Some people go out to dinner on their birthdays, go on trips maybe? Definitely celebrate with presents and cake at least.
I go into labor. It was the most intense, the most special, and by far, the most memorable birthday of my 31 years.
On the morning of July 8, C and I went to visit our OB, Dr. Kamaljit Kaur Manocha for what we knew would be our last doctor appointment before our little one’s arrival. That morning, Dr. Kamaljit gave us an ultimatum: either baby comes on her own by tomorrow afternoon at 3, else it’ll be time for a cesarean section. The reason for the rush, as I was only 39 weeks + 4 days at that point, not even the full 40 weeks, was our baby had decided she was done growing inside, and worse, the amniotic fluid levels had consistently been decreasing week over week. Conditions were not yet unsafe, but why wait and let them reach dangerous levels, our doctor reasoned. Of course, I was a bit unsettled, as all along, I had wanted a natural delivery! However, I was not about to compromise the health of my baby, so if a caesarean was necessary, than I was all for it.
Taking a step back from the chain of events that day, I’d like to say what an amazing doctor we had. We found her quite by chance, as our primary doctor gave us the name of a few OBs in the area, and after a bit of Google research we decided on Dr. Kamaljit. It was so refreshing to call her office at 5 weeks pregnant, explain my situation, and amazingly get an appointment to see the doctor that WEEK! *gasp* Totally unheard of in the US, right? I mean, unless there is a life-threatening situation, try calling up your doctor and getting an appointment for the same week. Most are booked weeks, some even months out.
Anyway, by now, if you have been following C and my journey, you’d know that things are never simple, or easy, for us. Undoubtedly, there are always complications, and issues that make even routine tasks infinitely more difficult. Well, surprise surprise, this pregnancy, was no different. It took a total of 20+ doctor appointments to successfully deliver our little girl, but we did it! Early pregnancy was scary, painful and downright stressful, but Dr. Kamaljit was there with us every step of the way. She was kind, patient, knowledgeable, experienced and, to be quite honest, we just felt very comfortable in her care. She was tough when she needed to be, and empathetic and supportive all along. She has a private practice near the Bangsar-area, but is affiliated with Pantai Hospital KL. So, for mums-to-be in Kuala Lumpur, I can’t recommend her enough – she is quite simply, the best.
In addition to Dr. Kamaljit, C and I had also been seeing a different doctor at UMSC hospital (I won’t divulge her name because we did NOT feel comfortable either with her or the hospital, however, if you’re a mum-to-be in KL and want more information, please feel free to ask). We were encouraged to see this UMSC doctor and consider delivering at that hospital only because our baby was “high-risk” and supposedly the facilities there were better equipped to deal with emergency cases. However, despite many scans, checks and heart-to-heart discussions with Dr. Kamaljit, we all agreed that no one was happy at UMSC, and that baby girl was strong and healthy; therefore everyone would be better served at Pantai Hospital. Phew! Nothing worse than delivering a baby at a hospital you don’t like… with a doctor you don’t like!
Now, back to the story. So, after visiting our doctor on the morning of July 8, C and I went to the patisserie nearby to discuss our options over coffee and a chocolate croissant. We then went to Pantai Hospital for a routine CTG scan to ensure everything was fine with our baby, complete admission papers for the next day and then went shopping to finish up some last minute baby items, since our little girl was, one way or another coming soon! Upon finishing walking around the mall, I came home and power-walked a 10K at a 10% incline… anything to help get this baby girl moving on her own. Problem is, since the second trimester, I had been quite active, working out daily, so a little exercise was not about to get my little one moving!
So, after being on my feet all day, shopping, walking, cleaning, etc, that night settled in for dinner with the family (C’s parents were in town for the delivery). And then… it started. LABOR!
Around 10pm I felt my first contraction. Not too bad, with a little focus and breathing, the contractions were quite manageable. First few started around 15 minutes apart…. Then a few more around 10 minutes…. Then a couple about 8 minutes apart… then 2 hours later, they were 4 minutes apart, and C and I were off to the hospital! Baby girl was coming, and she was coming FAST! Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long for a cab, as C had pre-ordered a taxi and being the middle of the night, there was no traffic (a constant problem here in KL).
By the time we reached the hospital my contractions were every 2-3 minutes. And after a quick check, I was informed that I was 4cm dilated, only 6 to go until baby time! Two hours of labor later, the pain level was pretty intense at that point, and with the contractions coming every 1-2 minutes now, I was definitely reaching the limit of pain management. The nurses came to check me again, and informed me that even after 2hours and the intense and short-interval contractions, I was STILL only 4cm dilated. SAY WHAT?! No progress???
At this point I am embarrassed to admit, that all my concentration, all my composure and strong mindset immediately went out the window, and I completely lost my cool. The nurses were shocked at my sudden change of attitude, and suggested I consider taking “measures” for pain management. Begging, well, more like screaming, crying for an epidural at 4am, the nurses called the anesthesiologist at home to come in an administer the drug. By the time she got there, prepped and got the epidural in, I could STILL feel everything. I was screaming in pain, and everyone kept saying that by now, I should be feeling the effects of the epidural, not the contractions. YEAH RIGHT!
Well, as it turns out, after watching me writhe in pain “waiting” for the epidural effect, the nurses did a cursory check on my progress and discovered, “oh, no wonder the epidural isn’t working, she’s too far along, at a 10, and ready to push.” The nurses paged Dr. Kamaljit, and she was there in an instant. At this point I was crying, not just because of the pain, but because of the emotional overload that in just a short amount of time, we were FINALLY going to be able to meet this miracle baby! After 9 months of waiting, she was almost here. I was feeling an overwhelming array of emotions, mixed with pain and exhaustion, the tears were flowing.
Dr. Kamaljit looked at me, and in a stern, yet encouraging way, said, “now Lauren, this is it, it’s TIME. The next contraction you are not going to cry. You are going to FOCUS and give me everything you got and push this baby out. Let’s meet this little girl.” I don’t remember much of the specifics of labor, but I do remember that. And, 20 minutes later, she was here.
When Dr. Kamaljit put my little girl on my chest, it was an indescribable feeling. Words fail me. That little person, that miracle, was now here, and looking up at me with the most innocent, beautiful eyes. It was surreal. It really was. I was in love.
C looked at me, looked at our precious baby, and said “thank you.” I’m actually not sure I would have been able to get through all of this, if it hadn’t been for C. Throughout everything, every step of the way, he had been relatively calm, and had faith that everything was going to be OK… and, it was. Even in the delivery room, as I was falling to pieces, he was there to pick me up, hold my hand, and reassure me that everything was going to be fine. He was right. He was/is my rock.
It was a quick and INTENSE labor. Even the nurses were surprised at how fast things progressed, especially being a first-time-mum! After all the post-delivery checks, they wheeled baby and I into the maternity ward, kept us both overnight, and the next day, we were ready to go home! Bringing home my baby girl was a myriad of emotions. Everything from extreme happiness and thanks, to apprehension and fear on whether we would be good enough parents to this beautiful baby girl who deserves nothing but the best in the world, to just plain relief to be out of the hospital and ready to take on this new job called parenthood!
The last 6 weeks since we brought our baby girl home have been a whirlwind. A dizzying schedule of feedings, diaper changes, laundry, baths and play dates all on no more than 2-3 hours of sleep in a stretch. It’s an exhausting job, but when my little girl looks up at me and smiles, my heart melts. The 9+ months of pregnancy, the intense labor, and the sleepless nights can’t even compete with a smile and coo from our girl. She is my world, my miracle and a gift from God.
C and I are now a family of three, and despite all the trials and difficulties that lay ahead on the path to immigration stability, we look at our little girl and are reminded that everything we could have ever dreamed is inside her. She is the love of our lives. Priorities have changed, schedules will never be the same, our days are shorter, nights longer, house is messier… but our lives are RICHER. We are complete. With little A, our baby girl, we now have everything. Who are we so fortunate to have deserved such a gift?!