In less than a week’s time, Bridgette will be 4 and a half years old. Not 4, but 4 and a half. That half a year means a lot when you’re her age. I woke up with my little girl snuggled close to me, and I couldn’t help staring at the beautiful round face just inches away from my own, recalling what it was like when I first laid eyes on her. I spent the next half hour reminiscing what life was like before her time, what life was like the year that she was born, and wondering how time could sneak past us THIS quickly….
I wish I had kept a journal of my pregnancy, to document every emotion, every fear, every scent, and every moment of that amazing journey. I’m suddenly afraid that one day, I will no longer remember the details of Bridgette’s birth…that long, but incredibly memorable day in our lives which I hope to hold in my heart forever and ever. Therefore, I decided that I needed to add these memories to my blog, so it will never be forgotten…
I remember the day I took the pregnancy test, and I called Alan while he was on his business trip. I told him I had something to tell him, but would wait until he is home, secretly hoping he’d make me spill the news right away. Immediately, he wanted to know what was on my mind, and I think he guessed it by the second guess. At that time, we were married for nearly 4 years, and the timing couldn’t have been better to welcome a new member to our family.
The first 5 months of my pregnancy were pretty unpleasant. That’s actually an understatement. How could I possibly have enjoyed days full of nausea, where a perfectly normal scent could make my stomach churn so badly? My wonderful mother in law cooked all kinds of healthy food for me, none of which I was able to keep in my stomach very long. I craved desperately for the home cooking that I had as a child, and was incredibly blessed to have my parents spend 2 hours on the road every other day delivering the home cooked meal that I wanted. My appetite and craving changed constantly, sending Alan all over town finding just the right food to keep me happy. During those days, although I whined and complained constantly, I felt so loved and blessed to have the most wonderful family taking care of me.
The best part of my pregnancy was to be able to experience this life changing event in parallel to my sister, who was also pregnant and just three weeks ahead of me. Although she lived in Hong Kong at the time, we constantly talked on the phone and emailed one another to exchange pregnancy stories. Because she decided to deliver her baby here, in S.F., we got to spend the last month of our pregnancy together, bonding closely as mommies-to-be, in our matching overalls gifted to us by our dad. Every day we took walks, ate, shopped, and had the most delightful time together!
Alan and I got to go on a “Babymoon” during the latter part of my second trimester. I was invited to teach a course on wedding planning to the management team at the Half Moon Resort in Jamaica, and they were kind enough to invite my spouse as well, so it was the perfect opportunity for us to take a trip before I became less mobile in my last trimester. We had a really memorable time in Jamaica. Even though it was partly work for me, our hosts at the resort were very considerate in making sure we had lots of time to ourselves. They were remarkably hospitable and treated us like royalty the entire time. I joked to Alan that Bridgette hopefully wouldn’t get too use to this kind of treatment inside my tummy, or we’d be in trouble! 🙂
My due date came and went, giving me the ‘overdue blues’. My doctor decided that I should be induced, for fear that my baby was going to be too big. I remember clearly that evening that I was scheduled to go in to start the induction process. I was so nervous, and excited, that I would FINALLY get to meet my little babycake. My doctor warned me that I could be sent home that evening, if I did not begin dilating, and would be asked to return in the morning for the official induction. Nonetheless, my mom, Alan, and I eagerly headed to the hospital that evening, hopeful, only to be sent home in the end.
I couldn’t sleep that night, knowing that tomorrow would definitely be THE DAY that Bridgette would be born. What would she be like? Would I really fall in love with her right away, as others have told me I would? I tossed and turned, and finally got up around 3am. Alan couldn’t sleep either, and the two of us watched television to keep ourselves calm. When 6am rolled around (it felt like forever), I woke my mom up, and the three of us made our way to the hospital again, where I was officially admitted this time.
I cannot remember when exactly I began feeling the contractions after I was induced, but the first few hours were quite bearable. Getting the IV was already incredibly painful for me, so I wasn’t looking forward to the contractions. I think I was about 2cm dilated when I decided that I should get an epidural. It wasn’t that the pain was excruciating at that point, but I remembered quite clearly that my doctor had informed us it could take up to an hour for the anesthesiologist to give me my shot of epidural from the time that I request for it. Being that big cry-baby that I have always been, I decided to play it safe and asked for the epidural early. After all, it’s not like I would be able to give birth without it, so why not ask for it earlier?
It did take about 30 minutes before the anesthesiologist came, and I tried to tune him out as he explained the process to me. Somehow, hearing all that only made me more nervous, and I didn’t even want to look at the enormous needle that was going to be injected into my spine. The epidural shot only took a few minutes, but it was indeed very painful, and I swore under my breath that I would never do it again. After about an hour, I asked the nurse why my contractions were getting worse, and why on earth the epidural hadn’t kicked in yet. She then decided it was time to break my water, and I screamed in agony at her roughness as she did it, nearly kicking her in the face. Anything more painful than that was unimaginable to me at that point. Luckily, my sister came to visit at that very moment, offering me the support and ‘pep talk’ that I needed.
For the next hour, I recalled people coming and going in my hospital room. My mother in law came and massaged my hands and feet. My cousins Joey and Jacqueline came, to offer me their moral support. When the nurse finally called the anesthesiologist to come back to see why the epidural was not working, I was given the dreadful news that I needed a second shot. I cried at the grim news, but knew I had no other choice other than to tough it out.
After what felt like eternity, the epidural finally worked and the pain from the contractions subsided. I begged for some water, but was only given ice chips. I think I threw up a couple of times, but eventually, I drifted into sleep. My mom and Alan did as well, for we’d been at the hospital nearly 16 hours at that point.
I think it was around 11pm when the nurse announced that I was about 8cm dilated and was ready to start pushing. My mom and Alan immediately woke up and got into their positions, each of them holding down one leg. The nurses scurried in and out of my room preparing for the labor, and instructed me how to push. When one of the nurses warned me that the epidural could wear off in my labor position, that was all the motivation that I needed to push HARD. Surprisingly, I was really good at this part. Within 30 minutes, the nurse announced that the baby’s head was visible and I needed to stop.
“WHY?” I asked in disbelief. We were on a roll! The nurse answered that normally, the pushing process takes hours, so they do not call my doctor until they are sure that the baby would be out in the next 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe that I had to stay in that position, with my baby crowning, while the nurse called my doctor at home (it was almost 2am then!). Alan and my mom did their best to keep me calm during the next half hour as we waited for my doctor to get there. They spoke to me in a gentle, soothing voice, telling me that I was doing great, and that we’d all get to meet little Bridgette in a matter of minutes.
After what felt like eternity, my ob arrived and I was given permission to start pushing again. I was so exhausted and drained at that point, but I kept pushing hard, and within a few minutes, I heard the most beautiful cries on earth.
Once Bridgette was born, it was like a whirlwind in the labor room. I couldn’t seem to stop the tears from rolling down my face as the nurse laid Bridgette on my chest so that I can finally feel her warm skin against mine. Never mind the blood, or that I still needed to push the placenta out, or that I was experiencing some pretty excruciating cramps. I held my baby close to my heart and cried the happiest tears I’ve ever cried in my life.
I still remember Alan’s face as he held Bridgette for the first time. A man who rarely shows his emotion, I was so touched to see all the emotions written on his face at that very moment–love, amazement, happiness….I could see immediately how proud he was of our little girl already. I will never forget the moment his eyes locked with mine as he held Bridgette in his arms, and although no words were exchanged, we stepped into parenthood together with the fullest heart we’ve ever experienced.
We ran on adrenaline for the next 12 hours, and I barely remember what went on except that I was being moved around a lot. It felt like the minute my eyes closed for some much needed sleep, I was being awakened again by the nurse, telling me it was time to breastfeed my baby. Prior to my labor, I heard all kinds of horror stories on breastfeeding from my friends. Some claimed that it would be more painful than labor. I lucked out. The second that Bridgette latched on, it felt so right, so perfectly right, that I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was the best kind of bonding for us, and I loved holding her and feeling her warm body close to mine. I still remember how I would stare adoringly at her as she sleepily and peacefully nursed, unaware of anything else except the closeness between my baby and I.
Bridgette was born at 2:35am in the morning. By late morning, we had our first visitors– my cousin Joey, my mother and father in law, my sister, brother in law, and Bridgette’s 3 week old cousin Brianne. My little hospital room was packed, not just with people, but with so much love that I felt like my heart would burst with happiness. It all felt very surreal, and every time I held Bridgette in my arms, I would silently thank God again for blessing us with the most perfect baby we could have asked for.
After spending two nights at the hospital, under the watchful eyes of doctors and nurses, both Alan and I were a little nervous to leave. Would we really know how to care for this tiny little baby by ourselves? It was pouring the day that we brought Bridgette home from the hospital, just like it poured on our wedding day, but on neither occasions did the rain dampen our spirits. Bridgette became the new ray of sunshine in our lives, and her presence has filled our home with more love and laughter than we would have ever imagined possible.
Bridgette: We hope you will always remember how much you are loved. If life gets to be too tough, or if you need to feel empowered, just know that we love you unconditionally, and will always be here for you. Thank you for teaching us how to love with a genuine heart, to live in the present moment, and to laugh like nobody’s watching…