Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Beth in Indonesia

Our third baby was due while we lived in Kota Baru, Indonesia. My water broke at home early in labor, so my husband and I spent time getting our two toddler girls to bed first and called our friend to come stay. We arrived at hospital at 8 pm and were so glad to see the delivering doctor was already there, though she looked a bit tired! It was great she was there because she only comes to the hospital “on call”and lives a ways away.

I was wheeled into the hospital and my husband, Courtney, followed. We came to the delivery floor and upon entering the doors the nurse removes her shoes and instructs Courtney to do the same. (It is customary for Indonesians to remove shoes before entering homes, they feel it is cleaner.  But this was our first experience to see that at a public place.) The nurse says “This is a sterile environment.” I chuckled and said, “Yeah, Courtney, are your bare feet sterile?” I hardly think so. But if the Indonesian hospital thinks so, we’ll comply.

The nurse set us up in a room. I was dilated to 3 cm and I asked the doctor for the epidural. She agreeably said, “Oh, yeah, ok”  and soon left the room. The doctor and I talked about an epidural with each check up and she assured me that she would call the anesthesiologist to come as soon as I arrived to the hospital and that he was very skilled at epidurals, though she also said it isn’t normal for Indonesian women to receive one.  I found with talking to my neighbor ladies they didn’t even know there was such a thing and were amazed and liked the idea of it, wishing they could have experienced it with their babies!

I got  ready to take on as much labor pains as I had to.  I was still in early labor. We called our parents because it was their Sunday morning and we knew they’d be awake. We also began to share the news that baby would be arriving soon to our friends here in Indonesia through text messages on the cell phone. I laughed and told Courtney what a funny sight this is – here Courtney was rubbing my back during a contraction with his left hand and texting on the phone with his right!

Things were going normally in labor. I was waiting for my epidural and wondered what the delay was. The doctor checked on me again and I asked for the epidural. With a look of surprise, she said, “Oh yes! I will call the anesthesiologist.” She forgot! It would now be another 30 minute to an hour wait. Courtney and I continued on in labor, talking together. Then, following one contraction, I suddenly felt a strong pain in my belly. It was so strange and unfamiliar. I told Courtney and he encouraged me to be strong and reasoned that with it being the third baby, the labor must be coming on fast and hard.  After a few minutes of this pain increasing and worsening with contractions, and no relief between contractions, I knew something was really wrong. This wasn’t normal.  I knew already that we faced some risks in this delivery – that the uterus could rupture since I’ve had a c-section with my first baby.

Wrapped up in a fetal position, the pain was severe and I hollered and trembled.  After the doctor asked several questions, I moaned, “I think it’s a possible uterine rupture!” In her thick accent she said, “Yes, Beth, I’m afraid that is it.  Will you allow us to do a c-section?” Courtney and I agreed to it fully knowing the risks of continuing labor, as we’d faced the matter before with the second baby. Before leaving the room to prepare for the emergency, the doctor patted my shoulder and said, “Beth, you should pray.” Now, maybe she meant that to be encouraging as she knew we are Christians, but when your doctor says that, it makes you wonder! So, of course we prayed and Courtney immediately sent out messages to our friends and organization members to pray for us.

Soon I was wheeled into the operation room and Courtney wasn’t allowed to follow. After a long and painful 30 minutes, the anesthesiologist arrived in the operating room and following him was my husband all dressed down in dark green hospital scrubs! Courtney was able to be with me after a friend  reasoned with the doctor that I would be more at ease if my husband were with me. Looking him over I noticed he had his shoes on now. I joked, “Shouldn’t this be a sterile environment too?” Courtney laughed, “Yeah, it’s supposed to be. I’m sure I should have washed my hands too. But there was no place to do that and the doctor that came in with me didn’t either.”  How reassuring. At least they used gloves. Within the next few minutes the c-section preparation moved along and I was finally relieved from the pain. Courtney and I definitely felt the prayers of so many people and we walked through this experience with peace-not panic, assurance-not worry, and gratefulness to the Lord for a healthy baby boy!

Thank you so much, Beth, for sharing this amazing story with us! Praise God for His providence and protective hand over you! Does anyone have any questions for Beth?

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9 Responses to “Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Beth in Indonesia”


  1. 1 Phyllis April 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Was it really uterine rupture?!?

  2. 2 Junglewife April 28, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Giving birth overseas freaks me out. We live in Indonesia, and I have two children. One of them was 6 months old when we moved overseas, and I traveled back to the States to have the second. I had a completely natural birth with the first, and swore I would never do that again! I had heard that hospitals in Indonesia won’t give epidurals for births (maybe that is wrong, after hearing your story.) also, we live in Papua, and although I have several friends who have given birth at home or in local hospitals, I just do not feel comfortable doing that. I do not plan on getting pregnant again, but if I do, I have no idea where I will have the baby! I am glad your experience went well. So far these stories have been interesting and great, but I wonder if there are also missionary women out there who had a horrible experience, and/or medical complications because they chose to give birth overseas…?

  3. 3 Ashley L. April 28, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Again, Beth, thank you so much for sharing! I would be curious, after your experience, do you think you’d have another baby overseas given the experience? It seems that they did a great job, but wow, I can imagine that would be difficult to go through so far away from family and familiarity! Praise God for protecting you and blessing you with a sweet little boy!

    Oh, and also about posting only positive stories, yes, I am sure there are people who have had bad experiences birthing overseas, but even so, I really believe that it is up to God to lead each family in where they decide to birth. Whether we stay on the field or go “home,” the choice should be made while listening to the Lord. Neither giving birth overseas nor stateside is better than the other though! Following God’s leading is what is most important and that differs so much from family to family, and with each pregnancy too! All that said though, I definitely agree that it is very smart to do lots of research about what the circumstance for you would be like. That way you can make an educated decision and prepare well one way or the other!

  4. 4 Phyllis April 28, 2010 at 11:54 am

    I agree that the important thing is listening to God to make the right choice for your own family!

    I can’t think of any horrible overseas stories, although, they must be out there. I can think of one family I know who went back to the states to have a baby, and they got what seems to me like a very typical American mismanagement (induction “just because” that turned into a c-section). If they had stayed in their country, that probably would never have happened. Now, obviously, a c-section isn’t a horrible complication, and both mommy and baby were fine, but they could have gotten an easier start.

    And we’re all different. The thought of international travel while pregnant and with a newborn freaks me out. 🙂

  5. 5 ambrosia4 April 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Wow…what an experience! If I may ask, did you have your second child c-section or natural? I had an emergency c-sect with my daughter and am contemplating the whole VBAC issue with our next child. Didn’t know if uterine rupture was that big of a concern or if there are special circumstances you may have had that led to this? Praise God that your baby and you are well, even through that experience!
    ~Amber

  6. 6 brian fulmer June 21, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Beth, I’m putting together a collection of missionary stories. Could I have permission to publish this story?

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  1. 1 Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- An opportunity to share! « Missionary Moms Trackback on April 29, 2010 at 3:26 pm

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