Hi, everyone! In case you’re new here, my name is Gretchen. But if you’re a regular reader, so sorry for the hiatus. December was quite a busy month as I prepared to give birth. It included finishing tasks at work, turning over to my editorial team, and getting ready for labor.
At 34 weeks, I started walking around the village daily with my husband. In addition, we prepared all our papers and made sure our hospital bags were packed and ready to go. Exactly on my 37th week, I experienced mild contractions—which prompted me to start my maternity leave. That was also the same time I visited my OB-Gyn regularly. Since then, I haven’t been able to write as much. But anyway, while the baby is sleeping, I decided to write a quick update! Here’s the story of the day I gave birth at The Medical City Ortigas.
Like previous milestones in my life, I wanted to share my birth experience so I can also document it for myself. So here it is!
My Pregnancy Journey
I think it’s safe to say that my pregnancy journey was a very chill and happy one. It truly made up for the heartbreak that was my miscarriage in 2020. I had such an easy time throughout the nine months. Despite the morning sickness during my first trimester, I’m so thankful there were no complications or discomfort. And I owe it all to my super cool and awesome OB-Gyn, Dr. Kristine Katimbang. She’s an OB-Gyn at The Medical City Ortigas and I always looked forward to our monthly appointments! It was actually one of my best friends who referred her. I have another good friend who highly recommended her as well.
Coupled with classes that my husband and I attended with Doula Jen Faiwas of the Pinay Doulas Collective, my daily mantra was to give birth normally without any complications. Luckily, that’s exactly what happened. Additionally, part of my birthing plan was to have skin-to-skin contact with my baby right away. And during one of my appointments with Dr. Katimbang, she assured me that they really do this.
Taking an RT-PCR Test
As part of the hospital’s protocols, I needed to take an RT-PCR test prior to giving birth. The results are only valid for seven days. Luckily, I didn’t need to spend for my first RT-PCR test because it was free at The Medical City Ortigas since I had PhilHealth. However, since I got swabbed during my 37th week, the results were only valid for a week. I needed to take another RT-PCR test right before my 38th week. But I was able to book a home service test instead.
My husband, Cayo, on the other hand, didn’t need to take an RT-PCR test anymore. It was the hospital’s new protocol. Companions who are fully vaccinated don’t need to present negative RT-PCR results.
A False Alarm
As chill as my whole pregnancy was, I guess it was only fitting that it would also have a chill ending. On a Sunday night (December 19), I felt a consistent slight pain on the upper left side of my belly that got us worried. So we texted Dr. Katimbang and she told us to head to the pre-labor room of The Medical City Ortigas to have it properly assessed. It turns out it was just a stretched ligament! But visiting the pre-labor room that night already gave me an idea of what it looked like and what to expect.
All the doctors, residents, and nurses made me feel so at ease. Though the hospital isn’t exactly near our house in Quezon City (the drive takes about 40 minutes to an hour depending on traffic), this was one of the reasons why we chose The Medical City Ortigas. I knew they’d take good care of me. Anyway, since I was only still 1 cm dilated (the same diagnosis when I visited Dr. Katimbang two days prior), we were sent home.
The Start of My Labor at The Medical City Ortigas
The following morning, my “bloody show” started. So we headed back to the Medical City Ortigas and from there, everything went by so quickly. But before anything, we made sure to stop by McDonald’s first because I was scared to go hungry. Hahaha!
I was 3 cm dilated when we arrived at the pre-labor room at around 2 in the afternoon. After an assessment and an internal examination, I was transferred to the labor room. Since I had friends who also gave birth at The Medical City Ortigas, I kind of knew what to expect. I knew that Cayo wasn’t going to be with me in the labor and delivery rooms due to current COVID-19 protocols. So right before they transferred me from the pre-labor room to the labor room, I asked the nurse if I could see him. Cayo and I got to talk for a bit before the nurse wheeled me to the labor room.
In the labor room, I was hooked to several machines that monitored the baby’s heart rate, my contractions, my blood pressure, and my heart rate. I had an oxygen mask right under my KN95 as well. Fortunately, I didn’t need to wear a face shield anymore.
I’m not sure if being an athlete all my life has helped with my pain threshold. But I literally slept through most of my contractions—except for when the TV aired My Best Friend’s Wedding. I just love watching that movie! Haha. Several times, the residents or nurses would check on me to ask if I was in pain or discomfort—because the machine that monitored my contractions would always notify them if I was having an intense one. And I’d tell them I was fine! Haha. To this day, when people ask how come I didn’t feel my contractions, I tell them I have no idea.
Getting An Epidural
When I reached 7 cm, the anesthesiologist’s resident reminded me that if I wanted to get an epidural, I needed to give them lead time. I was aware of this because, during my 37th week, I had a teleconsultation with the Anesthesia Preoperative Evaluation Clinic of The Medical City Ortigas—as advised by Dr. Katimbang.
The doctor there explained the different procedures and scenarios that could take place while I was in labor. One thing she said that stood out to me was that they gave the epidural in low or diluted doses because they still wanted me to feel a sensation. They didn’t want to completely numb me. And so knowing this, I decided to get an epidural when I started feeling slight discomfort at 7 cm. True enough, I could still feel my legs and was able to feel myself push out my baby. This contributed to my positive birth experience.
Giving Birth at The Medical City Ortigas
At around 2 in the morning, Dr. Katimbang and her resident woke me up because I was already 10 cm dilated and my baby’s head was crowning. I’ll never forget how they brought me to the delivery room right away. I honestly felt like I was an athlete getting ready for a really big game and the doctors, nurses, and residents were my teammates. The instructions on “how to win” were clear. I held on to these bars that allowed me to do a sit-up. Before pushing, I needed to inhale deeply and whenever they all said go, I’d sit up and push while exhaling slowly for ten seconds. Every single one in the delivery room counted down from 10 to 1. It really felt like I was in a game and pushing out the baby was our “win” as a team.
In just maybe five pushes, my baby girl was born! It was that quick! The only “complication” was that I suffered from a hematoma on my left inner thigh. But it was nothing Dr. Katimbang couldn’t fix. After giving birth, my baby and I had skin-to-skin contact (or unang yakap) right away. A lactation specialist was in the delivery room as well. She made my baby latch on to my breast during our skin-to-skin contact. After Dr. Katimbang stitched me up, my baby and I were brought to the recovery room. We stayed there for about two hours—probably the longest two hours of my life because I was so excited to see Cayo already. Once my baby and I were both cleared by our OB-Gyn, Anesthesiologist, and Pediatrician, we were brought to our room.
Room 514 of The Medical City Ortigas
While I was in the labor room, Cayo took care of getting us a room and the paperwork. We made sure to bring original and photocopies of our marriage certificate, valid IDs, and my updated PhilHealth records. We initially wanted a deluxe room. But since the deluxe rooms were fully booked, we settled for a superior room instead. It came with breakfast, a snack, lunch, another snack, and dinner. And the food was quite good! Another nice thing about The Medical City Ortigas is that they have a lot of food choices within the area. On top of eating the hospital food, my husband bought from KFC and Subway as well.
We only stayed for one night since I recovered pretty quickly and was cleared by my OB-Gyn right away. Our baby girl was also cleared by her Pediatrician right after her hearing and newborn screening test. So literally 33 hours after I gave birth, we were able to go home!
Meet Cambria Gatan Fragada
Meet our rainbow baby, Cambria “Brie” Gatan Fragada! She was born on December 21, 2021 at 2:11 AM. She weighed 6.8 pounds and was roughly 48 centimeters. Cayo and I named her after our favorite band, Coheed and Cambria. Cambria also happens to be one of my favorite fonts—the font I use whenever I write my short stories.
When we got home, our families surprised us with a pretty DIY sign! Apparently, the night before, my family secretly came over to our house to decorate it. A bouquet of beautiful flowers greeted us, too.
Ever since I got home, the Lactation Center of The Medical City Ortigas checked up on me twice to ask if I was still exclusively breastfeeding and if there was anything they could do to assist. I super appreciated this!
I’m still recovering physically but I think the bigger challenge is dealing with the mental and emotional exhaustion. I’m so thankful for my husband and for fellow moms who have been sending me messages of encouragement and support. The fourth trimester is definitely not as easy as my pregnancy and birthing experience—but maybe I’ll save that for another story! For now, I just wanted to focus on my positive birth story first. I might not be able to write as often again until I’m able to adjust, but I do appreciate you all for regularly visiting my blog and social media platforms to stay updated.
If you have any questions about my birthing experience at The Medical City Ortigas, feel free to send me a message on Instagram @gretchengatan or comment below! I’ll try my best to answer them right away. Until my next article!