Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Story of Christin's Birth

***Warning! Long and involved post! Proceed at risk of being bored!***

If you've been following the blog, you know that I had literally weeks of prelabor contractions. During that time we learned lots about what is called "prodromal" labor, where the contractions are more regular and pronounced than just Braxton Hicks contractions, but yet do not actually advance the progress of labor. We also learned lots about being patient, and I learned to not take my body cues very seriously!

All that being said, when Sunday night came I did feel like something different was happening. We had eaten a yummy Asianese lunch rather late and I didn't feel like eating dinner. I was having the strongest contractions yet and so after the girls were in bed we decided to time them for awhile. To lessen the boredom, we watched "Father of the Bride." (Just had to get that detail in there for posterity!) But, around midnight, the contractions spaced out a bit and weren't gaining in intensity, so we decided to try and get some sleep. John fell asleep immediately but I was awake for awhile feeling the contractions continue. Same story as so many nights of the last month!

At 3am-ish, though, I awoke with some rather strong contractions that seemed to be about 7-8 minutes apart and more intense than before. I woke up John and we timed for awhile, but the clincher was when I went to the bathroom and experienced some blood loss. That hadn't happened until I was 6-7 cm dilated with the other girls, so considering that and the more intense contractions, we decided it was time to call our friend Roby.

Roby lives nearby and had been waiting for this call for a month now, so she was happy to hear that it was us and that the time had come. She arrived about 4:45 and we were then on our way out the door to find a taxi. The sun was just coming up as we were leaving, and the air was fresh and cool with the promise of a beautiful day--the day of Christin's birth!

We arrived at the hospital at 5am only to find the halls and nurses' station completely deserted. No one was anywhere to be seen! I sat down and waited while John went hunting around. Finally he found a nurse who quickly got things going for us. My doctor's previous advice had been to get to the hospital, get checked by whoever was on duty to determine if I should stay or not, and then if necessary, check in and call her at that point. So this is what we did. The doctor on duty ushered me (and only me, not John) into the laboring area to do the check, and then upon examination announced that I was 1 cm dilated. I could hardly believe it! 1 teeny tiny cm after a whole month of work?!!! How could it be? What about the strong contractions and the blood and everything? Suddenly the day stretched out before me, long and arduous. If it hurt this much at 1 cm, what was it going to feel like later?

However, facts are facts. But this doctor thought it would go quickly since it was my third child. She thought I should be admitted, so began the process of asking me lots of detailed medical questions which my Asianese vocabulary wasn't quite prepared for. She wanted to draw blood to do some test (a very expensive test) because of my relatively rare blood type, and I protested, trying to understand what kind of test it was and why it was necessary. Finally I protested enough that she gave up and made me sign a disclaimer saying I wouldn't accept that treatment.

Then there were other issues. John had gone to the main building to register me and check me in, with the understanding that when he finished he would be allowed to join me in the labor room. However, when he got back they told me he could not come in. I had been trying to call my doctor all this time, and she wasn't answering her phone, and the nurses and doctor on duty refused to let him in, saying that it wasn't the policy of the hospital. I told them that my doctor had asked specially for permission and they replied very unhelpfully, "Well, she's not the boss, and we have rules to follow here." This discussion went on long enough, with me alternately trying to call my doctor and then talking with John via his cell phone, that finally I asked to be allowed to go back out in the hallway to be with him. They would not let me get off the bed. This was Dicey Moment #1: John out in the hallway, me inside, not together except through calling one another on our cell phones, me still having strong contractions and feeling emotionally tested there by myself. At this point, the percentage of the discussion in Asianese: 100%.

An hour and a half passed. During that time I further annoyed my doctor/nurses by refusing the "shave." My doctor had said it was standard, but if I really didn't want it I could refuse it, and I really didn't want it. When I realized what the nurse was doing, I told her immediately and in no certain terms to stop, and that my doctor had said I didn't have to have it. Well, that about did it for those nurses. They were pretty irritated with this foreigner who came in, refused treatment, wanted things her way, got upset when her husband got left outside, etc.

But all that changed with a 3 minute phone call. My 15 unanswered phone calls to my doctor were finally answered with a call to the nurse on duty. I never talked to my doctor, but suddenly the nurse was ushering me into a private labor room (previously promised to me), John was brought in to join me, it was fine that I didn't have the shave or the blood test they wanted to do, and I was free to move around as I wished, eat, drink, walk, or whatever during labor. There was even a birthing ball in that room! Even better, my doctor was coming on duty at 8am and so would come herself to check me when she came to work.

John proved himself to be a most invaluable coach for the third time. He rubbed my back, timed my contractions, encouraged me, helped me to walk a bit, reminded me to eat a few snacks (we had splurged on an imported bag of Craisins trail mix--cranberries, nuts, and chocolate chips!), and just generally took great care of me. My doctor didn't come in to see me until about 8:30, and then I happened to be in the bathroom, so the first time I actually saw her was about 9:45 when she came with the head of the department in tow.

They were both concerned because they thought the baby was too large, and so ordered another ultrasound, bringing the total number of ultrasounds for this pregnancy to an astonishing 8! So I went to have that done, then came back and the dept head examined me, and I was happy to find that I was already 5 cm! Hallelujah! They were also both concerned that the baby would come so quickly I wouldn't have time to make it the 15 feet over to the delivery area, so wanted me to get on the delivery bed as soon as I had reached 8 cm.

No problem there, but then my doctor and the department head started talking amongst themselves about John's presence. They began to say to me that maybe, after all, John couldn't accompany me into the delivery room. In classic Asianese fashion, they explained that "maybe" he would have to "wait a moment" while I did the actual work of birthing the baby, and then he could be with me again. I wasted no time in playing my "upset foreigner" card for the second time that day. Honestly, THE major reason we agreed to have the baby here was because my doctor reassured me repeatedly that John and I could be together for the ENTIRE process. When I asked my doctor with some emotion, "Why? You told me previously that you had gotten permission for this!" she replied by saying, well, just because this is [the country we live in]. If there ever was a bad excuse, that was it! This was Dicey Moment #2.

However, as I looked helplessly with tears at John while the doctors were discussing it, they relented and said, ok, if you really want him to be there, then that's ok. I reiterated that it was most important to me that he was with me, and so they grudgingly assented. Yikes! Glad we made it through that one! Percentage of conversation in Asianese at this point: 90%.

So time passed and I was anticipating rapid progress from 5-10, just like 1-5 had been. My mistake. It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R to get to 6. About 11:00 or so, the midwife came in and announced that I should move to the delivery table, though I had not progressed any further in terms of dilation. My contractions were gradually moving closer together, and gaining slowly in intensity, which by then was feeling really, really intense. I did get up on the delivery table, and though it was not so comfortable I didn't feel like moving much anyway. Almost without asking they broke my water at this point, after which the contractions only got more intense. From about that point on, I felt like 10 cm was never going to come, and I was in transition with very intense, painful contractions that got very difficult to relax through. By 12:15 I was still only at a six, but then had a long series of such intense contractions that I could not stop my body from bearing down. Thankfully, it was almost over--I went from 6 to 10 in about half an hour, and by 12:50 was ready to push.

My doctor had not come back to check on me. All of this time, it was a group of midwives/nurses that were attending me. I kept asking for my doctor, but they said she was doing an emergency C-section and would come as soon as she was able. I think she showed up after about 3 or 4 pushing contractions, just as I was getting started, really. And when she came, she started making some dire predictions and saying things like "your baby is stuck too far up the birth canal, and your contractions are not strong enough to push the baby out. . . maybe you need some medicine to make the contractions stronger . . . the baby is in distress, look, her heart rate is too high . . . your baby is too big, we have to consider other options . . . "

Needless to say, none of this made me very happy. I was ready to do the work of pushing, for a long time if necessary, but her alarmist mentality wasn't helping. The baby's heart rate was accelerating with the contractions, but not dangerously so; another midwife present said she didn't think it was a problem. My doctor did start me on oxygen, trying to help the baby, and gave me no choice about starting a IV drip with Vitamin C--how that was supposed to help in that moment, I have no idea. (A westerner who is a nurse told me later that is because they don't allow women who have just given birth to eat anything citrus for a month--so they need the IV.) Anyway, my doctor then announced that she had better get the head of the department to consult with about my case.

Well, this definitely constituted Dicey Moment #3. I certainly did not want to endanger the baby, but I had just started pushing and so of course she was still far up the birth canal. John and I began praying desperately for the Lord to act quickly so that we could prevent drastic measures. We prayed for strength, for the baby to descend quickly, and for my contractions to have great effect. And the Lord answered, in an unusual way!

The midwife that took over for my doctor immediately began to coach me in a very positive way as I was making progress with the pushing. As I could feel some progress happening, it encouraged me and I pushed even harder. Then, as a total surprise, another midwife climbed up on a stepstool next to the birthing bed, and with each contraction bore down on my belly with her full weight behind her fists, literally pushing the baby down from the outside. It hurt like crazy but made my contractions about twice as effective. So with her pushing, me pushing, and the contractions pushing, we made excellent progress. Soon there was no question--the baby was descending, and descending fast.

There was a bunch of other nurses/midwives present--I'm not even sure who was who, but I do know this, my doctor never showed up again! That seemed providential in hindsight, since the midwives weren't so concerned and just took things in stride. Needless to say, without my doctor there, the percentage of Asianese being spoken went right back up to 100%! After about 40-45 minutes, and some vigorous stretching/rubbing of me in places I don't care to mention by many hands, Christin made her entrance into this world! Wow! The midwives did a great job of coaching me so that I stretched slowly and only had a very small tear. So she was born at 1:38--alert, active, coated with vernix, and flailing and crying.

We think she looks a lot like Chloe's birth pictures, and interestingly enough, Christin was exactly Chloe's birth weight and height--4.45 kilos (that's 9 pounds, 13 oz) and 55 cm (about 21 3/4 inches). Her name, Christin Arielle, was chosen because we pray that her life will reflect the glorious truth "Christ in her, the hope of glory!" Arielle means "Lion of God" and is also referred to in Isaiah as a name for the city or dwelling place of God. And of course, the C's and the middle names match with Clara Anne Danielle (named for her grandmothers and her uncle Dan) and Chloe Rachelle (named after a woman in the Bible who had a group in her home, and her mother).

After she was born, the midwives did all the usual stuff, except bathe the baby. Apparently the custom here is to wait until the second day, it's better for their health or something. They stitched my few stitches (without anesthetic, I might add--that was NOT comfortable!) and let me hold the baby really quickly. We then returned to the laboring room so I could nurse Christin and rest a bit before going to our hospital room.

About 3:30 our friend Roby showed up with Clara Anne and Chloe, and they got to meet their sister. Clara Anne was so excited and curious, wanting to kiss and touch Christin, but Chloe seemed a little confused about everything that was going on. I have some great pictures from their first meeting to share with you soon. At one point later, though, Chloe looked up and pointed, saying "Baby!" So at least she caught on to that much! Clara Anne really has been a sweet big sister already--loves to talk to Christin and touch and kiss her, and both she and Chloe seem excited about their new sister.

So, to finally conclude this very long story, we are so thankful for the safe arrival of Christin Arielle! She is such a precious little bundle and is doing great with eating, and getting better with sleeping (last night went 5.5 hours at one stretch, woke up to eat, then slept another 3 hours before I woke her to eat breakfast!). She definitely has the Wind lips from her father and the Bruxvoort (my side of the family) nose. She is so sweet and cuddly, loves to be held and looks at me sometimes with that cross-eyed look peculiar to newborns. We are enjoying getting to know her! PTL for her precious life!


Brad & Carrie said...

Congrats! I just saw you link from the Morello's and I was thinking that you should be having your little one any day! She's beautiful and you look awesome. Enjoy that sweet little one!

The Culbertsons said...

Rachel, what a story you will have to tell Christin! She is beautiful and we are thrilled for your family!

Brigitte said...

PTL, indeed! You are quite the trailblazer having a baby in-country. I love reading birth stories; thanks for writing about it! Glad to hear of His faithfulness. Hope you are getting some rest. Love, Brigitte

Sandra said...

Ok, I have so many thoughts! Thanks for writing every single detail. I loved reading it.

My main thought is PTL all they did was force some Vitamin C on you!

I was also trying to visualize Ferguson crawling up on top of you & helping Christin move down. What an ancient midwifery technique!

So glad you avoided the shave. Oh my.

I'm sorry they caused you so much additional stress concerning whether or not your Hubs could be in the room. You played the foreigner card well.