Posts Tagged 'birth'

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?


Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Vanessa in the Dominican Republic

Our lives as missionaries is rather new. This time last year we both (meaning my husband and I) had 9-5 jobs in Northern California, not really thinking of moving anytime soon. It was around that time where we both decided that we were ready to take the next step and start trying for a baby. Months went by and no baby. I was discouraged but knew God’s timing is perfect. May of last year we got our call to the mission field which God clearly confirmed for us. We sold all that we owned, raised support, and moved down to the Dominican Republic.

We live in a poor section of Santo Domingo (the capital), where we teach English at a small Christian  school.
It has been anything but easy. We teach 1st grade through 12th. The students are very difficult to teach (lack of discipline) and the school has no real organization but we have been blessed. God has given us the ability to travel around the country, help deliver food to Haiti after the quake and have my parents visit for a week. After a tearful goodbye with the folks I starting noticing different “changes” in my body.

Three tests later and ultrasound my hopes were confirmed. We are having a baby! I am not far along right now but the baby, which we gave the nickname “appleseed”, is healthy and growing fast. This will be a brand-new experience for me and my husband, Sean. The hospitals are a lot different here than in the states. But our doctor is a christian and she even knows English. She prayed with us before the exam, setting my mind at ease. I look forward to visiting her throughout this babies growth. I am nervous but mostly just filled with joy. God is certainly good, no one can deny that. Even the Haitians we met that lost everything in the quake were still praising God. Amazing. Thier faith builds up my faith. God gives us only what we can handle, and I am convinced that He knows we can handle a lot. The best is yet to come….

*This is Ashley chiming in to say that since Vanessa sent me this story a couple of months ago, much has changed in their lives! God has continued to bless Vanessa’s pregnancy and her little one is growing right along! The big news is that God has recently led them in a new and unexpected direction in their ministry! They will soon be moving to the Midwest to accept a position as youth directors for a church there. Though this was unexpected for Vanessa and her husband Sean, they are excited to see what God has in store for them. Their involvement in ministry in Dominican Republic will continue in different capacities as they will be bringing 4 Dominican youth to the US with them in July to be involved in their youth program for 2 weeks, and also as they head back to Dominican Republic in July to work on a building project for the school as well as plan on taking trips back every February. As all of us know, our steps are often unknown to us, but God is so very faithful to lead us according to His will as we follow Him! Please pray for Vanessa and Sean as the make these upcoming transitions and as they wait on their new little one!

Vanessa, thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and CONGRATULATIONS! How exciting! Does anyone have any questions for Vanessa?

Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Megan in Southeast Asia

Just after the birth once they got me to the delivery room

At about 5 that morning I woke up with labor pains. I stayed in bed until about 7am, dozing between contractions. Around 8am we called Ariana, our friend and a trained midwife, to come help.

We got to the admission room at about 10am, and my contractions were getting more serious. We waited in the admission room for someone to come check me to see if I was dilated enough to be admitted. 45 minutes after arriving a nurse wandered in and checked my blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat then moved on to other patients as my contractions continued to get stronger.

Ariana told me to try going to the bathroom. We are in Asia, so no western toilets, only a squatty potty! Every time I squatted I had a massive contraction and started feeling serious pressure. I came out and told Ariana and our friend Arpana (who is also a doctor), “This kid is coming. The doctor needs to come soon!” Arpana asked the nurses when the doctor will come.
“In a while,” they said nonchalantly.
“I don’t have a while!” I said, “This kid is coming!”
Ariana and Arpana kept asking after the doctor and were continually put off.

At that point I had hit hard labor. I kept saying “I need to be checked. This kid is coming!” FINALLY the head nurse arrived to check me. “She’s nine centimeters! No time for a labor room, she needs to go to the delivery room!” and I was thinking “Yes, I know this.” In the midst of a contraction the head nurse said “Okay, get up, we need to walk to the delivery room.”

“It hurts! I can’t walk!” I say.

“No, no, you have to get up.”

Ariana helps get me up and I am literally hanging on her as we shuffle to the hallway. I’m thinking that maybe they will get me a wheelchair or SOMETHING but no, the nurses just say, “Keep walking!”
Another massive contraction hits and I hang on Ariana. “Keep walking!” I hear.


At that moment my water breaks in the middle of the hallway. “Keep walking, keep walking! don’t push!”

Ariana confirms that the baby’s head was already on it’s way out!

“Put her on the floor!” The nurse says

At this point I see Robert come running in. I’m holding myself up off the floor and he gets behind me. “Relax,I’ve got you,” he says.
In one push his head is out! There is no doctor or nurse, but Ariana catches his head. The nurse comes right behind, and the rest of his body is delivered… on the floor, in front of the nurses station.

“The floor” where Jude was born

“Megan, you have a son!” Ariana says. The nurses cut the cord and take off with our son to give him oxygen (he’s still a little blue). And literally about 90 seconds after I’ve given birth the nurse says, “Okay, get up, we have to get you to a delivery room.”  And now there is a wheelchair sitting nearby. But the nurse walks me right past it and I WALK to the delivery room.

Big brothers first look

Megan, WOW, what a story! Thank you so much for sharing! Does anyone have any questions for Megan?

Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Kristin in South Africa

I had my first (and only so far) pregnancy and birth overseas in South Africa. My husband and I were living in Swaziland, Africa when I became pregnant, but moved to South Africa when I was four months along.  Healthcare is better here than in Swaziland, so I was confident about delivering the baby here.

Since we were foreigners AND new in town, I took every advantage to ask people for recommendations for doctors, hospitals, and everything! I found our gynecologist from our estate agent and our pediatrician from the woman whose used car we purchased.

It’s hard to compare birthing experiences since I’ve never given birth in the US.  I believe my experience with our doctor was different from the States as he himself did an ultrasound at every appointment. I loved see my little one and our doctor would explain all the things he was checking out.

Our pre-natal classes were longer and more informative than the ones my friends were going to back home. A big difference there were the terms they used. English is widely spoken here, but they use British terms, so sometimes it can get interesting. For instance, we were told to bring two baby gros (footed sleepers) and 2 baby vests (“onesies”) with us to the hospital. We did a lot of googling of words to find the American equivalent.

I gave birth in a great hospital; God directed us to the part of town we live in now and I think it was because of this hospital. I was able to have a natural birth with an epidural. My water broke at about 11:30 am and our little boy was born just after midnight that night. I recovered quickly and my doctor allowed me to go home the next day. At home, a couple days later, I started running a fever and having back pain similar to menstrual cramps. I phoned my doctor expecting to get an answering service since it was the weekend. My doctor answered his own phone, I described my symptoms and he called in an antibiotic for me. I was amazed! The pain was caused by an infection of the uterus lining which can happen if your water breaks early and you have to push for over an hour – I had both cases.

Overall the whole experience was great and would do it all again!

What a wonderful story, Kristin! Thank you! Does anyone have any questions for Kristin?

Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Patty in Ghana

Patty, John, and baby Carey at 1 day old!

My husband and I were young, newly married, and had just finished raising our support when we found out we were expecting our first child.  We couldn’t have been more excited!  The plane tickets were already bought, and our boxes were being packed so we just kept all our plans in place while adding a few baby things to the bags and some maternity clothes for me!  I’m sure those who were older and wiser probably wondered what we were thinking, but I’m so glad they just entrusted us to the Lord.

The plans were for us to stay with a veteran missionary and his wife near the capital city for our first year, while we learned the ropes.  On arrival, though, we found out everything had changed – the missionary’s wife wasn’t even in country, the missionary himself was having terrible health problems, and he wasn’t stationed near the capital anymore.  He was in another city about seven hours away, helping a national pastor with a struggling church plant.  All my grand ideas about finding a good hospital in the capital and having an older lady for help during this time came crashing down!

Not long after moving into our temporary housing, the missionary asked us what our plans for the baby were.  Ummmmmm?????  We had no idea.  We asked him what we should do.  He said we better start praying.  That was good advice, but we were hoping for something a bit more… substantial!!!  A few days later, we were in town.  The missionary was taking us to THE grocery store and market for the first time.  In mid-explanation of some food or another, the missionary stopped talking and walked over to a very expectant Lebanese woman and asked her what hospital she used.  She was very polite and gave him the information we needed.  Tema Women’s Hospital.  Tema???? That was near the capital, seven hours away!  How would that work???  At that moment we had more questions than answers.

A few weeks later, John and I headed to Tema.  It took some work, but we finally found the hospital.  We headed inside, and I joined the line.  I was seated right next to another American lady named Annie.  We hit it off instantly.  She was a teacher in the International School in the capital, and was expecting her first baby the end of November.  We talked about our work, the other places she had lived, all kinds of things.  Then she asked me where we were going to stay when it was time for the baby to be born.  Ummmm??? Once again, I was speechless.  The only answer I had to give was that we were trusting God to provide a place for us.  She just stared at me for a second, and then asked me to hold her place in line while she went to take a phone call.  She came back a few minutes later with a big smile on her face.  “You all are going to stay with me and my husband!”  she said.  We tried to protest, but she would have none of it!  She said that she was always bringing home “strays” and that they loved having people in their home.  In fact, her husband was on his way to the hospital with lunch for all of us!

It was now my turn to meet the doctor.  We had a place to stay, but what about the doctor, the hospital itself, and the care?  We’d already seen one miracle, we shouldn’t have been worried about the rest!  Dr Owusu-Baah had been an OB-GYN in New York for 25 years and had recently retired back to Ghana and built the hospital.  He had an excellent manner, and knew exactly what he was doing.  We told him our situation (living seven hours away), and he told us what to watch for and how often we needed to come for check-ups.

We met Erik, Annie’s husband, for lunch, and everything was a go.  In fact, Annie and Erik insisted that when we came down for doctor’s visits we should stay at their house, too, so that we wouldn’t have to pay for hotel stays!

I had a text-book perfect pregnancy, and we headed down to Accra two weeks before my due date, just in case.  John and I had a wonderful time wandering around the capital, the craft markets, and the neighborhoods waiting for our baby to arrive.  Annie and Erik and their new baby, Casey, were wonderful hosts.

Everything was going wonderfully, but God had one more lesson for us.  Our baby’s official due date was January 14th.  I guess someone forgot to tell the baby.  Now the days were dragging slowly by with no end in sight.  We were starting to feel like a nuisance, even though Annie and Erik never made us feel that way!  We couldn’t understand why this was happening, but God knew.  He had one more job for us to do.

A week after my due date Annie came and asked John if he would be willing to come and give a talk at her school.  The 5th and 6th grade classes were studying world religions, and when she told the teachers that she had a Baptist missionary staying at her house, they asked if he’d be willing to come share our beliefs with the classes.  John was able to share the simple truths of the gospel with almost fifty children, including several Muslims, several Hindus, a Buddhist, and a number of atheists (including the teacher).  That afternoon John and I were also able to talk with Annie about the gospel and plant some seed in her heart, too.

That evening my pains started coming.  We headed to the hospital about 9:30pm.  The nurses and mid-wife were mostly kind and helpful, except when I told them I was ready to push.  They didn’t think I should be ready yet, but baby was!  Dr Owusu-Baah arrived in time to take over, and our daughter was born at 1:47am, nine days after her due date!  Dr. Owusu-Baah was excellent, even letting John stay in the delivery room with me (even though that is not done in Ghanaian culture!) and having his wife (who had come with him to keep him awake on the road) take pictures for us.

God had given us so many miracles already, and now in His perfect way and His perfect time, He gave us a perfect baby girl!

Carey at 6 years old!

Patty, what a wonderful story of God’s provision and protection! Thank you for sharing! Does anyone have any questions for Patty?

Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Richelle in Quebec and also Niger

Well, I’ve had 5 partial or complete pregnancies and 3 births in our country of ministry: one in Quebec, Canada and 2 in Niamey, Niger, so it is hard to know where to start!

My first pregnancy/delivery in a foreign country happened in Quebec, Canada. We were studying the French language before heading to W. Africa. The language barrier was really my only initial concern. I had a fabulous doctor who was very patient with my mistakes: he asked me if I was planning to breastfeed; I thought he was asking me about my summer plans… and I proceeded to answer accordingly. I was horribly embarrassed, but my doctor was very kind and gracious. Being pregnant in language school (and taking final exams with baby in arms) seemed to endear our family to many teachers and students; older people from the traditionally Catholic country appreciated the fact that we were having our fourth child. Experiencing pregnancy and delivery in your host country is an incredibly bonding, door-opening opportunity – to meet people, to become established in your community, to trust the Lord even when you have no clue what is going on all around you, and to live an authentic and transparent testimony because in labor, pretty much all is laid bare… (No pun initially intended, but then I thought about it for  a moment.  (-: ) After 5 days of labor, 3 in the hospital and the good part of a day on pitocin, our healthy 9’11” daughter was born just minutes before the doctor arrived to prep for a c-section.  Even with the incredibly long, painful and frustrating labor, it was a wonderful experience and opened our hearts to the possibility of having a baby in W. Africa.

We found out we were expecting our next child just days after we’d purchased plane tickets to return to the States for furlough. Since I’d be home midway through the 2nd trimester and it was my 6th (5th full term) pregnancy, I skipped prenatal care in Niger and she was born in the States. I did find the first trimester and the nausea/fatigue typical of the beginning of a pregnancy to be much worse (probably partly due to prophylactic medications for malaria) and the excessive heat of Niamey.

Both our 6th and 7th children were born in Niger. Niger is very poor and has limitations as to what is available medically. Women had regularly had their babies in Niger in times past, but after a few very bad experiences in local clinics and a missionary hospital that could no longer accept missionary patients, women had essentially stopped considering that as a possibility. Our 6th was a bit of a surprise, and was due just a month before we were scheduled for another 6 month furlough. Because of that timing and after much prayer and counsel, we decided that we would stay and I would have the baby in Niger. We researched a few of the clinics and based on the recommendation of a missionary midwife (who worked out in the bush), decided on a doctor and a clinic.

By this time, language was no longer an issue – but culturally, things were very different. The doctor was comfortable with my husband being present for the delivery; the midwives who worked with her weren’t as much at ease with that idea. As a result, we had decided a friend would accompany me. The clinic was clean, but it certainly was not a labor and delivery suite like you might find in the States, there were no pain medications available and if a child was born with problems so significant that he couldn’t be stabilized for an emergency evacuation, there was little that the doctors and midwives would be able to do. Simply put, the consensus was that it was a safe place to have an uncomplicated delivery. Since none of my deliveries had ever been “complicated,” we were comfortable with this fact, and were ready to choose to accept God’s sovereignty in any possible outcome. Culturally, I had to remember that the doctor or midwife was the “professional expert;” asking questions or disagreeing with something they’d decided or wanted to do could be seen as rude or disrespectful and could impact care. You are expected to labor silently, through all stages of labor. If labor isn’t progressing rapidly enough, midwives will use all sorts of methods to help “force” it along; fortunately, that was not an issue in either of my deliveries.

I had to bring all of my supplies – medications (I’m Rh -), mosquito net, towels, diapers, soap, everything to care for the cord, etc… things I’d need for the baby and for myself post partum as the clinic did not supply anything non-medical. After the baby was born, we found out that we were supposed to take care of the placenta. Fortunately, they had mercy on us and didn’t require that of the “white folks.” I stayed overnight – and was locked into the wing of the clinic where my room was. If I needed help for something, I had to ring the “emergency room,” who was not always able to respond promptly (my IV that they wanted to keep in place because of the Rhogam I’d need the next day kept falling out as I was trying to care for a newborn and swat away the mosquitoes. I’d brought everything I could think of that I’d need, but not a mosquito net to protect the baby.) Not only was it important to have someone there for labor and delivery, it was essential to have help that first night in the clinic.

All in all, it was a fabulous, and very inexpensive experience having our son in our country of service, and the people to whom we minister love the fact that he is a “vrai nigerien!” When we found out that number 7 was on her way, there was no doubt in our minds that she’d be born in Niger, too. This time I knew what to expect and was also more familiar with the culture. One huge difference was that midwives were quite happy to have my husband accompany me. In the intervening years, other expat women had chosen to have their babies at this same clinic, so the medical staff was becoming more accustomed to “Western” ideas regarding labor and delivery. And it was a good thing he was there, because the midwife was out making herself a cup of tea when our daughter decided to arrive; she came running in immediately, but it was “daddy” who actually delivered her! We tried to convince the clinic that we should get a discount on the price because of that fact; they didn’t agree!

Health concerns for me which could have necessitated taking the baby early demanded that I return to the US for the birth of our last child. Knowing the lack of adequate care for preemies and considering the higher possibility of that occurrence made the decision obvious, but it was a decision made through many tears and after much prayer and consultation with the doctors in Niamey who knew us and who had been caring for our family for several years. I truly wrestled with God about this, even after my husband had already made the decision. It also meant splitting our family up for 3 months: I came home early in the third trimester with 3 of our children while my husband remained in Niger with the other 4, and did not even meet his little one until she was almost 2 months old. After that experience, I have an immense respect and burden for single mothers and for women who, out of necessity, must walk through that experience without the presence of their husband. God was so good and provided for us wonderfully on both continents, but it was an incredible challenge, from the really practical (I had to shovel the driveway while in labor to get the car out so we could head for the hospital) to the emotions involved with walking into labor knowing there could be scary complications and not having my best earthly friend there with me. So, as crazy as it sounds, with all the advances, comforts and options available here and the experience of 7 other deliveries, it was the hardest one. Yet as always, God was so faithful, so true and He provided marvelously in ordaining this circumstance that drove me straight to Him.

Richelle, thank you so very much for sharing your birth experiences and encouragements with us! Does anyone have any questions for Richelle?

Pregnancy and Birth Overseas- Phyllis in Russia (Now in Ukraine)

Welcome to the first post from the “Pregnancy and Birth Overseas” series! I will be posting a couple of your stories each week (along with other posts) for the month of April, including one fun surprise at the end of the month! Enjoy this first story from Phyllis!

Phyllis’s Birth Experience in Russia:

Our son with our wonderful midwife

All three of our children were born in Russia.  I’ll tell mostly about the first.  He was born when we lived in Moscow.  We had a home-birth with a wonderful midwife.  I highly recommend the pregnancy and birth classes that she teaches to anyone in Moscow, whether you’re interested in home-birth or not.  (  She taught about basic pregnancy, birth, baby classes.  Her class really got me into the baby part of culture and language and brought me into contact with other new moms.  A mom’s club or anything similar would work just as well. In fact, I’d recommend looking for something like that to anyone who is having a baby overseas.  Those classes are what really helped me to feel comfortable about pregnancy and birth in Russia.  They provided the vocabulary that I needed and lots of cultural insight.

“Swimming Lessons” (one cultural thing I learned about)

I’ve only experienced pregnancy and birth in Russia, so I can’t compare, but I do have a friend who had her first in the states and her second in Russia, and she was happier with the second birth!  (And she’s expecting #3 soon!  I know that I love the princess treatment that pregnant women get in Russia; is it the same in America?  Oh, here is a funny story about that: When I was 8 months pregnant, we went on a visa trip to Estonia.  I got on a bus there, and no one gave me a seat.  Finally, a Russian babushka started yelling and made someone let me sit down.  Russians know how to treat pregnant women!

To be fair– here are babies #2 and #3, our daughters born after we moved from Moscow to a small town.

Thank you so much, Phyllis, for sharing your story!!! Does anyone have any questions for Phyllis about her experience?

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