Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Charlize's birth the story

Pictures of Charlize and Rosi
At about 9am on April the 11th, Rosi and I were engaged in relaxed labour inducing behaviour in the Beachcombers Inn just off the main street of Kalibo. This was our second such attempt, the first attempt was of course the first night we spent together just hours earlier.

At 10am we were preparing to leave the hotel and Rosi began to complain that she was feeling a lot like she did the first time she gave birth. But she wasn't in a rush so we went shopping for a sleeping mat and bolster pillows and a mini mosquito net. Then we took an airconditioned van to Ibajay. I kept on suggesting that we should stop at the hospital but Rosi would have nothing of it -- we had to go to her home first.

at about 1pm we were at Rosi's house she was eating and burning herbs and leaves and doing other stuff that Filipinos typically do when they are preparing to give birth. Finally, at around 4pm the contractions were coming closer together and I was getting quite concerned but we waited for the midwife to arrive.

Naturally the midwife had little to say except:
"Is this going to be a hospital birth? Okay, let's go to the hospital"

So, we walked by the house of a neighbour who drives a tricycle and asked him to meet us over the river and through the rice field so we could go to the hospital. Tricycles, which are motorbikes with 6 passenger carriages attached usually stop running at around 4:30 or 5pm.

On the way, Rosi realized that she didn't have her health care number so we turned back and Robert, her brother, ran through the rice field and across the river to get the card and then back onto the tricycle.

At the hospital they drew a curtain over the examining room and pronounced Rosi to be only 2cm dilated. So we went to the labour room which was a barren room with 4 beds, 4 bedside tables, 2 expecting mothers, 2 new mothers, 2 babies, 4 fathers, an assortment of other relatives, and dozens of tiny red ants feasting on a dead coachroach near the door. Then Rosi and Mamang Maria (step-sister) and I settled down to the business of labour.

Rosi's contractions were getting more and more powerful and they continued all through the night. Her father arrived for a visit in the morning and Rosi tearfully asked him to go find her sister. When her sister arrived I had a chance to relax a bit and to go to the pharmacy to collect a minimalist shopping list made out by the hospital staff:
  • 1 Adult depends diaper (for after the birth)
  • 1 bottle of baby oil (for the baby?)
I also picked up some things for Rosi, her sister and myself:
  • some warm fresh milk (the other mothers, expecting and otherwise suggested it would be the best nourishment for her)
  • some water
  • some instant noodles
  • cups for drinking the water
  • air-freshener for the rank bathroom
  • toilet paper (there was none)
In the pharmacy I ask for warm fresh milk. They give me puzzled looks and then say they can't do it. Even though it is a restaurant/pharmacy and I can plainly see a stove and some pans from the counter. I ask for some fresh milk, a small bottle of water and some noodles and some hot water for the noodles.

Emptying the water on the road, taking the noodles out of the bowl. I fill the water bottle with milk and immerse it in the hot water rolling and shaking the bottle until the milk is hot. Then I bring the hot milk to Rosi.

At about 11am the contractions were very close together and extremely painful! Rosi went in for a second examination. Bad news, she was only 2 to 3 cm dilated -- 6 to 8 hours more waiting.

At about 12:30pm the pains were getting worse and closer together so they decided after another inspection -- this time not so private, the nurse drew out a blood covered hand in front of everybody in the labour room -- that it was time to go to the delivery room.

I helped her get into the stirrups and then was practically pushed out of the delivery room to watch the birds perched on the window sill singing and preening away.

The doctor pokes her head out the cracked door a few minutes later and asks for something in Tagalog -- then "A towel" in slow deliberate English.

Many minutes later the birds fly away and I hear Rosi make the loudest sound I've ever heard her make -- a loud, long cry of pain. Only milliseconds later I heard the loud lusty cries of the melodious Charlize Gabrielle and felt myself very much relieved. But not completely relieved.

After several more minutes of Charlize's melodious cry, there was silence.

A gurney was brought to the operating room.

The doctor announcing through the cracked door in a quiet slow voice "a beautiful baby girl" and thrusting out a prescription note, gesturing towards the in-house hospital pharmacy.

Rushing to find the door locked and nobody in. Across the street running, thrusting the note demanding

"What is it?"

"You left your noodles!"

"I didn't want the noodles, I just wanted to heat some milk for my wife. What is this prescription for?"

"Oh, okay. Now I understand". Laughing "This? It's for her blood, 250 pesos".

Finding the change, running across the street, pounding on the delivery door. Delivering the medicines.

5 more minutes. The door opens. Rosi's stiff body clumsily guided upon a gurney.

"Are you okay?"

The gurney moves past, backing away with her. Searching for the baby. The door closes.

Following the gurney to the labour recovery room. She finally nods a belated affirmative.

The orderly gestures and I lift her astonishingly light body from the gurney through the door onto her recovery bed.

Moments later a blood-speckled bundle arrives and is laid on the bed. The beautiful, and suddenly melodious -- once again -- Charlize is then slowly lifted to her moms breast and she begins to suckle.

Talking with the other mothers and going about our business. One of the other women is crying.
"Her baby died" Rosi whispers in my ear.

The following morning Rosi still hasn't slept, while I managed to find a few winks at the foot of the bed trying to stay out of her way as she and her sister went about taking care of the baby. Her sister when she slept managed to do so on the vacant bed next to Rosi's.

"I have no milk give me some money for formula and a bottle".

Out dashes the sister with some money from Rosi's purse. Quickly coming back with formula and a bottle. I leave not wanting to make things worse not wanting to have a fight.

It's a holy day so the administration goes home early today. Rosi asks me to go pay the bill and ask if we can leave.

I ask the doctor to release her and she says fine. I pay the bill (only 530 pesos US$11). And Rosi's sister mama-Eating and I take Rosi and the baby home.

At home we relax and settle in. I ask Rosi to continue breastfeeding. The following morning she wakes me at 5am.

"I have milk"!!!!!

I smile and share in her happiness. When her back is turned I hide the bottle, formula, baby vitamins and happily watch my daughter suckling heartily.

Thursday and Friday the 13th and 14th of April are holy days in the Philippines so I must wait to get internet access so I can share the news with my family. Saturday on a shopping excursion I find internet in the local town.


A brown-out eliminates any possibility of sending email or posting to the web.

Monday we go back to the hospital for a newborn screening test. Charlize sleeps the whole way. Then we collect the package that granny sent. Wonderful little gifts, toys and clothes appreciated by all. I try the internet again. The network is down.

Tuesday, I can't delay any longer I must collect my passport and hope that I get my work visa for Korea.

Now, I'm in Manila. I had to wait for too long at the Korean consulate and missed the last flight -- 3:30pm -- back to Rosi and Charlize. Tonight I sleep in a hotel.

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