Monday, March 22, 2010

Birth Story

I had my baby! Hurray! A lot of people have been asking me about the birth, and I know that if I don't take advantage of this little window of time I have now, I'll never get it out. That's one of the things I've learned about being a mother; I have to get used to doing everything in 1.5-2 hour intervals. That's about how often he nurses during the day now (I get about 3-3.5 hour stretches at night usually), and when it's time for him to eat I have to drop everything and feed the little guy. Then he goes into a nice sleepy milk coma (unless he's fussy), and I can get stuff done or take a nap until the next cycle. So, with that being said, I'm exhausted and I don't have much time. I'm going to have to just regurgitate the story here without worrying about writing well or making it sound nice. Sorry!

Jonathan William Hudson was born March 10, 2010 at 2:10 AM at 38 weeks. He was about 6.7 pounds and 20 inches long. Here's what happened:

I woke up at about 11:00 AM (little did I know that would be the last time I got to sleep in) on March 9th. Our bed was so uncomfortable for me at that point, so I was sleeping on our couch. As soon as I woke up I felt a little gush, so I stood up quickly to try and avoid getting whatever it was on the couch (I was not successful). The fluid leaked a little bit on the floor as well. It may sound stupid, but like many first time moms, I wasn't convinced that this was my water breaking. For one thing, I was only 38 weeks and I was convinced that I would never be one of the lucky ones that went a couple of weeks early. Everyone I know who has had a baby recently has suffered along until about 41 weeks usually! It also wasn't a huge gush. I knew it didn't have to be a huge gush, but I thought this could be my mucus plug or something. Don't ask me why I thought it could be my mucus plug, but as far as I knew, I hadn't lost it yet. I also hadn't had any bloody show. Nothing was what I expected it to be, so I was in denial.

I woke Ian up (we were really living up our last days of sleeping in) and told him that my water may be leaking. We were both excited at the possibility, but didn't want to get our hopes up. I called my doula, Angie, and she tried to convince me that I was starting early labor. I still wasn't convinced.

Ian and I took a walk to our favorite Sichuan restaurant for lunch, and I had to stop every once in awhile because I felt a little crampy, especially in my lower back. Believe it or not, I still didn't think I was in early labor. For one thing, I knew that it's normal to feel a bit crampy sometimes during pregnancy, and for all I knew I was experiencing braxton hicks contractions. I never once had braxton hicks contractions during my whole pregnancy, so I had no idea what they were supposed to feel like. I also kept feeling little gushes, but when I looked at the pad I was wearing later I couldn't really tell if it was wet or not because it was so absorbent.

Throughout the next couple hours Ian and I were trying to figure out whether I was really in labor or not, and whether he should go to work that evening or not. Angie, who I was keeping in touch with the whole time, was sure I was in early labor but told us not to expect things to really move along until much later that night. I was still in denial, so I sent Ian to work but decided to get my hospital bag ready and tie up a few loose ends around the house just in case.

As the evening went on, I allowed myself to admit that my "waves of crampiness" that seemed to be coming closer and closer together were actually contractions. They were still manageable, but definitely bordering on painful. I cursed myself for not getting my hospital bag ready early, because it was so hard to focus and pack all the necessary crap when I was having to stop what I was doing and focus on getting through a contraction every couple of minutes.

Ian kept calling me every chance he got to check on me, and I started timing my contractions. At first they were about 8 minutes apart, then 5 minutes, and before I knew it 3 minutes apart. I wanted to really try and let Ian finish his shift at work, but by the time they were 3 minutes apart they were becoming more painful and I wanted to get to the birth center. Ian ended up leaving work to come home at 9:00 PM instead of 10:00 PM; an hour early.

On his way home he flagged down a taxi and had it waiting for me downstairs, I had everything ready, but I swear, it was the most messy, ridiculously packed hospital bag ever. I ended up bringing a million outfits for the baby because I had no idea whose responsibility it was to clothe the child during our stay. We got in the taxi and were on our way. My contractions were still about 3 minutes apart, and every bump in the road made them worse. Ian just reached his hand back and I squeezed his hand and breathed through them each time. It was the most uncomfortable car ride ever!

We arrived at the birth center about 20 minutes later. I couldn't wait to get in the LDR room and start laboring with the shower and the tub and the cool ceiling rope thingie, but they made me lie down and be monitored for 20 minutes so they could get a reading on the baby and Ian could fill out paperwork. Lying on my back like this was so uncomfortable, how do women handle having continuous fetal monitoring? Anyway, I was contractions were good and the babies heartbeat was good. They checked me (I was surprised at how uncomfortable this felt, but I guess anything feels uncomfortable when you're lying on your back having contractions), and I was 2 cm. I was happy that I wasn't 0 like I feared, but also a bit disappointed that I wasn't further along. They also checked for amniotic fluid, and it appeared that my water hadn't broken yet, but that I was just leaking a bit earlier.

Finally, I was admitted into my LDR room. I was eying the nice tub, but I decided I wanted to save the big guns for the end when my contractions were really unbearable. I sat on the ball, hung on the rope, and got in their amazing shower. The shower and the ceiling rope thingie were soooo helpful! It's weird how hanging off of a rope can help with pain, but it does. Angie also arrived by this time with some McDonalds for us since we had forgotten to eat dinner and I was starving.

So we ate, I did my thing, Angie massaged me, and Ian learned NOT to ask me questions during a contraction. A nurse would come in periodically to check the baby's heartbeat with a doppler, and everything was going well. At some point my OB showed up and checked me, and also stripped my membranes to speed things up a bit (I was okay with this since I was already in labor). I was more than 4 cm at that point with a bulging bag of water. Progress!

A little bit later the nurses came in to get another 20 minute reading on the fetal heart monitor. This is when things started to go south. Jonathan's heartbeat was faint and difficult to find. Angie told me not to worry because it could have just been due to his position, but then some more nurses came in with oxygen. They said I needed the oxygen because Jonathan needed more oxygen. Then another nurse came in with an IV of glucose for me, and then Dr. Li, my OB, was there. Jonathan's heart rate was a lot lower than it should have been (somewhere in the 80s I think); not good! Dr. Li started talking to Ian in Chinese, thinking that I couldn't understand. I didn't understand everything, but I heard her tell him that she wanted to explain things to him first so I wouldn't be scared. That freaked me out more!

Dr. Li broke my water (with her finger in the middle of a contraction; not comfortable at all) to make sure there wasn't any meconium (this would have been a clear sign of distress). The water was clear, so at that point we were going to keep monitoring his heart rate closely and wait and see if it went up. It wasn't going up though and Dr. Li started to get worried. Apparently, it wasn't good that Jonathan's heart rate was so low this early on in labor, and it seemed Jonathan wasn't getting enough oxygen. I found out later that they were also worried about a prolonged lack of oxygen causing brain damage. It's a good thing I wasn't aware of that possibility at the time! I would have been freaking out even more.

At this point it was pretty clear that Jonathan's cord was being compressed and that he was not getting enough oxygen. Things went into emergency mode and they quickly wheeled me into the OR (Ian and Angie came too) for an emergency c-section. Everything happened so fast, and the situation had become so serious that all the nurses and doctors were just preparing everything without explaining a whole lot. Thank God Angie was there to talk us through everything! They had paged the anesthesiologist and she was on her way, but there was no time to waste and they needed to prep me before the epidural was in.

This part was a little scary. They had to put a catheter in, which kind of sucked because I didn't have the epidural in and it sort of hurt. Then they put the little sheet up, gave me a bunch of shots across my stomach to numb my uterus, painted my stomach with iodine, and kept saying the anesthesiologist would be there any minute. Then Dr. Li said they couldn't wait anymore and that they would just have to knock me out. The last thing I remember is the room swirling around and me thinking about that movie, Awake, where the guy goes through heart surgery awake and can feel everything. Don't see this movie!

I really need Ian to come on here and write everything from his point of view, especially from this point on because I was knocked out. Both Ian and Angie told me later that they were really scared but neither of them let any of that show in front of me. When I started to come to, I heard a baby crying, but at this point I didn't really know it was my baby or that I had even given birth yet. Dr. Li was by my head, holding my hand and explaining everything that had happened. I said, "Where am I, what's that crying?" I was so out of it and had to have to situation explained to me at least 5 times or so. Apparently I was also using quite colorful language! I saw Ian across the room holding a baby, and it slowly began to dawn on me that it was actually our baby.

Here's the weird thing that I think is a bit different than the way they do things in the U.S. They manage the post-operative pain from a c-section here with an epidural, so even though the surgery was done, at this point the anesthesiologist (I don't know when she arrived) was there and put an epidural in. I'm glad I was still kind of out of it for this! I also remember complaining that I could feel pain and wondered why the epidural wasn't making me numb from the waste down so I didn't have to feel anything. Later I found out that epidurals are typically a lot lighter in Taiwan, and this wasn't an epidural for having a baby but one that they put in place just as a way to keep pain meds going into me at certain times (the epidural was in for about 2 or 3 days for this purpose). So I could still move my legs and feet, and they gave me a shot of morphine in my IV to hold me over until the epidural medication kicked in.

Finally, I was wheeled into the recovery room, and it was just me, Ian, Angie, and our little Jonathan. Ian was holding Jonathan, and everyone kept asking me if I wanted to see him. The most surprising thing is that I actually said no at first because I was so drugged up and didn't really know what was going on, and I wanted to wait until I came to a little more and my pain was more numbed, and then have this beautiful moment with my son. Very soon after that I was a lot more lucid, and the nurses helped me sit up and they brought my son to me. I'm not sure, but I think we had been separated for about an hour at this point. He latched on right away though with this ravenous little appetite of his, and he's never had any problems latching or nursing. This is when our whole bonding and falling in love with each other began!

I learned a few things from this experience. I wanted this beautiful natural birth, and I suppose if I had been more lucid during the process I would have been worried about possible bonding issues or whatever because of the way Jonathan was born. Nothing bad happened though! We bonded fine, he nursed fine, and I don't feel like a beautiful experience was robbed from me. I realize now that worrying about every little detail of birth is silly (this isn't to say you shouldn't prepare though). You can't control everything, and in the end, things usually work out fine. I'm so happy that he's healthy and safe!

My recovery has been good. We stayed at the birth center for about 4 days. The first day I didn't get out of bed, the second day I began moving around and walking slowly with help (and they took the catheter out -- yippee!), and on the third day I think they took out the IV and epidural. Now I'm moving round and doing everything like I normally would at home, and I have to remind myself to take it easy because I just had surgery. Everything is great though! We're all exhausted and adjusting to life with a newborn, but I love my little man and wouldn't change a thing.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. We Californians were dying to hear it, especially from your point of view. I love you and wish you the best! Congrats!

  2. Congrats, Katie and Ian. We were so excited to hear your birth story. Thank you for sharing your experience. Your son is one lucky kiddo. xxooxoxoxox

  3. congrats to you all!!! enjoy your little guy, it goes so fast! :) I really miss those baby days (my youngest is 5 next month. boohoo)

  4. Wow!!! I'm so excited and happy for you~! I've been reading your blogs for quite a long while now, following your story! (Never really decided to put to light my existence until now... haha) Well, wow! I am so happy for you~ what a story! You could write a book one day! Staiwan... I was wondering, I don't know much about law in Taiwan, would Jonathan get Taiwan citizenship having been born there?
    Congrats~~~!!! ^.^

  5. I've been waiting to hear all about this! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm happy that you and Jonathan are healthy and well now. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest from Ian!!! Congratulations. :)

  6. Fanastic - I love birth stories! And yes, life with a newborn takes some getting used to!

  7. Thanks, everyone! Giving birth is a funny thing. I used to have a bi of fear of the unknown when it came to birth, but it turns out that when you're in the middle of it you don't have time to be scared, and when it's over you honestly forget all the pain and bad stuff. So everything works out!

    @Lauren: I miss all you Californians and can't wait for you to meet Jonathan! We'll probably be out in August.

    @Monica: Your comment made me laugh because I was actually hoping the exhausting newborn phase would go by quickly. I'll probably change my mind later, though!

    @Oksana: Thanks for sticking around and stopping by! I'm glad I finally got to "meet" you.

    @KP Rosa: Maybe I can get Ian come on and do a guest post from his point of view. It might help him process the whole thing! =)

    @Beth: Luckily, our schedules are pretty flexible (I guess since I don't work right now I don't really have a schedule), so the adjustment isn't as hard for us as it is for others. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hi Cahleen,

    First, I like to congratulate to you and your husband!

    Regina here, for

    I would like to personally invite you to list your blog on our Expat Women Blog Directory ( so that other women can read about and learn from your expat experiences.

    Many thanks in advance for your contribution and keep up your great blog!


  9. Yay, and congrats! I, too, was in denial that I was in early labor, despite Angie's urging otherwise...!

  10. @Berta: It's funny how common that is! I guess it's god because otherwise women would go to the hospital way too soon.

  11. Great. Congratulations. Thanks for sharing. I was going through HighCallingsBlogs and came on your story. I know that it is a lot to go through, but their is nothing better. We just had our sixth this week.

  12. @Doug: Thanks for stopping by! Wow, you just had your sixth? Congrats!

  13. Hi,

    First of all, congratulations (belated). I'm a fellow expat living in Taiwan, and I just stumbled upon your blog.

    Your birth story reminded me a bit of my ex-wife's. She was adamant about having our children at home with a midwife (back in the US). Everything went great for our first two children. Our 3rd child, however, was almost 2 weeks overdue, and when mom's water broke there was meconium, so she was sent to the hospital. There she was laid on her back and monitored (which she hated) and, after 24 hours of hospital intervention, the baby's heart rate plummeted (we believe it was because of all the drugs they were pumping into her). She had to have an emergency C section, but thankfully everything turned out well in the end. Now my youngest is a big ol' 17-year-old.

    Again, congratulations. I'm sure each day is a treasure with your new son. 恭喜你喜得貴子

  14. can feel there is lots of love in your'on post some pictrues of your baby.. must be so adorable :)

    am going for more read on your blog

    Leon Koh 许涵量
    Your reader from SingaBore
    my blog :
    A SingaBorean gay chap trying to make sense of life in the island city

  15. Leon, my friend in Singapore! Good to hear from you again. =) This little guy keeps me so busy, I haven't had time for pictures or blogging or anything. I'm going to try and change that soon. I just took a look at your blog, by the way. Beautiful, as always.

  16. @Steve: Wow, what an experience you had! I'm glad everything turned out okay in the end. It's so hard to know exactly why or how these things happen. I think my experience was just a fluke, and I'm hoping for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) in the future. It must have been awful for you wife to go from having two peaceful homebirths to a very medical hospital birth.

    @Anon: Thank you, and thanks for stopping by!

  17. You mentioned a future VBAC. My sister's first 2 boys were both C section. Then, 12 years later, she became pregnant 2 more times and had 2 VBACs (girls this time). So, you never know.

  18. @Stephen: That's encouraging, thanks!

  19. It was really nice to see you guys.. and I must say, your story kind of scared me more than I already am. I am going straight to the hospital as soon as I feel first pain or any other sign :).

  20. @Isha: Don't be scared. Most births unfold normally and naturally. Actually, going to the hospital too early may bring on a lot of unwanted (at least they were unwanted for me) interventions. You'll be fine. Our bodies were made to do this!


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