If you need a catch up on our life, settle in for a lengthy post here before delving into baby details. If you’re more excited about the BIGGEST NEWS, an obvious giveaway in the title of this post, carry on!
As I mentioned in my last post (here), Braden and I were very excited to become pregnant last spring to add the much-desired second child to our family. This pregnancy flew by, as our year was packed with activity, Campbell is non-stop, and work for both of us is full on. Also, luckily for me, this pregnancy was just as smooth, if not smoother than my experience carrying Campbell, so I gave little thought to it and carried on with life basically as normal.
Once again, we kept the baby’s sex a surprise. I honestly had no preference, jumping back and forth between the merits of a little brother playmate for Campbell wearing nothing but hand-me-downs, versus a darling pink bundle to balance out our little family. Braden more vocally hoped for a girl, which was super sweet. Of course both of us only wanted a healthy baby. I started to be convinced I was having a girl when, nine times out of 10, ANYONE I ran into guessed “girl”. Anyone from close friend to complete strangers in taxi lineups told me I was carrying a girl. On the way to the hospital Braden and I both made a final “girl” wager, which turned out to be correct.
This isn’t a birth announcement, so I guess I’m spilling the big exciting gender reveal early! I also thought I would share Felicity’s birth story. It was so incredibly different from my experience with Campbell. If you want to learn more about that saga, read more here (and if you want to know what it’s like to give birth in a Hong Kong public hospital, read more here)!
With my last experience of a long labour ending in an induction, extremely painful progression, eventual epidural and “natural” birth (details here), I had no idea what to expect with my second. I had no idea what the onset of natural labour felt like, and truly hoped to experience a more “natural” labour and birth.
My due date was January 10th, but I had been measuring approximately 1 week ahead my entire pregnancy, so by the time 2020 rolled around (feeling relieved we hadn’t had our baby between Christmas and New Years) I was VERY ready for the baby to be OUT. On January 5th, a Sunday, we had a very normal day, walking while Campbell rode his bike, going out for lunch and had a visit from friends. Maybe it was the 10+ km I walked, or maybe it was just time, but by late afternoon I had a few cramps. Braden was talking about going out to meet up with a friend and (luckily) I suggested he hold off heading out for a bit until I figured out was going on.
It didn’t take very long to figure out that I was, in fact, having contractions. Braden started timing them and we both started getting ready to go to the hospital. My parents had already started making dinner as this was happening. As we scurried around gathering the hospital bag and taking a shower, they got dinner on the table. In between contractions I downed two burritos (I knew the food at the hospital would be dismal!) and, just after 7pm we gathered our last things and got a taxi to the hospital.
At this point, my contractions were about 7 minutes apart. We were both pretty scared about having a baby on the way to the hospital (since our move from Wan Chai to Tseung Kwan O, we were a fair distance further to the hospital) and had agreed to go there on the early side, even if it meant more time labouring at the hospital (where I knew I would be alone). Twenty minutes in a taxi and three painful contractions later we arrived.
The pre-labour area at Queen Mary was SO QUIET when I was there. I was the only one in the monitoring area and other women who had been admitted to adjacent pre-labour beds peered around their curtains as I showed up. I arrived just at the end of visiting hours (6-8pm) and husbands were wandering out the door just as I changed into my hospital pyjamas and got settled into a bed so they could monitor the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions.
I could tell by the nurses’ sense of urgency that things were moving much quicker than last time. I lay down and asked for a blood test immediately so I could get an epidural in the delivery room. I was absolutely SCREAMING every couple minutes as the contractions intensified and the time between contractions shortened. They checked me a few times and assured me I hadn’t advanced past 2cm (I couldn’t imagine how that was possible and am even more dubious now). I kept hollering “Just say I’m at three centimeters! Get me into a room with my husband! I need an epidural!” Maybe they were tired of hearing me scream or maybe I had actually advance to an acceptable point. Either way, they loaded up my things and transferred me into a wheelchair.
Those looky-loos appeared absolutely terrified as I was briskly wheeled out of that area and towards the ward with private birthing suites. I saw Braden right at the doors as they wheeled me out. “Could you hear me?‘ I asked. “Babe. Everyone could hear you,” he responded.
As I got positioned on the bed in the birth suite, Braden was changing into a gown and taking his ironic hairnet selfie. We looked back, and he took that photo at 9:43pm. He got settled into the chair beside my bed as the nurse returned to inform us that the anaesthesiologist had just entered a surgery and likely wouldn’t be available to administer anything anytime soon. I think we were both equally terrified.
I was absolutely wracked with each contraction, and for some reason we were left completely alone. It must have only been a few contractions later, though, and I felt the urge to push. Braden hollered out the door and the team came running. They were absolutely incredible as they got themselves organized and coached me to roll onto my side. “Is the baby coming now?” I asked. “Yes!” the doctor responded. “Like right now?” I tried to clarify. “YES” she confirmed. Braden and I locked eyes; we couldn’t believe it. I literally held onto my upper knee and pushed (and screamed) as the midwife coached me on my breathing and pushing. A few pushes later, no drugs, several screams, and the baby was out. It was insane. In the flurry of motion and excitement Braden announced “it’s a boy!” then almost immediately we both caught a proper look and realized, “it’s a GIRL!”
Our beautiful baby arrived at 10:21 pm, less than 2.5 hours after we arrived at the hospital and half an hour after we got into the birth suite. I still can’t believe it. As absolutely excruciating as it was, it was exactly the type of birth I had hoped to experience. It was, without a doubt, the most badass thing I’ve ever accomplished.
After our baby’s delivery the team performed the necessary checks on her and we were left alone. She was gorgeous, quiet and calm. We made a few quick FaceTime calls to share the news with our parents and announce her name. We had one girl name (the same one if Campbell had turned out to be a girl) and called her Felicity immediately. Felicity means “happiness”, and it was also the name of Braden’s parents’ sailboat where they spent many incredible summers as he grew up. Her middle name, Laurel, is a combination of the names of my two Grandmas, Laura and Hazel.
Not long after, maybe shortly after midnight, I was transferred to the postnatal ward and Braden had to leave. I settled into the pink pyjama blur that can only be Queen Mary (more on that here (and soon to be updated)), and got to know our little darling.
Because Felicity was born after 8pm my required time in the hospital didn’t start counting until the next day, and I was told I would be discharged on Wednesday June 8th. I knew from my experience in the hospital with Campbell (4 nights) that the time to rest and relax was critical for healing. I settled in.
We knew from our experience at Queen Mary with Campbell that family could come twice per day to visit: between noon and 1pm, then 6pm to 8pm. Braden showed up Monday at noon sharp with a highly anticipated meal for me and super excited to properly meet our baby.
Wearing the compulary mask, he was admitted to the ward and arrived at my bedside only to be told that noon visiting hours had been cancelled due to the Wuhan Flu. The Wuhan Flu? We had only just started to hear about this developing virus situation in China in its very early days in Hong Kong. Read this news article from a Hong Kong newspaper, written the day Felicity was born; we knew something serious was happening if hospital visits were affected. That being said, we really had no idea…
My days passed in the hospital reasonably quickly. Aside from two panadol I had to repeatedly ask for the night after Felicity’s delivery, I recovered by resting in bed. Braden or Braden and my parents visited each evening (rotating, as only two people were allowed at my bedside at any given time). As annoying as it was to be in an noisy and busy hospital, the uninterrupted bedrest was a godsend. And how could I not enjoy getting to know this darling little bundle?
From day one, Felicity has been a content little being. Almost immediately she went long stretches in the hospital between feeds, settled easily, rarely cried and looked around to take things in, and slept like a dream. I said many times it was like she hadn’t fully arrived yet; she was just settling into her little body and wasn’t quite a real baby yet.
Before we knew it, it was January 8th and time to leave the hospital and take our baby home. I dressed her in the same little dress I had worn home from the hospital 35 years ago and the nurses all cooed over how sweet she looked. And just like that we were on the other side of the security doors with our little babe in the car seat ready to meet the big world of Hong Kong beyond.
The taxi ride back to Tseung Kwan O felt surreal, and I was so excited to introduce Campbell to his baby sister, who he calls “Cicity”. He has been exceedingly sweet and gentle with her from the moment she came through the door.
So there you have it. We are a family of four in Hong Kong, something I never thought I would be writing. What a gorgeous, healthy, happy start to 2020!