These posts will try to outline the differences and similarities of my experiences giving birth – as well as what to prepare and expect. Hopefully, by documenting whatever I remember – I can be better prepared for number 3 (hah!) or help someone else with their birthing experience and the choices they can make (or should be able to make).
Part 1 will share my birth story with J – our attempt at having a natural birth and our experience at Cardinal Santos (August 2012 – San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines). Part 2 will share our birth story with I – our scheduled cesarian section and our experience at Mother Seton (October 2014 – Naga City, Camarines Sur, Philippines).
To be totally honest, I was not looking forward to giving birth in Mother Seton. There were too many stories of inconsistencies with staff, old rooms and restless spirits. When it was confirmed that I could not go home to Manila to give birth – we were pretty much set on trying NICC Doctor’s Hospital (Naga Imaging Center Cooperative). Majority of those we talked to claimed it was cleaner, newer and better. Eventually though, when it came to our doctors, it became clear that I was to give birth in Mother Seton. After months of bed rest, we would do whatever is best for baby – and we figured, that included choosing Mother Seton.
The whole experience was actually better than I expected. It was very different from Cardinal Santos (not necessarily worse or better – but there were clear differences). Of course different doctors would also have different styles (again, not necessarily better or worse – but really different). I guess it is a matter of coming prepared and knowing what you’re getting yourself into for both cases.
Scheduled Cesarian Section + Mother Seton
This time around, I had a scheduled cesarian section. Because of my placenta previa (and probably because I had a c.s. for my first) I was told by my OB-GYNE that having a c.s. again would be our best bet for a safe delivery. In Naga, our doctor is Dra. Ana Young Garcia-Sy. She was referred by my sister-in-law and we’ve been going to her since our first pregnancy (for our monthly check-ups). She scheduled Iggy to come out on our 38th week, first thing in the morning. On our last visit before giving birth, she gave us our admittance slip and said to go to the hospital the afternoon before our operation. Everything else will follow.
Getting Admitted (and Getting a Room)
Because it was a scheduled procedure, we thought we would be able to reserve a room already. Apparently, you cannot make a reservation for a hospital room (which makes sense – it isn’t a hotel) even if you have a procedure set to be done on a specific date. That was fine. We figured we would wait until the day that were to admit ourselves. And when that day came, there were no rooms available. Renovations were being done, so a good number of rooms were not free for use. Anxiety started to build up and I wondered if I was still going to give birth the next day.
With patience and prayers, we were finally offered a room with an electric fan. We’d take it!
After a couple of hours – a small room with air-conditioning and a bench for a companion (my Mommy) opened up. Even better! We’d take it!
At around 5PM, I was laying in the emergency room of Mother Seton (where you wait to get admitted) and another room opened up – a larger room with air-conditioning, a refrigerator, a bed (and a bench) for my companions and a sala! Wow! I think it is their maternity suite – and it was just perfect. I was truly expecting the worst (and very happy that my Mom was in good spirits, knowing how uncomfortable she might be had we been in another room) – and we were given so much more than we had hoped for.
The doctor in charge asked me a few questions, a few nurses popped in and out of my little corner in the ER, and we waited. I’d like to make a shout-out to the nurse who got my blood. It was the most painless blood extraction ever. And two seconds after she pulls the needle out of my arm, the power goes out. We were in the dark for about a minute, and the whole time I was whispering a million thank yous – that the lights went out AFTER she was done getting blood. When the lights came back on, our nurse assured my mom that she won’t mix my blood up with anyone else. Hahaha!
Finally, we were allowed to go up to the room. We had to wait a bit because they had cleaned and we were waiting for it to dry (the floor perhaps? Whatever the case, I appreciate that we get a clean, disinfected room).
I regret not taking a video of how I was brought up to the second floor. It was the most fun trip ever (maybe not if you’re in a lot of pain though). From the ER, two staff pushed me towards the ramp, and up we went. They probably did not mean to go very fast, but because of my weight, the effort they exerted did make the ride quicker (and quite fun).
Because we had gotten our room that evening, we did not make it to the cut-off for dinner at the hospital. That was perfectly fine because I was ready to eat a Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonalds anyway. I was still allowed to eat and drink, but by midnight, I had to stop.
A bit after twelve, two bubbly nurses came in to put the IV into my left hand. No more eating or drinking for me.
At around 7:30 the next morning, nurses from the operating room came to pick me up. I transferred beds and was rolled to the operating room. This time, Tom had to wait outside.
While waiting for the doctors, the nurses in the OR chatted with me – small talk to keep me calm maybe.
I was told to expect an old operating room. White bathroom-like tiled walls similar to what one would see in scary movies. I did see that room (it’s the first OR where we waited) – and since I had so many people preparing me for how “old” everything is, I was not surprised, scared or shocked. It did look like it had been well-used and had seen many an operation, but it looked clean and functional – and that’s what is important, right?
After a few minutes, the doctors seemed to have arrived. I was told we were moving to OR 5. Oh! There is another operating room? I said a silent goodbye to the white tiles and was brought to the end of the hall.
The OR we were to use looked very different. Beige marble-like tiles and fancy lights welcomed me and the team that was to bring I into the world.
Dra. Alegre , our anesthesiologist, explained to me what was to take place. She was going to give me something that would make me sleepy through my IV. Then, she was going to inject the anesthesia into my back (just like with J). She was a calm, pleasant lady that made me less anxious.
At this point, they lifted my hospital gown and I could not see what was happening waist down. I heard Dra. Sy’s voice. I was to be shaved. I chuckled in my head, remembering Dra. Amy and her no-shaving comment. I guess it is standard operating procedure for most doctors and hospitals to do that. It makes it easier and maybe cleaner for them. Since we did not really go through the whole birth plan this time around (I was to have a c.s. anyway), I just went with the flow and listened to what the doctors felt was best for us.
I heard another voice. Dr. Amanse, our pediatrician, was there also. Then there was music. I don’t think I was dreaming that up. There really was music. I was getting pretty woozy but tried hard to fight it. I wanted to be awake when Iggy comes out.
Dra. Alegre pricked my stomach several times, checking to see if I still felt the sharp tip. It took a while, but eventually, the prick started feeling like a dull tap. I guess that meant they were ready.
I was half awake most of the time, trying to grasp as much of the experience as I could. I heard the word “floating”. And I could see someone above me (I think it was Dra. Alegre) pushing my stomach, helping Dra. Sy and Dr. Amanse who were on the other side of the cloth.
After what seemed like a while, I knew they had gotten Iggy out. I didn’t hear him cry though ’til a bit after. I let out a sigh of relief. They brought him to me to see – but no latching this time. I was so sleepy, I did not mind.
The next thing I know, the operation was done. The nurses were around me, cleaning me up. I had lost more blood than usual and a blood transfusion was an option for the moment. Baby was brought to the nursery and I was to continue resting in another area.
I was brought to the recovery room where I stayed for a few hours. My mom and Tom were allowed to come in and check on me. Apparently, while the crew was busy trying to stop me from bleeding, they spent more than an hour waiting for an update. It was a big relief though when they saw Iggy and me doing well.
I was brought in once too so he could latch. I made it clear to the nurse not to give him formula or anything in the nursery. Her face had a question mark on it so I’m praying she understood that I meant it. I must have been the most makulit person upon arriving – telling each nurse I encountered not to give my baby formula and that I was serious about him feeding from me.
The nurse in the recovery room gave me a few tests to check if I was allergic to some things. She used a blue pen to mark my skin (I took note of this because I was told that a red pen was used on a friend that had given birth there too – so one won’t know if the ink was allergies coming out or just ink). And no allergic reaction took place. I was given pain killers and other things through my IV. The feeling of the medicine flowing through my hands was quite electric – not very painful, but very uncomfortable. I also started to itch – and I thought perhaps maybe that was the allergic reaction (but it was the anesthesia).
By around noon, I was wheeled back to our room, together with I.
That whole afternoon I was just out of it. I was too groggy to talk to anyone and struggled to open my eyes. I’m thankful Iggy already knew how to latch because I did not need to exert much effort to make him drink.
That afternoon, I was allowed clear liquids.
Once I could stand, they were going to remove my IV and catheter. Those were great incentives to try and get up. If I could get up the next day with my first c.s., surely, I could do it again. I swear I wasn’t forcing it – sitting, standing, walking – I did pace myself. But I will admit, it was more difficult and painful this time around.
I was told to watch out for headaches and dizzy spells because of the blood loss.
That evening I was placed on a soft diet. YAY for arroz caldo!
The next day was uneventful – I was able to pass gas but not make poop. I sat up and walked to the bathroom many times. That means catheter and IV was removed. What a great feeling to have both out. I can’t say the process of removal was good, but at least they were gone. That also meant the flushing (I was cleaned up down there like a baby) was done with too. The nurses (I don’t think they did this to me in Cardinal) washed me down there since I couldn’t move, I was bleeding and all. It was awkward but much appreciated.
By Friday, I pooped! Regular food allowed!
Like J, we wanted I circumcised already. Dr. Amanse referred us to Dr. Ricaforte, a pediatric surgeon, for this procedure. We were not asked about specific cuts the first time (and we honestly would not have know what to say). J was wheeled out of our room and came back with the procedure done. It healed quickly and easily and to us, his penis looks normal.
This time, Dr. Ricaforte gave us options (sort of). He seems to be a very busy man and so we are grateful that he gave us the time of day for such a simple (well, not life-threatening) procedure. He came in the afternoon to brief Tom and I on the different type of circumcisions. He was pretty dead-set on this certain cut (which, according to him has the least probability for problems in the future, based on a study by some organization) – so we agreed. Besides, we did not have any study backing up any other cut we would have wanted to choose anyway.
Tom joined I (as you can see in the photo), and was wheeled out (as is hospital protocol). He came back with a sleeping baby. Honestly, the cut looked very different from J’s – and the healing process and treatment was different. This alarmed me a bit, but I was assured that all is fine (it has been a month, and yes – all is fine).
I was put on antibiotics for a week (oral and ointment). And his penis took a while longer to heal this time.
I appreciate how Dr. Ricaforte came back to explain the whole treatment of I’s cut. He was definitely an entertaining man and clearly proud of his craft. I guess there is much to be proud of if you are a pediatric surgeon (perhaps the only one in the area).
Going Home. Verdict.
After three nights in the hospital, we were allowed to go home. I was on antibiotics, painkillers and iron.
Mother Seton has this new service in which they text you your updated bill. They give you a number, you send an SMS with the word: BILL, and they send you your running statement. Tom said it was quite efficient – the process was still a bit long (which is the way it is in all hospitals, I think), but not at all a hassle.
What To Bring
Perhaps one of the few things we find challenging in this hospital (is it this way in others?) is that you have to buy your own medicine and supplies yourself throughout your stay. Half the time, the medicine needed may not be available at the pharmacy. Your companion should be an able-bodied person who can go around the city in search of a pharmacy or drug store that carries what you need.
They also don’t provide many of the things I assumed they would provide. So, in case you decide to give birth here, come prepared.
This is what we brought to the hospital this time around:
1. Clothes for yourself – You won’t need to be in the hospital gown the whole time.
– Bring clothes that will allow you to breastfeed easily (especially whatever it is you will go home in)
– Bring sweaters (it wouldn’t get too cold in the room, but you never know)
– Underwear that you won’t mind getting soiled and Adult diapers – Yes. This was the best decision I made.
– Nursing Bra
– Slippers (that you can use when you shower)
2. Blankets, Flat Sheets, An Extra Pillow – Don’t forget your companion! My mom had a nice bed to sleep on, so she needed a set too.
– Toothbrush and toothpaste
– Soap / Bodywash and Shampoo
– Hand Soap (we brought liquid hand soap for fear of dropping the bar – I know, crazy OC)
– Lip Balm (it gets real dry in the hospital)
5. Hangers – It could be useful for towels or clothes
6. Receiving Blankets – The hospital did not provide one, so bring your own.
7. Clothes and Toiletries for Baby
– Tie-sides are most convenient when they are very small. Onesies are cute (and they cover your baby’s belly button) but sometimes it can be scary putting it on such a tiny person.
– Socks and Mittens
– A Beanie / Hat
– Baby wash
– Baby oil
8. Plates / Bowls / Mugs / Utensils – Just like last time: This really depends on the amount of people you have coming over to visit you. I have a huge family (and friends who are really like family to me) and we all love to eat. Sometimes they’ll come in time to eat the hospital food that is meant for me (but of course bringing something to eat as well).
9. Dishwashing Soap, Sponge, Kitchen Towel – For washing and drying the plates and all.
10. Snacks and Instant Coffee
11. Water Heater – VERY IMPORTANT. Can’t have your coffee without hot water.
12. Chargers for your gadgets
13. Paper towels, Tissue, Wet Wipes – These things always come in handy.
15. Cotton (I didn’t think I’d need to bring this or alcohol – but apparently, I did)
13. IDs and Important Documents (PhilHealth, etc.)
Note that we had the room with a refrigerator. Not all rooms have a/c or a refrigerator.
All in all, it was a good experience. As long as your baby comes out healthy, it’ll always be a good experience.