Weighing in at a whopping 150lbs, I waddled my way to (what I now know as) my last doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, January 2nd. At this point, I was feeling huge and having a lot of lower back pain. Dr. Zhou measured my belly and commented that the baby was getting big (she guessed around 3-3.5kg) and that I should watch my weight these last few weeks. So far, I had gained about 30lbs. The doctor said, “I think the baby will come this month.” Well, duh, my due date is the 19th of this month. She checked his heartbeat, I asked a few questions, and we scheduled my next appointment for the following Tuesday. On my way out she said, “Okay, see you next month for your appointment!”
I called Chris to tell him how the appointment had gone, and as I was telling him about Dr. Zhou getting the word “month” confused for the word “week”, I realized maybe she meant the baby would come this week! We laughed it off and didn’t think too much of it. I went about my day, running errands and fulfilling cravings while walking 10,000+ steps by the time I got home. That night I had some Braxton Hicks that were stronger than normal, with both tightening and a little cramping. I spent the night drinking a lot of water and relaxing while timing the contractions. They never lasted longer than 3o minutes at a time and were about 8-10 minutes apart, before disappearing completely before going to bed.
The next day was a rainy one. I was really craving ramen, so I decided to go to our favorite Japanese restaurant, only one metro stop away. After walking from the metro to the restaurant, I texted Chris to tell him how much pressure I was feeling down below. I felt like maybe he had dropped but still felt like my belly was sitting really high. After devouring my noodles, I headed back home to relax on the couch. That night I sent my mom some belly pictures, asking if she thought my belly was still too high for him to have dropped. She agreed and I decided not to worry since I hadn’t felt any contractions that day.
On Thursday, I decided to take it easy. I straightened up the apartment a bit, helped my sister out with some cake decorating tutorials, and lounged on the couch. That night we ordered Mexican because of yet another craving. We stayed up late watching movies while I continued crocheting a baby blanket I had been working on throughout my pregnancy. I finally got off the couch to get ready for bed around 1:30AM, while Chris stayed up to finish his rum & coke. I got into bed and started answering some texts and checking social media when I noticed a weird sensation happening in my nether regions. I stood up and my water gushed out, covering our bedroom floor.
I don’t remember the exact noise I made when it happened, but it was enough to send Chris rushing into the bedroom. With a worried look on his face, he asked what was wrong and I shouted, “My water just broke.” In tipsy disbelief he said, “What? No…really?” He only believed me when he walked across the floor, soaking his socks. Seriously, it was that much water. In our pregnancy classes, they talked about how rare it was for your water to break, and if it did, it would just be a trickle, nothing like the movies. In my case, it was EXACTLY like the movies. Not only was it an enormous amount of water initially, it continued to pour out of me, it was crazy. I quickly hopped in the shower while Chris mopped up the floors. Luckily, I had prepared some adult diapers for myself for after the baby arrived. They managed to keep me from soaking the sweats I put on after my shower as well as the taxi seat and the hospital bed. Like I said, A LOT of water.
We tried to hang around the apartment for as long as possible, but I started feeling nauseated (adrenaline related, we think) so we decided to call a cab. Our car arrived and waited for us downstairs until we got our bags together and I could stand without feeling like I was going to puke. It was around 3:00am when we started driving to the hospital. While trying to stay calm, I cancelled my hair appointment for the next day, didn’t think I’d be able to make it 😉 and texted our parents to tell them the news.
When we arrived at our hospital, Shanghai First Maternity, a security guard let us in the side door and told me to check my blood pressure while he notified the doctor. After getting my blood pressure slip, I hurried over to the doctor and told her in broken Chinese that my water had broken. I added that it was A LOT of water, just in case she thought I had mistaken it for peeing myself (I’ve heard this happens quite a lot). She took me into the examination room to check that it was actually amniotic fluid and to check my dilation. Meanwhile, Chris was checking us in and paying the minimum 20,000RMB deposit for delivery. The nurse said I was only 0.5 cm dilated. I didn’t panic because I wasn’t feeling strong contractions yet. We braced ourselves for a long labor. Because my water had broken, I was now bedridden (in local hospital, they want to avoid any complications/risks so they are extra careful). They wheeled me on my stretcher-like bed to our hospital room, where I would stay until I was dilated enough to go the the labor and delivery room. Once I was transferred to my bed the contractions really started to kick in. Maybe an hour later, I was checked again and told I had only progressed to 1cm. No one ever told me how painful it was to be checked for dilation. I assumed it would be uncomfortable but I had no idea. On one hand, I want to know how much further I have to go, but on the other hand, I can wait, not worth the pain.
It didn’t take long for the contractions to pick up. I was in so much pain but there wasn’t much Chris could do for me, while being stuck in bed. I was told not to get up, but eventually, I had to change to standing position to relieve some pressure. This may be TMI but I want to remember it if I ever have another baby… At some point during our time in the room, I had the urge to pee so badly! Earlier, the nurse had told me to pee in my diaper (again, to avoid getting out of bed) but I literally could NOT do it. I ended up having Chris help me to the bathroom, but I could not manage to relax enough to let it go. It was making the contractions so much worse. I felt like I sat there forever trying. Eventually, I was able to go and felt a billion times better afterwards. So note to self, pee early on, before the contractions get too strong.
I labored in our room for around 2.5-3 hours before demanding to be checked again. For anyone reading that doesn’t know, the nurse must check for dilation during a contraction. This means while you are already in a tremendous amount of pain, you have to relax enough for a lady to…well, you know. AWFUL. This particular nurse was taking an ungodly amount of time to check me, and when she finally finished, I yelled, “Well, 都少?!” (how many). She looked at Chris and said, “1cm”. I lost it. I remember telling Chris that I couldn’t do it, over and over. I thought to myself “Poor Otis, he will never have a little brother or sister, because I am NEVER doing this again”. In the midst of my mini freak out, Chris had gone to get a different nurse to check me again. She quickly checked me and said, “Oh yes, she is 5cm”. Relieved, I yelled, “I knew it!” “I want an epidural, now!”.
They quickly wheeled me to the labor and delivery room, and I received my epidural at 7:45am. The epidural definitely relieved a lot of my pain, but only made the pressure so much more real. I honestly felt the urge to push almost immediately, I struggled so badly to NOT push with each contraction. An hour later, the doctor checked me and confirmed that I was ready to push. We did some practice pushes, and she corrected my form, helping me remember all that I had learned in my labor class. Once I saw her getting her sterile field set up, I knew it was time. The doctor told Chris to take a look, “You can see the head”. Surprisingly, Chris looked without fainting, and excitedly told me how close we were. He coached me through each push, reminding me to breathe, and telling me when I only had a few more to go. Before I knew it, after 45 minutes of pushing, I felt Otis come out, and what a relieving feeling that was!
Otis Ray was born at 9:35am, just 7 1/2 hours after my water broke. He weighed 7lbs (3.175 kg) and was 19.6in (50cm). We did skin to skin as soon as the nurse finished cleaning him up and he latched on both sides with little effort. I had minimal tearing and was distracted from the post-birth pains by looking into his beautiful eyes. It was incredible how quickly he calmed down after being put on my chest. Becoming a mother was the most amazing experience.
We spent 3 days in the hospital, even though we wished we could’ve left after 2. We were very eager to get Otis home. For the most part, the doctors and nurses left us alone, which was great except for that one time we couldn’t get him to stop crying. “Shouldn’t they be coming to help us?!”.
Our room was nice, Chris had his own bed, (not comfortable but a bed after all) we had a fairly large bathroom with shower, a tv, (no use to us) a mini fridge and microwave. The food was bleh. I always seemed to be starving so I managed to eat the rice and veggies with every meal. Our first night, we ordered out and I finally was able to cure my 9 month long sushi-craving.
After it was all said and done, having a baby in China was a breeze. We spent a total of around 16,000RMB (2,500USD) for the delivery and under 5,000RMB (790USD) for all of the prenatal appointments and testing. The doctors and nurses went above and beyond to make sure we didn’t have any questions, and were extremely friendly our entire stay. It’s true what they say, once you have that baby in your arms you forget all about the pain. That being said, I cannot wait to do it again.
I mean, I can wait…a few more years, but you catch my drift. 😉