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Moyer’s Birth Story, March 2007

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      AvatarKim
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      I gave birth to my firstborn at Beijing United. I did some of my pre-natal care with Dr. Brooks there, who was absolutely phenomenal. His philosophy of birth lined up extremely well with my own (as natural as possible), and he even turned my breech baby around (at 37 weeks!) without the aid of a sonogram or any drugs. (He used a process called “external cephalic rotation.”) I was a little disappointed to find out that he'd be on vacation the entire month of March, when my baby was due, but we prepared a birth plan, had Dr. Brooks sign off on it, and waited for our son to arrive.

      The weekend before Moyer was to come, I was checked by another doctor at BJU, then told that I was to report to the hospital as soon as my water broke (as opposed to waiting until labor progressed to the final stages), because the baby’s head had not yet engaged, and there was a chance of a prolapsed cord. (When the cord exits first, then gets caught between the baby and the birth canal, cutting off oxygen to the baby.)

      The following Tuesday, I woke at about 5:30 a.m. to go to the bathroom. At that time, I had a sensation not unlike a slight period cramp. Knowing that that may be a first sign of very early labor, I went back to bed, didn’t wake my husband—because we’d both be needed lots of rest if this was just the beginning of labor—but first put down a couple of towels underneath me as a precautionary measure.

      By six a.m. my husband was awake, my water had broken, and the household where we were staying was in motion. Our host would be (conveniently) driving us to the hospital on his way into work. Our hostess supplied lots of towels for the ride there. (There was lots of amniotic fluid!)

      We checked into the maternity ward, I was checked to see that the baby’s head was engaged—and it was—no prolapsed cord danger after all—and we settled into our private room. Just then, a representative arrived with the day’s menu options, including breakfast, which would be served within the hour. My “slight cramps” continued steadily, and both my husband Patrick and I enjoyed a full Western breakfast.

      Because I was so obviously very early on in labor, I was a little disappointed to find myself checked into the hospital already. I was worried about having too much medical intervention that wasn’t needed, and I worried that if it was a long labor (more than 24 hours) I’d be forced to have a C-section because my “time was up.” It turned out that I didn’t need to worry—our room was a very good place to labor, and we were mostly left alone.

      At some point after checking in, the nurse prepped me to put attach an IV. Because I’d specifically asked NOT to be hooked up to an IV until/unless it was medically necessary, we requested that the nurse on duty consult the birth plan on file, then simply insisted that I not be hooked up. I was also put on fetal monitoring right away, but after they’d checked on Moyer to make sure he was fine, I asked to be free from the machine so that we could walk around and labor as actively as possible. Although these things were written into our birth plan, Patrick still had to insist on them to get results.

      One aspect of Beijing United that both my husband and I both very much appreciated was being assigned a midwife. Unlike the doctor on duty who just popped in now and again, our midwife, a Chinese nurse trained specifically in midwifery, was available to us the entire day. She introduced herself at the beginning of the day, then when she saw she just wasn’t needed, left us to our own devices until the labor progressed.

      We caught up on e-mail using Patrick’s laptop and the wireless internet provided, then spend time walking the hall, reading aloud, and even using the maternity ward’s hot tub. Soon after that lunch was served, and about half-way through my large deli sandwich, my “cramps” increased, and I didn’t feel like eating anymore. Patrick finished off my lunch, and we walked the hall again. This time, we stopped several times while I leaned on Patrick and relaxed through the contractions.

      As I grew increasingly more uncomfortable, we went back and forth from walking, to my bed where we listened to a sermon about Daniel on-line, and then eventually back to the hot tub. By this point, I was focused completely on labor, the midwife had joined Patrick in assisting me, and they traded off massaging my lower back to relieve the contraction pain.

      Both Patrick and the midwife assisted me to the hot tub, where Patrick supported my body so that I could focus on relaxing. It’s a blur, but I was quite aware of one particular thought during this hot tub session: “If they ask me if I want an epidural, I do. Natural childbirth is SO overrated.” Luckily, I had no energy or will to express this thought aloud. All of my efforts were going into managing the contractions. Not long later the midwife asked, “Do you feel pressure on your bottom?” She was suggesting that I was close to the pushing stage. (This was approximately 3:45 p.m.) I didn’t feel that need yet, but she was pretty accurate in reading the signs. She and Patrick helped me back to the bed, I laid on my side—feeling by now that the contractions were one on top of the other—and the doctor on duty came In to check on my progress.

      I was at nine cm, and so a few more very intense contractions later, I made it to ten, and was given the go ahead to push. Patrick stayed on one side supporting my leg, and the doctor, an American, Dr. Kung, traded off supporting my other leg with the midwife as I pushed with the contractions. A huge contrast to the quiet presence of our midwife all day, Dr. Kung was enthusiastic and very much “in the game.” Seriously, having her in the room was like having my own personal cheering squad! She “coached” alongside Patrick and cheered loudly for me through every push. When it was time for Moyer to be making an appearance, I barely noticed the almost instant transformation from private suite to delivery room. The end of my bed came off, where a tray was conveniently placed for catching fluids, and all personnel were wearing scrubs, masks, and gloves. I was once again hooked up to fetal monitoring equipment, and everybody was “ready.”

      At this point, Moyer’s heart rate began fluctuating from extremely high to extremely low. He was “almost” out, but Dr. Kung assured me that if I continued to push without any intervention at all that it would take another twenty to thirty minutes, which would mean that Moyer’s heart rate was unstable for that much longer. She offered me the option of an episiotomy. As soon as I said, “yes,” it was less than a matter of minutes between the injection of a local anesthetic, a cut, and final push. He was placed immediately on my chest. Patrick was given the honor of cutting the cord, and I began to nurse my dark, wet, little bundle. (Moyer as born at 5:31 p.m., just twelve hours after I awoke with cramps!) The doctor and nurse worked on delivering my placenta. This included massaging my stomach—which I thought was a little odd. I was under the impression that nursing my baby was the most proactive I’d need to be about this small part of the labor experience.

      The pediatrician on duty took Moyer off to the side of the room to do all of his medical checks, and the doctor talked with me about delivering my placenta. Something was amiss. She gave me “twenty more minutes,” while I nursed Moyer, and waited on my placenta to produce itself. No placenta. Bad news. Dr. Kung asked Patrick to take his son. She was going to have to manually remove it. “This is going to be very painful. You’re going to hate me,” she said. She explained that because I hadn’t had anything but a local anesthetic for pain, that I would very much feel her place her hand up into my uterus, and pull on my still attached placenta. She encouraged me with, “you were able to endure childbirth without pain medication, so we’ll just give it a try and see if you can handle this without drugs too.”

      So we gave it a try. I was NOT psychologically prepared for this after-childbirth-pain. It was over. I had my son. I was done. I very much screamed, very loud. There was not a lot of pain management going on. After a few moments, Dr. Kung acknowledged that perhaps we should put me out for this part. The anesthesiologist was called in, I was given enough anesthesia to be “aware,” but feel no pain, and wheeled off to the OR. There Dr. Kung painlessly removed my placenta*, then just as painlessly stitched my episiotomy site.

      I came back to my nervous husband holding my newborn son, and dinner, which had been wheeled in on a cart at some point right after Moyer had been born.

      After-care at BJU was good, our accommodations very nice, the Western menu was good, and we were able to host many guests during our three day stay. We were allowed full access to our son around the clock, that included being able to room in with him, as well as accompany him on baths and routine medical checks. I slept on the hospital bed, and Patrick slept on the fold out couch in our room. Accounting was a little bit of a pain, with lots of little charges for lots of little things that we didn’t realize we were being charged for, and it took several hours to complete the bill paying process. (All was covered by our insurance at the time, but we thought that BJU over-charged for their services overall.)

      *I’ve consulted with a few physicians concerning this condition, and no one had a great answer for why it happened. It’s pretty rare, and interestingly, was not a problem at all when birthing my second child. 

      Moyer Patrick

      Here is our 7 lb 2.5 oz, 19 in. bundle of joy, Moyer Patrick. He arrived March 20th, 5:31 PM (GMT + 8.00)

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