Saturday, March 31, 2007


At last!

Our new baby finally decided to make an appearance! According to the doctor, she was 16 days late. I personally think the due date was off, perhaps by as much as a week, but it's not important now. I just didn't want to rush her. She's 7 lbs, 15 oz, and a beautiful, healthy baby.

We're still deciding on a name, but right now we're leaning towards Adia Nicole. Our other front-runner is Amelia Grace. . .feel free to cast votes.

Since a variety of people may read this, I decided to do a short version (immediately below) and a detailed version (which follows the short version). I left out what I consider to be the gory details. If anyone actually WANTS all the gory details, feel free to email me. I just didn't want to embarass any of the guys!

Here we go:

The Short Version

I think (looking back) that I was in early labor late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning. I went into active labor Thursday morning sometime between 11 and 11:30 am. Got to labor and delivery at 2:30 pm, baby was born at 3:55 pm. Totally unmedicated labor, just like Trea's. The nurses told John that I must be tough, because Thai women were scared of natural childbirth. John ruined my tough image by admitting that I was only giving birth naturally because I was more scared of epidurals and C-sections! Although, I have to admit this baby hurt more than I remember Trea hurting! I wonder now, if, after watching me yesterday, the nurses and doctor decided that farang women are nuts. C-sections are faster, cleaner and quieter!

I also have to say that I think the nurses were amazed by John. Most Thai men don't go into the labor and delivery room at all; John sat next to me and rubbed my back practically the whole time. Poor guy; in the course of the five hours I was in active labor, he was told to shut up (several times), to talk to me, to count out loud during contractions, to not talk during contractions, to rub my back, not to touch me, to hold my hand, to leave me alone. . . I don't think there was any profanity but I couldn't guarantee it. And he still loves me! There's no way I could do natural birth without him. Way better than a doula.

The hospital staff were great, very supportive and understanding. I decided to only stay one night, because I felt I would be more comfortable at home and I was feeling really good. We were home roughly 24 hours after the baby was born.

Oh, and the total bill for the hospital stay? Less than 4200 baht - or $120. We still need to pay the doctor for prenatal care, but still. . . excellent value here.

The Long Version

We went back to the doctor Wednesday night - not the doctor I'd seen throughout my pregnancy, but his colleague who fills in when he's out of town. At this point he's getting a little anxious, but I'm still barely dilated and the baby's head is at -3 (they judge the position of the baby in stations, and -3 is basically the starting point, as I understand it, and +5 is when the baby is completely out).

Fortunately, the doctor agreed that we could go back to the hospital the following day for more fetal monitoring, and if everything looked good, we could wait until the end of the week before inducing labor.

I started having intermittent contractions that night, nothing regular or very strong. I thought they might be Braxton-Hicks, actually, and at one point they stopped completely. John and I headed to the hospital at about 9 am for monitoring. They monitored me for a while, and while it looked like I was having sporadic, mild contractions, it was nothing serious. So they sent me home with instructions to return to the doctor's clinic in two days.

Now John had dropped me off before parking the car, and he ended up having to park quite a distance from the hospital. He went to get the car while I sat in the foyer of the hospital. This was about 10:30 am. Turns out, it took almost an hour and a half for him to return, because the car battery was dead. Sometime between 11 and 11:30 am, I went into active labor. I was pretty sure it was labor but my first labor was 12 and a half hours, so I figured I would go home and come back that night. I told John on the way home that I thought we'd be back in five or six hours.

Yeah right.

This baby dropped like a rock. We got home at around noon and by 1:30 I told John to make arrangements for Trea to go home from school with our neighbor, and to eat something because I felt like we needed to go back to the hospital. We got back to the hospital about 2:30. They admitted me (John had to answer all the questions, because I don't speak Thai and also because I was pacing the room trying to cope with contractions that were 2 minutes apart). The nurse checked me for dilation and I was 6, almost 7 centimeters. You should have seen her face. It wasn't panic - she was far too experienced for that - but she immediately took me to the delivery room. Usually, everyone labors together in the labor ward, then you go to the delivery room when it's your turn, then to the recovery ward, then to your postpartum room/ward. No time for us to go to the labor room!

They called my doctor (the substitute one) and it turned out he was away from the hospital and not returning until five. I have absolutely no luck with doctors!

Luckily for us, the doctor on call was awesome. She didn't speak a lot of English, but she was totally fine with having John in the room (which is unusual in Thailand) and even let him cut the cord. The labor nurse was also amazing, very supportive, and spoke a fair amount of English. There were other people in the room but I have no idea how many or who they were! It is a teaching hospital so I knew there could be up to ten nursing and/or medical students observing. There weren't that many but later neither John nor I could remember who was there.

By the way, in case anyone is ever in this situation . . . if you say "natural birth" in Thailand, they take you at your word. Many hospitals in the U.S. will continue to offer drugs, sometimes repeatedly. Not so here. And, since the delivery table they usually use isn't at all conducive to natural birth, they threw a mattress on the floor with some pillows. I wanted to be able to deliver on my hands and knees - it was the only comfortable position at that point - so that was perfect. They draped a sheet over my hips and just let me labor with John next to me. When it came time to push, they didn't even coach me - just checked that I was fully dilated and said, "Push if you want to." They monitored the baby once in a while, and a few times they peeked under the sheet to see how things were proceeding, but other than that, the whole lot of them sat across the room quietly chatting. They came running when the baby crowned though - probably because I yelled that the baby was coming. And since they were quick on their feet, the baby was caught in plenty of time. I joked with John later that I have heard of unassisted home birth - giving birth at home without a midwife or doctor - but this was the closest you could come to unassisted hospital birth. They did break my water at my request, because I was almost fully dilated and it hadn't broken yet. Other than that, there were no interventions during labor.

She came out BLUE but pinked up quickly - her Apgar scores were 8 and 10 (it's out of ten, so that was encouraging). They let me try to nurse right away but she wasn't interested and I kind of wanted to get cleaned up - childbirth is messy! The nurse brought her to me less than an hour later though, and she nursed great. They are super supportive of breastfeeding here - always reminding you to try every 2-3 hours, and staying with you until the baby is latched on correctly. I didn't get near this much support in the U.S. The hospital where I had Trea just didn't have the nursing staff to provide that kind of support.

There wasn't a private room available when the time came so I stayed in the postpartum ward with several other women. It really was fine. There wasn't any air con, but the heat wasn't too bad that night. John stayed until 8 pm when the visiting hours ended. It was really funny to see people's reactions. As I've mentioned before, there aren't that many farangs in Khon Kaen. There are even fewer who give birth here. Farangs who give birth in Khon Kaen at the university hospital, instead of the private hospital, are pretty much unheard of. People kept walking over to peer into the baby's bassinet, just to see a farang baby up close. It was kind of fun though, to talk to people and have them tell me how cute the baby is. And there were curtains to pull around the bed if I needed a little privacy:).

Overall it was a very positive experience. Mostly we are just grateful that everything worked out so well. We had wonderful doctors and nurses, plus our fantastic neighbors who were all willing to help take care of Trea. I wish our families could see our precious new addition but that is the only thing I would change!

Well, and maybe next time I will get an epidural . . .we'll see.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I know you're all thinking I haven't posted because I'm busy with a new baby (that is, if you even think about whether or not I post. . .) Wishful thinking. I haven't posted because there's NOTHING TO POST ABOUT! No baby here. Just one very large, very pregnant woman trying to not get anxious over the fact that the baby isn't here yet.

To make things even more fun, my doctor left town two days ago for a nine-day trip. Wow, glad I spent three months searching for the perfect doctor, so he could be somewhere else when it's time for me to deliver. Oh well. He referred me to a colleague of his, who is also a natural childbirth specialist, and we'll go to see him tonight. Hopefully his English will also be passable - otherwise John will need to brush up on medical terms in a hurry. John thinks we're cursed when it comes to health care providers and pregnancy. The midwife I saw throughout my pregnancy with Trea was unable to deliver her due to other commitments, and now this doctor also had to leave. Someone remind me - should I ever actually consider getting pregnant again - to just choose a group practice already!

We also are having serious concerns about the attitude this baby is displaying. First, being uncooperative through all three ultrasounds, so that we don't even know if it's a boy or a girl. Second, making me sick as a dog for the vast majority of this pregnancy. And now, not even having the courtesy to come in a timely manner! Really, is this the behavior of a sweet, cooperative child? I think not. John is threatening to name the baby "Willowdy" if he/she doesn't show up soon (Willowdy is the name John's mother had picked out for him, had he been a girl, which is one of many reasons why John is glad he is a man.)

In all seriousness, though, all that matters is doing what's best for the baby. If that means staying fat and pregnant a while longer, that's ok. If that means an induction - or even a C-section - that's ok too. I'm still hoping for a natural, uncomplicated birth though. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Nothing much

Nothing much happening here. . . still no baby (I was due yesterday, so anytime now). School is wrapping up. It is very, very hot. Hot weather and being nine months pregnant do not mix in my book!

We did have an interesting experience last week, in that we got into our first car accident here in Thailand. John was making a right-hand turn when a motorcycle traveling the same direction crashed into his side of the car. The motorcycle had been behind us and told us he didn't think we were going to turn, because there was a truck coming, so he tried to go around us. There was plenty of time for John to make the turn, the accident totally wasn't his fault. Still, the unwritten rule here isn't about who's at fault, it's whoever has the most money. Since we were the farangs driving a car, and he was a Thai on a motorbike, we obviously were going to have the priviledge of footing the bill. We've also heard that it's best just to settle it between the two parties involved, and not call the police, so that's what we did. After much discussion (by this time a number of passers-by had accumulated, and all put their two bahts' worth in) the motorcycle driver asked for 1500 baht. About $42. Frankly, we were just glad that he wasn't seriously hurt (he was scraped up a bit) and for that amount he could go to the doctor, get his bike fixedl, and replace his torn pants. We still need to get our car fixed, as the side view mirror is completely wiped out and the driver's side door is banged up, but we'll wait until after the baby is born. I was teasing John, because we asked the mechanic to replace the driver's side view mirror last time we had the car worked on, and he replaced the passenger's side view mirror instead. At least this time there will be no question about which mirror needs replacing!