It all started at midnight on September 15th, three days after my due date. I was awakened by light contractions. Taking the advice of Ina May Gaskin, I drank a small glass of wine and went back to bed trying to relax. I stayed awake until around 3 A.M. wondering whether or not this indicated the beginning of Sadie’s arrival. Since the contractions weren’t consistent, I went back to bed.
The next day I kept having contractions that indicated early labor. The contractions weren’t consistent and I was still able to get around and do most things. But that day Dustin stayed home and canceled his classes he was scheduled to teach in order to be ready in case I went into labor. I stayed home most of the day, checking if I had everything ready for the hospital and sat on the couch most of the day. Later on that night we dropped off our dog at the pet hotel and then went out to get Subway and a lemonade for me. We even went to get some groceries for the next day in case we had another day of early labor ahead of us. I still remember Dustin chuckling at the fact that we were out walking around, doing normal everyday things while I was having contractions. But realistically speaking, the contractions during early labor, though uncomfortable weren’t unbearable to the point where I couldn’t function. They just felt like bad cramps.
That night, around 3 in the morning, the contractions intensified. Knowing that there’s most likely a marathon ahead, I tried to stay in bed and rest in-between contractions which I was able to until later that morning when the contractions intensified. In the beginning I was able to do some visualization to help me relax. What helped the most was visualizing I was in a boat with Jesus and He was with me. I started timing the contractions and slowly as the hours passed, the minutes in between each contraction decreased and the length of the contractions increased.
Around 6 A.M. (I think, my memory’s already getting fuzzy) the contractions were getting so intense I woke Dustin up to help me time them. We stayed in bed until around 8A.M. At that time, I called my midwife, Eva, to let her know where I was at. She told me to take my time but I can start heading to the hospital. So, in between contractions, (which were now at the point where I needed to stop what I was doing until it passed), we ate some breakfast (yogurt, granola and some bananas) and got ready to leave for the hospital.
On the way there, I was listening to Scriptural birth affirmations to help me focus on the Lord. I remember tearing up in the car listening to them, especially at the parts where the woman in the recording was declaring the joy and expectation of meeting our little girl.
Once at the hospital, the nurses hooked me up to a machine to monitor the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions for half an hour. By this time the contractions were pretty intense and I had a hard time relaxing during them (which I’ve heard really helps). The nurse took a look at me and let me know that I was 3 cm dilated which was really encouraging to me. I was afraid the contractions weren’t doing anything which I’ve heard can be the case with some women. I listened to “Childbirth in the Glory” and another birth affirmation I got from my online childbirth class (which I highly recommend) to help me through this stage.
Eva arrived some time during the monitoring process to check on me for a little bit and then left to attend to other duties. Afterwards, I had to fill out what seemed like a never ending pile of forms to be admitted into the hospital. Since Dustin couldn’t read Chinese I had to fill all of them out in between contractions. I kept putting my head on the counter where the nurse had me sit to sign the forms. It felt like we were there for an hour but it was probably more like 30 minutes.
Next, a nurse led us to our hospital room where I was going to give birth. Traditionally in Taiwan, women labor in the labor room (which is next to other labor rooms that only had a curtain and a wall dividing them) then are wheeled into the delivery room when they’re ready. Thankfully, Eva is married to the doctor who owns the hospital we were at. She gave me the option to labor and deliver right in our own private hospital room which was so so nice!
As the hours passed, the contractions were growing in intensity. Even though it wasn’t until nearly twelve hours after we checked into the hospital that I delivered, those twelve hours didn’t seem long to me at all. Somehow I was in “the zone” and everything else just faded away, even the time.
As the contraction intensified, my husband’s encouragement and massages really helped. Especially towards the end where the contractions were really intense, his affirming “you can do it!” “you’re doing a great job!” and “God made your body to give birth” gave me courage to keep going. I felt the Lord answering prayers I’ve sent to our friends back in the States as well. Even though the contractions were difficult, I felt the Lord giving me grace and strength to keep going and to not give up. Warm water also helped so much. I got in the shower and had Dustin spray my lower back with warm water when there was a point that I was starting to get discouraged and weak from the contractions. The water really helped me relax. Don’t underestimate the power of warm water! I was trying to imagine what giving birth in a warm bath would be like…..probably awesome haha.
Towards early evening, my water broke around 5:30PM. There was a pop sound and a gush of water came out. Eva was about to leave to go home and take care of some things but after my water broke, she went and got into her delivery gear and asked the nurses to come and assist her.
Contrary to what I’ve heard other moms indicated, I was surprised I didn’t ask for an epidural or lose my mind. I’ve heard that many times it’s during the transition, where a woman is super close to delivering the baby that she loses her grasp with reality or scream for the drugs. I did remember thinking to myself if I would want drugs haha. Throughout it I kept remembering Ina May’s suggestion to not scream but to make lower range noises if I felt the need to.
What really moved me and kept me going at this point was Dustin’s hand. He kept holding my hand and his eyes that were full of love, continuously encouraging me. When the baby’s head crowned, he started to tear up and cry. He told me later that he couldn’t control it. The combination of hearing me make faces and noises that he’s never seen nor heard me make before and witnessing the miracle of childbirth, knowing the Lord was bringing a new life through us, really touched his heart. Seeing how moved he was gave me strength to keep going.
Then after what it seemed like to be a long time of pushing, Sadie’s head came out, then with another push or two the rest of her body followed. With the help of our awesome midwife, Eva, I didn’t tear despite the fact that Sadie was 8.3 pounds, a pretty large by Asian standards. When Dr. Chen, my OB/Gyn came in and inspected me, he was happily surprised that I didn’t need any stitches. Later Eva told me that her husband told her, my birth was the best natural birth they’ve had in their hospital so far! So awesome! Praise the Lord!
When Sadie was finally came out, she was placed upon my chest for skin-to-skin. I actually didn’t cry, I think I was just overwhelmed with a combination of shock and relief that labor was finally over and she was really here! Trying to wrap my mind around all of that and finally feeling her on my skin was stunning and unbelievable at the same time.
After the nurses cleaned me up, I ate what remained of my my postpartum meal I ordered. Dustin had eaten half of my meal earlier that evening since he was pretty hungry. I had quite the appetite though! Even Eva was surprised at how good of an appetite I had.
Overall I’m so so so thankful for a positive birth experience! I know not every woman gets to have that. In the beginning of my pregnancy, I hoped to have a natural birth without any interventions if possibleI but I was so overly worried that I wouldn’t be able to since I live in Tainan, Taiwan where that type of resource is rare. Of course, above all else, the safety and health of both my baby and I is what’s most important. I know so many women don’t get to have the type of birth they hoped for and if that’s you my heart goes out to you. I can only imagine what that would be like and the wrestle you went through afterwards. But I also rejoice with you over the fact that you and your child are healthy!
In light of all of that, I’m SO grateful how everything worked out. Even being able to find a midwife in Tainan who is pro-natural birth is such a tremendous surprise and blessing! I’m so so thankful for my husband’s loving support, my friend Yvonne who came and helped cheer me on, Eva, my midwife, Dr. Chen and the nurses at Chen Tso Yen Hospital. Once again, God reminded me through it all that worrying is unwarranted because He always takes such good care of me. The experience helped remind me to have faith in His goodness and be anxious in no thing because He’s got it all covered.
Beyond the birth, the Lord provided financially for us as well! I know as new parents, the tendency is to worry and fret over finances, which of course I did. But over and over again, I just keep thanking God for arranging every little detail. He loves helping His children bring forth new life!