Monday, July 21, 2014
The Story Of Seoul
They say every birth is different. Just like every person is different. Man, they sure weren't kidding! If you need a refresher on how Raelynn came into the world, click here. You may also want to read about how MIL made me nuts right after coming home from the hospital so click here too.
This is how our sweet little Seoul came into the world...
On Monday, July 14th, you'll no doubt recall my last meal of grossness served up by MIL. On that day, I'd been having false labor signs. Braxton Hicks contractions. I knew it wasn't baby time because they kept disappearing when I'd get up and move around. They also came with no regularity or increase in frequency. The only thing that ever remained the same was the duration of each contraction: just one minute. It was unpleasant and uncomfortable but before I could really complain, it would vanish and I'd be fine for hours before another one would come up.
That night, I took a nice, hot shower and tried to relax. I figured my body was gearing up for the big moment and I should take it easy. I went to bed early but around 1am, I woke up to a contraction. And this one was VERY different. It was more painful than the others had been. Plus, it began in the lower back and shot through my abdomen. But again, it only lasted one minute. I fell back asleep and 30 or so minutes later, I felt the same thing. I thought about waking Jeremy but I wanted to be sure before I set us into pre-baby-panic-mode. So I watched the clock. And the next hour? 2 contractions again. Maybe I'm crazy. I watched another hour go by with the same results. I knew then that this kid was getting ready to come out.
It was 3am. The other thing I knew was that if we did go to the hospital right then, they'd only tell me to try to get some sleep first. So I tried to get some sleep in the comfort of our home. It was a futile attempt. But my contractions only became 25 minutes apart and didn't increase in length or pain so I knew we had time.
Early in the morning, about 6:30am, Jeremy woke up to use the bathroom. That's when I told him. He called the hospital to let Dr. Wang know but she was already in surgery delivering another baby. They told us we should start getting over to the hospital as soon as we could. Jeremy then called his parents. I hugged and kissed Raelynn, still a bit terrified of delivering the baby inside me and hoping that I would make it out alive to see her again.
We rounded up our bags and spent time with Raelynn before MIL arrived. After a tearful goodbye with Raelynn, we were off. The hospital isn't that far away but since it was now rush hour on Tuesday, July 15th, we were stuck in traffic for an hour. I had 3 contractions in the car during that time, much more painful than before.
When we finally arrived at the hospital, we hurried into Dr. Wang's office. She had changed from her surgery garb and looked as though she was expecting us. She wanted to run a few tests first so we had them done. She was trying to check the scar tissue from my first c-section to see if there would be any problems. When we'd seen her during our last check-up over the previous weekend, she'd told me not to eat or drink anything at least 4 hours before my c-section. I hadn't even had a drop of water since bedtime and now the ultrasound tech was being a bitch because she said I didn't have enough in my bladder for her to see well enough. She was urging me to go drink more water even though the doctor told me not to. Moron. On top of that, I had to pee so badly I seriously thought I was going to lose control of my bladder during that scan.
We went back to Dr. Wang and as we spoke to her, I had a horrible contraction. I gripped the back of one of the chairs in her office and she then ordered her assistant to send us up to check into our room and prep for surgery. Off we went. Jeremy was excited because our room was a lucky number in Chinese: 618. He said this was a very good sign. I just cried and cried because I was scared and excited all at once. Plus, I was finally allowed to pee and the bathrooms in the hospital rooms are soooooooooooooooo much nicer than the bathroom you can use on the first floor.
No sooner than I get in there, my husband runs back to the car to get our bags and nurses begin to file in to prep me for surgery. Even though I'm scared, I know this is best for me now because I'd been in labor since the wee hours of the morning and wasn't even dilated yet. Another long labor would await me if I didn't go through with my planned c-section.
A gurney comes in. Some hospital clothes. I smell rubbing alcohol and I begin to panic. The nurses are all very nice despite the language barrier. They speak limited English but they try to comfort me. Another woman comes in with forms she wants me to sign. I can't read them because they're in Chinese and Jeremy snaps at her about that. He handles the forms while I'm prepped and moved onto the gurney.
They take my blood and I cry at the sting of pain. I'm so scared now. I'm dreading this. This sucks. Why does giving birth have to suck so fucking much, I wonder. Then, they start wheeling me down the hall. I scream for Jeremy who runs alongside, trying to comfort me. We ride the elevator to where the operating rooms are. It's very sterile, which is reassuring, but also terrifying at the same time. I don't want my husband to leave me. They tell him he has to dress in scrubs if he's going to come into the OR and they assure me not to worry. Into the OR I go. It's much more freaky than I remember from Raelynn's birth. There are about 5 people in there prepping everything, speaking to me in halting English and all I can do is cry. The anesthesiologist is very nice, and desperate to calm me down so she can issue the epidural. She pats my head and tells me not to cry and to please lay on my side. Please don't move, she tells me as she rubs something cold along my spine. Suddenly, the OR doors open and I hope it's my husband. It's not but the person who I see makes me sigh with great relief. It's Dr. Wang. I feel so much better seeing her there. Her English is much better than her team's. I ask for my husband and she tells me she's worried he will become sick if he sees the surgery. She says it will be okay because she can talk to me in English which was really the only valid reason for my husband coming in.
Dr. Wang sees the panic in my eyes and she tells me quite kindly not to worry about anything. She does this every day, many times a day. I'm in good hands. I know this. It's exactly why I wanted her to deliver this baby just like she did with Raelynn.
The epidural takes effect and I cannot feel my legs. At all. It's so weird. They have a mask ready in case I need to be knocked out completely but I don't want it. There's a large canvas draped over the rest of my body. I can't see anything that is happening to me which is a huge relief. I can only feel a slight little tugging. It doesn't hurt. It just feels very strange. The anesthesiologist stays by my head. She tells me if I feel anything and want to sleep to tell her. I look about the room wildly. I hate this. I want it to end.
And suddenly, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! There's my baby! I remember hearing Raelynn when she was born but I was so foggy from the anesthesia it was part of my drugged out trip. As this baby cries, I say, "My baby! It's my baby!" "Yes," I hear Dr. Wang say. "Everything is very good." "It's a girl, right?" I ask her, hoping and praying that what they'd told me months ago hadn't been to just make me happy. "Yes, it's a girl," Dr. Wang tells me. THANK GOD.
I begin to relax now. My baby is alive and well. It is not a boy, no offense to the moms I know with boys. I'm just so relieved to have another girl. I can see her being carted off into the corner to my left as 3 people from Dr. Wang's team clean her up. I just want to look at her but I know I have to be stitched back up. This part took a while but I remember reading that about c-sections. It seemed like seconds when I had Raelynn only because of the drugs. Now I wondered how long it was taking as Dr. Wang closed me up. I also felt warm. It felt like forever, and again, the anesthesiologist told me that she could put me to sleep if I wanted to be out. I just told her I felt warm and wished they could take the canvas off of me so I'd feel cooler.
And then it was over. They counted: yi, er, san! And lifted me off the operating table and back onto my gurney and out I went. There was my husband, overjoyed and crying with relief. We all went back into the room. I was moved into my bed and had my vitals checked out yet again. I was so much more with it this time though it truly freaked me out that I seriously could not feel my legs. I tried to wiggle my toes and nothing. They told me it would be fine soon and that I had to lay flat for 6 hours. On this hard, awful hospital bed. But the good news was they were handing me my little baby. My sweet Seoul Susie Qu.
It's no wonder they use babies that are 3 to 6 months old in movies, TV shows and commercials. You know why, right? Because newborns are so tiny and scrawny. They're wrinkly and honestly, look like little old men. But we love them anyway, don't we? I loved Seoul when I saw her too. Later I would learn the downside to marrying a man that makes me laugh so much...it truly sucks to have a funny husband when you've had a c-section. Laughing hurts. He called Seoul "Grandpa Face" and I thought I was going to die from the pain the laughter caused.
Grandpa Face! Hahahahaha!
I breastfed my little angel quite easily and breathed a sigh of relief. Now we were over the other side of the wall. Now the recovery begins.
I hate hospitals. I always have. I've never had to stay in a hospital in the US so I can only relate what it's like here in China. I'm sure it's very different than the states so for those of you that have gone through a c-section back home, I'd love to hear from you in the comments about what your experience was like in the hospital. It would be neat to compare.
In China, you must bring your own towels, toilet paper, soap, and all sorts of things you'd never think about bringing in the US. They did supply us with a gift bag that included my hospital pajamas, those shitty kind of diapers you know I hate from when Raelynn was a newborn, and some other stuff which impressively included soap, a plastic soap dish and even a roll of toilet paper. Wow, they're stepping up their game, I remember thinking.
My room had 2 hospital beds in it because it's typical your spouse or a family member will stay with you to assist you. Nurses are for changing IVs and administering shots. But NOT emptying your catheter bag! Jeremy had to empty it out. You know your husband loves you very much when he dumps out bags of your pee for you. He also helped me to the bathroom when the catheter was removed. They'd given me many IVs during my stay but one of the last ones I got was some sort of nutrient and I had to keep it elevated so Jeremy had to come with me to the bathroom.
We also had one nurse tell Jeremy that HE had to change the sheets on my bed for me. This was when I still had the catheter in and couldn't get up. I felt gross and needed my mattress guard and sheets changed. Fortunately, another nurse came in and took care of it, Jeremy only being asked to offer minimal assistance in helping me roll over.
The first 2 days in the hospital, it seemed like every 5 minutes, someone was knocking on our door to come in for this or that. Just as I'd start falling asleep, someone would knock. It was highly irritating. I would have been even more annoyed that first day when my in-laws showed up if not for the sight of my precious Raelynn. I was so happy to see her little face and so grateful to visit with her.
In addition to the constant interruptions by the staff, the air conditioning became an issue. They'd turned it off in our room. Jeremy flipped out on my behalf. I was in pain and sweating and I couldn't sleep. AT ALL. The night nurse was a huge pain in the ass about this, saying that 26 Celcius was a fine temperature. My husband yelled that we'd paid 10,000 rmb for our room and on top of that, I was a foreign person. I remember hearing him yell that I felt sick because of the heat. It was true. Finally in the morning, they sorted out the air conditioning issue and it stayed at a nice 22 Celcius the rest of our stay. I was also given an extra shot of pain medicine and I was finally able to fall asleep.
The bed was another horrible problem for me. Because I've never had to stay in a US hospital, I have nothing to compare it to. But I felt like my back was becoming worse because of this bed. The mattress was very thin and on top of a metal frame. I tried to roll on my sides but because of the surgery it was so painful to do so. After a few days, that pain got better but my hips now ached from the metal frame of the bed. As you can probably imagine, it was a very happy moment for me when I was told I could go home the next morning.
You can see here what the hospital bed looks like. Jeremy's bed is identical to mine. Look at that thin mattress!
So we went in on a Tuesday morning and we got to leave on a Saturday morning. MIL kept her promise to me about bringing Raelynn, which I'm very grateful for. She brought her every day. Even though she dressed her in the same clothes every day. Even underwear. She said she bathed her but Raelynn stunk (and of course, so did my in-laws - like they always do). I couldn't wait to wash her when we got home so she'd smell nice again.
Speaking of the in-laws, let's talk about them since I know you're dying to know about that, aren't you? Of course you are! That's why you read this blog, isn't it?
I was relieved that my in-laws didn't kill Raelynn while they watched her. They told me Raelynn cried all the time for me, which made me feel bad. She must have really hated having them watch her the whole time. Sorry, my sweet! They didn't touch the window in her room either, so I have to hand it to them for listening to my wishes in that regard. On Friday, my husband ran his parents and Raelynn home in the car so he could get my passport. We needed it to make Seoul's birth certificate. We have to present this at the US Embassy so we can get a report for a consular birth abroad. Jeremy was worried to ask his parents to bring my passport. He thought they might lose it or forget to lock up the drawer we keep it in and Raelynn would destroy it and the other important documents housed in there.
When he returned, I asked him how our house looked. He made a face and I knew. But before I could cry, he promised me he would clean it up. When we actually got home on Saturday morning, I thought I was going to see the aftermath of a tornado. But it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The kitchen was a royal zoo but I chose not to get too angry because, for one, Jeremy promised to clean it all himself, and for another, MIL was in there actively cooking a big welcome home lunch. Never mind that it wasn't anything I wanted to eat but it was nice of her. The other mess was FIL's fault. Raelynn's toys were everywhere and he refused to act like a grown up and tell her to clean it. I pulled her aside and talked to her about the mess. Then I told her to have Grandpa help her. He was shocked that she would listen to me and clean up. I was shocked that he would let her tell him no when he asked her to do something. That's one of the things that bothers me so much about my in-laws. They don't realize how much more damaging it is to let her have her way like that.
Those are just some of the hard boiled eggs she made for me. She also made me another big bowl of xifan. This kind of xifan looks a lot like baby poop. Especially how she made it. She should have used more water. The food was gross but it was nice to drink again.
Raelynn is so happy to have us home. Look at that face! I love her! And look at that food - gross!
Soon, the floors were cleaned up, toys were in their right place and my husband had poured me a glass of wine. I was feeling better and enjoying being home, even if we had to have lunch with his parents. After eating, FIL went home and MIL and Jeremy cleaned up the kitchen. Then MIL spent some time holding the baby. After a while though. My husband hopped on his computer and just ignored that his mother was here in our living room, doing nothing but staring into space. I hate when she does that. There's no reason for you to be here now. Thank you for lunch. Thank you for taking care of Raelynn. It is 1:30pm. We aren't eating dinner until 6:30pm. PLEASE GO HOME. I calmly explained to Jeremy that THIS is something that gets on my nerves about his mother so he politely told her to leave and we'd see her later. That made me so happy. This house is just too small to have someone I don't need sitting around taking up space on the couch to be sitting around taking up space on the couch.
For dinner, she came back and made better food. WAY better food. She had these roasted chicken legs that were delicious. She must have bought them somewhere. There's no way she could make something that good. She also made steamed clams again. And the obligatory xifan. And she didn't overstay her welcome into the evening. She cooked. She cleaned. She held the baby. She kissed Raelynn goodnight before I read her stories. And then, she went home! Amazing!
Now I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth but here's the stuff my in-laws fucked up: the closet door in Raelynn's room. FIL busted it off the track. God only knows why he would do such a thing. Derp. The kitchen sink. It was leaking again! Lord knows we had enough problems with that sink. But, it turned out something got knocked loose with the faucet and Jeremy was able to tighten it himself. Still, I'm not surprised. We had so many sink problems because MIL just bangs the big pans and cutting boards into it without a care in the world.
Also, someone, I'm guessing MIL, stored a bag of eggplant in the kitchen cabinets. Instead of the refrigerator. I went into the cabinet today to get some flour and I smelled something foul. I nominated Jeremy to check it out and he made the grisly discovery. I'd also found a bag of eggplant and carrots on the side of the refrigerator today. Fortunately, those were not rotten and I put them in the fridge. Why she does this IN SUMMER when EVERYTHING you leave out rots is beyond me. Especially when there is so much room inside that fridge!
Ok...now something nice...something nice. FIL cleaned our fish tank and it looks great. He also deep-cleaned our air conditioner in our bedroom and now it's ice-cold in here. That was nice and helpful. We can run it on low and it cools our whole room, not to mention the living room when we have the sliding door open.
Yesterday was Sunday, our 2nd day at home. And my husband had told his parents not to come. Never on Sundays. But I was truly dreading today, Monday. I worried she'd come at the crack of dawn, making more hard boiled eggs than we could ever eat. Which is a Chinese tradition when you have a baby. Your family makes hard boiled eggs and gives them to everyfuckingone they see. But when your Chinese MIL gives you too many hard boiled eggs, you make deviled eggs, which is just what I did for dinner last night. Jeremy went nuts for them and scolded me for never before making them for him. Well, no worries honey...we still have about 20 more hard-boiled eggs in the fridge.
I heard our land line ring this morning and became tense with fear. Jeremy came back from answering it and told me his parents would come around 8am or 9am to take Raelynn out for a bit so I could rest. What? Really? Now wait...that's actually helpful. And they did. They took her out until about 11am. And then I thought MIL would bother me some more but nope! She just dropped off Raelynn and a package of Japanese diapers a friend of hers had sent for us. AND SHE LEFT!
She didn't come until 5pm and she's only here to make us dinner. I'm shocked. And delighted. But fearful. I seriously SERIOUSLY hope this is how she will be during this time - HELPFUL. I seriously SERIOUSLY hope she will come take Raelynn for walks on the 4 days she's supposed to come so the kid can get out into the world while I care for her little sister. And I seriously SERIOUSLY hope she'll respect our boundaries. If she can do this, then I don't mind her helping at all. We'll see. We know how she is though, don't we?
And then of course, there's the reason for this whole entire post: Seoul. You know why we named her that, don't you? Because Jeremy and I met and fell in love in Seoul. Susie, her middle name, is another tribute to my mom, whose middle name was Sue. We'd discussed that our 2nd child would always be named Seoul, regardless of gender. It was the middle name that would be different if it was a boy or girl. If we were having a boy, Seoul's middle name would have been Michael, just like my father.
You know, already, we're getting bugged by people to have a 3rd child. NO. No way. I am enjoying not being pregnant anymore, thankyouverymuch, though I will always be supremely grateful that I got to experience such a special thing twice in my life. When we were still in the hospital, MIL and Jeremy were talking and I could hear them talking about x and y chromosomes. I asked why and Jeremy said his mother said that the next one would be a boy. I said that he better tell her to find another family to annoy because 2 children is plenty for me. I'm 38 and have had 2 c-sections now. I'm not having a 3rd child as I go into my 40s. NO. When we left the hospital, one of the staff members there said we should try for a boy next. GOD! What IS it with Asians and boys?!? They are not everything! Urgh!
So how is Seoul? Well, she's, so far, a very sweet and relatively easy-going baby. Raelynn, as much as we love her, was a very difficult baby. She cried ALL the time. About EVERYTHING. She's a wonderful child but we were exhausted with her as a baby. Seoul seems to have a very different personality. But one thing's for sure...Raelynn loves her little sister. The first couple days have been rough but Raelynn is learning to be helpful and not to make too much noise when her sister sleeps. I hope these 2 will be the best of friends as they grow up. Nothing makes me happier than to give these girls that amazing sibling experience I had growing up with my brother, Phillip.
Raelynn loves Seoul, and no, she's not the reason Seoul's crying here. When Seoul started crying, Raelynn climbed up next to her to comfort her. Awwww!
I still can't believe I have a family of 4 now. I still can't believe this little person came out of me. And I still can't believe Raelynn was ever this small. She seems so gigantic and grown up now. It's trippy. What's craziest of all is that during my pregnancy, I remember asking my dad if I would love both of my children. How will I love them both? He assured me I would absolutely love them both. I never could have imagined loving someone as much as I love Raelynn, and that's no dis on my husband. He knows just what I mean by that. But as I held Seoul one night in our hospital room, I was talking to her and she just looked up at me and I cried. And I realized I just love her so much. I love her with every bit of my heart. And with my whole soul (or should I say Seoul), just the way I love Raelynn.
You were right, Daddy. Just like always.
And I'm quite certain Jeremy feels exactly the same way.