Birth Story: Pio Lorenzo

“If you will not be admitted, you will lose your baby anytime.”

Those were the words of the doctor in the emergency department. Without any sign of compassion, she left me with those words in the observation room.

Ever since I found out about my pregnancy, I would always be threatened of losing my baby. I was bleeding and asked to be on bedrest for the whole duration of my first trimester. Threatened abortion/miscarriage, that’s how they called it. I could still vividly remember those moments whenever I would go to the toilet and see blood despite of being on complete bedrest. I would always cry to the Lord and beg Him to let me keep our baby, for we have prayed and longed for this child for so long. I would always rub my tummy and sing “You’re My Sunshine” to my baby. “You’re my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.” That song became my everyday prayer. Faith and prayers made us through every stage of  my pregnancy.

I was on my 37th week when I went to see my doctor last March 14 for my weekly routine checkup. I could still remember telling my husband that for sure it will be a quick consultation and we can still do our grocery right after seeing my doctor. So yeah, we made plans – grocery shopping after dinner then we’ll come home early to rest because we just moved in to a new house. Right after the ultrasound, I saw the puzzled look on my doctor’s face, “Your baby is not growing inside. He is too small for his age. He is 37weeks now but his size, based on the ultrasound, is just 34 weeks.” He immediately gave me a referral letter and asked me to go to the government hospital as soon as possible for a second opinion. He explained that the government hospital has better facilities and they can check my baby really well. We didn’t waste time and I immediately asked a friend to accompany me because men are not allowed to enter since it’s a hospital for women – that’s how it is in the Middle East. We went straight to the hospital, as we were told; but due to the current pandemic, the hospital imposed the “patient only” policy inside the premises, and so, I had to go alone. They checked my vitals and the baby’s heart rate. They did an internal exam on me as well. Then I was referred to have another ultrasound and lab tests. It was almost midnight. I was so tired. My husband stayed at the parking lot while my friend stayed at the waiting area. After all the tests, I met with the doctor. I was hopeful. She said the baby is small but his heart rate is normal.  Then she handed me a paper. It was another referral. She instructed me to go to the other hospital branch and show that paper to the emergency department. “Recommended for INDUCTION.” That’s what’s written in the paper. My eyes went big and exclaimed, “For induction? You mean I have to give birth?”; and, the doctor confirmed.

Without wasting any time the following day (March 15), we went to the other hospital branch. To my surprise, I was told to be admitted for observation before they proceed with the induction. I half-heartedly agreed to be admitted and told my husband to just go home. I knew it’s gonna be a lonely night.

I was having my routine consultation in a private hospital for two reasons: first, we have a private insurance so we better make use of it; and secondly, some private hospitals allow husbands to be with their wives during consultations, labor, and delivery. For a faint-hearted person like me, I needed my husband to be with me every step of the way. A single prick of a needle would scare me so I had to hold my husband’s hand whenever they would extract blood from me. He’s my strength. So when they told me that I needed to be admitted, I couldn’t believe it. The thought of being alone in the hospital broke my heart. But, I had to set aside what I wanted and secure the safety of my baby. I faced one of my fears, the swab test. I have always dreaded having it. Then, they wheeled me into the room. The first night was lonely, my husband and I only had a videocall while having the dinner from different places. That was the time I realized that I had to face it all alone. Literally alone, no husband by my side to hold my hand in every blood extraction, IV, and injections, let alone labor and delivery. It’s very far from how I pictured it to be. I knew right then that I had to be strong. I discovered a strength I never knew I had. Everything was so uncertain. Doctors would change plans every now and then. At first, they told me if labor will not start, I’ll be induced. Then they told me I have to undergo a High Risk Ultrasound to confirm the condition of the baby. Then after checking my previous ultrasound reports, they told me all was well and I could be discharged the next day. Then they would come back to me and would tell me to proceed with the High Risk Ultrasound again. It was so stressful. The absence of a concrete plan really put me in a lot of emotional stress. I would complain to my bestfriend all the time. She would just tell me that it’s okay so that we can make sure of what’s really happening. Finally on March 16, the nurse told me the good news. She said the doctor already gave me the go signal to be discharged the next day and we could just wait for the natural labor to start. I happily told my husband. I didn’t know what happened but I was not discharged, as I was told. But, still I did not complain. I was looking forward to coming home. I could still unbox our stuff and organize our house since we just moved in and everything was still a mess. Most importantly, I can still prepare for my childbirth mentally, emotionally, and physically. My husband came to visit me during the visiting hours. The only allowed time for visitors was from 12:00 NN to 8:00 PM.

“Hello Pio, if you need to come out, just come out, okay? So you can be with mommy and daddy.” My husband talked to our baby in my tummy. Minutes after, I got out of bed to use the toilet, I felt water running down my legs. Did my water break? I called my husband to check. I didn’t know if I just peed or if my water just broke. My husband immediately called the nurse. Then they conducted a test to know if it’s urine or water. It was water. My water bag just broke. It was 3:40 PM. I asked the doctor what to do next. She told me to just relax and we have to wait for 24 hours to see if my contractions would start. “So, I guess I will not be discharged tomorrow, right?” The nurse just smiled and gave me a yes for an answer.

I spent the whole night of March 16 waiting for contractions. I would rely on my essential oils to help trigger my labor because I really didn’t want to be induced.  The water just kept on gushing down uncontrollably. It was midnight when I noticed that there’s a tinge of blood on my pad. The nurse told me to just relax and sleep. So I did.

The next day, March 17, I could already feel minor but irregular contractions. That’s a good sign; I told myself. It meant I was progressing. I started counting gaps between each contractions. From having contractions every 30 mins, I started contracting every 10-15 mins. The contractions were mild and tolerable. They conducted an internal exam on me and I was told that despite having contractions, my cervix was still closed. So I was told again that if my labor would not start, I have to go for induction at 3:40 PM. We spent the whole time waiting and counting contractions. But, my body failed me. It was almost 4:00 PM and there’s still no sign of labor. They informed me that I needed to go to the induction room. The doctor explained the process of induction, what could happen, and the possibility of my body not reacting to the medicine right away so the induction might take time. They did an ultrasound on me to check if the baby’s head was down before they bring me to the induction room.

I was scared. I’ve been told that induced labor will hurt a lot. But, I knew that that’s my only option at that moment. I talked to my husband and told him to just go home and rest since he cannot be with me. I promised to just update him whenever I can. Before going to the induction room, my husband and I held hands and prayed for everything to go well and for God to give me the strength I needed to endure all the pain. We prayed for our baby who we’ll see very soon. The thought of seeing our baby replaced every fear with joy and excitement. After praying, my husband gave me the tightest hug, we exchanged rosary bracelets so that I could still feel that he’s with me. My husband walked me until the door of the induction room. The moment I got inside, I put on my big girl hat. No time for crying. I knew I gotta do what I gotta do.

The midwife asked me to lie down and she connected me to the machine to monitor the baby’s heartrate. I somehow prepared myself for the pain that I supposed to go through. I didn’t know what to expect so I just prayed for strength to endure whatever was waiting for me. After a while, the doctor came and did an external exam on me. I was surprised when she said that my cervix was already 3 CM dilated. “We don’t need to induce her. She can go to the delivery room now.” I was amazed how God answered my prayer. He spared me from induction.

I was still scared. For a first time mom, I guess childbirth is extra scary. I was introduced to the midwife who would assist me in my delivery. Then she told me to take a shower and lie down on the bed so we can start. I could still remember looking at my baby bump for the last time in the mirror before going out of the bathroom. That made me extra emotional. I couldn’t believe that the baby that I carried for nine months was finally making his way into this world.

So, it was just me and the midwife inside the delivery room. The silence was deafening. I could clearly hear my thoughts. I could loudly hear my heart breaking as I look around the empty room. I wished my husband was there to cheer me up and to assure me that everything’s gonna be alright. Good thing they allowed me to use my mobile phone while on labor. My husband just cheered for me via videocall.

The doctors came to meet me. I was told that only the midwife will be with me. They’ll just do their normal rounds to check how I was progressing. I instantly became friends with the midwife. She’s a nice woman. She asked me about epidural. She gave me two options, either to have it from the start and not feel any labor pain or have it when needed. My husband and I decided to just have it when needed. We were thinking that maybe I could handle a natural birth. Then the midwife told me that if I choose “Epidural when needed”, it would not guarantee that I could have it immediately when I ask for it. I would have to wait for the anesthesiologist to be available and if she was in another operation, I would have to wait. I just thought that the chance of her being in another operation when I would need her was very small. So, Epidural when needed it was.

The contractions started and I was very chill. As I was progressing, the contractions became more and more intense until I could no longer tolerate it. I was crying to my husband while on the phone. I told him I couldn’t take it anymore and I would ask for an epidural. He told me to go for it if it could make me feel better. I told the midwife to call the anesthesiologist. My worst fear happened, the anesthesiologist was in another operation. She told me to wait. “What????” I just exclaimed as the contractions became more frequent and intense. I had no choice but to just cry the pain out and pray that the anesthesiologist would come as soon as possible. I was already in so much pain. The worst pain I ever experienced in my life. It felt like a truck was pressing on my stomach and the pain was all over my body. I just surrendered the pain to the Lord. I would just silently say a Hail Mary as I contracted after every minute. The pain was unimaginably unbearable. I only had the hand of the midwife to hold and press every time I contract.  Unfortunately, I had to wait for 2 long hours before I finally had the epidural. It was an instant relief. I couldn’t thank God enough for epidural. I told my husband who was still on video call that I would just sleep so I could have the energy to push when it’s time. It was almost midnight when we put the phone down and I immediately fell asleep. Two hours later, I could feel the contractions again. “Why am I feeling the pain again? What happened to the epidural?” I asked the midwife. “The contractions are more intense now” she said and handed me a button to press whenever I couldn’t take the pain. She said it would increase the dose of the epidural whenever I press it but I could only press it every 20 minutes. It was around 4:00 AM when the doctors did their rounds and told me that I am already 10CM dilated and I could start pushing. I called my husband again so he could support me as I push our baby out. I knew he was crying as he listened on the other line. It took me a while before I learned how to push correctly. I was looking forward in seeing our baby and for him to be put on my chest right after he comes out. It would be the best feeling for sure. I would hear a lot of “Very good” from the midwife after every push. That gave me so much hope that I was doing the right thing until the doctor came and checked me. “The baby’s position is very high. He’s very far from the pelvis.” he said. Then they asked me to push again and to push really hard. I tried to push as hard as I could. After minutes of pushing, the baby was still high. The doctor told me that we can push for 15minutes more and if the baby won’t come down, they would have to deliver the baby via caesarean section to ensure our safety.

I didn’t want to undergo a C-section. It’s always been our constant prayer to have a normal delivery since I don’t have anyone at home to help me take care of the baby after birth. It will be very hard for us if I won’t recover fast. I was crying to my husband as I told him the possibility of having a C-section. He just told me to just oblige if it’s really needed.

“I need to push this baby out. Please help me.” I begged the midwife. At that moment, my energy was really running low. I was extremely tired.

Fifteen minutes after, the doctor came back and told me that the time was up and they had to perform a C-section.

With tears on my face and with a very devastated look, I told the doctor. “Can you allow me to push for a few more minutes? Please give me more time. Please doctor?”

He looked at me with a very apologetic look and told me “Do you really want to push?” I just nodded. “Okay, let her push for 30minutes more.” He told the midwife then told me “If the baby will not go down, I am sorry but we really have to perform a C-section.”

I couldn’t describe how exhausted I was at that moment. But, I still tried to push. There were times that the midwife would go out and I would be alone in the room pushing as hard as I could. Fifteen minutes later, my energy went down. I knew to myself that I couldn’t push any longer even if I still had time. I was so tired and dehydrated. I would pass out anytime if I would still keep on pushing. So, I just surrendered my desire to deliver normally. I cried and I told my husband that I could do it anymore. Then the doctor came. “Doctor, I surrender. I tried but I failed.” Then the doctor told me what I needed to hear “It’s not your fault. You pushed really strong and good but the baby is not cooperating. It’s okay.” Then another doctor came and noticed that the baby’s heartrate is not good. They all started to panic. It was like a Grey’s Anatomy scene as everyone hurried just so I could make it to the operating room on time. I made it on time and I was surprised when the doctor told me that we could still try pushing and they’ll see if I could have a vacuum assisted normal delivery. But once again, we failed. My body failed me. I was only half conscious. The long labor and pushing took a toll on me. I just closed my eyes and prayed to God for everything to go well.

The next thing I knew, I was already hearing the cry of my baby boy. It was 6:24 AM when Pio Lorenzo came out into this world via Caesarean Section.

The normal skin to skin didn’t happen. He was already cleaned and wrapped when the nurse asked me to open my eyes to look at my baby while the doctors were closing the incision.

“Ma’am, here’s your baby boy.”

The nurse pulled my mask down and put my baby’s face next to mine so I could kiss him. I felt the warmth of his skin. The best feeling ever. My baby may be small but he is a big representation of God’s grace. Tears fell from my eyes before they closed and I passed out. All went well. It was finally done.

It is written in Proverbs 19:21 that “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

It still breaks my heart whenever I think about the five days at the hospital and how things did not turn out the way I planned them. How I labored and gave birth alone in a different hospital, by a random doctor, and via Caesarean section. The total opposite of everything I prayed and hoped for. Looking back at my life now, I realized that nothing really ever turned out the way I wanted them to be. It is completely a humble obedience to God’s will. Truly, God will break our hearts if our plans will break us. Acceptance of God’s will is a process; but, it’s always the best. I am just grateful that God blessed me with a family that I can call my own – a fulfillment of His promise.

I am still in awe at how God turned a threatened miscarriage to a beautiful bundle of joy. I praise Him for showing me the strength I never knew I had. All glory and praises to Him.

Happy One Month, My Love.