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The patiently waiting in Penang paid off and we welcomed the newest member of our family, Miles John Nicholson on July 18 at 6:18 pm (Malaysian time). It was a quick and exciting arrival and we are so glad he is here.
The Coles notes version is that Miles was born 2 hours after I arrived in the hospital via water birth. He weighed 8 lbs 7 oz and was 21.5″ long. Paul arrived just in the nick of time for his arrival.
The extended story:
I was getting really impatient for our new little one to be born as I wanted to get back home to Ipoh, not be away from Paul and of course we were very eager to meet the new addition. The doctor had been telling me that the baby was going to be big and I was done with being pregnant. On Monday (July 18) Paul headed back to work in Ipoh after a nice weekend together. I had a doctor’s appointment that morning that I dragged the kids to. The kids got lollypops and the doctor checked on baby and thought the baby was still not quite ready as I was only 2 cm dilated. Off we went for lunch and groceries and I started feeling crampy, but didn’t think too much about it because I had had some false labour throughout the last few weeks. I brought the kids back to the condo for a nap and the cramps continued with contractions. I started trying to time them and realized that they were getting stronger and I had to breathe through them. I talked to Paul a few times, who was at work in Ipoh about the contractions but still wasn’t getting my hopes up that this was the real deal. Around 3pm, they were getting stronger and I thought I should get checked and see if I was in labour. Nini, our helper was supposed to be arriving in Penang around 4pm, so I figured once she got there I would go and get checked. She said she wasn’t going to get there until 5pm, so I decided I better take the kids and head back to the hospital. I packed up all the last minute things for our hospital bag and off we went. The pains got a lot stronger on the drive to the hospital and so I called Paul and told him I thought he better get driving from Ipoh (2+ hour drive).
**** I (Paul) left right away from work and told my boss that this might be labour but if not I would be back tomorrow****
I parked the car and dragged the kids into the hospital, but still left the hospital bag in the car because I wasn’t sure if this was true labour yet. We went to the doctor’s clinic and the kids got more lollypops and he checked me and said I was 4-5 cm and that I was definitely having this baby today. The contractions were really strong and I wasn’t getting a break between them. So they led me and the kids off to a labour and delivery room and starting filling the birthing pool for the waterbirth. Our goal had been to have a water birth, but given the way my labour had been in the past, we weren’t sure if it would work out. It looked like we were going to get our water birth after all. The birthing pool (we don’t have any pics cause the camera was in the car!) is a large custom made blow up pool which they set up in the labour and delivery room. The hooked me up to monitor the contractions and baby’s heart beat. They turned on the cartoons for Ella and Gavin flirted with the nurses and looked into the birthing pool. Nini arrived at 4:30 thankfully to take the kids back to the condo.
****I was 30 mins into my 164km drive to the hospital. To date my fastest time was 2.5 hours as the first 20 km is through town in Ipoh and the highway can have some pretty slow traffic and road construction, and the last 10 km are through terrible Pinang traffic. Dawn called me and told me Nini had just come to get the kids and that the labour was progressing quickly. I pulled onto the main highway and stepped on it.****
I have had 2 babies before, but never felt pain this badly. There was just no break from the contractions and my stomach was constantly hard. So the doctor was back at 4:45ish (for my other births we took detailed notes on the labour, but this one was so intense and quick, it is a little fuzzy). He checked me again and I was 5 cm and my waters broke while he was checking me. I was moaning in pain and feeling quite alone and overwhelmed without Paul there. The doctor suggested I get into the pool to see if that helped. The pool was super hot, but it did help manage the pain. The doctor got changed into his swimming trunks and even got in with me! There were a lot of nurses in the room, but nursing care is more to provide medical needs here and not for comfort. I so missed the great labour nurses and midwives I had in Canada that were like coaches and friends. The doctor used my phone to call Paul and see where he was. He was instructed to drive carefully, but also that this baby was coming quick.
****When the doctor called me I got worried. I had just done about 100 km on the highway in about 45 minutes but traffic seemed to be slowing down due to road construction and the dreaded traffic to get on the bridge over to Penang, was still up ahead. I told the Dr. I would drive safe and would get there in time. ****
Around 5:30 I told the doctor I needed an epidural and I couldn’t do it anymore (the pain was so intense). He checked me and said I was 8 cm and it was too late for that and we started pushing.
**** By this time I was stuck in Penang traffic and driving like a complete idiot. You kind of have to if you want to get anywhere in reasonable time in Penang traffic. I pulled into the hospital emergency at 5:50 and ran up to the maternity ward.***
At 5:50pm I heard Paul whisper in my ear and felt instantly better and more confident. He stripped down to his boxers and jumped in the pool with us (I’m sure the nurses found that shocking). Miles John was born at 6:18pm Malaysian time in the water. He weighed 8 lbs 7 oz and was 21.5″ long. The doctor pulled him up on my chest and he was wrapped in blankets. Paul cut the cord and we got to cuddle for a few moments and saw that he was a boy.
Our Reflections on Birthing in Malaysia
It is completely ironic that I had an unmedicated, no interventions water birth in Malaysia. We are so glad we made the decision to have him in Penang and it was definitely worth the inconveniences. We were really happy with the great care we received from the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital in Penang. We realize how progressive the doctor we had here was and feel lucky that we found him. Since returning to Ipoh, we get lots of questions about his water birth and people here are genuinely baffled by the concept and want to hear all about it. We spent 2 nights at the hospital and since Nini was staying at the condo with the kids, Paul was able to stay over with us. Baby care is quite different here in Malaysia and probably similar to what it was in Canada 30-50 years ago. Rooming in after the birth and breastfeeding are not the norm. We had to sign a special form saying we were entirely responsible for Miles in order to have him room in with us, and not in the nursery. Miles was quite fussy the first couple of nights, but we had a good stay at the hospital. We even had a candlelight dinner the second night delivered to our room as part of our package. It is interesting to be in a private hospital where they have to compete for your business. It is also interesting to have to pay a bill before you leave, although the whole hospital stay was a fairly reasonable $2,500 CAD and would have been considerably lower if not for the water birth.
Adjusting to our new family of 5
We were released from the hospital on Wednesday and after checking out of our condo headed back to Ipoh in our 2 car convoy. It was a little overwhelming to get home and be on our own with three kids. We definitely feel outnumbered and I can see why you have to play zone defense. It will be nice when my Mom arrives later today and we can go back to man to man. The kids are really interested in their new brother. Gavin is quite rough and loud around him and I think it will be awhile before we trust him with Miles. But he is quite interested in him and loves to shout “baby! baby!”
at him. Ella can be helpful when she wants to be, but is actually having a harder time adjusting. The kids are both fighting for our attention and fighting with each other a lot. On Friday Miles was readmitted to the hospital here in Ipoh because of his jaundice levels and we had to spend 24 hours under the lights. So the kids have had a rough time with having Paul and I away a lot this week. Miles was discharged on Saturday and although he is still quite sleepy from the jaundice, he seems to be doing well. Paul returns to work on Monday and we will miss having him around all day. I am so looking forward to my Mom being here to help out. We are so excited for all of you to meet him and have already started to work on his passport for our flight home at the end of August.