Labour Day

The Kia Carnival Singaporean seller texted me on the evening of the first of November, "Hi, are you still interested in buying the car?" I hurriedly replied, "Not now bro, my wife is in labour."

I tried to be as calm as I could. Deep inside though, I was nervous, really nervous. I felt like a first-time dad. Technically, this was the first time we were going through a labour. It was an entirely different situation with Albany, who was overdue and we had to make an appointment to induce her birth. Back then, we walked into the hospital, hand in hand, without knowing what to expect. At least my wife could walk painlessly then. We could even make lame jokes to entertain ourselves.

This one was from far from the case. I noticed something not quite right during my dinner. After dinner, there were times she looked paralysed in her spot, oblivious to anything around her. "Is that it?" I asked her. "I think so," she replied.

I dashed out of house and drove straight to my colleague's place to pass him the keys to the factory. "I'm not going to work tomorrow. Be good," I told him and drove off. I informed the Grand Council about it, to get any advice that might come my way when I had the time to read it. By the time I reached home, Jen couldn't even stand straight. She usually had a good threshold for pain. It was the first time I saw her like that. There was times when she looked like she had fallen into coma in the car. I held her hand as I drove along my trusted ROE highway. It was a Sunday night, so I was mercifully given a clear traffic along Kwinana freeway all the way to the city. Before long, my twist and turns took us through Subiaco to King Edward Hospital.

Jen asked me to park the car nearby instead of dropping her at the entrance. "Can you walk?" She said she could but she might have to stop along the way. That happened exactly. We stopped about 3 times before making into the hospital. It was then I understood how the cycles of labour pains. We checked into the ward and was told that she could opt for an epidural when her cervical dilatation reaches 4 cm. It wasn't too long before the pains caused Jen to get into a state I couldn't recognise. As time went by, she did not want to talk anymore. As advised, we took a walk around the area in hope to quicken her dilatation. Each time the intense pain arrived she would lean onto me. Eventually, we returned to her bed because the pain was getting unbearable and started screaming for help. 

"I didn't remember going through that much pain for Albany?" Jen wailed.

She was right. Jen had an epidural before they burst her water bag to induce labour back then. That didn't work out, put Albany into distress and had to be delivered through a Cesarean-section procedure. I didn't know why there was a need for a 4cm dilatation this time round before epidural could be applied. Was that the normal procedure when the mother opted for a natural birth? Too late to figure out such things. Jen was eventually given the epidural but only after some drama and an hour later. It made a world of difference and settled her down. I too, felt a weight off the shoulders temporarily.

I was given a mattress and was advised to get some sleep. "You will need it," said the midwife. So I did. 8 hours had already passed since Jen felt her first pains at home. 

I woke up every hour or so when medical staff came into the room to check Jen's progress. It wasn't going well at all. She was stuck at a 6cm dilatation for many hours. The doctor commented that a C-sect was very much in their plans if that trend carried on for another hour. Then there was progress, slow but gradual. By 7am, Jen was congratulated by chirpy staff that she had achieved 10cm and could go through a natural birth. "Well done!" they chorused.

The baby was starting to show abnormalities. I hated that situation. Tried as I could but I couldn't help but worry excessively. They had to start the delivery about 30 minutes early to reduce the risk of distress. The delivery did not go well at all. Jen squeezed every ounce of strength in her but progress was very discouraging. Of course, I had to keep telling her every push was progressive to keep her going but in fact, she was going two steps forward and two steps back. It was inevitable she could run out of steam before long and the baby was moving towards the distress danger zone. It was one of those situation where I felt useless. I wanted to help but I couldn't do much to improve the situation. All I could do was to hold her legs to alleviate sores, soothe her and even use my hands to spread the exit. By then, Jen had already pushed for 1.5 hours and was clearly exhausted.

A doctor was called it to review the situation and make the best decision for us. It was 8.30 am, 15.5 hours had passed. I didn't know it was that hard. The doctor advised an assisted delivery by snipping open part of it and help Jen pull the baby by fixing a vacuum on baby's head. Before long, Jen was bleeding like a waterfall and was advised to give the best push she could because the vacuum could not even be applied without a minimum amount of surface area. The readings were not going well at all for baby. It did look very uncomfortable to have your head stuck like that. The vacuum was finally fixed and she started pulling at the same time Jen was pushing for her life. Baby's head finally cleared the passage. His head looked elongated by the pull but I was told his skull would get back to shape within 1-2 days. I gasped in relief but it wasn't over. The midwife pulled his head but didn't seem to be able to get him out. For a moment I was worried she would detach the baby's head from his body and urged Jen to expend whatever left in her in a final push. 

Then baby was finally out. 

I felt a sore nose and tears welled up my eyes. It was 9.05am in the morning. Jen closed her eyes and fell into a brief slumber while the doctor started stitching her wounds, which had created a small blood pool by then. Baby boy began to wail while being cleaned and checked. 16 hours. It wasn't easy at all. He weighed 3.56 kg, only 300 grams lighter than his sister at birth at 3.84kg but I thought he looked much thinner than Albany was. Later, I was told that he was quite "long" for a baby.

I was given the honour to cut his cord. By then Jen had recovered slightly to be able to open her eyes and embrace baby in her arms.


  1. Congratulations. Both my sons were born in the 70s in Singapore and I wanted to witness the births, but was not allowed in those days.