Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Tough luck if you just delivered a baby and you are a Chinese living in Asia, well, at least in Malaysia for me. Just when you thought the worst pain is over, you'll have to observe a month of traditional ritual which involves eating specialty food mostly cooked with lots of ginger and wine, drinking only red date longan water, staying away from cool breeze, lots of sweating, bathing in specially boiled herbal bath water, not washing your hair for as long as you can tahan and basically just staying at home to rot. It is a month of inconveniences.

Most mothers will hire a confinement lady to help out during this month. Her job is to prepare the speciality food, look after the new mother and the baby, therefore finding an experienced one is very important. I remember my first confinement lady. She totally rocks. She seems to have magic fingers that worked so efficiently yet she always appear so calm and free. And for the fact that maybe Daniel was an easy newborn, she managed him perfectly. She was a genuine confinement lady.

Unfortunately, she has retired and I have lost her contact number anyway. SO... I wasn't that lucky this time. Thanks to my grandmother's recommendation, I have this nutcase in my house. (LOL) Well, she ain't SO bad but there are times I want to laugh at the things she do. And many things that seem to irritate the bones out of me. So long story short, here are the Top Ten Things She Did To Humiliate Herself and Her Profession:

1. This one is classic. Get ready. She cooked the traditional pig stomach's soup. ...... WITH ITALIAN HERBS!! WHY? Because she forgot PEPPER in the shopping list for the Paul's trip to the market. She just grabs the McCormick's bottle and add a few dash of herbs. How come? Go to next point.

2. She can't smell. She has lost her sense of smell. Maybe genetic, maybe by accident, I don't care. Maybe when she was like... 16, she went out to buy some Italian Herbs for the pig stomach soup she was cooking, and on the way, she like... fell into a pile of cowdung and some dung like, osmosis-ed into her airways and completely destroyed her smelling nerves. Whatever. Because cooking GOOD nutritious appetizing specialty food is a major requisition for this profession, I wonder how do you do it with a bad nose.

3. She hardly checked baby's diaper for poop. Sometimes, when baby fussed a bit, she would just pat him back to sleep. Most of the time I was the one who discovered or suspected the dirty outpoooot. Bad nose maybe? I don't smell anything poopy, but it is the matter of JUST checking.

4. There's something about the way she holds the bottle while feeding. Macam senget. That causes air to go in between baby's mouth and the teat. He chokes. Bad move for gassy stomach. And when baby doesn't quite finish his feed, she forces him to finish by moving the bottle in an in-out maneuver in his tiny little mouth. She just doesn't have this feeding instinct.

5. She doesn't burp him enough. She just do it for the sake of doing it, for about 1 minute and she puts him down. Her excuse? "Oh, he doesn't burp, he farts!" Sure he farts a lot, but at least try burping him for 5 minutes. No wonder he has gassy cramps often. Biatch.

6. She's not very organized. Baby wears cloth diapers (only for the first month), which gets wet and poopy many times during the day and needs to be changed. She doesn't fold them into diapers in advance. She just folds them as how you would just fold your towel or hankie. So, when it's time to change the diapers, she has to unnecessarily get her hands full. When I realized this, I made a gentle remark. "Hey auntie, why don't you pre-fold the diapers so it's ready to be used when you need it fast". She said "Oh ya hor". Real smart.

7. There are two classification of herbs in Chinese medicine. Similar to yin and yang, there are herbs that are 'cooling' and 'heaty'. During confinement, you are supposed to take only 'heaty' herbs. She took a pack of ginseng-lookalike thingy and said she will brew them for me. My mom, thank goodness she was there, brought those to the TCM shop to have them ground or sliced very thinly. Those ginseng-lookalike thingamajik turn out to be the 'cooling' kind of herbs and is a big NO NO for confinement mommies. Anyhow hantam. REAL smart.

8. She's got mood. She's petty-sensitive. Due to a miniscule misunderstanding, she threw a tantrum. She glared at my helper with dagger-eyes and didn't talk to her the whole day. My helper cried. Due to another trivial issue with Paul, she wanted to leave half-way. I had to be the mediator. It was a rather stressful event. She stressed us up. BIATCH.

9. She doesn't seem to have a temperature sense, especially if it concerns the comfort of the baby. For the first few nights at home, baby was fussing a lot the whole day. Why? Because it was hot and humid, the room was stuffy and she still swaddled him into a bundle of hotness. Is she a lizard in disguise?

10. I detest her eyebrows. OK, not relevant. But hey, it might scare babies right right right? Even if they see a blurry face, a pair of thick unkept eyebrows would scare them shitless. Or as Chinese old folks say, baby's poop will be green. LOL

You'll know a fraud when you meet one.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My ChildBirth Story

I love surprises. Including the moment my water broke at 1am on the 27th February, while chit-chatting with the husband in bed. Just an hour past my birthday. Who could’ve thought. I wasn’t due until 18th March.
This was my first water-break experience. It’s like an uncontrolled pee. All of a sudden, without any warning or sign, I wet myself. So I rushed to the toilet and sat there for 10 minutes. The water came on and off. Hmm.. maybe I’ve lost control of my bladder. The water came again. I called the hospital and was asked to pop in to check. I told the husband, “I think this is it”. Thank goodness I have already packed my hospital bag.
I hate the way Labour Rooms make you feel. It has that scary the-moment-awaits-you vibes. The bed (of suffering), the weird instruments, the sterilized metallic tools you wish the doctors won’t use IN you, the fetal and contraction monitors, the sounds, everything in there.
First, I stripped ALL the way, and had to wear the KPJ pink robe. I lied on the bed, and the nurses started taking my blood pressure and my temperature, which is a routine throughout my stay. The nurse asked basic medical history too. Then, as I anticipate with displeasure, a nurse did an internal examination to check my cervix dilation. I hate this. I really really do, and unfortunately is a routine throughout the labour. I was only ‘fingertip’ dilated. LOOOOONNNNG way to go sister. More water came out after the probing. Then, I was strapped to the fetal heartbeat and contraction monitor. I heard the familiar sound of the echoed heartbeat, going woov woov woov woov woov woov woov woov woov. 130 beats per minute on average. I was asked to rest, and sleep. The husband went home to sleep for a couple of hours and to prepare everything at home.
I didn’t sleep a wink. I was tightly strapped for goodness sake. And hospital beds are as hard as rock. So I just lied there and close my eyes whenever I could, anticipating with every breath.
At 9am, my gynae came to do his rounds at the Labour Ward. Again, the dreaded internal examination. I tell you, male doctors don’t do it as gently as the female nurses/midwives/doctors. I was waiting to hear good progress, but to my despair, I was only 3cm dilated!! It was already 7 hours since my water broke! So, more waiting. I was given Pitocin to speed up labour. Lowest dose, according to the nurse. My contractions still didn’t hurt. Then I decided to do the smartest thing I remember reading about on Labour Positions. I sat, instead of semi-lying on the bed. Maybe gravity helped the baby move lower into the birth canal. A few hours after sitting, my contraction chart looked promising, strong contractions every 4-5 minutes. Mine came in duplets. Two contractions, one after the other, every 4-5 minutes. It started to feel like a bad tummyache or diarrhea ache.
Now, contrary to what many of you believed, I did not opt for Epidural-Free birth. I DID asked for it, because I didn’t know how the pain would increase from here. Tummyache? Sure I can deal with it, but what if it gets worse and I lose control and freak out and … faint midway? That would be disastrous… and undoubtedly embarrassing.
So I did asked. I was 6cm dilated, and I knew this would be the time to ask for it, before it’s too late and I want to kill everybody in the room. The nurse checked the charts and was concerned that with every contractions I had, the fetal heartrate dropped a little. Gosh, is history repeating itself? That was the case with Daniel too. I was told that my chances of a natural birth would be quite slim. All my memories of the C-section came back. The nurse told me that epidural wasn’t advisable because we don’t know what is causing the fetal heartrate to drop. It could, instead endanger him. So I waited again, with no hope of epidural or maybe a chance of experiencing natural birth. Fortunately, I could still bear with the tummyache.
I can’t exactly remember the time when my contractions started to hurt more and more. I felt the pelvic pressure bearing down more and more. And all this happened probably within half an hour. Then all of a sudden, I felt the urge to push. Much like pooing. A LOT like pooing. I told the nurses in desperation because I had no control over the pushing urge. A nurse examined me again. But I think she was doing more than checking my cervix dilation. I groaned and squirmed as she did her thing down there. At this point, several nurses were scurrying up and down the room, preparing the table of instruments and the baby’s ‘arrival cot’ etc, and I realized, this is it. It’s going to happen soon! OUCH!
The urge to push came again and again. Closer to each other, within less than minute. The nurse asked me, “ You rasa macam nak berak ya”. As I cling onto the bedsheet, I muttered “YA”. I was breaking out in sweat. I just held on to whatever I could. The bed rail, the sheets. I was at the verge of tears. The husband, all these while beside me, was witnessing the sudden change in pace. One of the nurses handed him a gas mask, I think it was nitrus oxide gas, best known as happy gas or laughing gas. I inhaled it a couple of times, and instantly went woozy. I felt like I was blackening out. I just wanted to doze off. It was a good brief moment when I forgot about the pain and panic I was in.
Everything was set up. My feet on stirrups. The doctor walked in, put on this pair of long black rubber boots and PVC apron, and sat in front of me. “OK, push” he said. There were 7 nurses in the room, all focusing on my vijayjay and yelling PUSH! The amazing fact about a woman’s body in labour is that you WILL know when to push because the body is actually doing the work. With every contraction accompanied by the urge to push, I just rode along. When there were no contraction, I rested, but then the resting period didn’t last because my contractions were coming on in less than a minute apart. How efficient! One of the nurses taught me how to do it the right. I never knew there was a correct way of pushing, I thought there was only one. So I did as told. I held onto the bed railings, on both sides, and pulled towards me, instead of pushing it. And grunting was not the way either, like in many movies where the woman grimaces and screams. I pushed, SILENTLY. No vocals allowed. Only my background singers going PUUUUUUSH!
Unbelievably, after 5 minutes of pushing, my baby was out, and was immediately placed on my chest. It was a magical moment. An experience of a lifetime. It’s like falling in love all over again.

After the drama, I found out why the nurses had a brief look of concern on them and why they were all cheering on so urgingly when I was at the pushing stage. The cord was around his neck as his head emerged. It was quickly cut, and that was why the husband didn't get to cut the cord. Ah well, happy ending.