizzy (like my environment literally looked like spinning) and vomit just a few seconds after its administration.

I can't actually say if the medication had any effect at all (aside from the adverse effects of course which obviously hit me) because I was still in great pain.  And just when I thought I was already having the worst contractions ever, I started to feel even worse after my OB performed amniotomy (artificial rupture of membranes) and Rafa's head began to descend.  At that moment, I was literally crying and shouting already because of too much pain.  Then I told myself, I would NEVER EVER do this again without epidural anesthesia!!!  (Ronnie, if you're reading this, DO take note of that ok?!?)

Then came the moment of truth -- the PUSHING stage, which felt like I've been constipated for a month and was trying to pass out a stool as huge as a watermelon.  It may sound a bit exaggerated, but that's the closest thing I can think of that would best describe the feeling of "giving birth."  It's crazy!  You wouldn't even care about anything else than to push the baby out just so you can finally put an end to the hardest and most painful experience you would EVER have in your entire lifetime (which ironically, would also be considered as one of the best days of your life).

I never believed in love at first sight... until I saw you for the very first time.

Oh, Rafa!  You must have scared your dad when he saw you for the very first time (all covered with blood and body fluids) because he told me you looked like a 'tiyanak'.. Lol!  Forgive him, anak.  Daddy's just not used to meeting someone who just came out from a birth canal, but I am pretty sure that he loves you just as much as I do.

OUR FIRST EVER FAMILY PHOTO.  Unlike in the Philippines, where newborns usually stay in the nursery for several hours, Rafa was immediately transferred to my room within an hour after my delivery to encourage immediate mother-baby bonding and establish breastfeeding. 

Rafa's first visitors (L-R):  Tita Ermyr and Ninang Mot

Rafa's first visitors (L-R):  Ninang Maricel and Tita Weng

Pretty in pink bouquet of roses for a new mom who just experienced how it felt like to be a superhuman -- for bearing the unbearable, overcoming the unthinkable, and for simply bringing a new life into this world.  Thank you for the flowers!

Traumatic as it may seem, I still considered my pregnancy and delivery to be the greatest blessing I've ever received because without it, we would not have Rafa today.  Thank you so much Heavenly Father for making all the pain, discomfort, and tears worth it.  Thank you for giving us Rafa!

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