What do you do when things don’t go according to plan?
There were two things very specifically that I wanted and prayed for in regards to David’s delivery and birth.
1. I wanted to deliver naturally, and kept the option of an epidural open, depending on my threshold of pain on the day of labour.
2. I wanted to breastfeed David immediately. Hence, I reminded my husband more than once (3987 times, to be exact), that I wanted immediate skin to skin contact with my son once he was born. I read that having immediate skin to skin contact not only allows mother and child to bond immediately as well as promote a sense of well-being for the baby; it also helps the baby breastfeed quicker and more easily.
Both did not go according to plan.
Due to my SLE condition, my doctors (both in the government and private hospital) advised me not to prolong my pregnancy to the 40th week (full term) as it would carry risks to the baby.
So at week 38 on the 20th of July at 1am, I was induced. Barely an hour after I was given the medication, I started cramping really badly and initially did not realise them as contractions. But 6am the pain had grew intense and by 9am I was already dilated to 7cm. I really wanted an epidural by then because I didn’t want to fight the contraction pains anymore, but it was not possible due to the baby’s weak heartbeat. By then baby D had pooped in my womb which signalled distress. At 11am I was fully dilated but somehow could not push little David out, even with the help of vacuum extraction. I was then wheeled in for an emergency C-section.
I was fully conscious during the surgery, but had no sensation waist down from the spinal anaesthetic. It was not long after that, when someone came over to me, started cleaning me up and told me that the surgery was over.
“What do you mean, my surgery is over??”, a warning sign came up in my head right away.
“Where’s my son?”, I asked the lady. She promptly turned and walked away.
Again, I turned to the other man on my left and asked if my son was alright. They all ignored me and avoided eye contact.
It was then, I knew something was wrong. I slowly turned my head to look around the room and saw in a corner, a medical team huddled over my baby. My baby.
Before I knew it, I was wheeled into the recovery room. I hadn’t the faintest idea if baby D was alright, and neither could I see my husband. I just wanted to be wheeled out pronto!
Finally when they did wheel me to the corridor, Nick got to come to the hallway and meet me. As he held my hand and kissed me, I could tell that he wasn’t quite alright. With a slight tremble in his voice, he told me that baby David was not doing well and was being attended to immediately.
Thankfully I had family there to accompany me post-surgery in the ward while Nick waited anxiously outside the NICU. Four excruciating hours passed before he could speak to the doctors in there. David had suffered from meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS), where the baby has passed meconium (stool) into the amniotic fluid during labor or delivery. MAS may occur if the baby breathes in (aspirates) this fluid into the lungs.
David had to be transferred to the neighbouring hospital, a separate building a few blocks down the road from where I was warded. Because of that, I could not see him until the 3rd day after I was discharged.
David suffered a few episodes of seizures in his first few days and also had to be assisted by a ventilator in his breathing. He was such a fighter! Despite his frail state, he was feisty enough to pull at all his tubes!
Day 5, some tubes were removed from his body, and I was able to carry David for the first time. 😭
Each day brought different progress and David recovered remarkably, we give all glory to God for sustaining him, and also us throughout the 10 days he was in the NICU.
Towards the end of our pregnancy, Nick and I had being doing catechism studies together as a couple. The first question we had learnt was – what is our hope in life and death? And the answer is that we are not our own, but belong, in both body and soul, in life and death, to God and to our saviour Jesus Christ. It is this very promise that we were assured that David’s life was in God’s hands.
When I had suffered a threatened miscarriage earlier in my pregnancy, I had also come across a verse in Psalm 118 that I saw as a promise for David’s life. “I shall not die, but live, and proclaim the wondrous works of the Lord”.
All these promises that the Lord gave to us prior to the delivery strengthened us for the uncertain days in the NICU where doctors could not give us answers, we rested in the knowledge of Him who is sovereign and in control.
Over the 10 days in the NICU, we witnessed God’s faithfulness to us in so many ways. Grateful for loved ones who surrounded us with prayer, love and support and for family members who brought us food as well as provided practical help. We had to ‘camp out’ at the hospital each day, spending 7 to 12 hours there to ensure we could spend as much time with baby David there, as we believe strongly that human contact and our voices were vital in his recovery.
Through all this, we remember and have been strengthened by the devotion that we read during our prayer together just before we went to be admitted to the hospital on July 19. (Devotion to be attached in the following post). We give thanks for the Lord’s wonderful dealings with us; for His working in all this to reveal our weakness and helplessness, and to show to us and through us, the outshinings of His glory.
A week after his birth, we witnessed many miracles. David was very alert and responsive, and opened his eyes clearly for the first time when I called his name. We then tried skin to skin contact with David, and he started suckling almost immediately. We know that this is a remarkable milestone as David has been fed intravenously all these while, and even with his improved condition, been fed by cup or syringe.
The Lord seemed to answer all our hearts’ desires, for David also cried (very lustily) for the first time. David also had his MRI done and we were so grateful to know that he has suffered no brain damage despite the fits he went through the previous week.
We are so glad to have David home now. It is both a sacred and joyful time for us, as we savour this humbling process of learning to be parents as well as enjoying our time together as a family.
We would appreciate your continued prayers for us that we may raise David up to be a man after God’s own heart, wholehearted in His pursuit of Christ.