If it hadn’t been for the curfew, the baby would have been born in the back seat of a truck cab.
We arrived at the hospital at 8:59 pm (one minute to spare) and the sweetest little girl rushed out of Sue at 9:21 pm.
It’s hard to fathom that we were considering staying at home because we thought Sue would make it to the 5 am curfew break.
But consider this:
Sue woke up to gentle contractions every hour or so Friday morning.
We went ahead with our pool playdate and had a family of four over from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm. Sue said that the contractions had backed off. Another friend dropped by to offer support, play with Noi naa, and to meet our brother who’s in town from Kyrgizstan. Then Songbae’s German friend from Bishtek came by also. Joss, Noi naa, Christian, and I headed to the park.
When we got back from the park to eat pasta and pizza, Sue had her feet up in front of the TV, and she and Ekua were hooting it up watching The Hangover. Sue said her contractions had come back – but were still at least 1/2 hour apart.
By 8pm, we were all chewing over the big decision: go to the hospital now before the 9 pm curfew? stay home and then call an ambulance? try and wait until 5 am? Her contractions were ten minutes apart and still (apparently) manageable.
After a brief cell phone conversation with the doctor, we decided to head in and starting milling around the apartment the way a mass of people do when they’re headed out for an indefinite amount of time: “Have you fed the cat?!” “Who’s got the toys and snacks?!” “Should we bring a stroller?!” “Hurry! It’s almost 8:30 – the curfew!!”
Then there was a frozen moment. The door to the kitchen swung open and shut, and briefly I saw Sue in the kitchen. Her back was to me, her legs were open, and she was looking at the ground. I knew right away, even before I heard her yelling “JOOOOO-OOOOOSS!!!!!!!!” that her water had broken.
Then, everything sped up: kids were swooped up, doors flung open, and bags grabbed and hooked on every arm and finger.
We packed everything into the truck that work had insisted Sue take home – packing around Noi naa’s bicycle – and started driving. Never mind that nobody in the car had ever driven to this hospital before.
But here, the looming 9 pm curfew worked very much in our favor: besides the military vehicles and fatigue-clad teenagers with machine guns, the roads were pretty clear and we made it to the hospital (Bumrungrad, a fancy private hospital) in record time.
We handed the keys over to a valet attendant. Joss went straight through with Sue in a wheelchair. Songbae and I followed with Noi naa, Christian, the stroller, and what looked like a week’s worth of luggage for a family of five.
When we arrived in the delivery ward, we could hear Sue’s rebel yells echoing through the halls. Noi naa was cowed, and with her face buried in Songbae’s neck she kept repeating, “If I’m scared I’m going to go out with Songbae.” Christian was tired and dazed and looking around.
The doctor came strolling in, in his jeans and sandals, and a backpack slung over his shoulder. He waved briefly, and disappeared into the locker room. He reappeared in scrubs and went to see Sue.
After just a few minutes, Joss rushed out – “Jeannie! Want to come in and coach Sue a bit?!?”
Sue still hadn’t made it into the natural delivery room and was on a gurney in the fetal monitoring room. The doctor was flushed and I don’t even know if Sue registered that I was there. The doctor very clearly wanted Sue to lean back on the pillows and said she was close to pushing.
Sue said in a gasp, “I KNOW! BUT…. I CAN’T MOVE FROM THIS POSITION!!!” or something to that effect.
She was sitting up, leaning against the wall in the middle of the gurney bed.
I said, “Okay, just throw your arm around my neck…”
and BOOM – her arm wrapped around my neck in a very intense nelson lock and Sue was up on her knees and one hand. I was bent double, holding her up.
She yelled, “I CAN FEEL THE HEAD!!”
I yelled, “JOSS! COME BACK!!!!”
and then I looked and there was the beautiful Leela sprawled out on the bed behind Sue.
Despite our best efforts, we all missed the baby’s actual entrance. No matter…
At that moment, Joss ran up with Christian, Songbae ran up with Noi naa, and everybody was cheering, gasping, and yelling various exclamations of disbelief. This was 9:21.
The baby was born completely naturally, even though we never made it to the “natural” delivery room.
The doctor, though, was stoked – he would have to stay at the hospital all night because of the curfew and he was the lucky bastard who got to watch cable all night in a very clean, unused natural delivery room – the only one at the hospital! He said there were doctors stranded all over the hospital, fighting over rooms to sleep in.
Sue, Leela, Joss, Noi naa, Songbae, Christian, and I slowly made our way to Sue’s private deluxe hospital room. (The VIP rooms were booked). We made our respective beds on the sofa and floor, and by midnight we were more or less asleep.
It was a very exciting arrival – and we are grateful to have been a part of it!
P.S. If this puts you in the mood for more birth stories, here’s a link to Noi naa’s birth three years ago, and Christian’s birth two years ago: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.
P.P.S. Leela at birth: 3040 grams and 50 centimeters long and cute as a button. Nursing like a champ.