Jem here. Today I’d like to tell you about a very special story. For the past 41 weeks, I’ve been waiting for my first baby. I was getting a little impatient in those last two weeks, but Leilani Yeonhee Lim was born on May 13th at 2:42PM, 20.4 inches (52cm) and 10 pounds! (4.5kg) This is the first photo I took of her after she was born.
This is my birth story I’d like to write out, to share but also for my own memory later.
I was attending the Yonsei Queen Hospital in Sinchon. It’s a smaller hospital but still pretty well-known in the area. The baby was about 5-6 days late past her due date (originally May 7th) so I was getting concerned. The doctor suggested induced labor during the 41st week anytime we wanted. I wasn’t sure about doing induced labor at first because some had said that it was more painful than letting the signals come naturally. I can’t really say if it was more painful or not, but I was surprised that delivering naturally was not as painful as I expected.
I went in on May 12th at 9 AMish. I was very excited. I had packed my hospital bag long before but I brought my stuffed animal Sirotan and some snacks. I didn’t know I’d be stuck in this bed for an entire 24 hours before the baby would come. (Later they did move me to a different room for the last part, but no photos there because I was starting the pain by then!) Patiently I waited all day while they dripped pitocin into my system to bring on the contractions and monitored them on a machine. I hate that machine, haha! What made it hard was when I was attached to that machine I wasn’t allow to move at all, and I was supposed to lay flat on my back.
Fun fact: Being flat on your back for a long time sucks when you’re pregnant. Some nurses were kind and set me free every once in a while (I mean otherwise how do you pee…?) but others didn’t want to be bothered detaching and attaching the machine so they tried to leave me there a long time.
Derp derp, not the best photo of me but here I am with Sirotan and getting ready in the hospital.
Oh how nice! They fed me at lunch time! Seaweed soup already? It’s a tradition to eat seaweed soup after giving birth. How often? Every meal. Now I’m 12 days after giving birth and eating it for every meal, but I’m surprisingly not sick of it yet. I noticed they’ve also given me a lot of grilled fish. There’s a lot of seaweed in this one. The reason why they want women to eat seaweed soup postpartum is because they believe it improves blood circulation and helps to produce breastmilk.
But later in the day, closer to 7PM, I was getting a bit weary…
Husband is also waiting and bored…
So when nighttime came, we took a selfie. Starting to look tired at this point…
Around 8:30 or 9PM at night, my water finally broke! It was one of the strangest feelings of my life. I was just laying in the bed watching “The Wedding Ringer” when I got this sudden feeling like I was peeing myself… a lot. o_o; Well I was trying to run around until I finally got a nurse. After that I was hoping for some action, but unfortunately it was quiet for the rest of the night and I tried to get as much sleep as possible (with that evil machine attached!)
Oh, I like this photo. Early in the morning (maybe 7AM) the next day. Looking more refreshed then before.
I don’t have many followup photos here but my contractions were getting stronger and someone else had already delivered so they moved me to a bigger room with a TV. Until then I insisted I didn’t need a TV, but my husband agreed to it and off I was. Well I didn’t realize watching the TV really did help the time fly by. We watched M Countdown on Mnet and I caught up with my recent K-POP for a few hours lol. Luckily I wasn’t too hungry during this time and the distraction of the TV certainly helped. Suddenly in the afternoon, it was time to practice pushing. I wasn’t even giving birth yet but this was the part that admittedly… hurt. As far as I gathered (as you can guess a lot of events are a blur when you’re in pain) what she was stretching out my (in Korean, she said something that literally translates to ‘uterus door’) area and brought the baby’s head down. This was painful, and more painful than the actual delivery. For a brief moment I said, without knowing, that I can’t do this. But it was just one moment of weakness thankfully. I imagine if you don’t do induced labor, you may be able to skip this painful step but I’m not sure.
Very shortly after this, I see the doctor rushing in. Wow, looks like this is happening faster than I expected. I get another injection and they rubbed some kind of orange liquid on my legs and around that area, completely numbing me. This is where everything becomes particularly blurry. They turn down the lights, gather all around me, and ask for the big push. PUSH! I don’t remember how many times I did it, but in my memory it was 4 to 5 times. But my husband said they had to use some kind of suction (a vacuum!?) on her head. After she came out into the world, they put her on my chest and I could see her through blurry eyes. What a feeling of relief. I could see her crying but I was so surprised. I heard them ask my husband to cut the cord, and everyone was out of the room again, and just the doctor was left behind to stitch me up. I texted my mother “She’s here!” for a brief moment and I think I fell asleep…
…I opened my eyes and it seemed to be an hour later. Now clean, they rolled my sweet baby to me for the first time. I just looked at her for a long time. Still groggy but happy. I snapped my first photo of her (the one on the top of this post) and my husband snapped this shot soon after.
After that they moved me upstairs to my new room – one where I’d be sleeping for the next day or two. It’s hard to wash up or move because for the entire 4 days I was attached to an IV 24/7. They’d come every so often to give me medicine which made me terribly drowsy. So drowsy my husband stopped by once and got locked out of the room. I didn’t hear a single knock – I was outttt of it. They brought the baby up to my room periodically so we could share some time together.
The hallway outside of the hospital room.
The inside of the hospital room! Not bad right? After delivering on Friday afternoon, I stayed in the hospital until Sunday morning. From Sunday morning, I moved to the postpartum care center. (More on this in a different post!) My parents-in-law came to visit both days. Of course they are crazy about the baby. XD
Before we left the hospital, we got this lovely shot which is our first family photo. Mommy, Daddy, and Lani.
Daddy and Lani in the hospital.
Mommy and Lani on their first day in the postpartum care center!
Just some bonus shots!
Getting bigger day by day!
Chubby little baby.
All in all, I was surprised. For months, people built me up and told me how painful it was – how I’d suffer long after and my body would take some serious damage. I’m honestly surprised at how fine I felt the next day. Sure, there is some pain afterwards and my body wasn’t 100%, but I was certainly feeling very okay. And I was on cloud 9 thanks to the baby! I’m writing this exactly 2 weeks after the day, and I would say the symptoms of pain started to come one week later. It’s a little uncomfortable to sit for a long time (so I’m writing this laying down) and my shoulders hurt, but I think this is mostly from feeding the baby and getting used to holding her rather than from the delivery.
Either way, totally worth it.
Thanks for reading!