Katelyn waits for no one. Not doctors, not nurses, not mom or dad. Determined to make her debut at 6:59pm on May 10th, she delivered herself. Here’s how the story goes:
Bangkok was hot in early May – and by hot, I mean routinely 100 degrees F or above. Katelyn’s due date was May 15th, and by May 1st, I just wasn’t sure if I could make it until the 15th. I was so hot that I would walk around my house in my bathing suit. As I went in for my regularly scheduled appointment on May 10th, I wasn’t thrilled to hear what was likely to be “bad” news – that I hadn’t dilated, that she might be hang around past her due date, etc. etc. After all, Logan was born one day past his due date in late July — in Washington, D.C. (fate has dealt me deliveries in the hottest, most humid months no matter where I am located). Walter was with me at the appointment because, well, I just wasn’t so comfortable driving myself anymore with a steering wheel lodged two centimeters from my belly in Bangkok traffic.
“Would you like me to check your dilation?” The doc’s first question was a pretty routine one for 39 weeks. Usually I wouldn’t hesitate, but again, I really didn’t want disappointing news. I was ready to start talking about how soon after her due date we could induce, hoping to goad him into something sooner than the usual one week waiting period. Then he followed up with, “If I check and you are dilated, are you prepared to have the baby today?” What (impatient) woman would not jump at that opportunity at 39 weeks in 100 degree heat? “Absolutely!” Walter was caught by complete surprise. This was definitely not a question he expected, nor a scenario he had envisioned. “Wait, wait, wait, ” he started. Wait? I had been waiting 39 long a** uncomfortable weeks! As he sorted through things in his head, the doctor informed us I was 3cm dilated. As soon as he asserted that it would be absolutely no risk to the baby or to me to induce labor, I was all in. Walter was still recovering from the shock of becoming a dad to baby number two at least five days earlier than he had expected. “Do you have some place to be?” the doctor asked him. “You can go back to work. All she needs is me, not you” (and to this moment we’re not really sure whether our doctor was kidding or not; his undecipherable sense of humor will become a theme of Katelyn’s birth story). After much coaxing, I finally won Walter over to my ready-to-have-the-baby-this-minute decision because our doctor was going to be out of town for the weekend and we didn’t want to chance delivering with a doctor we had never met (Full disclosure: my doctor was headed up to Khao Yai to ride horses for the weekend. Having the baby on May 10th was not only a convenience for me, but also for him).
Upon learning our decision to go forward with the induction, the doctor asked us if we would like a standard room, a deluxe room, or a suite post-delivery. I was beginning to feel as though we were checking into a fancy hotel, not having a baby. Although he wanted us to go straight on up to Labor and Delivery to get the process rolling, we made an argument to return home for an hour or so to grab a camera, touch base with our friends who would watch over Logan in our absence, and for me to, yes, put on make up and blow dry my hair. And it was at this moment that I was so happy to be in Bangkok, happy to be 3 cm dilated but not yet feeling contractions, and happy to live in an urban city center. When we arrived home, I marched across the street to my regular salon and asked for a wash and a blow-out. Twenty minutes, six dollars, and perfect salon-dried hair later, I was ready to give Logan a great big hug and head back to the hospital. Who wants to look bad for their first post-delivery photo? Not me (sure, I admit to some vanity; but if you had the opportunity, wouldn’t you have done that, too?)
As we valeted our car and strolled into the hospital, we passed three young Thai monks dressed in orange robes sitting outside of Labor and Delivery. That’s something you don’t see everyday. As I checked in and got settled, I saw two big bags of what I assumed were IV fluids hanging above me. It was strange to be in the hospital, expecting our little girl that day, but not feeling any contractions yet. After an hour and a half, I started to feel contractions. Excellent, I (naively) thought . . . my labor had started on its own. As the contractions grew stronger – and much closer together – I had another thought . . . pitocin. For those women out there who have experienced pitocin, you know the pain it can bring. Ouch. No wonder my contractions had started. I had a whole bag of pitocin being pumped into me. A couple of hours later, the doctor came up and broke my water. I was still 3 cm and he said to expect that I’d dilate about 1 cm/hour . . . which means I would deliver around 9pm. Meanwhile, he said, he was going to go for a run and grab dinner at the Polo Club (that humor again; was he joking? After all, I was his only patient in labor at the time).
Thirty minutes later, I was in some real pain. It was manageable, but definitely not pleasant. Time for an epidural (yes, on top of being vain, I’m now admitting to being a wimp). The doctor was back at 6pm. Turns out he didn’t go to the Polo Club, but went out to get a hair cut instead. This time I was 7-8 cm. I had dilated far faster than he imagined I would. In fact, he told us that the baby could come within the hour. At 6:45, I was 10cm and ready to push. Except, I didn’t have to push . . . not even for 30 seconds, not even for 1 second. As the nurses gathered around the table and started to get things ready, I felt the urge to vomit. Being the truly wonderful husband that he is, Walter was catching my vomit in the vomit tray. After vomiting once, I really felt as if Katelyn’s head was coming out. Walter thought I was crazy. When I insisted I thought she was coming out, he rifled through the papers toward the end of the table, but in his words, “was too worried to mess things up” in order to get a glimpse of what might be happening. Plus, he admits to thinking that I was under the influence of crazy and that since I had had an epidural, I really couldn’t feel anything. Wrong. As the nurses were still getting ready and my doctor was suiting up, I vomited again. This time I felt as if Katelyn’s body slid right out. And guess what? It did. We heard the nurses yelling for the doctor and as he fumbled to get his gloves on, he picked her up, cut the cord, and gave her to the nurses. She delivered herself before the nurses were fully prepared, before the doctor had his gloves on, and before Walter or I knew what was happening. Easiest . . . delivery . . . ever. There she was, not even a minute old, and I was already in her debt for making my delivery so much easier than it should be. Was she healthy? That is all we wanted to know. “Completely,” said the doctor.
I may have delivered five days early, but I think Katelyn was just as ready to meet us as we were to meet her. Nothing says independence or precociousness like delivering yourself. Sweet Katelyn has already made it clear that she will run the Braunohler household. She is such a wonderful blessing to our family and we love her more than I could ever put into words. She has such a unique birth story and one that I can’t wait to tell her years from now. We are so thankful she is a part of our lives.