We are so blessed and so thankful for the safe arrival of baby Wesley. Abe and I have talked alot about how there are so many details that we are thankful for. So much to thank the Lord for surrounding Wesley’s birth. I have been wanting to write out Wesley’s birth story but as you know having a newborn and caring for 3 other little boys doesn’t leave a lot of ‘down’ time. So here it is 6 weeks after he was born. It is amazing how fast and slow 6 weeks can seem to have gone by.
***Disclaimer***This is so very long! Please do not feel obligated to read it all. I wrote it mostly for myself, not wanting to forget the details.
Friday April 13th I had a doctors appointment to do my GBS screening. That morning I woke up and found that I had some bloody show. That hadn’t happened with the other boys so I was a bit in a panic thinking that this baby may be coming sooner than later. I was 38 weeks pregnant exactly. I had had Simon and Graham both just a few days early. The last few weeks of this pregnancy were difficult. I had been struggling with pulled groin muscles and some cramping. Feeling so big and uncomfortable, the warmer days seemed to make it even harder. Getting down stairs to let the boys play outside was a feat. So I was hopeful that this baby would indeed arrive early.
That weekend came and went and no other early signs of labor. Monday, April 16th we decided to venture out to our local market and our library. We invited our friend Keziah to join us. Her husband Alan was gone on a trip. Keziah is the wife of another Cathay pilot who lives here in Gold Coast. We made it on the bus and did some grocery shopping at the market. I remember feeling so slow as I walked, hoping that Abe would suggest taking a taxi home. I hadn’t been to the Library yet and Abe said it was about a “5 minute walk from the market”. After about a 20 minute walk we arrived at the library. Abe did apologize for the long walk. But he may have been right about it being a 5 minute walk…it just may be a 20 minute walk with a very pregnant woman! 🙂 The library was great and we made it home with our fresh veggies in hand. And yes we did take a taxi home! 🙂 That evening there was a huge thunder storm. We all sat on the couch and watched “Charlotte’s Web” together, taking breaks to watch the lightning out the window.
That night I woke up 2:30 am to some contractions. Now I have had Braxton Hicks contractions all throughout my pregnancy but they usually subside when I am lying or resting. These contractions seemed stronger and more consistent. An hour went by and I couldn’t sleep, wondering if “this was it”. Finally at 4:30am I woke Abe up. Abe was scheduled to go into work that day for a flight simulator training. We talked and wondered again if “this was it”. The contractions continued every 4-8 minutes and were definitely getting stronger and not easing up. A few weeks prior Abe had talked with our friends Alan and Keziah who are sweet fellow Christians if they would be willing to watch our boys in the event that I went into labor and my mom wasn’t here. (My mom had planned on arriving a few days before my due date which was April 27th) They graciously said yes without hesitating. We finally decided that this probably was “it”. Abe called into his work and let them know that we were headed to the hospital and that he wouldn’t make it in to work. It was such a relief to know that Abe and I would head to the hospital together. I had thought a lot about if I went into labor while Abe was at work he may have to just meet me there. Thankfully his work schedule for the month of April kept him in Hong Kong as he wasn’t flying yet. At 6:30am I called Keziah hoping she was already awake. She wasn’t but she was so gracious and so willing to come over as soon as we needed her. She arrived to our door at 7:30am and I began telling her details about the boys, showing her books, videos, school work she could do with them but I couldn’t finish my conversation, the contractions were too strong. I motioned for Abe to finish my conversation with her. We said good bye to the boys and headed downstairs. Our Lobby Lady called a taxi for us. She explained in Chinese to the driver where we needed to go. It was stormy outside which seemed appropriate. Contractions can easily be equated with thunder and lightning I guess right ladies?? 🙂
After talking with the taxi driver and making sure we were headed the right direction Abe called our parents and told them we were heading to the hospital. The drive took about 40 minutes and I could feel every bump. Every swerve seemed so dramatic. Once we were there I stepped out of the taxi back into the rain and stormy weather. The wind blew wildly though it was a warm wind and we stepped through puddles. The thunder continued. We made it to the Labor and Delivery floor. I was greeted by a Chinese nurse who spoke good English. She verified my name and registration information. She also wanted to verify that I had all the supplies that were on my ‘packing list’. Now I was given a list of things that I would need to pack for my hospital stay some time ago at one of my doctor visits. The medical system is definitely different here and the patient is responsible to bring certain supplies that we would rely on the hospital to provide. The list included: a cup, tissue paper, slippers, maternity pad with loop and belt or mesh pant, absorptive underpad 10 sheets, brassiere, coins or telephone card. On the list to bring for the baby was: new born diapers and cotton wool piece or fragrance free wet tissue. It was the maternity pad with loop, mesh pant and absorptive pads that we had not been able to find at any pharmacy or drugstore type store.
The nurse quickly informed us that Abe would have to go down to 7-11 and get those items. Thinking we misunderstood Abe asked, “7-11 store?” Yes, next door to the hospital was a 7-11 convinient store where they sold such items. Strange as it seemed Abe did just that. In the mean time I was ushered to a triage area, given a bed and some pink, very pink pleated scrubs to put on. Contractions continued. Queen Mary is a teaching hospital and there were 2 sweet nursing students who then came to hook me up to the fetal monitor. They didn’t speak very much English but were kind and had a timid, sweet demeaner. Instantly memories of being a nursing student flooded back and I felt like I was one of them for a moment. Abe returned and a doctor came and spoke with us. He asked about my past medical history and wanted to know about my birth plan. I was surprised and delighted with how accepting they were of our wishes. I had written a few things down on paper that I just wanted Abe to refer to and make sure he conveyed to the medical staff at some point (i.e. no episiotomy unless necessary, no forceps unless necessary, no pain medications, baby up on mom to nurse right after delivery etc) The doctor asked to see the list and agreed. At this point a nurse came and told Abe that he had to leave and that she would come get him when it was time to move me to an actual delivery room. Abe ademently told her “No, I’m sorry I’m her husband, the baby’s father. I’m staying”. The nurse again explained that he could come back later. It was a bit tense and between contractions I whispered to Abe “It will be all right, let’s make friends not enemies”, half jokingly and half serious. He agreed to leave but made sure I had my phone on me and to call if I needed him to come in.
Once Abe left a nurse came and checked me to see how far I was dilated. She told me that I was 4 or 5 cm dilated. From my past deliveries I knew that this can be a sort of mind game. But I was quite discouraged. I had been experiencing pretty hard contractions and thought I would be farther along and close to meeting this baby boy. I began to think this day was going to be longer than I thought. The nurse informed me that my contraction pattern was consistent enough to allow me to be moved to a labor room. I was relieved, mostly because Abe could be by my side again. He is my partner in life and such a fantastic coach. Going through labor each time is a bonding experience between us but I think it was even more so this time as we were so far from home here in Hong Kong.
I think it was just after 10:00 am when I was wheeled over to the labor room. Yes, wheeled in a wheel chair they wouldn’t let me walk down the corridor to the Labor unit. Once in the labor room I was told to take off my pink scrubs and put on this bright purple gown and Abe was given a matching gown to wear! 🙂 I told the nurse that I really had to go to the bathroom and she told me that I couldn’t. She said that she didn’t want “baby in toilet”. So she brought me a bedpan. It was a bit humiliating especially because I was perfectly fine to walk. Then again I was hooked up to the fetal monitor and then we were really left alone. I was trying to find a good position to labor in but being hooked to the monitor can make it difficult. I sat in bed for quite a while but Abe encouraged me to get out of bed and I am glad I did. I was more comfortable and leaned on Abe’s back. To my surprise I felt a gush of water along with a strong contraction. My water had never spontaneously broken before. I made a made a large puddle on the floor. Abe called for someone and when the nurse came in I was scolded a bit and told that I needed to get into bed. Then the nurse left us. We were alone again and I felt increasingly nervous that no one was in there with us. I stayed in be for a bit but then got out. This time with a chux under pad…one from 7-11 🙂 on the floor beneath me. Contractions began to come now with a vengence and I began to feel like my body was taking over and it was beginning to voluntarily push. I began to panic a bit and wonder how far along I was and if I ‘should’ be pushing. Still we were alone in our room. I told Abe that I needed someone to come to tell me if I should be pushing. Abe did go and get a nurse. She checked me and told me that I was complete and said that I could begin pushing if it felt comfortable. Comfortable while in labor is a bit of an oxy-moron but I knew what she meant. I was hollering and screamed some but of course at this point I didn’t care…just wanted this baby to come out. I lay in the bed in the stirups as the nurses got ready. I pushed through 3 contractions and then felt that crazy ring of fire and then the wriggling out of our baby and the release of it all. Instantly I heard a sweet loud cry! It was over, he was here. What relief and joy all at once. They quickly wiped him off slightly with a towel (no flannel receiving blanket, a rough towel that looked like a striped hotel towel) and brought him to my chest. Oh how brand new, another beautiful big baby boy. Abe and I teared up as we met baby Wesley together. Wesley weighed 9lb 9oz and was 21″ long (we had to do our own conversion from Kilograms and centimeters! hehe). He was officially my biggest baby!
At this time I was aware that my placenta had not delivered yet and the nurse asked me to push again. It wasn’t coming. She explained to me that sometimes it “takes a while”. She told me to relax and that is was okay. I tried to take in this new one and all his wonder but my legs were so tired and wobbly from continuing to hold them up in the stirups. After about 15 or 20 minutes, Wesley’s hands turned so purple/blue, he was cold. Abe told the nurse and they took him to a warmer and took his O2 saturation, it was in the 80’s and they put oxygen on him. I was not only preoccupied with my placenta not being delivered I was now worried about our baby. I told Abe to go and stay beside him. It didn’t take too long for his O2 saturations to come up to the mid 90’s and he was looking better. I was nervous again about my placenta and wondered why it had not come out yet. I talked with Abe and he seemed calm and tried to assure me it would be okay. It had been at least 40 minutes now since Wesley was born I was still waiting on this placenta. The nurse had me push again multiple times. She then told me that she would have to go and get the doctor and that they may have to do “an invasive procedure”. What? An invasive procedure. My mind began to race. When the doctor walked in I realised that I had not seen this lady before. I began to think that it was a nurse who delivered our baby. I don’t think that a doctor was ever present until now. Now it was over an hour since Wesley had arrived but my placenta hadn’t. Just then, thankfully the doctor had me push again a few times and the placenta came out. I was cleaned up and then Wesley was back in my arms again.
Abe went back to our favorite place…7-11 and bought me what you should buy at 7-11, juice, snacks and a very sentimental treat…a Toblerone bar of chocolate – a reminder of our story, meeting up in the Swiss Alps. I love that man. He came back and we both ate and talked and soaked up these early moments with our baby boy. After a couple of hours I was transferred to a gourney and transferred to the mother baby unit. I rode on the gurney up the elevator with baby Wesley tucked at my side. I knew that I could sit up and would much rather have been in a wheel chair but I wasn’t allowed to do that. After we made it to the floor I remember the nurses exclaiming “Big Baby!” when the nurse told them he weighed 9lbs 9oz. Abe stayed at my bedside behind the curtain and we whispered because we were both aware that he was not to stay long. I wanted him there but I began to think of our big boys and wondered how Keziah was holding up. Abe stayed another hour or so and then headed home.
Earlier that day upon registering I was offered the choice of an “Asian” diet or a “Western” diet for my hospital meals. I selected “western”. That evening I was so hungry despite the snacks that Abe had bought for us. When my meal came I was surprised to see that the “Western” meal was rice, meat and an asian squash I have never seen in the states. It really was quite good. Later that evening someone came around and asked if I wanted “the milk”. Puzzled I told her I didn’t know what she meant. She said, “Not for the baby but for you”. I agreed, that I’d like to have some milk. Milk is very expensive as are all dairy products here. I was excited to have a tall glass of cold milk. The woman handed me a large rice bowl filled half way with warm milk. Strange…but I drank it even though I felt a bit like a kitten. My little Wesley did just great that first day. He didn’t seem to mind the little cotton dress (no really it was a dress!) that they put on him or the pink receiving blanket from the hospital that he was swaddled in. I was glad I brought a ‘boyish’ quilt that a dear friend had made me. 🙂
The mother baby ward was 2 large rooms with hospital beds separated by curtains. There was quite a chorus of baby cries at times. It seemed that one would start and all the others would follow. I didn’t get much sleep that night and felt that going home would give me more bits of quiet (even with my other 3 boys! hehe). It was okay though the lack of sleep I felt a bit of that natural adrenaline rush and excitement after delivering this baby boy. I talked with Abe later and he said the boys did well and that Keziah made it! 🙂
I was surprised by a number of things in the hospital but overall I was most surprised at how hands off the staff seemed to be. There wasn’t a nurse popping in my room watching me breast feed or taking my vitals every couple of hours. There wasn’t a nurse checking on the baby or offering to change the baby. I wasn’t offered any pain medicine or any Colace. From nursing school I remember handing out Percocet, Tylenol and Colace being the primary job of the postpardem nurses. 🙂 I had brought a couple doses of Tylenol (Panadol they call it here – generic Acetaminophen) and my own Colace in the form of prunes. Once my own Tylenol was gone I did ask for some more. The nurse brought me a sort of notebook and a little baggie with Panadol in it. She instructed me to record in the notebook when I took it. So I did. It was just different. I didn’t feel neglected. I knew that I could ask for help at any time and get a quick response from the nurses. It just wasn’t as “cushy”. I didn’t mind so much, it being my fourth delivery. I was glad that I wasn’t having my first baby over seas though for sure. All in all I was pleased with the care that I received. It was adequate and safe. Language was really never an issue. Almost all of the staff spoke English to varying degrees. We feel grateful for the competent staff and the access to health care. And did I mention that our total hospital bill came out to just about $18 US?!!! We are aware that delivering elsewhere in a foreign country could have been much more difficult and stressful.
The next evening Abe and the boys rode the bus to Queen Mary to pick us up. We had decided to go home that day and we were so glad that that was ‘okay’ with hospital regulations. I was given my discharge paperwork and follow up information. Abe called and told me he was in the lobby and the nurse said I could leave…no offer of a wheel chair ride (which was fine by me) I just walked out to greet my 3 older boys. It was a precious, priceless moment when they all met Wesley for the first time. There was such wonder, curiousity and love beaming from their eyes. We sat and they admired him. Abe and I tried to take it all in, not wanting to forget a bit of this sweet moment. Out of the hospital we waved for a taxi and me and my 4 little boys piled in the back seat with Abe up front. Abe had offered me the front seat but without an infant car seat I felt the back seat might be more safe. (there aren’t any car seat laws here for children and no one uses them in taxis) I prayed much of the way home for a safe ride. It felt strange not having a car seat but it felt just right being able to hold our new bundle in my arms all the way. We arrived back to our apartment safe and sound all 6 of us. Our hearts full and thankful for so much. “The Lord had done great things for us and we are filled with joy” Psalm 126:3