Sunday, May 22, 2016

Birth Stories

So have you noticed that most women, in almost all cultures love a good birth store?  We gravite to them over the course of getting to know each other.  I can remember one time I had a conversation with a Costa Rica lady and a South Korean lady about our labor expereinces.  It's just universal.

We just had our 4th baby, and this time around we opted to stay here in Costa Rica for the birth.  Lucía Joy was born April 6th here in San José. And she has quite the birth story!

Because of past c sections we had scheduled the c section for 39 1/2 weeks, and for a while it looked like we might not make it to that date.  Starting about around 34 weeks, I began to have a lot of contractions. Since I've never gone into labor on my own, this was a bit of a surprise.  My doctor had me come in for monitoring and told me stay off my feet.  And just to make sure I knew he was serious, he added "or you can rest in the hospital for the next couple of weeks."  Yeah, no.

Two days before the scheduled c section I had my last pre natal appointment.  There was a quick ultrasound to make sure baby was doing well and fluid levels were good.  We were given a "Everything looks great!  See you Wednesday!"  and we were off to pick up my mom from the airport (insert a huge sigh of relief that we made it to then without having to use plan B or C or D!)

Wednesday morning we headed to the hospital before dawn. I had joked with my OB that all of my Spanish went to the baby, and he was great about it!  He told the surgical team that while my Spanish is perfect (bwhahah, he was being far to kind and lying!) to use English with me.  Our family doctor was there as well, which was a huge help as he is bilingual and works with missionary families all the time.

In the operating room, it took a while for my husband to be brought in, but he was in time for Lucía's birth.  Except her birth wasn't quite right.  Remember, I couldn't see anything and had a spinal so things were a bit fuzzy, but I remember her not crying.  And not crying and not crying.  I asked again and again if she was ok, and the doctors and my husband did a good job at downplaying what was really going on.  When Lucía was born she wasn't breathing and had no tone or movement.  Her heart was beating, but that was about it.

Our OB told us afterwards that it was a miracle she was alive.  He thinks that early that morning the placenta had started to detach, something they call placenta abruption.  This caused bleeding into the uterus, which meant Lucía was not getting the life support she needed from the placenta anymore.  It also meant that as she swallowed amniotic fluid (something babies do) she was swallowing blood as well.  Most of the time, if a woman has a placenta abruption, she has a lot of abdominal pain and she starts to bleed.  I had none of that.  It wasn't until the doctors started the procedure that they knew anything was wrong.

As soon as Lucía was born, the pediatrician used a CPR mask and bag to breath for her.  She didn't breath on her own for around 7 minutes.  Once she started to breath, the pediatrician brought her to my face so I could touch her and then it was off to the NICU.  She was given oxygen, they put a glucose IV into her belly button, and began to monitor her.  I went to the recovery room and my husband went with Lucía.  He spent a lot of time in the NICU with her, singing and praying.

Because they had her under a plexiglass tent for the oxygen, we weren't able to hold her until the next day at around 1pm.  I think that was one of the longest 30 hours of my life.  And because I was recovering from a c section it was around 5pm the night she was born before I really got to see her when the nurses took me in a wheel chair to the NICU.

The doctors and nurses were amazed at how well Lucía did.  When the OB came to check on me the next day he said "It was only God!  Everything was fine on Monday and had the c section been scheduled for the next day or even a few hours later, she probably would have been a stillborn."  He also told me that he was able to hold it together while he saw patients that day, but when he got home that night he just started crying and praying for us.  He said "sometimes this job is really hard." There is something very nice about having doctors that acknowledge that it was God.

It was interesting, in all of the time of bed rest, a friend of mine said she was praying for God's timing for Lucía's birth, not the doctors.  We started to pray that way too, which is sort of a strange prayer for a planned c section, but my goodness, did God answer!!  That morning when I was getting ready to head to the hospital I asked the Lord for something to get me through the day.  He started to talk to me from Isaiah 43
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Except I stopped listening as soon as He said "when you pass through the waters, I will be with you." It scared me.  I was afraid of what might be coming.  But He did exactly what He said!  He was right there in the midst of something that could have been so very, very bad.  He kept the waters from overcoming us and Lucía.   He had us surrounded by doctors and nurses who kept Lucía breathing and did what it took to get her stable.

All of Lucía's test have come back saying she is just fine.  She is acting just like any other new born, eating and sleeping like a it's no big deal.  Her name means Light and her little life is already a testament to how great our God is!  We're thankful, very, very thankful!

What about you?  Did you have any of your babies in your host country?  How about in a second language?  Come on, share!  We all love a great birth story!


  1. Congratulations on the birth of your new little one. So thankful for how the Lord intervened.
    I don't have a birth story to tell, all of mine were born in the States before we left for the field. But looking forward to hearing others.

  2. I'm so glad she is okay! And congratulations! It is sweet to see God's hand at work protecting your little one! I just had my 8th baby, and first one on the field 5 weeks ago yesterday. My last 3 had been home births, but we thought a hospital birth would make getting his paperwork easier, so we went that route. We are in Uruguay so spanish is the language used here.The hospital c-section rate is somewhere around 70% so I went ahead and hired a doula to help me navigate the system and try to stay low risk. I was honestly quite nervous about the things that happen in a hospital that make an unmedicated birth more painful-the stress, the nurses that handle you roughly, etc. But as it happened, none of fears were realized. I was 5 days overdue (my most overdue) when labor began. I had a few strong contractions throughout the morning-nothing unusual. Then at 5:30pm they started coming every 2-3 minutes. After about a 1/2 hour I called the doula and got into the shower. I got out about 6:30 but contractions had pretty much stopped. My husband was convinced he baby was coming soon but I wasn't sure I was even in labor. We all chatted a while, then I decided to take a nap. While napping I had 3 strong contractions, the last of which included an urge to push. So I went off to use the bathroom and my husband packed our things into the doula's car. Contractions were fairly far apart and not too intense. But as we got near the hospital my water broke and labor became intense. When she stopped the car outside the emergency room I was pulling off clothes-it hurt a lot and I didn't want clothes in the way of getting the baby out of my body. My OB and pediatrician met me at the car with a wheelchair. They helped me in, covered me and rushed me to a room. They got me in bed and I started pushing. This is usually the worst part for me, but I actually felt like pushing brought relief. I was focused and not yelling (a first for me). I did lose all my spanish, but found that my OB and my doula actually knew English pretty well. Baby came out at 8:58pm at a whopping 4.3kg (9lb 8oz). Pain wise it was my easiest birth, and I didn't have to labor in the hospital at all. He actually has some kidney problems that we had learned about through ultrasound, so as I write we are in the hospital for the second time ( not counting the birth) for kidney infections, and are awaiting a visit from the urologist to talk about surgery. But I am so thankful that the Lord dealt gently with me and all my fears in the birth. It helps me as I go through this trial to remember that He does remember my weaknesses and take care of me.

  3. Our fourth, sixth and seventh were all born in host countries, and all were good experiences for us. I was really sad when it became medically contradicted to remain in country for the birth of our last child (eighth). I was experiencing some issues that could easily have turned into medical emergency requiring emergency c-section... in a country with very little available for preemies. So I was sent back to the States at 7 months gestation (with my 11 year old who was home schooling, a 4 year old and a 2 year old; hubby stayed in country with the other four who were in local language schools) - and that was my most difficult "birth story" because it was much harder - emotionally. I also had to shovel a foot of snow off the driveway while in labor... so that might have affected my mood (and the soreness of my back! ;-) )

  4. Thanks for sharing Lucia's birth story. I am glad that everything has turned out well! I had my three children in the US, so I don't have any overseas birth stories (although one was on a reservation, which is technically a sovereign nation.) It is true that pregnancy, childbirth, and children are great things to bond over no matter the culture!