Today was far too ordinary and I therefore don’t have much to write about. Therefore, I have decided to reminisce on the day my daughter was born and share the story. They say that every time you replay a memory it gets more and more distorted, so I better write this down before it fades away like so many other things that have happened and I cannot remember in detail. Sometimes it seems like I have lived so many lives since so much has changed. “I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be” #JoanDidion
Our little T was due on Dec.30th. We hoped she would be a New Year’s baby but she refused to come out. Actually, we had been expecting her for a few weeks since she had already dropped as of week 37 and the doctors had thought that she would come out early. On the 28th I had a check up with my OBGYN and they did an ultrasound. Everything seemed fine but she was a bit big (estimated 3.6kg) so they decided that if she didn’t come out within a week, I would have to be induced. She didn’t come out. For those who don’t know me, I am not a patient person. We had tried everything to get her to come out on time. I mean everything. If you can google it, we tried it. Nothing worked. Some were funny.
Jan 4th was the day we went to the hospital ready to meet our little girl. 9am I got checked in and hooked up to an IV to be induced. We opted to splurge on a private room, got a medicine ball and got settled in. Then we waited. Being in a foreign country where I do not speak the language well was really a challenge at times. My husband as always had to be my translator. Around 9pm it had been 12 hours and I was still only dilated 2 cm so they put some kind of “tea bag” thing in to speed things along. With the language barrier I was not too sure of the details, but I was tired already and ready to move things along. By midnight I had pretty frequent contractions but I would say my pain scale was still only around a 2. My mother was flying in from Canada to stay with us for a few weeks after the baby was born and I was worried about our two dogs left at home with no walk outside. I forced my husband to go home to check on them, clean up any messes they made, shower, eat, etc.
Murphy’s law, of course when he was gone is when the action started. Thankfully, one of the night doctors spoke some English and when the contractions started to get strong she told me that the baby was most likely coming soon and I was already dilated 3.5 cm. They predicted that within the hour she would be out. I of course messaged my husband and he rushed back to the hospital. In fact I was pretty glued to my phone messaging lots of people because it helped take my mind off the pain and me from going crazy from just staring at the clock on the wall in front of me.
So they hook you up to this contraction “pain” level machine so that they know when to have you push… and there is another belt around your belly to monitor the baby’s heart rate. With that giant belly, it is extremely uncomfortable. Not to mention to add the extreme pain of contractions. Those that say labor is just like period cramps, I hate you. Actually my mother had an extremely easy natural birth with me and didn’t even know she was in labor. I was out in less than an hour from when her “contractions” started. I was prepared to have that kind of experience going in…Oh if only.
This is the part of the story when my memory is not the best. I remember the pain kept getting worse. I remember screaming, crying and being unbelievably tired. Jan.5th at 9am I had been there for an entire day (24hrs) and I was really having a difficult time. You know in the movies when they say “ok one last push” and the woman screams and pushes so hard and the baby comes out? That part started now. Except it lasted for over 5 hours. Our little one was not so little. Turns out she was too big and got stuck on the way out. I should mention, in case you don’t know, that I am a type 1 diabetic. Now through my pregnancy I had pretty great control over my blood sugar. Apart from that last week. In that last week my blood sugar was suddenly so random and often high. I couldn’t understand it. Turns out that in that last week she had a huge growth spurt because of that and was already 4.2kg!
Every time the doctor came in and said, “ok one more push”, I wanted to punch her in the face. It was never one more. I wanted to give up. I begged for a C section or pain meds but was denied (side note – my blood is A- which is rare but in South Korea it is extremely rare, therefore we had to pay for some blood to be flown in case I needed it and that is one of the reasons we were avoiding a C section. I also have a rare sensitivity to pain medications and had problems with the meds not working when I had arm surgery the year before so they wouldn’t give me any pain meds either.) I puked and almost passed out so they made me wear an oxygen mask which I hated. All of the yoga and breathing exercises that I practiced were out the window when it came down to it. My husband kept reminding me to breathe which I got angry at him for but actually really appreciated because it did help. The doctors told me not to scream but I couldn’t control it. (I lost my voice the next day) I remember begging my daughter for just one minute of pain relief as if it was her who was torturing me the whole time.
I should mention my husband. He really is an extraordinary human being. I honestly do not think I would have survived this experience without him. He would let me squeeze his hand so hard I thought that I had broken it. I yelled at him and complained so much and he stayed calm and strong. He literally held my head up and helped me breathe. I doubt that he will read this far into my post since he hates reading but if you do love – 너무너무 사랑해요 (I love you so much).
Back to the story… Around 2:30pm a bunch of people entered the room. The nurses and doctors started setting up and moving stuff around. My husband told me, “They are taking her out now.” It looked like they turned my room into an OR. My bed was re positioned like a transformer and I was surrounded by a team of doctors, nurses and equipment. One nurse was watching the monitors at my side. There were 2 doctors, one each holding a leg, my main doctor and an assistant going in and one doctor to push on my belly. As much as I love to exaggerate, I am not for this. My doctor was a total boss, she was yelling at the other doctors and switching places with them to do what she said they were incapable. There was one point where she said to my husband, “I might break her ribs when I press down.” and she jumped on top of the bed to use her body weight to push on my belly. But he didn’t translate this message to me until after. It was kind of all a blur. Apparently I yelled some not so nice words but I cannot remember. I was out of my mind in pain. They had to cut me up pretty bad and pull her out but eventually she was born at 3:02pm on Jan.5th, 2017.
I remember my husband saying, “OMG it is our daughter.” and he looked scared and over joyed (I don’t know words really to describe it well). I told him to stay with her and that I was fine because they rushed her out of the room pretty fast. I didn’t hear her cry. I am no expert but I was pretty sure that meant something was wrong. What they don’t tell you, you have to give birth to the placenta after the baby too… but it happened fast. Immediately the surgeons started to work on my lady parts and without pain killers, that was also extremely painful. I felt like the world stopped then until my husband came back to tell me that she was ok. My god I wanted to be with her so bad and felt so literally empty without her with me.
It was a little while later that my mother’s flight had arrived and I told my husband to go get her from the airport (I really wanted to see her too and didn’t want a language barrier delaying her commute from the airport). I was left alone in that room and told that I wasn’t allowed to move. Even though I hadn’t eaten anything for over a day, my blood sugar was over 300 from the trauma and I was so thirsty. It was not comfortable. I remember I kept ringing the nurse to fill my water bottle and then help me … empty myself. It is true what they say. After having a baby you have no shame.
My mom arrived right around the time I was able to sit up and by midnight they moved me to the recovery floor. I was feeling better but I didn’t even get to see my baby let alone hold her. This was the hardest part. My husband showed me a picture of her in the incubator all hooked up to tubes and I cried so much. She looked so scared and I just wanted to be with her so bad. I had to wait until 10am the next day to see her for the first time and another whole day until I was allowed to just reach through the incubator hole to touch her. Every time I was alone I burst into tears and just had this overwhelming sadness that I was separated from my baby.
She had to stay in the NICU for 4 days. If you don’t know, an Rh- mom and Rh+ baby can cause some serious complications. As well, a diabetic mom can cause more complications. Not to mention she was extremely stressed during the delivery from being stuck and pooed (also ate that poo) and was stuck with that for a few hours inside of me. The icing on the cake is that when being pulled out she got a broken collar bone and that is most likely what caused her intense torticollis. When it rains it pours right? The next few days were all about tests and waiting. We could only see her for a few minutes, twice a day. I looked forward to those minutes, counting the seconds each day. Fortunately, our little T is incredibly strong and passed everything with flying colors. However, most of the other babies in there were premies and in critical conditions. So every time we had some good news to smile about I felt guilty smiling around the other parents as they cried. Jan.9th was the day that we were able to take her home. This was really the happiest day.
This experience was really enlightening. I have so much respect now for anyone else who has every gone through even one of the hardships we faced. I wish I was better with my words to better describe everything that happened. Thinking back, it doesn’t even seem real. But every time now that we face a challenge, I remember that we survived this and so we can survive anything.
Back to now:
So now we are almost 4 months past this day and living strong. One thing from today: I am curious as if everywhere has gotten rid of “a dozen eggs” or just here in South Korea… I had options at the store today of 10, 15 or 30 but there are no sets of 12 …#adozeneggs ??
I included a cute little pic of Tera today to compare to the NICU ones above. Our precious little miracle.
Until next time…