Reflecting on my birth experience in Beijing
Alarm was set, bags were packed, taxi was ordered; this was not how I had envisioned giving birth. This was the exact opposite. We were starting to realize our daughter already had a mind completely all her own.At 32 weeks pregnant, I learned that our baby was breech, I quickly began searching “how to encourage breech baby to flip”. Spinningbabies.com became a top hit for sites visited on my google homepage as I scoured their resources for my evening pregnancy gymnastics routines. Whenever I had to sit during the day, I sat on a yoga ball doing any type of hip opening exercise. Everyone kept assuring me, it will be fine, babies flip so often in the last minutes during labor! We spoke with our doctor, (Dr. Juliette Kinn at Oasis international hospital) at length about the implications of a breech baby. “I love breech baby!” exclaimed, “It’s not a dangerous delivery, it’s just different!” she assured us we had options and that she was comfortable delivering our little one breech, if everything went perfectly during labor. So we decided at 37 weeks to attempt an ECV , unsuccessful but still hopeful we talked about other options and possible outcomes.When we realized our chances of delivering her naturally were slim, we decided it was important to have a safe delivery, one that didn’t have an emergency c-section. It was also important to me to have Dr. Kinn deliver our baby, I trusted her fully and knew we would be in safe hands if she performed the operation.So on the Chinese National Holiday, Dr. Kinn came in special for us, to deliver our little bundle of joy!
It all felt so surreal, as I sat on the hospital bed signing forms, texting my family and friends back in the states, chatting with my husband…. I just couldn’t believe that in a matter of hours we would be holding our baby. I felt a wide range of emotions; excitement and nervousness were competing.
It was important to both my husband and I that the birth was calm & joyful so we created a playlist on Spotify, this helped make the otherwise quiet room feel more like home and put us both at ease so we could focus on our daughter being born. Nick photographed as much as he could of the whole birth, which was also important to us both.
As the anesthesiologist placed the catheter in my spine and administered the epidural, Dr. Kinn held my arm and rubbed my leg. She was empathetic, supportive and kind. She tried to distract me by making conversation and then I said to her,“I’m nosy and I need to know all the details of what’s happening.” She laughed and told me all the steps as they were happening.
I’m sure many parents can agree, that first cry is like a bus full of love coming full speed at your chest… it knocks the wind out of you and makes you realize nothing will ever be the same.
After I was closed up and back in our private room, I began trying to breastfeed. The nurses were amazing and they were on it right away to make sure everything was off to a strong start.
I’m not going to lie here, recovering from a cesarean is PAINFUL (I swore off having additional children if it ran the risk of a second c-section) and the nurses did everything they could to assure I was comfortable and that breastfeeding was as pain-free as possible.
That being said, let’s all just go ahead and take a minute to recognize that breastfeeding at first is HARD. It’s exhausting and it requires a lot of support. The nurses at Oasis gave us as much hands on support as they could, around the clock. I had the Shunyi La Leche League on my wechat and lots of experienced mamas were messaging me privately with all their support and encouragement.
Although I was up with the help of a nurse and my walker that evening, it was still incredibly painful to get up and change diapers every time. After putting the first one on backwards, Nick became the diaper changing champion by the end of our stay, he also accomplished a perfect swaddle. On our fourth day in the hospital, we had a little photo session with our baby and that evening we had a fancy candle-lit dinner in our room!
I spent almost everyday adoring this teeny tiny baby and her infinitely tiny details. I vividly remember crying over how much I love her and the gratitude I felt for becoming her mother; I wanted to press pause, live in this moment for as long as I could. From time to time, when I remember to just breathe, I still find myself thinking the same thing at each milestone or silly moment.
My husband and I were amazed with the level of care we received at Oasis. The around the clock checks, their patience and understanding of cultural differences, support and encouragement, all did not go unnoticed. We left the hospital as prepared and rested as any new parents could be, I felt confident with our breastfeeding. We were eternally grateful to all the doctors, nurses and staff at Oasis for helping us welcome our little one.
Since I’ve relocated back to the states, I’ve spoken with many mamas who gave birth in American Hospitals and it’s shocking to me to hear how Archean their methods are…. I felt that having our baby roomed in with us was essential for breastfeeding success and to understanding our new roles as parents. I have said numerous times that if we ever had another baby, I would go back to Oasis! So whenever anyone asks me what it was like to give birth in China, I’m always happy to explain that we were spoiled and it was beyond the best experience we could have hoped for.