In the wee hours of the morning, almost seven days after your birth, I sit at our dining table watching you sleep in the swing. We had to leave our bedroom so mom could get some much needed rest. Two years ago, I wrote about Dorian’s birth. This is your story, Maiko, and how we welcomed you into the world.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Mom had an appointment to check the status of her pregnancy. The doctor observed some cervical dilation and recommended inducing labor the following morning (side note: inducing labor is common practice on account of the horrible traffic here. Road police are trained in delivering babies. There is an account of an officer who delivered around 40 babies in one year!). Mom called me with the news, and I finalized preparations for the care of Dorian in our absence. We decided to get a hotel downtown for the night since her appointment was at 7am.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
It was an exciting morning, as we were anticipating your arrival (by sometime that evening, the doctor predicted).
7:00 am- We were first led to our recovery room to drop off our luggage, then escorted to the delivery room to wait for the doctor.
10:00 am- Doctor administered medication to induce labor. He estimated that mom would feel its effects within the next couple hours or so. While waiting for the medication to kick in, mom and I entertained ourselves with our computers, phones, and conversation. We talked so much that we covered every subject possible. It was bad, Maiko. Mom and I basically had to re-introduce ourselves to pass the time. We went through phases of excitement, uncertainty, boredom, and frustration. I had to sneak out a couple of times to eat some food (mom was fasting, and I didn’t want to make it more difficult by eating in front of her).
6:30 pm- The doctor finally decided to call it quits for the day. Mom was having contractions, but they were all considered to be in the early stages of labor. It was recommended that we wait until the following morning to see if we needed to start the process all over again. Mom was allowed to eat dinner then resume fasting. After a long day of waiting, we were not excited about repeating that experience. Off to the recovery room to rest for the evening.
~9:30 pm- Mom’s contractions had gotten stronger and closer, enough to warrant our return to the delivery room.
10:30 pm- Contraction levels continued to increase. Mom was in active labor and requested an epidural.
11:00 pm- Mom was still experiencing pain, so the anesthesiologist was called back to remove the first epidural and administered a second epidural.
11:15 pm- Epidural appeared to be working, and we were then waiting for mom’s cervix to open more.
11:20 pm- Mom called me over and said she was feeling dizzy. I informed the staff, and the anesthesiologist came to check the epidural.
11:25 pm- They decided to change mom’s position, propping a pillow under her right side. We were told that the repositioning could help alleviate discomfort due to the lessening of amniotic fluid from the womb.
11:27 pm- Doctor arrived, he was called from home to monitor the status of delivery.
11:30 pm- Mom rested, waiting for more progress towards delivery.
11:50 pm- The delivery room settled down, and I got myself situated on the waterproof couch for some rest.
11:55 pm- Mom’s pain from contractions returned. I summoned the anesthesiologist, and he increased the flow of medication to the epidural.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
12:25 am- Mom continued to have pain from contractions. Once again, I informed the staff and the anesthesiologist came to adjust the epidural. It finally seemed to work.
12:30 am- Mom and I were able to get some rest before the big show.
3:40 am- I woke up and peeked over at mom. My heart dropped because it looked like she was holding you! I was dumbfounded and thought there was no way I could have slept through a delivery, nor would anyone not wake me up for that! I rubbed my eyes and realized mom was just resting her hand on her tummy and the blanket was ruffled in a way that made it look like you were in there. Whew!
4:00 am- Mom was checked and dilation was at 7cm.
4:20 am- Doctor decided to rupture amniotic sac. Mom’s pain returned. Yet again, the anesthesiologist was called to check the epidural. He refilled the tube with more medication. I was issued a set of hospital scrubs.
4:30 am- We returned to resting.
4:35 am- Mom’s pain returned with contractions. Anesthesiologist makes another adjustment to the epidural. Mom noticed that the pain was only happening on the left side, while her right side was still numb.
4:45 am- Mom was propped up again with a pillow under her right side to see if it would help the epidural affect her body evenly. The anesthesiologist reassured us that there were other medications on hand to help manage the pain. An oxygen mask was applied to mom so you would have a sufficient supply during your final moments in her womb.
5:05 am- Mom’s pain increased, and the medical staff said you were blocking the epidural. They also stated that delivery was coming soon. The doctor was called, and the team assembled for a briefing.
~5:10 am- Mom was in full-blown labor. She had been requesting pain relief for a long time (hours, literally) and the staff (including the doctor) were practically ignoring her pain at this point. I finally stepped in and directly asked the doctor if there wasn’t anything that could be done to address her pain. He said it was too late. A sort of primal chaos ensued, where mom screamed and dug deep to release you from her body. Nurses jumped in and pushed on her tummy. One word: crazy.
5:21 am- You were welcomed into the world. We heard your first cry. I cried. It was beautiful.
As a support person, let me tell you about how frustrating your birth experience was for me. It was infuriating as I stood, helpless, witnessing my wife ask for help and not receive it. I had to remind myself to stay focused on the delivery and not dwell on my dissatisfaction of the medical team. The situation seemed cruel and unfair.
During any birthing situation, I understand that stress is part of the game. Delivering your baby in another country sure ups the ante. It goes beyond language barriers, where culturally, the medical practices are different than what you’re accustomed to. No matter how much research you do, or how many ex-pat moms you ask, you can never be fully prepared for your own experience. You must be open to anything and roll with it.
I found that I needed to closely monitor my thoughts and behaviors in order to best support your mom during labor. At one point, I caught myself rocking from side-to-side because I was anxious. I made a conscious effort to stop doing that, instead using that energy to focus on what I could do to help. One thing I did was listen to every conversation between your mother and medical personnel. I tried to minimize misunderstanding and miscommunication. It can be challenging to communicate clearly under stress in a foreign country.
Another aspect that I needed to keep under the surface was the rage and protectiveness for the well-being of my wife. It upset me more each time they failed to provide proper pain relief for your mother. Then it felt like they weren’t being real with us and that we were lied to. First telling us that we had other options for pain relief, then saying it was too late was upsetting. I’m no expert, but it appeared that based on our timeline of events there was ample time to relieve the pain.
It was challenging for me to force the dark fantasies from my head. I have a love for your mother that made me want to crush every seemingly incapable medical person until they performed their job properly. Of course I would never do such a thing, but a love-rage can put you in that mindset. The other part of this was not feeling like I could address my disappointment in the moment, worried that the added stress would make them underperform even further or hurt your mother out of spite for me.
On a more positive note, your birth gave mom and I some things that we didn’t get with Dorian’s birth. I enjoyed having more time with mom during the early stages of labor. Then when active labor hit, there were no complications, so I was able to be at her side the entire time. Together, we white-knuckled it all the way (that’s when you hold hands super tight, it turns your knuckles white). Your mom did a wonderful job caring for you during pregnancy and was simply stellar during delivery. I was so proud of her strength and courage to fight despite the mishaps that came her way.
At the end of it all, we could only hope for health and happiness. We got them both with you, Maiko! I’m not always one for superstitions, but I have to confess that I purposely wore the same pair of shoes that I did when Dorian was born in hopes that you would be delivered safe and sound. I guess it worked! While we’re addressing confessions, I will also admit that after nearly a week with us, I still get choked up when I hold you, look at you, and try to sing to you. There’s just something about the newness of you. You’re so pure, sweet, and special. Thank you for joining our family. We love you!