Well, it turns out that we welcomed a very punctual little girl into the world at noon Bangkok time on the 29th of July. In her mom’s California timezone that means Journie arrived on her exact due date, July 28th!
This how it all went down: Jammie started complaining of major back pains and was starting to feel contractions by about 11 PM Bangkok time on Tuesday, the 28th and, over the next couple hours, as the contractions started coming more and more frequently, Jammie, her sister Jofe, my mom and I prepped to leave for the hospital as soon as the contractions were five minutes apart. That happened soon after 1 AM, Wednesday morning, July 29.
We were in a cab in no time, headed for Bangkok’s Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital which is 15 minutes from our apartment building. Luckily our cab driver was calm and collected and with light traffic, we got to the hospital smoothly and uneventfully.
Jammie was whisked in a wheelchair from the taxi, through the Emergency Department and up to Labor and Delivery on the third floor of Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital.
We were led into a hotel-worthy room with a birthing pool, exercise balls, an Apple TV (which was super cool in a movie night kind of way but completely wasted on us) and a bunch of gear like a ladder that exceptionally acrobatic women apparently incorporate into the labor process.
The first few hours involved each of us, including Jammie, pottering around and trying birthing gear out. Jammie was definitely set on having a natural birth and despite painful contractions, Jammie was amazing and tried to move around as much as possible to try to get the show on the road.
As the decibels and the, ahem, creativity of Jammie’s language increased over the first several hours of labor, she moved over to the delivery bed around 9 AM, determined to get to the point where she could start pushing.
What happened next was nothing short of amazing. An obviously-experienced nurse had Jammie lie on her left side while she intensely massaged the lower right side of her abdomen every time she had a contraction. This was supposed to help open the cervix enough to get to the point where pushing could officially begin (premature pushing is a definite no-no.)
Amazingly, the massaging helped the baby move down the birth canal and by the time our OB doc came in for her hourly check, it was show time.
The next step easily makes my shortlist of most traumatising life experiences and I wasn’t even the one delivering. The doctor knelt in front of Jammie and told her to use all her screaming power to push. A team of nurses made this really amazing buzzing sound that seemed to cheer Jammie on as the doctor coached her to push with all she had with every contraction.
I understand the stories of husbands fainting just watching the birthing process. From the beginning of in-earnest pushing, let’s just say there was enough screaming, blood and unspeakable attrocity to put just about anyone off the idea of procreating .
When Journie finally poked her head out into the world at just after 12 noon she instantly had a good look around, even before she had made it all the way out. She was the cutest little thing I’d ever seen!
I finally got to hold her a few minutes later and I was shell shocked and lost for words. But I stuck to the plan and forced myself to speak to her in Swedish in order to begin the cultural education immediately. She looked at me with understandable disbelief. Daddy (super weird to say that) was clearly getting ahead of himself.
We quickly learned that there were far more pressing matters to deal with. The medical team was having zero success with removing the placenta. All of a sudden, Jammie started to lose a lot of blood. Our amazing doctor tried and tried to take out the stubborn thing but it wasn’t going anywhere.
Things got super scary when Jammie had to be taken into surgery to remove the placenta. To make things worse, the surgery which was supposed to take 15 minutes took an hour when the doctor discovered that the placenta had grafted onto Jammie’s uterine wall.
By some miracle, our doctor was finally able to remove it and still save Jammie’s uterus. But by the end of the surgery, the medical team observed Jammie for two hours and then sent her to ICU for blood transfusions as her heart rate soared due to the blood loss.
I spent an extremely sobering night in Jammie’s maternity recovery room on my own trying to keep from dwelling on worst case scenarios. My little baby was safe and in the nursery. But would Jammie be OK?
I was hoping for good news as I rushed into ICU the next morning but Jammie was still not out of the woods, her red blood cells were way down and she was still being given blood. As my mom and Jofe who had gone home for the night arrived at the hospital I had to give them the news that Jammie was still not getting released from ICU.
By now Jammie was conscious but feeling weak and she was really sad not to be able to see Journie so we set up a Facetime connection between Jammie and her sister on the third floor in ICU and Journie and I one floor up on the maternity floor.
As we set the video connection up we got the amazing news that Jammie would at last be transferred from ICU down to maternity. She finally got to spend quality time with little Journie, over 24 hours after giving birth.
Apart from some incubator time for Journie to treat low levels of jaundice, things got better from there and by Saturday night, everyone was healthy enough to head home.
I’m writing this after three weeks of dramatically interrupted sleep. Little Journie loves to eat, loves to poop and loves that daddy has not quite mastered the messy art of the diaper change yet.
I’m getting better though and am making less of a mess. And oh, I also know how to get pee out of a mattress. It’s a disgusting process and involves baking soda. But it doesn’t bother me at all because both my girls are now with me.