Oct 27, 2010

A story that I only now found the courage to tell ...

*** to all my bloggie frens who already knew about this, thank you so much for your well wishes and your continuous prayers for my baby and my family. no words can express how much this support from all of you mean to me ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you ...

i was contemplating whether to post this story here or not, it's pretty long and i didn't want to bore all of you. but i decided that i should ... for those of you who have been wondering what's been happening to my life and why i've been MIA for a while ***

Date - October 4th 2010

Contractions began at 3.30am on the 4th Oct. I have never experienced contractions, but I reckon that this must be it. The pain came every 5 minutes by the time it was 4.30am. It was intense. I woke Jason up and told him about the pain, I can see that he was very worried. I was just 29 weeks pregnant.

We’ve had bleeding scares since I was 24 weeks. It would happen once a week either on a Sunday or a Monday, except on the 28th week, where nothing happened. Dr F, my baby doctor, had already prepped us on what could conceivably happen. That I would go into early labour. I was given 2 shots of steroids by Dr F at the 24th week when I first started bleeding, to help mature the lungs of the baby. It was an essential precaution. Dr F also furnished us with information on the complications, treatment and costs that came with a preemie (preterm baby).

The first thing we should know about is babies who are born early have not developed the skill to breathe, so they need to be on a ventilator when they arrive, until their lungs and other organs have matured. He also told us truthfully that the cost of a preemie ventilator stay in NICU would costs between 3-5k a night, in a private hospital. Imagine how much it would cost if my baby had to stay for a month in the NICU. As much as we would like Dr F to deliver the baby as he did with Llara, the truth is that we couldn’t afford the bills that came with it. THIS is private health care for you if you have a preemie …

Dr F suggested an alternative. Go to a semi-govt or a governmental hospital if I was having pain before 36 weeks. That is what we did. At 5am on the 4th Oct, Jason drove me to the ER of University Hospital. I was admitted and pushed to the labour ward. Since it was a semi-govt hospital, it was not husband-friendly. Jason was not allowed to see me. All he could do was sit outside the labour ward, anxiously wondering and praying hard. Whilst I was inside, in pain and alone. After much begging, the nurses allowed brief visits from Jason … I don’t think I can tell you in words the relief I felt when I saw his face. During the course of the day, Jason was allowed to visit me 3 times for short periods. I guess it’s becos the nurses were fans of Jason’s … but I was still grateful for their leniency …

The contractions continued throughout the day, albeit sporadically. The doctors had given me something to stop the contractions cos it was just too early for baby to arrive. They had also given me another steroid dose to further mature my baby’s lungs. But they still couldn’t find a ventilator for my baby. That must be the hardest news to accept … that my baby would have no ventilator if she decides to arrive.

Many doctors came and went, medical students watched while the doctors examine you, and the same questions were asked over and over again by every new doctor that came to see you … and believe me, there were loads of them. UH was a place where new doctors came to do their practicals. I really didn’t know which doctor was going to deliver my baby or if there would be a doctor at all. Becos when you’re a patient at a semi-govt hospital, you are not designated to any specific doctor. This came as another shock to me … at this point in time, in my situation, I had to believe that all doctors were created equal, and that they all knew exactly what to do … when the time comes.

Fortunately around 7pm that evening, my contractions eased out.

Date - October 5th 2010

The following day I was pushed to the normal ward and Jason was allowed to visit and he stayed with me the whole day. I was constantly hoping and praying that I could keep the baby in, at least until she was 34 weeks. Besides still having not found a ventilator, there were other complications that came with such a preterm baby. Infections were the other worrying issue. Preterm babies are more susceptible to infections. But mostly, I really didn’t want my baby to arrive without having the most important thing she needed to survive, life support. (Later I found out that they did have a ventilator on the morning I checked in and was actually allocated for me, but due to some miscommunications, they gave the ventilator to another patient … and my baby was left with none)

I thought everything will be ok again cos there were no contractions during the course of the day. Mom and Llara even came over to visit me in the evening. But then at around 6pm, the pain started coming back slowly. I just knew in my heart that this was it. Instinct told me that I was indeed going into early labour. Jason sent mom and Llara home and came straight back. I was already pushed to the labour ward (again), no handphones, no visitors. I had dilated 6cm and there was still no ventilator.

Efforts were made to call all the governmental and semi-govt hospitals in the state for a ventilator. There was none. They told me that the other option was to send my baby out to another state as soon as she arrived. Or manually ventilate her until they can find the machine!! I cannot tell you how horrific I felt. Send my 29 week baby out-of-state in her fragile state??!! Manually ventilate?? I could have died … I was on the verge of hysteria. And the bloody contractions wouldn’t stop. The nurses allowed Jason come in to see me again… if only for a little while, to stop me from freaking out …

Jason was my rock. I don’t think I could have made it through on my own. He must be the strongest, most loyal and steadfast man I have the honor to call my husband. He calmed me down as much as he could. Held my hand and told me not to worry. In all the anxiety, I was questioning my decision to come to a semi-govt hospital. He assured me that we had done the best we could, given our situation. It was a decision that we made together with Dr F in the event that something like this should happen. I know Jason was afraid too, but he stayed strong. Many times I could see tears brimming in his eyes, but he held it back for my sake. He was running in and out to find out if they had found a ventilator. He called everyone who had the faintest idea what to do. He prayed and spoke to his mentor.

Then a miraculous thing happened. Just when there seem to be no hope of getting a ventilator on time, Jason received an sms from his mentor telling him not to worry, that there WILL be a ventilator. As he finished reading the sms, a doctor came to him and told him that they had found a ventilator for my baby. That … was a miracle …

Jason came into the room and told me the good news and told me not to worry. I didn’t believe him in the beginning and kept asking him if he said that just to make me feel better. He told me it was true, they did find a ventilator and now I can concentrate on bringing the baby into the world.

The time came and I was 9cm dilated. There were 5 labours happening in that area that night. And only very few doctors on call. The doctors were running all over the place, anticipating which baby would arrive first. The lady next to my bed was in labour too. Have you ever been in an area with 5 labours going on at the same time? Having never experienced a semi-govt hospital before, this was shocking (yes ... I was shocked many times in this experience, it’s surprising that I haven’t died from a heart attack yet!). Practically no one was there by my side until the very last minute! They put a very young girl (I think was a doctor-in-training) at the door to keep an eye on the 2 of us. I thought I was going to have to deliver the baby myself!

Also, my first child was born via elective caesarian. As such I have never experienced labour pain, never experienced the process of labour itself (altho I’ve seen it many times on TV). But no amount of visuals can prepare you for the real thing. Unending questions kept popping up in my head as I writhe in pain. Would I know how to push? Would I be able to deliver my baby? I am not exactly very young, would I have the stamina to last the labour? So many questions and all frightening. I kept concentrating on the device that they had strapped to my tummy to monitor my baby’s heartbeat. That was the only sound that kept me going … my baby’s heartbeat. And the thought of Jason waiting outside…

Finally, the doctors came in, took a look and said it was time. One of them proceeded to burst my waterbag, I screamed as I felt warm water gushing out. I was thinking, why burst my waterbag? Is my baby going to survive without her amniotic fluid? I concentrated on the heartbeat. And I pushed. I overheard the doctor saying to a nurse to call a higher rank doctor in … O - O … what’s happening? Is something wrong? The higher rank doctor came in and they were discussing about seeing fresh blood. They think that I might have had a placenta abruption, which was the cause of my early labour. I blocked their voices out and concentrated on the push. Each time the pain came, I pushed …

I pushed for about an hour, I was exhausted but still nothing happened. The baby hadn’t moved an inch! The doctors muttered something like “she doesn’t know how to push” … my greatest fear realized. I was desperate, I was thinking, my baby has been in there for an hour without the waterbag … what’s going to happen? Can she breathe? (of course she can, she breathes thru the umbilical cord … my brains were fuzzy then) Thank goodness her heartbeat is still going strong. At the last resort, the doctors had to put me on stirrups … and I continue to concentrate on pushing each time the pain came. I never imagined that I would be praying “more pain! more pain please …”, becos that’s the only motivation my body had to push harder. I was faltering, frighten and in tears, I was about to give up… I was literally tearing apart, physically and mentally.

The pain was excruciating, but it was nothing compared to the thought of the dangers my baby might be facing now and when she arrives into this world so unprepared. I would gladly take 100 times more pain if only someone, someone would assure me that my baby is going to be alright … My baby’s constant and strongly beating heart was what gave me hope and kept me going …

Date - October 6th 2010

Finally, at one minute pass midnight, Maia Fae Chong was born.

They put her briefly on my chest as they cut the umbilical cord, I could only catch a glimpse of her before they whisk her off to the special care unit. She was so tiny. So grey. And so silent. I had secretly hoped to hear her cry, but I guess I always knew that she wouldn’t be able to. She couldn’t even breathe, how could she cry…

I was at once, relieved, grateful, scared, anxious, worried and many more indescribable feelings all bundled into one … Now that the ventilator issue was out of the way, other worries came popping up in my head. How is my baby doing? Is she breathing alright? How are her other organs doing? Please … no infections, please … please …

The doctors continue to fuss around me and I was wondering what’s taking so long. After a couple of minutes, I realized what all the fuss was about. They couldn’t remove the placenta from my cervix. The problem was my baby’s umbilical cord was too fragile. Afterall it’s a 29 week old cord, what did they expect? Finally, one of the doctors took a chance and tugged at the umbilical cord, hoping the placenta would slip out … but the inevitable happened. The umbilical cord snapped. And the placenta was stuck inside of me.

Immediate arrangements were made to push me to the operating theater on the other side of the hospital. I had to get a procedure called manual removal of placenta (MRP) done. The MRP procedure involved putting me on epidural … what a joke I thought! They didn’t give me any epidural during my labour session, but instead I had to have one now. When the epidural succeeded in numb-ing the lower half of my body, they proceeded to remove the placenta from my cervix piece by piece … yes, using hands. In all this time, I was wide awake. In the middle of the procedure, a medical personnel came to me and asked to take my blood sample. I asked her why, she told me my baby needed it. Of course my anxiety meter shot up to the top again! What’s happening? Is my baby alright? My thoughts never left my little baby Maia.

I don’t know how long the procedure took, but I was shaking from cold as soon as they finished. The funniest thing was, as soon as the procedure ended, I was set to lay there with nothing on, whilst everyone else was cleaning up the operating theater! I remember thinking to myself … gosh! These people must want to go home quick! The mops and the buckets of pungent disinfectant came out, the equipment was pushed back to their original places, some nurses were grabbing their handbags and saying their goodbyes … it was like a scene right out of a twisted movie! Finally, when the theater was cleaned, I was transferred to another bed and pushed out to rest in the ICU for about half an hour … I was still shaking uncontrollably from the cold. I remember thinking “get me out of here! I want to see Jason, I want to know what’s happening to my baby Maia!” …

When they finally pushed me out of the ICU, the first voice I heard was Jason’s. Oh gosh … it was like the voice of an angel … my angel … and the first thing I asked my angel was … how is baby Maia? When he said she was alright … my heart sang …

Jason followed me to the post-natal ward where I’ll be resting for the next few days. It was in the wee hours of the morning, and supposedly no visitors were allowed. But the head nurse there allowed Jason to stay. I must say that the all the nurses in the hospital were truly kind and sympathetic towards Jason and me, and I am so grateful for them!

Jason held my hand whilst I cried my heart out. Jason has seen little Maia Fae and told me that everything was alright … there were a lot of pediatrics fussing over her and she’s safely in her ventilator and breathing. She’s 1.3kg and fully formed. They told me that for a 29 weeker, 1.3kg is a good size. But I also knew that the first 72 hours was crucial for my baby. Jason was allowed to stay till 3-ish in the morning and then he had to leave. He told me that he’ll visit little Maia Fae again before he left the hospital.

That night, I never slept. I couldn’t sleep. I was praying silently. I had many instances of chills (they call it ‘vigor’) … which I later learned, was a reaction to the MRP surgery. I prayed for the safety of my baby till dawn arrived … I continue to pray for the next 72 hours …


  1. Oh my gosh, you had me on the edge of my chair. How is your little one hope she is stronger. I can't imagine you all alone in labour a terrifing time for both of you. And people say our Medical system is bad. No way would that happen here in Canada. Hugs to you and Jason and your sweet little one.

  2. Oh my gosh Luthien.
    I'm so glad you and little Maia made it through safely!
    ps. very well written

  3. you and your family are in my thoughts - sending light and love... my son was born at 23 weeks 4 days - there is lots of hope...

  4. You never know your real strength until you face death, give birth or fight for your children...
    I send a prayer your way every day, Luthien :)

  5. Hope everything is fine with you and little Maia Fae Chong. If I'm not mistaken, my sister was less than 2 kg when she was born and she's all fine.

  6. ~luthien...i am in tears this morning reading all you have endured...i can not imagine going through such luthien...no one should ever have to experience birth in the way that you did...i hope you are doing well and baby maia is getting stronger each day...i hope that the words you share later will be that of only joyous moments though i sense there is a great deal more you had experienced...i hold you and your family in my thoughts and prayers and will continue to do such till she comes home and thereafter...much l♥ve and light always with you all~

  7. life is the hardest place there is.
    there's no doubt about it.
    many blessings to you and your beautiful family. may the goddess shine on you.

  8. Dear,dear Luthien...
    HOW tuching is you post!
    Wish you and you family staying power,full of LOVE and I send many,many love to you little Angel Maia***

    Hugs and Love to you,

  9. thank you all for your well wishes, your healing words and your continuous prayers ... i am so touched by all your support and the friendship you have shown me thru these times.
    BIG HUGS!!

  10. Luthien, you know you and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers, my friend. xo Michele

  11. Oh my gosh, Luthien.
    It was really a hard time for you. Luckily all (you and Maia) are safe and healthy.
    Praying for you and your little one.
    Maia will get strong and stronger, no worry.

  12. Oh Luthien, I only just found this post as I was wondering why I hadn't seen anything new for a long time. You are such a hero! I am so proud of how strong a woman you were! It really was like watching a suspenseful movie as I read your post. Your babies and husband are blessed and so lucky to have you. Two lives were at risk here and I am sooooo glad you both are ok. I can't wait to see pictures of baby Maia and to hear your continued story. Bless you.

    love Jaime

  13. What a story!!!! I hope everyone is doing well. Best to you.

  14. Oh Luthien you've been through such a lot - so happy your beautiful little Maia is doing well now :)


thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post :) it makes my day!!
Luthien :)