“Well, I suppose I could be in labor…but I’ll buy this concealer first.”

The day Lucien squalled into the world, I went to

I spent the morning the usual way:
checking mail, approving timesheets, discussing storylines. Then Kayen and I
stepped out for lunch. I was feeling an occasional sharp burst of pain in my
lower abdomen but I thought they were just practice contractions, as the books
put it. After lunch I asked Kayen to accompany me to Beauty Bar, where I
purchased a pot of concealer and a foundation brush I’d been wanting for some
time. The pain seemed to be getting worse, though, so I told her on the way back
to the office that I might need to take the rest of the day off and just lie
down at home.

When we got to the office,
I went to the pod and tried to nap, hoping the pain would lessen. It didn’t.
After thirty minutes, I stood up and packed my things. On the way out, my
assistant asked me to sign a thick sheaf of overtime and reimbursement forms. It
was already 1:30 in the afternoon. I was home by 2; my sister stepped out to buy
surgical gloves so she could examine me. While she was gone, I went to the
bathroom and proceeded to bleed. I figured, all right, it’s three weeks early,
but I might be giving birth soon. Dripping blood on the floor, I packed Lucien’s
things in one bag, and mine in another. I even remembered to pack the chargers
for the cellphone and the camera

The pain progressed en route to
the hospital. Every time we hit a rough spot in the road, Bit would say, “That’s
good. Matatagtag ka.” (I still don’t understand what getting battered by
potholes has to do with having an easier delivery.) We were in UERM by 3. They
discovered that I was already 4 cm dilated, 60% effacement (that’s the thinning
of the cervix; at 100%, you’re good to go). They gave me an enema and lots of
tissue paper.

The pain was getting worse,
but I was surprised by how it wasn’t as wracking as I thought it would be.
Everyone in the delivery room kept commenting on how beautifully my contractions
were coming along, and how high my pain threshold was. The epidural injection
was more painful than the entire labor experience, I thought.

At around 4:30, I was already 10 cm and
100% effaced, so the pushing could begin in earnest. The epidural had taken away
most of the pain, but it had also removed my ability to gauge if I was pushing
hard enough for Lucien to get out. They brought in a man to lean on my stomach
and help me push.

While I was trying to
concentrate on breathing and pushing, I noticed I was shivering. The shivers got
worse. I was so cold I felt my jaw was going to lock, and through chattering
teeth, I told the doctors how cold I was and how hard it was to breathe. They
placed an oxygen mask on my face which I kept trying to evade. I panicked. I
couldn’t breathe, and I was shaking so hard I couldn’t push properly. The
anesthesiologist pumped paracetamol into me, which reduced the shivering. By
this time I was tired and very worried about Lucien. I kept asking my sister,
“Is he all right? Is he okay?”

The last
push did it, and Lucien came out. It was 5:47. I didn’t see him. I just heard
the shouts of “Baby out! Baby out!” and Lucien was borne away from the table. I
heard him cry, and I wanted to cry too, but I was just too damn tired. He was
underweight – 2.3 kilos – and so straight to the nursery he went. Through the
haze, I heard “Placenta out!” and then everything became dark and

I was shivering again when I woke
up. It was almost 8 in the evening. I was in my room at 9:30, and Bit and Neri
were there to give me food and help me change into my nightshirt.

The next day, we found out I had
temporarily lost the ability to pee on my own. They emptied my bladder with a
catheter. Then when I still couldn’t pee, I was fitted with another catheter and
a leg bag with a spout. The catheter was awful. They inserted it at the same
time the nursery delivered Lucien to the room, which really deflated the joy of
the occasion.

I wore the catheter for
four days. My sister helped me remove it on the fourth day because I was so
depressed and fatigued from the constant slicing pain. Even after it was gone,
we found out I was allergic to the catheter rubber, and I had blisters where the
leg bag had been attached.

At least I
could feed and cuddle Lucien without wincing so much. Several more days had to
pass before I could sit down properly and do my share around the house. Now I
feel much better, and a little more capable as a mother. Lucien even lets me
have little breaks. Just this afternoon, when he fell asleep after guzzling his
formula, I finally managed to play with the concealer I’d bought before I gave
birth. It’s perfect.