December 2, 2016
This, my beloved child, is the story of the day when you came to us and changed our lives forever. One might think that everything started in the morning of December 2, but it actually started one day earlier, on December 1st.
Some background: I was due to have an elective cesarean that day. So, through my entire pregnancy I didn’t feel safe at all. I heard horror stories about how all women in labour are in the same room and therefore no men can be there so they are really just caged and frightened labouring strangers. Knowing that, and because I don’t speak Thai (no nurses speak English in Hua Hin Hospital) I didn’t want to be that much out of control and left alone for god knows how many hours. I have always been open to having a c-section so I decided I wanted to do that. That way I would know everything that was happening, when it was going to be, and how long I would have to be alone etc. It just felt safest for me. I discussed this with the doctor and every time we met, we spoke about it for the perspective that I was going to have a c-section. It was expected of me and that’s how I felt I wanted it to be.
So I had been fasting since 00:00, at 05.30 I showered and braided my hair, then I woke your Dad and we said hello to your Grandmother and Grandfather who also woke up.
Strangely enough, I had slept like a log all night and felt rested. In the car, your Dad began filming the hospital from the road and we played There will be time by Mumford and Son. I could barely hold back the tears. Once inside the hospital, I had to say goodbye to your dad and was led into a room where the nurses took my blood pressure, temperature and listened to your heart. Everything was good. Then a nurse said, “I'll pour water into your anus now.” HAHA. Then I had to go to the toilet. Thai hospital so no toilet paper – I made do with the hose. Next I had to put myself in a hard bed with a plastic pillow in the corner along with four other pregnant Thai women. Then one of the moments I had feared most came – having the canula put in. It was not comfortable, but I sang my mantra from There will be time in my head. "In the cold light I live, to love and adore you" over and over again and just thought that I would soon meet you.
I could rest a little now, interspersed with toilet visits thanks to that enema – made all the more tricky with no toilet paper and now the cumbersome canula in my hand. There was absolutely nothing to do in this room, except to wait to be called to surgery, rest, check on the other women and now and then do some sort of check in with the nurses who couldn’t speak English… Waiting, waiting…the hours went by and all the other pregnant women got catheters inserted one after the other, which I understood meant that it was their turn to go to the operating room. When the room had been emptied of other women, your Dad was allowed to come in, say hello and give me a quick kiss. After that I was by myself for a good while, and discovered that there was a TV that had SVT. It was the highlight of the day so far. But the hours went by and I had seen at least 10 round of the same news, but no one came to give me a catheter and drive me down.
Finally, it was almost evening and the nurses changed shifts. Four new nurses came in and stood nervously for a long time before one dared to say; “You come back tomorrow, doctor no have time today.” There had been too many emergency caesarean sections that had to go before me and now it was time for the Doctor to go home. A confused Dad and Grandmother came into the room and we had it explained to all of us that today would in fact, not be the day we would meet you. We were incredibly disappointed but had to laugh - typical Thailand.
Dad and I went to Blueport and ate Burger King, went home to sleep and went through the same procedure with the fast and the shower in the morning again. This time I was a bit calmer because I knew exactly what would be expected. In the bag they asked us to pack for the operation, with your romper, blanket, hat, socks, diaper for you and diaper for me. I had now also smuggled in a newspaper. Before long the nurses came in and put in the catheter on me! Oh, I thought, I had prepared myself for a lot of waiting today but it seemed I was first in line today. They shaved me, they shaved me a little quickly - then it was time for the catheter. AJ! Not at all nice. It felt like a very irritating urinary tract infection...Fortunately, I did not feel the canula at all this time so that was alright.
I was rolled out to the elevator where Dad waved happily and then down to the surgical department. There I had to wait a good while, the new shift had just started and they had a morning meeting. At the same time, I tried everything I could to be comfortable. Lying on my back was incredibly unpleasant and made me nauseous, and every little movement meant I was reminded of the catheter. Despite this, I was incredibly peppered, happy and nervous and still sang "In the cold light I live, to love and adore you" in the head. Soon you would be here!
Eventually the morning meeting was finished and I was rolled into the operating room. There they prepared me, I do not remember exactly everything but I was strapped to a machine that checked the pulse and blood pressure, and clamped in the arms outwards as in a cross. I had to meet the anesthetist who was very nice and explained how the anesthesia would go and how I would feel. When the time came, however, a call came - the doctor had received a call to perform an emergency caesarean section, which he had to take before. I got lots of blankets on me and the nurses helped me put myself on the side so I didn't hurt that bad.
After a while, the phone rang and the doctor was in the entrance, so it was time for the spinal cord anesthesia. I had to lie on my side and make myself as much into a shrimp that I possibly could with my big belly and the anesthetist asked me to breathe but lie very still. The needle was unpleasant but not as bad as I thought. Then the anesthetist tested if the sensation was gone with ice and I heard the doctor's voice in the room. It was the same specialist we had had during the ultrasound before, so I recognized his voice again. They began to work behind the cover and I felt nothing. Not even the discomfort or pressure on the chest that the anesthetist had warned me before, I just lay and smiled, a little groggy. After a few minutes, the doctor says to me, “are you ready to have your baby?” “Yes”, I said and got tears in my eyes. Now it was just seconds left. They would push my chest and stomach to get you out, which could be very unpleasant they said. But I felt no discomfort at all, but just kept smiling to myself. “Now we see the head and the hair they said,” then I suddenly heard your wonderful scream. Then the tears ran.
Already you wanted to make yourself heard, from that first moment. The nurse told me that everything looked good, you had ten fingers and ten toes. Then they took you out to wash, weigh and measure you. Then I got a little dizzy and had a bit of difficulty keeping myself awake, I had a little ringing in the ears. Then you were suddenly beside me, your cheek against mine and I finally got to kiss you for the first time. The tears ran again and the nurse had been kind and smuggled in a camera on your father's request and took the first pictures of you and me together. While I was being stitched up, I asked in which direction the doctor had cut, because I was not sure which was he would cut me and I didn’t want it to show in my bikini. He said it wouldn’t show and I was relieved - not because it had played a role but it was just the cream of the cake. I got to see some pictures of you from the camera, how much you weighed. 3700 g. That you were 55 cm we did not know until we read it in the baby book when we checked out. You had to be wheeled away somewhere for more check ups and I was rolled into the recovery room. There I lay and was just so happy. I was so incredibly pleased with how well everything had gone. What a team we are you and me! Nothing had been scary, just so incredibly awesome.
The feeling came back a bit more and after about an hour I was in the room where we would spend the first few days of your life. I was reunited with your Dad, grandmother and other grandmother in the elevator who were so incredibly happy and proud of us.
I asked Dad to drive home your grandmothers because I wanted it to be only you, me and him the first time we met. After a while there was a knock on my door and a nurse came in with the finest little wrapped package I ever got - you! It was love at first sight and since then I have only loved you more and more every day. You were so incredibly beautiful! So much hair and so awake and curious. After a few minutes Dad came in and got hold of you for the first time. I have never loved him as much as when I saw you in his arms and how incredibly proud he was.
The first day, we just spent the three of us, except for an hour when grandmother and grandmother came back to meet with you.
We asked the nurses after many hours, but where would she sleep? Here with you they said. But what should she eat, she should be hungry! Milk from you they said. But I can't breastfeed I said gently. Well, they said, squeezed a little on my breasts and out came milk. It didn't take many seconds for you on the chest to start sucking! So incredibly good, and hungry. Your Dad had to change his first diaper and very much take care of you that first day because I could not sit up. He was made for it. You ate nothing more that day but just slept and slept. As new parents we were of course worried, but there was no danger with you, you just liked to sleep just like your parents. The first night you slept next to me in bed. I couldn't stop looking at you. At last you were here, my beloved child!
My birth experience was wonderful. For me, the check ups and antenatal appointments were worse than the birth. We had so much waiting every time and didn’t have any of our questions answered anytime I went. We just had the ultrasound and then we were sent home.
None of the check ups were helping to calm me. It was very nice to have a ultra sound every month, but all the questions I had and concerns I raised were never answered. I cried every time I went from the hospital because I felt like the doctor didn’t care about me or the baby at all. In Sweden where I am from, it’s so different when you go for check ups. You have the same midwife all through your pregnancy, you meet her in a very relaxed environment and talk a lot about concerns and questions. Of course I was reading up a lot during the pregnancy and all the questions that came up I just had to find answer to myself online or just forget the concerns. I remember once I decided that today I’m just going to ask this no matter how stressed the doctor is, and he just kind of laughed at me and said if that happens you would go to the emergency room and not here…then sent me home. I was even more confused.
After Noelle was born and we left the hospital, we didn’t have any check ups to make sure she was gaining weight or staying healthy, that she was feeding well, jaundice checks, to see how she was – nothing.
When she was born she was quite yellow - we thought it was just jaundice that would go away with all the light in Thailand but after 4-5 weeks it didn’t really go away so we went to the hospital and turned out she had a liver infection that was quite serious. Nobody spotted it because nobody cared about us after she was born. It was very hard for me because I didn’t understand what they were talking about – was she going to die? Would she be just fine? I couldn’t get any answers.
They just gave us medicine that she needed to take for some weeks, then we came back and she had an ultrasound and they saw the medicine was helping, but she wasn’t all well yet so she needed to have them for one more month. This would never have been treated if we hadn’t have gone to the hospital by ourselves.