My estimated due date was on 14th September and we had planned for an earlier caesarean section on the 1st (at gestation age 38 weeks). I couldn’t wait for Amelie to arrive, and clearly my increasing blood pressure readings shared the same sentiments!
Last Friday just past midnight, we checked myself in to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital with a searing headache and vision changes where I was seeing black spots. Albeit only momentarily, it was a pretty scary experience. After being reviewed by the attending doctor at MENH A&E, I had an IV line and an indwelling urinary catheter inserted (yikes!). While the nurses were friendly and kind, urinary catheters are never a pleasant experience I can strongly attest to that. I was quickly whisked away to the maternity ward after that.
My obgyn Dr WS Law saw me on Friday morning and decided that it was THE DAY. Surgery was swiftly scheduled at 1pm. It’s kinda strange that both Ivan and I were strangely serene about the whole thing, never mind that baby is coming earlier than planned or that he is serving his notice period (!) but had to take urgent leave to be there with me. Perhaps we are better prepared mentally this round unlike our first experience at NUH 4 years back when Aidan was born. Or maybe it’s just the laid-back personality of our obgyn – he is so calm and reassuring he exudes floral Hawaiian vibes and coconut-sippin’ by the beach.
At 35 weeks + 6 days, Amelie was delivered via elective c-section under spinal anaesthesia. Spinal didn’t really hurt, one tiny prick in the back and a warm flush spreads down to the legs, rendering my lower half body numb. Thankfully I didn’t have any bad side effects (e.g. shivering), but I did itch a little and was dying to get someone to scratch my nose for me!
The entire process took an hour: Amelie was out within 15 minutes, stitching me up took 45 minutes. Her cries were loud and strong, which brought me a great sense of relief. She was bundled up and brought over for me to cuddle, still red and sticky in her newborn state. The anaesthetist fussed over us and insisted on helping us to “capture the moment”, getting us to pose this way and that but I won’t be sharing any of those pictures here. I mean, what decent iPhone shots do you expect while I was still belly-wide-open on the operating table?! 😛
The paediatrician Dr Cindy Hia assessed her and suggested that she be monitored in NICU overnight due to Amelie not breathing as well as she would like. In NICU they started Amelie on formula temporarily and fed her through a tube. While it is heart-breaking to see her hooked up to all kinds of tubes and wires, I am very proud that she is one tough cookie like her big brother. Amelie tolerated the nurses weaning her off oxygen through the night and was brought back to nursery the next morning. I was advised to start her off on mixed feeding (both formula and breast) first due to her fluctuating blood glucose levels. For a 35 week preemie she latched on and suckled very well.
I read on Pinterest that pineapple juice is anti-inflammatory and has helped many new moms avoid engorgement issues and lumps when the milk comes in, which happens around day 5. I diligently drank one cup of freshly juiced pineapple everyday and sure enough, it’s been a smooth ride. Day of surgery I managed to hand express 5 mls of colostrum. Day 1 post-op, 3 mls. Day 2 there was barely any milk, but I diligently continued to latch baby on 3 hourly and it helped to bring my milk in on Day 4. A stark contrast to my first time postpartum where everything was just so sore and uncomfortable. I didn’t need the lactation consultant this time round 🙂
Our original choice was Mount Alvernia Hospital in view of the great confinement menu and experienced nurses, but the admission to MENH was unplanned and frankly despite initial hesitations, I really enjoyed my 4D3N stay there.
- Guaranteed single (sound-proofed) rooms, spacious and luxuriously furnished. Bidet toilet, Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries. Need I say more?
- Complimentary 4D3N parking for one vehicle. Use the ticket once and it registers the vehicle’s IU – no fumbling for tickets upon entry/exit for the new dad! Very thoughtful.
- Complimentary single-use parking tickets x 2 for your visitors.
- An all-in-one call bell device: control your bed’s recline, entire room lighting, and if you need help you can even communicate with the nurses outside via telecom all from the comfort of your bed.
- The butler delivers my confinement meals on time every time, even acceding to my odd request for iced milo every single meal. There was one time I only got powdered milo in a cup though… It was so weird. Ivan and I simply laughed it off – can make milo dinosaur!
- Daily housekeeping. The housekeeper makes small talk and seems genuinely interested in communicating with me. I am also presented with a pretty orchid once she is done with the room.
- Checking in and out was a breeze – very few paperwork, mostly done electronically.
On retrospection, where I was bed ridden for 3 days due to pain after my first c-section this time round I was up and walking unassisted (without the abdominal binder) on Day 1 post-surgery. The skill of the surgeon and adequate pain control makes a huge difference in the recovery process.
Also, there are no regrets about the delivery expenses. At NUH private rates I spent a total of $14k for both myself and Aidan’s stay (5 days for me in B1 class, 7 days for Aidan in NICU). At Mt Elizabeth Novena I spent $15.7k for a single room (considered A1 class if compared to restructured hospitals), and Amelie spent 1 day in NICU and 2 days in nursery.
I must say… it is money well spent.
“Birth is the sudden opening of a window, through which you look out upon a stupendous prospect. For what has happened? A miracle. You have exchanged nothing for the possibility of everything.” – William MacNeile Dixon