Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Ellie's Birth Story
Our tuk-tuk rumbled through the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand, pulling to a stop in front of our guesthouse. I heaved myself out of the back seat. I paused to inhale the scent of the flowering vines basking in the moonlight. Slowly, I willed myself up each wooden step to our bungalow on stilts. I didn’t know how much longer I could stand it.
Every day for weeks, we’d been waiting, hoping, longing for the big day. At eight days past her due date, having tried every labor-inducing trick in the book, I didn’t know how much wait I had left in me. My arms ached to hold my baby girl. We were returning from our appointment that night where the doctor told us, “I think it will be soon.” I could hardly muster up any more hope.
I awoke at 4 a.m., with the now familiar twinges of pain. Having never done this before, I didn’t know if I could call them contractions or not. But on this night, finally, blessedly, these twinges kept coming. That’s when hope flamed alive and my heart knew this was it. I told Aaron, “We’re going to have a baby today!” “Are you sure?” he asked, hesitant to believe that all the waiting had come to an end. “Yep, I’m sure” I replied.
There was no panic, all the questions and fears that had surrounded me for the last nine months quieted. In their place was an overwhelming, peaceful readiness to do this, to cross the threshold into motherhood.
With contractions still six minutes apart, we decided to distract ourselves with a game of monopoly on the computer. The florescent light buzzed above us, the wooden plank walls echoing the sounds of geckos outside. After a while, I rolled the birthing ball into the shower, where I let the water run soothing trails down my back as I envisioned the moments to come.
Then I knocked next door to let my mom know it would soon be time to go to the hospital. Seeing the big smile on my face, she didn’t know whether to believe me. It was too early for taxis to be out, so we called the British manager of our guesthouse, who was just getting ready to take his kids to school. He said that this would be an ok excuse for them to be late for school.
So Aaron and I, my mom and her step-sister, the manager and his two kids all piled into their car. Our huge birthing ball was in the front seat, nearly blocking half of the driver’s view. The two kids sat in the back giggling. The older one said to his sister in his crisp British accent, “This is not a laughing matter!” They quieted down and we drove through Chiang Mai. I watched the Thai streets come life in the morning light, knowing I would forever remember this ride. I breathed deep and full, the strength of the contractions rising. We arrived at the hospital around 7:30am.
At the hospital entrance, the little Thai doorman helped us in and said, “Good luck!” They wheeled me to the emergency room. A man from the reception area came to me and said, “You have pregnancy?” I looked down at my bulging belly, and thought, “You have got to be kidding me.” But I calmly responded, “Yes, I have pregnancy. I need to go to labor and delivery on the second floor.”
His next question was “You have contractions?”
“Yes! I need to go to the second floor!”
“What time you have contractions?”
For a moment I thought I was going to have to go climb the stairs myself. Somehow, we finally convinced him to wheel me to the elevator and take us to the second floor.
They checked me in and found that I was already dilated 7-8 cm and 100% effaced. We called our labor coach and told her she’d better come fast. They monitored the contractions and the baby for a short while. I was still feeling pretty good, smiling and posing for pictures.
Our labor coach arrived, and the contractions began to get more intense. I stayed out of the bed most of the time. Sitting on the birthing ball seemed my best position. Aaron was an incredible support. I was amazed at the emotional and physical strength I received from his presence, his touch.
I reached 10cm, and it was time to push. The problem was, just as my contractions should have been at their strongest, they started to get weaker. I kept waiting for that “oh-so-wonderful-urge-to-push” that all the labor books had described. Only it never came. I tried some pushing, but it was extremely difficult without the urge to push. This went on more than an hour and a half, the Thai nurses humming in unison through every push, my mom there cheering me on. But little seemed to be happening. Finally, I heard my labor coach say, “We need to get that baby out.”
It was then that something clicked inside me. No more waiting for my body to do this. I realized that I was going to have to make this happen. Reaching deep down to the strength that says, “I will do this for my child,” I began to push with every fiber of my being. Moments later, at 11:46 a.m., through searing, life-giving pain, my baby girl emerged into the world.
She was bluish grey, and nothing in my entire life had ever mattered as much as knowing right then in that moment, if my baby was ok. They placed her slippery warm body on my chest. I was holding my daughter!
With a bit of oxygen and suction she pinked up quickly. She lay quiet, her bright eyes taking in the world for the very first time. Then she tested her lungs with a healthy cry. She immediately found comfort in nursing. The act of life-giving continued. I grasped her close, pressing these first moments forever in my heart.
It wasn’t until later, when the nurse lifted her off my chest, that I saw a sticky brown goo coating me. I had been so lost in the wonder of her that I never noticed her pooping all over me.
She received a round of “oooh’s” and “aahh’s” when she measured in at 9lb. 9oz., 21.5in, and a 14cm head. The doctor declared her to be perfect. I lay on the bed while my doctor repaired me, watching over as the doctors and nurses examined her and gave her two shots. It was when the shots went in and she cried out that my own tears began to flow. I knew then that my heart now laid on that little wheeled bed next to me. Her pain was my pain. All I wanted to do was hold and cherish and protect my little girl.
I snuggled her bundled body close to me and breathed a long exhale. She had finally arrived. I had experienced the miracle of birth, and now I had the most priceless treasure, a daughter. The awe overwhelmed me.
Daughter, you have been gifted to us by the God who created you in depths of my womb, and we will never stop thanking Him. Know that always and forever, no matter what, we love you all the way up to the sun and the moon and the stars.
Happy 5th Birthday, Ellie!