Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Year Ago Today

It's hard to believe it's been a year since Liam's birth.

Months ago Beth posted about her experience, but I decided to also post it here for the occasion. It's long but I hope you enjoy it.

We went in for a check up on Tuesday the 8th.  The doctor said that there were still no signs that the baby was going to come in to the world on his own and she wanted to start the induction process.  She sent us to the first floor to check into labor and delivery.  As soon as I got there I was surrounded by a troop of Russian nurses, each with a job.  They took my blood pressure, felt my stomach, measured me, weighed me, felt my ankles, asked millions of questions, took my clothes, showered me, and dressed me in a gown and robe.  I felt like I was in a whirlwind and didn’t understand anything going on.  But finally I was ready and they admitted me to the hospital and took me to my room. The induction process my doctor wanted to use was a slow process.  She started Tuesday evening with a preparatory procedure…I was then supposed to sleep through the night and then they would start medication in the morning.  Tim and my mom stayed with me until about 11 that night and then they had to go home.

 I slept like a baby until the nurse woke me up the next morning. About nine o’clock Wednesday morning they gave medication to start labor.  Tim and my mom arrived five minutes after this and contractions began soon after.  By 11 o’clock they were rolling me to the delivery room.  Tim had to go downstairs to get scrubbed in and suited up.  I was in the delivery room for about 30 minutes waiting for him…getting a little desperate…I was so glad when he finally arrived.  I sent him right out to ask the nurse when I could get my epidural.  By noon the anesthesiologist was in my room giving me my epidural and I couldn’t wait!  He told me, “five minutes and no more pain.”  However, fifteen minutes later one of my legs felt a little tingly…but not quite the pain relief I was expecting.  I told the nurse and the anesthesiologist came back and upped my dose.  My other leg felt a little tingly…but my pain was increasing by a lot!  I told the nurse again that I was still feeling pain.  The anesthesiologist returned and after chatting with the nurse for a moment…decided to redo my epidural.  He pulled the first one out of my back and put a new one in a few vertebras higher.  Then he gave me twice the dose.  Five minutes later I was feeling nothing…my lips were even numb.  I guess due to the fact I couldn’t feel anything I stopped breathing as well as I should, and the baby’s heart rate started dropping.  A small army of nurses came into my room and yelled at me to breathe.  I had to really focus and breathe…but his heart rate stabilized.  This was about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. 

I napped for a while and Tim and I talked.  I was thinking that this labor thing wasn’t so bad.  We were incredibly surprised when around five o’clock my doctor came in and told us it was time to turn the epidural off. I told her no…and asked why!  She told me they must because I had to be able to feel to push.  I was confused because I know a lot of women in America who have not felt anything and been perfectly able to push.  For about the next two hours…I got the full natural birth experience.  I really thought I might die.  I also glared at my doctor constantly.  Only the fact that I needed her then kept me from telling her exactly how I felt about her.  If you have spent any time in Moscow you know that Russians are crazy about their cell phones and answer them whenever they ring.  You can always hear stories about teachers answering calls during a lecture, bank tellers in the middle of your transaction, or waiters while you are ordering.  This cultural trend is also true for doctors while you are in labor.  At least six times during the final part of my labor, my doctor’s phone rang and she would leave the room.  One time she told me that the next contraction we would push…however, right as the contraction started she got a call and left.  I told Tim I was going to push anyway…but he talked me out of it.  Finally at 6:53 William Soren Rhodes was born.  They washed him right there and wrapped him up and Tim was able to spend the next hour or so walking with him and talking to him.

  I was not so lucky.  The doctor needed to fix me up…so they called the anesthesiologist back.  He gave me what he called a super epidural…he said I wouldn’t be able to feel my legs at all or be able to walk for at least 2 hours.  However, when the doctor came back in a few minutes later I quickly informed her that I could feel everything and wiggled my toes for her.  She promptly took a needle and poked me with it.  I yelled and told her that it hurt…she asked if it was pain or pressure.  I informed her it felt like she just poked me with a needle.  The anesthesiologist came back and gave me something else.  An hour later I started coming to.  Tim kept talking to me…but I couldn’t really understand or respond to him.  I could just look at him and our son.  It didn’t matter what I was feeling…seeing them together was pure joy.  About 2 hours after Liam was born we were able to go to our room.  My mom and our friend Andrea joined us in the room and we ate dinner.  I couldn’t stop looking at Liam.  He was perfect and it started to sink in that I was his mother. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Between a Sacrifice and Vacation

Upon telling family, friends, and co-workers about our upcoming work in Moscow, we had mostly two basic responses:

WOW! What a sacrifice!
Have fun on your vacation!

In reality, of course, it was neither of those things.

Beth and I could never really think of it as a sacrifice. Because, honestly, we wouldn't have done it if we didn't think we would have enjoyed it. We both fell in love with the city years before, and were elated that we would be living there.

And, although this goes without saying, life in Moscow certainly wasn't a vacation. Anyone who has been to Moscow for more than a couple weeks will know this. Moscow is definitely more European than most of the rest of the country, and pretty international, but getting around and getting by can be difficult at times.

You see, if you're on a short term trip to possibly anywhere (meaning you're only there for a week or two), there's a strong likelihood you're going to get the special treatment. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just not a good barometer for actually living there. Many times people who host groups in the countries or cities they live in, they tend to go easy on them -- for the most part. They naturally want you to like and enjoy the place. And even if you have difficult work to do, you probably knew what you were getting in to

I digress. Sorry about that. I'm just trying to say that living anywhere that isn't your home culture is probably going to be pretty hard at times. There will be days where it's a blast and you think it couldn't be better, and there will be days where you collapse in the snow and want to give up (there will probably be more of these days, by the way). Either way, as long as you shake off your American sense of entitlement, have an adventurous attitude, and have the long term in mind, every day will be worth it.