Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Nathan's Birth Story Part 2


We left off and we were being told we couldn't be visiting together. You have to realize this is not like the US, you don't visit people in the hospital to say hello and warm wishes and bring them outside food and have a picnic in the waiting room. But we didn't know that we weren't allowed to visit. So my day is going from good to bad to worse. And James told the doctor that he would just take me home. We had come to the hospital on Monday and again on Tuesday and they had said they would break my water but alas nothing. They pushed and pushed for me to check in at the hospital because I was effaced and dilated fully. So we did on Tuesday. Now it was Wednesday, and I was just waiting around the hospital. She told James that he had the right to take me home but the moment labor starts, I wouldn't have long before he would be born. She continued to tell us that she was going to send me for an ultrasound in an hour and if everything looked good, she was going to take me up to delivery and have my water broken. This was news to me! I knew about the ultrasound but didn't know about the latter.

I couldn't believe my ears!! I really didn't believe her because they had said they may break my water before but really had no intentions to intervene. But I told James, to go home with the kids, I would call my awesome friend Cassie to come over at 1:30 and he could come back to the hospital and we would go from there. I really wanted to go into labor on my own. It's silly but I enjoy the surprise of it all, and the baby coming on his own. But I also had peace about having my water broken.

At 1pm, as promised, they came and got me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech remembered me from last time and was super sweet. She let me look at the screen at my squishy face little guy and said everything looked well. I called James and let him know that and a little while later the doctor came in my room to tell me to pack my things and get ready. I was all packed but told her I had a few bags and would need some help. In my defence, part of it was for James and the baby. 

She walked me down to the first floor, and I called James to ask where he was. He hadn't left yet. What?! I wanted to kill him. :) It was past 2pm and things were now happening fast. They had me sign a few more things and told me to get toilet paper and a towel. Here's where it gets real. I thought they were simply breaking my water but they were "prepping me for labor".

It's their practice here to prep women for labor. Not a job I would desire to do. That includes- shaving the mother, an enema, and a shower. I had heard of this but thought it was an old practice because they didn't do this to me when I was in labor with Macy a year and a half ago. And other friends didn't have this done. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting this at all. In the middle of all this James calls me to tell me they aren't going to allow him in delivery because of the flu epidemic. WHAT?! So I'm in agony in the bathroom, and I just hung up the phone. My head was spinning trying to grasp all that was going on.

I paused for a moment and was about to start crying like a baby and lose it. But I had to keep it together. I had given birth here in Russia once already and once in the States, both naturally and unmedicated. With God's help, I could do this. I had to focus on little Nathan being born. This was what we had prayed so hard for and wanted more than anything. The end result would be my squishy son in my arms and that's what I focused on as I prayed and prayed.

Before they took me up to delivery, they gave me a hard time about how many bags I had. I didn't understand what I was suppose to do about it or why they couldn't just leave them there. Just then my OB showed up and told me to stay calm. She was going to be with me the whole time but that wasn't much of a relief since she didn't speak any English. But it would be nice to have her there. I was starting to feel really overwhelmed about this bag situation so I called James and just then he walked in. He was upset and they were trying to hurry me away. I asked him to take care of the bags and for a  kiss. He kept apologizing but I knew it wasn't his fault.

On my way up to delivery, I heard a newborn crying and saw the snow gently falling outside. It was the encouragement I needed. As they broke my water, I could still hear the newborn crying. It was like sweet music to me because that's what I focused on. I wanted to hear my sweet little boy crying and in my arms. The doctor asked me if my stomach hurt and I said no. I later learned that means "Are you having contractions?" But I didn't have pain, so I kept answering no.

I laid on a table (bed) as they strapped a monitor to listen to the baby heartbeat for 45 long minutes. Hers would last almost 2 minutes and take a long time to wear off and before I knew it the next contraction would begin. 

I loathe laying down when I'm in labor but I couldn't really ask for them not to do it. As I laid there, I looked at my son Jacob's little car. I brought it as a visual aid to focus on. I put my phone away and tried to focus on relaxing as the contractions began. They were much like my oldest son's contractions, like an ocean wave. It started small then it would peak and gradually wear off. Much easier than my daughter's contractions!

Then about 15 minutes of laying on the table I see this blue figured man come in the room. Then I heard his voice. It was my amazing husband!! I truly couldn't believe it. He sat down next to me and grabbed my hand and asked how I was. I started to cry as I just said "You're here!" What a great God.

After 40 minutes, I was finally released from the EKG table. Standing and swaying is so much easier than laying down through contractions. By now they were 2 minutes apart and getting stronger. The doctor instructed me to breathe through my nose and out my mouth. To my surprise it was a lot more relaxing to my body then taking a deep breath with my mouth and releasing the air through my mouth. The doctor told us to tell her when I had the urge to push. As soon as she left, I had the urge. She came back in and had me push to see exactly where the baby was at in the birth canal. Then she moved me to the delivery table.

A new doctor who just got on shift came in right as I was about to start pushing. My eyes were closed about 80% of the time as I tried to relax through labor so my memory of her is fuzzy. The new young doctor with thick eye liner, put her arm across my stomach as I pushed and told me to push her arm up as she tried to help push the baby out. Then the doctor at my feet stuck her hand in me during a contraction for some other reason. Which didn't feel good at all. I was confused as to why they kept checking me, checking the baby's heartbeat and shoving an arm on my belly. If all was okay with me and the baby then why wouldn't they just let us birth.

So I began to push and the doctor continued to push her arm down and dig her elbow into my stomach. They had me push two times, and once after the contraction had already stopped. This was wearing me out quickly. I had no time to rest in between the pushes with giving an extra push that wasn't necessary.

Then my contractions started to slow down. So the elbow doctor starts poking at my abdomen trying to get more contractions to start. And the other doctor started pitocin in an IV. The pitocin didn't seem to take effect but he would be born in five minutes. Then they had me grab handles down by my legs, so I used all my own strength to push which was exhausting. I was grasping for some little bit of relaxation in between the pushing. I was sweating and my mouth was dry. It had been an intense 10-15 minutes of pushing and I didn't know how much more I could do. My legs were starting to shake as I could feel Nathan about to be born.  Then they said one more push. So with all my strength I started to push again. I knew I was pushing with my face but didn't care. I tried to channel my pushing lower but it was hard to concentrate now. Then my sweet little guy was born and I didn't even realize it. They had to tell me to open my eyes and look at the baby. I was so exhausted and worn out I didn't even realize I had pushed him out. They laid him on my chest and I just kissed his sweet face again and again. He started to cry and there was my newborn cry I had been longing to hear. I couldn't stop smiling. Then I had to prepare for all the stuff they do to you right after delivery. But I had my son in my arms, and it was all okay.

Looking back, I would have asked James to ask them to just leave me alone and let me labor and to let me push. Labor and delivery was only an hour and half so I really can't complain. The contractions were doable  and I could relax through them. The pushing this time was difficult for me with everything they were trying to do. Pushing with Jacob was my favorite part about labor. It was a relief to push and felt good. I had two people holding my feet, so when I pushed they pushed my legs towards me, which was a huge help. It took some of the work off of me. This time, I was doing all the work alone and it was hard. You're not suppose to push when the contraction has worn off. It's useless and the baby can't descend without a contraction.

God was so good to me and little Nathan. James didn't give up on trying to get to me and that meant the world to me. I had accepted he wasn't going to be there, but he was determined. And there were many many people praying on our behalf. He was able to go to the head of the hospital and explain the situation with the language barrier and she made an exception right away. I'm so thankful James was able to be there to help translate, and to be by my side. Birth is such a beautiful once in a lifetime experience. For us, we seem to grow closer with each child the Lord blesses us with. Children are such a gift. The may take our sleep and energy, but they are worth it. We are truly thankful for this third little babe. What a great God we serve. And thank you to those of you who were praying for us along the way! To God be the glory!

4 Tips to Help in Labor :

1.   Know how you want to labor and have someone there who can translate that if you're in a foreign country.
        Everything happened so fast when they decided to break my water, that I didn't really have time to collect my thoughts beforehand or during. Looking back I would have asked James to ask the doctors to just let me labor and check on the baby only when necessary. 

2.  Prepare mentally for anything! 
     Things happened that I didn't understand and I realized there wasn't anything I could do but go with it. Try your best to relax no matter the circumstance even if there is an enema involved--oy!! 

3. Bring a visual aid or something to help you focus. 
    I have heard testimonies of other women who have given birth on a foreign field and weren't able to have their husbands with them. I always bring a visual aid with me to help me remember the end result. Whether a newborn diaper or a giant bow or a little car. Something that makes you smile and realize that this is worth it! 

4. Practice Relaxing During Your Pregnancy.
    It may sound silly to practice relaxing but this is key to help keep your body to be relaxed and your mind at ease during contractions. Practice breathing techniques to relax your body. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Nathan's Birth Story Part 1: The Pregnancy Dormitory

Eleven days past my due date...
All hope was gone. I had come to accept that my little "gift from God" was going to graduate kindergarten in the womb.
But then a glimmer of hope! Allow me to take you back the day before Nathan was born...

In Russia, it is common practice that the expectant mother checks herself into the hospital a week before her due date and waits on the baby to be born. Some will wait until their due date, and they never let a woman go more than six days past their due date without admitting them to the hospital.

So picture a dormitory of pregnant women. Okay, so it's just one floor of pregnant women. There are two people to a room sometimes more. Each room has a small fridge, toilet, sink, a nightstand, dresser and a bed. You walk down to the dining room when breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. You get whatever is handed to you ( no fancy menu choices) and sit and eat. Yum yum! Or so you hope. :) Breakfast is usually cream of wheat and lunch and dinner are pretty basic meals that usually include potatoes. Oh and you provide your own dishes, toilet paper, soap, fork, spoon, cup- anything that usually would be a disposable item you bring yourself.

It was Tuesday, ten days past my due date, I went to the doctor and she checked me. She said I was fully dilated and effaced but the baby just wasn't ready to come. She said they would rather not break my water but wanted me to check in and wait for contractions to start. We really didn't want to do this but we had hoped I would go into labor that night or the next day. After a gruelling hour, I was all checked in. I kissed my husband good bye and asked for a "tiny" list of things that I didn't have in my over night hospital bag. I had the room all to myself which was nice. Shortly after I got settled, it was dinner time.

My Room- The Luxury Suite :)
I walked down to the dining room with my bowl, spoon and cup in hand. I saw five other ladies in waiting who had already started devouring their food. The kind cook, filled my bowl to the brim with instant mashed potatoes, a small scoop of broth and beef like substance, and a tinier scoop of corn. Steak and potatoes, my favorite!
As I sat down and looked around at the other ladies, I thought to ask "So why are you here?---Oh your pregnant?! Me too!" I smiled as I amused myself. And then said hello to everyone with a big grin. Here's the American who speaks basic Russian so please no complicated questions. I talked to a few girls and tried to learn their names. Then we all waddled back to our rooms.

A nurse came in and handed me the dreaded "cup" to give her a potty sample in the morning. Don't they realize that is quite the task for a pregnant woman! Okay moving on...

The next morning, I awoke, and headed down the hall to the shower room. After finally figuring out how to turn it on, my shower was interrupted by one of the nurses. Oh hello there, come on in... She said something to me but all I could hear was a room number. I said okay and she left. Just like home, not a private moment to my day! :) Then as soon as I returned to my room, another nurse came and brought me down to a room to draw more blood. They like their urine and blood samples.

Then, breakfast was served! Cream of wheat, bread with cheese and butter, and tea with milk. Dairy, dairy, dairy. I thought I would be Russian like and make sure to drink tea with my meal. Then I saw there was milk in it...Not good for this lactose intolerant mama. So I pretended to drink it as I talked a little with the other ladies and when no one was looking threw the rest away.

The doctor came in and checked the baby's heartbeat, still good. And she said "Oh he'll come today or tomorrow." Yes, that's what she said a week ago, and yesterday...
I decided to start walking the stairs in hopes to trigger some contractions. I had contractions off and on but nothing that was consistent. Of course, all the nurses asked where I was going when they saw me in the stairwell. And I smiled and told them I was walking the stairs. They looked confused, but as soon as another nurse would say "She's American not Russian" they would just kinda shrug and keep walking.

James was bringing me lunch with the kids and I couldn't wait to see him. Around 11, I met him down in the visitor room- where technically you're not allowed to "visit". But we are Americans and plead ignorance. He brought me a few more treasures to help pass the time and we sat and ate our food. I started to cry as I thought how much I missed my family and it had only been a night away. I brought my stuff back to my room where I discovered I now had a room mate...Then the tears really began to flow. My room mate was sweet and smelled nice but now I had to share a room! My alone time, my vacation was over. My contentment with waiting on this baby was also over. I didn't understand why the Lord was allowing all of this to happen.

I walked back down to James and started to cry some more. I woke up that morning feeling content to wait  another night in the hospital, but now I just wanted to go home and have a baby... (I know I'm such a whiny baby!) Then one of the registration ladies came in the room to yell at us for visiting because the hospital was in lock down from visitors due to the flu epidemic. I started to become more overwhelmed with everything. After the registration lady left, then the head doctor over the prenatal area came in to tell us the same thing, that everyone had to leave.
But her yelling at us was actually a blessing in disguise... Which I will share tomorrow with you along with the rest of my birth story!

The Lord gave me many verses to comfort me during my eleven days of waiting. I trusted that God's ways were higher than my own and His way is perfect. But waiting was truly a struggle. Was I always content with waiting? No. But God gave me the strength and peace I needed as long as I kept my mind on him. 

Isaiah 26:3,4
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength: