I read somewhere that only a small number of women – 5 percent, to be specific – actually give birth on their projected due date. I am now one of the rare 5 percent. On my 40th week of pregnancy, my exact due date, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. While most babies come earlier or later, mine came right on time. Even when she was still in my womb, I always knew that my daughter wanted to be different.
But before I share the events that transpired on the day I popped, allow me to first narrate what happened on the days leading to Andi’s birth.
BABY WON’T BUDGE!
I was already fully prepared by my 37th week. My hospital bags were packed, my birth plan and information sheets were all printed out, and we even had our house cleaned, thinking that “it could be anytime now!” I had my check-up with Dra. Margarita Agdamag, my OB at Cardinal Santos Medical Center. Everything was looking good, as always. Baby’s head was down, making me a good candidate for a normal delivery, which was what I was really aiming for. The only problem was that I was only 1 cm dilated and the baby was still high, so it really didn’t look like “it could be anytime now.” She advised me to walk more and to take evening primrose oil capsules thrice a day to soften the cervix. I did everything I was told to do, even going so far as stuffing my face with lots of pineapples and spicy food, but on my 38th week and my next checkup, I was still at 1 cm! I think my baby was enjoying herself too much in my tummy, what with all the yummy food I’ve been eating that she also gets to sample!
Dra. Agdamag then did a membrane sweep to ‘naturally’ speed up labor, although it wasn’t until she was done that she told me what it really was. I just thought it was another internal exam, except that this one hurt ten times more! Frankly, I would have preferred that she asked me first if I wanted to have it done before she went on ahead and did it. I would have appreciated it if she had explained the procedure to me first before she actually performed it. But oh well, I trusted her judgment and believed that she knew what she was doing, and that she only did that to speed up my labor.
A STRESSFUL SURPRISE
After Dra. Agdamag checked me, she then sat me down, gave me a sheepish grin and said “Sorry… I’ll be out of the country from December 14 to 24.”
Um, excuse me?
She won’t be around on my due date, which was on the 21st?
Did I not ask her during my early stages of pregnancy if she had plans of leaving sometime around this date, since I was aware that it’s near Christmas, and she assured me that she wasn’t going anywhere?
“I’ll be going to the US to visit my daughter and while I’m there, I’ll also be attending a conference,” she explained. “Hindi ko muna sinabi sayo agad kasi akala ko mapapaaga ka manganak eh.” (“I didn’t tell you right away because I thought you would give birth early.”)
I wanted to throw a hissy fit!!! Thankfully, I managed to keep my cool even though to be honest, I felt cheated. This trip was obviously planned in advance, and yet she only told me on my 38th week, which gave me very little time to formulate a Plan B. At least a month’s notice would have been nice! Also, as a doctor, she should know that yes, I could give birth earlier than expected but I could also give birth later or on time. Oh, and I also found out from two other doctors that there are no conferences around that time in December. (Side note: After learning about my situation, one of my friends who was also under Dr. Agdamag’s care shared that she also experienced the same thing, and so did one of her friends. Definitely not what I expected from a doctor who’s always highly recommended!)
Dr. Agdamag did say that she had a highly competent reliever to attend to me in her absence. She also presented me with an option to be induced on December 13, a day before her departure, if I really wanted her to deliver my baby. I told her I need to sleep on it before I make a decision. When I got home, I did my research and talked to my baby, asking her for guidance. The next day, my heart knew the answer. One of the things I learned during my pregnancy was that babies decide when they want to come out. Maybe there was a good reason why she was still hanging on to me. I told my baby: “I trust you, baby. You can come out when you’re ready.” Why were we rushing it anyway? What was so wrong about delivering my baby exactly at 40 weeks, or even a few days later? Some women even give birth at 42 weeks and they have healthy babies. I still had time to wait until my due date. Hastening my birth just to accommodate my doctor’s schedule just didn’t sit well with me. Why should I or my baby be the ones to adjust? It just didn’t feel right.
Aside from that, even if Dra. Agdamag arrived in time to deliver my baby, I no longer felt comfortable with it. I have no doubt that she is very good at what she does. In fact, she is said to be one of the best OBs in Cardinal Santos, which is why I chose her out of the many options in the first place. And don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to her for keeping my baby healthy during my pre-natal checkups. But after what she pulled, I just couldn’t trust her anymore. Of course, Mike and I couldn’t stop her from leaving if she wanted to. After all, we were just one out of her many patients. What were we to her? I just wish that she had at least told us sooner instead of surprising us like that at the last minute!
Surprisingly, Mike didn’t seem too shocked with the whole thing. He said he had a strange feeling that she was going to do something like this. He noticed that during our check-ups, Dra. Agdamag was a little aloof. She was too busy jotting down notes that she hardly even looks up when she talks to us. He said that she doesn’t even look at him. Also, she knows that Mike can’t speak Tagalog, but every time we go for a visit, she would exclude him (maybe unintentionally) by talking just to me and by not speaking in English so Mike would understand what was going on. I had to translate and narrate everything to Mike! I should have seen those non-verbal cues as red flags, and I did notice them, but I just brushed them off, thinking, “Never mind. She’s a highly experienced doctor and surely, my baby will be in good hands with her. That’s what really matters.” Now I know that in choosing a healthcare provider, it’s not always about skills and popularity. It’s also important to choose someone with a heart. (Not saying that she doesn’t have a heart, but you get the point!)
Anyway, going back to the story, a few days later, I went to see Dra. Solema Granados-Rivera, the reliever that Dra Agdamag assigned. I liked her immediately! She was friendly and she really took her time to get to know me and my condition. I didn’t mind at all if she was going to be the one to deliver my baby… but then she told me that she’s also going out of the country on the 22nd! Why would Dra. Agdamag assign someone who was also leaving?! What if I had given birth on the afternoon or evening of the 22nd or on the 23rd? Who was going to take care of me and my baby?
NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE
My entire pregnancy has been smooth and easy. But my 38th to 39th weeks were extremely stressful for me! My mom, who was enraged at how we were being handled by Dra. Agdamag, then suggested that I see her OB, Dra. Miriam Ramos, who practices in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital (OLLH). She was actually the doctor who delivered my sister Alexa 18 years ago! At first, I was hesitant because Mike and I were already sold on Cardinal. We were already familiar with the hospital. We even did a tour of the labor room. We felt that at 39 weeks, it was already too late to go back to square one with an entirely different hospital, and on top of that, orient a new doctor about my entire medical and pregnancy history. It felt like too much work… as if carrying a watermelon in my stomach doesn’t feel like too much work already!
When I met Dra. Ramos on December 15, however, I felt at ease. She was nice, gentle, and motherly, and it felt like talking to a sweet aunt. When my mom and I walked into her clinic, she looked at my mom and said, “My dear! I remember you!” Imagine that, she still recognized my mom after almost two decades of not seeing her! What I liked about her was that despite the urgency of my situation, she was cool enough not to rush me into giving birth before my due date. Sure, she explained to me the worst case scenarios if I deliver too late, but she was against inducing me unless it was absolutely necessary. She also seemed to be truly committed to helping me and she assured me that even if I give birth on Christmas Day, she will be there. Just to be *absolutely* sure, I asked, “So you’re not going anywhere during the holidays?” She joked, “Maybe the farthest would be Shangri-La Mall!” Yep, she’s cool! She even joked that she wants to get me as her secretary because she was so wowed by how organized my files were. (A note to pregnant ladies: Make sure you keep ALL of your medical and pregnancy records – ultrasounds, lab test results, etc. – in case you end up switching to a new doctor at the last minute, like me!)
When she checked me, I was STILL at 1 cm. I have been at 1 cm for 3 straight weeks already! I asked if there was any chance that I could give birth on December 17, Mike’s birthday, since Mike was hoping that he and the baby would have the same birthday. She said that the odds were slim. Oh well! At least we still got to watch Star Wars: The Last Jedi in peace. That was the baby’s birthday gift to her Daddy!
After a few days of trying to make a decision about whether to deliver in Cardinal (only because we already knew the hospital like the back of our hand) or in Lourdes (which we have only ever visited once and don’t know much about), I finally decided to go with the latter. After weighing the pros and cons, I felt more peace in delivering my baby in Lourdes primarily because of Dra. Ramos. I thought, “If she took good care of my mom, surely, she will take good care of me.”
MY WATER BROKE!!! WAIT… DID IT???
On December 21st, my exact due date, I woke up feeling normal, without any signs of labor. Since it looked like it was just going to be an ordinary day, I went about my usual business. All of a sudden, at around 8:00 in the morning, I felt a small leak down there. It was so small that I wasn’t sure if it was just pee or discharge. I thought nothing of it and even had a cat nap. When I woke up, I was no longer leaking, but my gut was telling me to text Dr. Ramos about it anyway. I told her what happened and she called me. She didn’t just reply to my text. She actually gave me a call to explain what she thought it could be and told me to go to her clinic ASAP since it was hard for her to tell what it really was without actually seeing it for herself.
When I arrived at her clinic, she checked me and confirmed: “It’s fluid.” So my water just broke! It wasn’t a huge, dramatic gush like what I usually see in the movies, so I really thought it was nothing! She took a photo of my hoo-ha using her phone just so she could show me that it was indeed water (Don’t worry, she deleted it immediately. Although I told her she can use it as her screensaver if she wanted to. Haha!)
She then broke the news to me: “Call your husband now. You have to be admitted today. You need to get the baby out by 5:00 or 6:00 PM.” Whoa, what?! The diagnosis: Premature Rupture of Membranes. In layman’s terms, my water broke before I even went into labor. Normally, it should be the other way around. In this kind of situation, the baby needs to be out no longer than 10 hours after the rupture of the water bag, or else, there is a chance that she might eat her meconium (poop) and this could lead to an infection, both to her and to me.
She also managed my expectations and told me straight up that I will most likely undergo a c-section. In fact, she said she wasn’t going to sugarcoat it: The chance of me having a c-section is very, very high. She said we can still try for a normal delivery if I wanted to. I would be induced to stimulate contractions, but if before 5:00 or 6:00 PM, I was still not fully dilated, I would need to have a CS.
This was not how I imagined my birth would be. I spent all this time preparing for a normal delivery – I invested time and money in childbirth and Lamaze classes, I attended pre-natal yoga so I would have an easier labor, I did kegels, and I wrote a very detailed and comprehensive birth plan geared toward a normal, vaginal delivery – but none of those mattered anymore at that point. Surprisingly, I was actually really okay with it. I honestly did not feel even a tiny pang of sadness or disappointment over broken plans and unfulfilled wishes. The only thing that mattered to me at that time was getting the baby out safely. Oh, and that I would still get to wear a bikini even with a C-section scar! Haha!
I called Mike to tell him of the whirlwind birth situation. When I told him that I may have to have a C-section, he was also calm about it. I told him to get all our stuff ready and to be there by 5:00 PM. I think one of the reasons why I was so composed was because I was more than ready. Basically, all Mike had do was grab all our bags, leave food and water for our guinea pig Booboo, and go straight to the hospital!
I had an ultrasound to check the level of my amniotic fluid, and sure enough, in just a matter of 5 hours, my amniotic fluid dropped by three levels! Had I waited too long to go to the hospital, I could have been in trouble! After the ultrasound, Dra. Ramos personally accompanied me to the delivery room and gave instructions to the nurses on duty.
IN THE LABOR ROOM
In the delivery room, I changed into the hospital gown and slippers, had my baby’s heart rate monitored, and had a series of tests. After that, I was brought to the common labor room and was hooked to a fetal monitor. There were two other pregnant women there. I was expecting it to be weird and awkward to hear other women in labor crying out loud and screaming in pain, but luckily, there was none of that. I could hear the woman beside me whimpering but she wasn’t wailing. I assume that she was having really painful contractions. I felt so bad for her! The other woman was busy on her phone, just like me, texting and updating Mike and my best friend Aspe, and, well, taking selfies. Coz you know, I had time to do my eyebrows before giving birth! Hehe!
So what’s it like being inside a common labor room? It’s not bad, really. However, the nurses in charge were a little loud! They were all hanging out there and yakking away, which I didn’t mind at all since I found them to be very nice and friendly, but if I was having serious labor pains, I might feel differently about it!
I didn’t want to be hooked to an IV but I had no choice. I have to say that aside from the post-operation CS wound, this was the most painful part of my entire birth!!! The nurse had to stick that blasted needle in my hand twice because the first time she did it, a vein popped! It stung so bad! The nurse kept going, “Sorry po.. sorry po… sorry po!” I think she got nervous coz I was spewing profanities because of the pain. Haha! Everything else after the IV was a piece of cake. They injected something in me through the IV to help my uterus contract, and Dra. Ramos warned me that I’m going to feel some pain. But whenever she asked, “What are you feeling now?” I would just answer with “Nothing!” She said, “You’re having contractions now.” But I still couldn’t feel a thing!
What I could feel though was hunger! My last meal that day was 11:00 in the morning, so you can just imagine how famished I was! I wish I had a nice “last meal.” Sadly, my last meal was just a bowl of cereal with milk!
As 5:00 drew nearer, the more excited I got, although I was also worried because my baby’s heart rate was already fluctuating. It was already going beyond 160 bpm, which was the normal heart rate. Whatever chances I had of having a normal delivery were looking very slim at that point, but it was all good. I was at peace with knowing that in just a few hours, I will finally get to hold my baby.
The whole time I was in the labor room, I was updating Mike and he was updating me. Judging from his text messages, he was so anxious! It took a while for my mom to arrive at our condo to pick him up, plus the traffic going to Lourdes at that hour was insane! Usually, he’s the unperturbed one and I’m the big ball of stress, but that day, I was the Zen one. I just kept telling him to relax and reassured him that I’m okay and everything is okay.
When he finally arrived, Dra. Ramos was kind enough to allow him and my mom to visit me quickly at the labor room since Mike was not allowed to be inside the operating room until after the baby has come out. It was nice that I got to hug and kiss them before I was wheeled in into the operating room.
A STAR IS BORN!
Finally, it was time. The doctors and nurses started prepping me inside the operating room. Funny, when they ‘exposed’ me, I could hear them say, “Ang sexy naman ni Mommy!” They started having a conversation about how much body fat I had. Haha! Carrying an almost 7 pound baby, I felt anything BUT sexy! Afterwards, the anesthesiologist came in and introduced herself. I specifically asked to be conscious throughout the operation, so I was given a spinal anesthesia, which numbed everything from the waist down while still allowing me to be awake. I was expecting it to hurt like hell, but when she injected me with the drugs, I just said, “Nauutot ako!” (“I feel like farting!”) Haha!
I was, as requested, fully awake during the operation, although some things still felt a bit hazy. I don’t know if it was the drugs or my lack of sleep and food or my bad memory due to old age! All I could remember was being sliced open, even though I had no sensation in my lower extremities. I just remember watching the clock, thinking “Oh my god, this is it! I’m finally going to meet my baby!” The next thing I remember was having this heavy feeling on my chest or my stomach (I couldn’t tell which one), as if a sumo wrestler was sitting on top of me and was bouncing up and down. I didn’t feel any pain before that, but this heaviness was so intense that I started panting and coughing, but nothing was coming out. No joke, I thought I was going to die! I could imagine myself as one of the zombies from The Walking Dead, my innards being pushed and shoved. (Sorry, too graphic?) And then, just like that, from under the curtains on top of my body, I heard Dra. Ramos’s voice saying “Here’s your baby!” And voila! Indeed, out of nowhere, there WAS a baby! MY baby!
The precious angel I have been carrying and nurturing in my tummy for 9 months finally came out on the day she was meant to show herself to the world. On December 21st, 2017 — just 4 days after Mike’s birthday and 4 days before Christmas — at 7:14 PM, weighing 6.6 lbs, 51 cms long, our little star was born! I finally laid eyes on my darling Andromeda Eve for the very first time. There she was, this tiny pink thing, crawling on top of my chest and crying the sweetest and softest little cry I’ve ever heard, and I was too shocked to say anything for a few seconds, not to mention, I was still catching my breath from the heaviness I felt earlier. When I finally snapped out of it, tears of joy streamed down my face as I admired how beautiful she was. I embraced her and held her hand then whispered “Hi, Andi! I love you!” Though she couldn’t see very well then, she was looking at me and I knew she was trying to follow my voice. She latched on to me, and I was consumed with so much love.
I wish I could say that all of it was poignant and dramatic, but there were actually a bunch of bloopers!!! For starters, when Andi came out and I was relishing every inch of her, and while I was still in a daze from being poked, pushed, and whatever else, one of the doctors suddenly started asking me about MY FREAKING THYROID HISTORY! “When did you have your radioactive iodine therapy done? Do you remember what year you had it?” Thanks for ruining the moment! I couldn’t give her a good answer even if I tried. I just remember saying, “It’s in my records… just look at my records…”
Aside from that, Mike was nowhere to be found!!! I could hear Dra. Ramos going “Call the husband! Where’s the husband?” Apparently, there was a miscommunication between Mike and the nurses. Instead of waiting outside the operating room, Mike was waiting in our hospital room! After a few more seconds or minutes of “Where’s the husband? Call the husband!” I asked the nurses (while still in that dazed state) to ring him. I also remember Dra. Ramos going, “Ay naku, ang dami nang namiss ni husband!” Finally, Mike came, kissed me, and the first thing I said to him was “Where have you been?!” Hahaha! Hallmark moment right there!
And then Mike finally met his daughter for the first time. He waited so long for this day to come. He even said that he would probably shed a tear of happiness as soon as he lays his eyes on his baby girl.
But when I looked at him, he was just stunned. He was just staring at Andi, speechless! The look on his face! Hahaha! He later on told me that he was just too shocked and amazed to finally meet his child that he couldn’t believe it was all real.
The nurse took our very first family photo, and after that, they took my baby to the opposite side of the room to weigh her and perform a series of tests on her. I told Mike, “I’m okay. Just go with them and watch over baby.” He did, and they had their own ‘Daddy and Daughter’ time.
While the doctors were stitching me back up, my eyes were fixed intently on Mike and Andi who were on the opposite side of the room, and all I could think of at that moment was: “I have my own family!” I was so happy! It was such a surreal and incredible feeling, a real dream come true! I felt complete. We were complete. What a wonderful Christmas gift!
Just as babies choose their own birthdays, they also choose how they make their grand entrance. Andi’s birth had so many twists and turns. It’s certainly an adventure-filled birth story! Looking back, a lot of things didn’t go as planned. But it’s true: God’s plans are better than ours. Looking back, I know now that things really happened for a reason. For one, maybe Dra. Agdamag left me so that I could meet Dra. Ramos, a loving and compassionate doctor who truly cared about me. We are truly grateful to her for taking me in despite such short notice. Aside from this, because of the sudden change of plans, I ended up delivering in a cheaper hospital, which meant that we were able to save A LOT of money, which we now use to provide for Andi’s needs. I even believe that there was a good reason why my water leaked in the morning: so that I could go to the hospital as early as I could and avoid the rush hour / holiday traffic… because at that time, every second and every minute was crucial to her safety and mine. One more thing, even though I was pushing for a normal delivery, I’m actually glad that I had a quick and pain-free CS instead. I didn’t have to endure the agony of going into labor. I believe Andi didn’t want me to suffer anymore and experience pain so she came out the way she did. Everything about the birth was effortless! Lastly, I see now that Andi really wanted to come out exactly on her 40th week so that she would be healthy and fully developed.
If there’s one thing that my birth story could teach soon-to-be moms, it’s this: Things work out in the end. Always. Sometimes, we think we want something but there’s actually something better in store for us. So always be open to surprises and be flexible about changes.
Trust your own instincts. As a soon-to-be mom, there will be many decisions to be made and voices to be heard, but the only voice that really matters is yours. When you need to settle on an answer and everything is confusing and unclear, just take a moment to really listen to your heart. The answer is just there somewhere, and you will know what to do.
Lastly, trust God. Things can get overwhelming, just like they did for me. But at the end of the day, whenever I felt tired, stressed out, and pressured, I just prayed that He would show me the right way to go and that He would keep my baby safe, no matter what.
That’s the birth story of our Fluffy Space Princess and the day that changed our lives forever!
A side note on Andi’s name:
On our second month of dating, Mike took me to The Mind Museum for my birthday. We went inside the Planetarium, wherein a space film was showing at the time. The narrator started talking about the constellation Andromeda, and AT THE EXACT SAME TIME, as if reading each other’s minds, we both said: “That’s a nice name for a baby girl!” Almost 5 years later, we did have a baby girl… and naturally, we named her Andromeda, our little star!
Eve, meanwhile, was inspired by the cute white robot from the movie Wall-E. I thought of having Eve as Andi’s second name because she’s our cute little space egg! 🙂