We’re so thankful to have our first guest post submitted by the mother of a brand new baby girl. We all love to hear birth stories because each one is so different and so unique in its own special way. I particularly love how this story is full of expectations, yet ends up with surprises around every corner. Isn’t that so true for so many areas of our life while living overseas? This mom handles it all so well by choosing to focus on reaching the moment when she would finally hold her baby girl. We hope you’ll enjoy this story as much as we did!
“It takes a few hours”, they said, in regards to blowing up and filling up the oversized kiddie pool, into which I would be stepping a woman and coming out of a mother. A few hours doesn’t seem too bad for a fill-up time with an average labor, especially the for a first-timer. But in my case…not so much.
My love for a natural water birth started many years ago, before I even knew where Indonesia and Malaysia were on a map. After marrying my incredibly handsome boyfriend of five years at the perky young age of 20, I became intrigued by birth. I have a great friend who became pregnant, at the time, with her first. She took my curiosity as a great opportunity to blow my mind by inviting me to the birth of her baby at her mother’s birthing center in Miami. I went, I saw….a lot, and I came out of there inspired by my friend who made it all look too easy. I knew we weren’t ready for kids just yet, but once we were, I was going to be up for the challenge of a natural birth while splashing around in a jet-powered jacuzzi.
Six years later I found myself living in Southeast Asia, pregnant and hot. I didn’t even know your chest could sweat until I was pregnant on this island and could daily feel the drips falling. My husband and I flew to the capital city to see a few doctors who could potentially deliver our first baby. They were great doctors. However, when I would ask about the possibilities of a water birth, each doctor looked at me like I just told them that this was my tenth child and all the others were born with wings in all the colors of the rainbow. Needless to say, I took that as a NO.
For various reasons, my husband and I ended up needing to deliver in Malaysia. I started my search for a recommended doctor in the city where I was to deliver. What do you know, the first doctor that was recommended to me is a pioneer in Malaysia for water births, Dr. Narinder. On my first meeting with him, instead of having to ask about the possibilities, he asked me if I was interested in trying a water birth. Perfect! We filled out the “Birth Plan” papers and waited for the big day.
I was a little nervous about the timing, since the birth pool had to be blown up and filled by a hose from the bathroom sink, but I figured we would contact him enough ahead of time that everything would be ready once we got to the hospital. It wasn’t exactly the jet-powered jacuzzi I had pictured, but I would still have the splashing around part which mattered more to me anyway.
Now, keep in mind, this is my first baby and I didn’t have an American labor and delivery ward to which I could compare anything. I just took everything in as normal and focused on having my baby in my arms at any moment. As my due date came closer, I tried to have a game plan for the inevitable “in public water breaking” possibility. I also prepped a labor bag complete with giant maternity pads and disposable panties from the local convenient shop (amazing)! Finally, on the night of my due date, a little after 1:00 AM, I started to have periodic cramping, much like the diarrhea cramps that signal something’s about to blow. I thought this might be it so I jumped in the shower. The contractions were feeling stronger and stronger. I timed them at 5 minutes apart and 2 minutes long. I was trying to labor as long as possible at home but at just one hour into it (after blowouts from both ends and contractions that made me curl over) I figured we needed to call the doc. He told us to go ahead and come in since it seemed pretty intense. I thought this was way too early to be feeling it so much, so I figured I was either a whimp and had to admit my defeat to the labor pains or I was really close.
By the time we got to the hospital, after gathering all of our bags, it was 3:30 AM and the waves were happening close. Going to the hospital that early in the morning is the best time to go, let me tell you! The process went so smoothly and there was dim lighting and minimal staff. The bottom floor of that hospital is usually packed during office hours. I would have hated for all the bystanders to have been a part of my birth story as they stare at me getting wheeled in. So, up I go to the delivery room and there it is…my blown up kiddie pool…empty. At this point, I felt like I was ready to go… but the pool was just in the first few minutes of the “few hours” it takes to fill up before I could dive in. I had to get on the bed to have a few scans done to check on baby. After being checked at 8 centimeters, six of the sweetest little Malaysian nurses kicked it into high gear and started filling huge water basins and running back and forth from the bathroom to the pool to get it filled before the baby arrived. Finally, I got in the water. OH my goodness, what a relief! The warm water was just what I needed to go the rest of the way. An hour and a few pushes later, our little Selah Girl was born at 5:31 AM.
My 4 hours of labor totally threw off my detailed plan of candle light, music and a photographed outline of the whole thing. I had my husband rubbing my back the whole time, so we were both out for the count. We even had all the ingredients for a cake that we were going to bake during the early hours of labor! Ha! That didn’t happen. But what did happen was that nurse ‘call bell’. I was slightly sad while leaving the hospital with our new baby because I wasn’t going to have a little bell to push that made a sweet little nurse magically appear and do anything I would ask of her…including changing my pad. Not that I asked for that, but they just routinely came in and changed it, and I didn’t stop them! I even stayed in my hospital gown for the full 4 nights we were in the hospital because of how awesome it was to not even have to dress myself…because a nurse would do that too! Needless to say, our stay in the hospital suite was made complete with a romantic candle-lit dinner for the new parents, an endless supply of chocolate milk, and the tiniest Malaysian nurses who got buzzed in to my room more than they may have wanted.
If you’re interested in finding out more details about this particular delivery or have questions, please feel free to send us an email using the contact form below. You can also leave a friendly comment in the comments section.