Our sweet miracle, Magnolia Joy, is now 5 months old. As I was looking back at the last time I wrote about our journey, I am a bit embarrassed that it was last November, when I was five months pregnant with her!
Can I say, the busyness of life, ministry and all else took over. It has been one of the most exciting times in our lives to be expecting something we waited so long for. It has also been one of the busiest as far as our ministry. I mean, who would have expected starting an International Church in one of the most atheistic cities in the world, would take up so much of our time (I say that with tongue and cheek). Great things were happening; I was feeling great, both Maggie and the church were growing and at 7 months pregnant, I started Heart Kids (our church’s Children’s Program) and our parents had bought their plane tickets for Maggie’s arrival! Looking back, this was way too much, but sometimes I take on too much.
Here is a little bit of catch-up for you, from the last few months of our pregnancy…so, you could say, this is Magnolia’s Birth Story, Part 1.
Each visit we had with our wonderful, fun and kind doctor showed Maggie growing well and quickly. They kept saying, she would be a big baby. We were able to see ALOT of her legs and arms, but hardly ever her face. She was always moving around, hiding her face or turned around when it came time for the ultrasound. We had one semi-good view of her face with the 4D Ultrasound, but never again after that…I jokingly stated that she was a Diva, and didn’t want to show us her face until her grand entrance.
One of the only photos of Maggie’s face we got, because she was such a mover!
At 30 weeks, we changed doctors, again. Pregnancy care is handled differently here. This time we went from our regular OBGYN to our Delivery Doctor. Our Clinic also has a partnership with one of the maternity hospitals in Prague. We were thankful for our Clinic because they helped register us at the hospital for the actual delivery, and made our appointments with the doctor to be at the Clinic. All things that could be difficult as foreigners.
We met our doctor, she was young and seemed nice. We remembered, how it seems that it takes about 3 visits to get to know a new doctor and feel comfortable with them…so, we settled into that fact and embraced the awkwardness of a first meeting. We could tell that she was the delivery doctor who worked for the hospital, and not our Clinic, as she would get us in and out for our appointments quickly. Not much relationship building…but, in the end we all got a rhythm of working together.
On one of our weekly visits, we found out that we tested positive for Strep B. Our doctor seemed quite alarmed with the results, and pretty much shut down any chit-chat. Aaron and I knew a little about it, but were not 100% on what the effects were on delivery, as well as procedures. Plus, we were in the Czech Republic, not the USA, far away from home, comfort and “normal". The doctor, mumbled some things indicating it was fine…but without any definite details, and then shooed us out of the room, until the next week. Needless to say, we were a bit worried and concerned…but, did some research and came back the next week with our questions. This part is hard for us. For us, we still expect a doctor to explain procedures and the “why’s" of whatever medical situation we have. Welcome to Central Europe!…where the guiding philosophy is, “The more you don’t know, the better." …and, “The doctor went to medical school, you didn’t…just trust'em."
In the mean time, we took a tour of the birthing hospital. There were papers and forms to fill out, money to pay and papers to take home and read. On our tour, they took us to a door where they said, when you come-in in labor, you will come to this door and press two buttons…not one button or the other button but both buttons simultaneously…or else the nurses wouldn’t know we were there. We wondered how many babies had been born in that hall due to improper button operation. When pressed, someone answers the call, you will tell them through the speaker that you are in labor. They will come and get you, see if it is true, and then set you up on a heart monitor while they start to check you in. The next tour stope took us to the labor and delivery rooms. They were nice and large, had a private shower and bathroom, clean and modern. The nurse talked to us about the procedure, and their thoughts on delivery. They are here to take care of the baby, not us, so their primary concern is for the baby…we could jump off a bridge. …this also meant, NO epidural during delivery…honestly, I tried to hide my shock! As I looked at Aaron, I thought, is it too late to fly to America to have this baby? A French couple was taking the English speaking tour with us. At the moment when the nurse declared their lack of concern for the mother…he blurted out, “You practice medicine like barbarians!" The nurse and the Frenchman began a heated discussion about the quality of care that lasted the rest of the tour. We silently made notes of both the hospital, staff and other guests. We kept our head down.
Aaron at the entrance of the hospital property.
On our walk up to the Hospital. The Hospital is in the background…not your average looking US Hospital.
The door with the TV above it…this is the door that ladies buzz into (pressing both buttons) to see if they are in labor or not.
In discussion with our doctor, regarding Strep B (we kept getting conflicting information on when we needed to go to the hospital to get the medication…and we live about 30-45 minutes away (much longer with traffic), which made the 1 hour limit seem troublesome, and the concern for Maggie’s growing weight, we decided to talk to her about the possibility of a C-Section. We shared our concern about Strep-B, and getting to the hospital in time. Ultimately, with a C-Section, there would be no danger of infection for Maggie.
In order to see if this was an option for us, we needed to see the head of delivery, our doctor’s mentor. …One more step in a chain of incomprehensible steps…so lets go for it! Our appointment was set with him for two weeks later. We went early to our appointment, so we could have her heart monitored and checked. The last time we had done that, she was a mover and a grover…this time, she was a bit more quiet…it was in the early evening, which was usually her rest time (she always came awake at bedtime, making bedtime for myself very interesting!) During the appointment, we discussed our thoughts and concerns, and he quickly moved to the ultrasound. He was looking, talking in Czech, giving the nurse numbers to enter into the computer to see the range of the baby, not bothering to let us know what it all meant. He seemed to be taking an extra long time, compared to our other doctor, but we assumed since it was his first time to see us, he was just being careful. He asked me when the last time was I felt Maggie move. I said earlier that day. He continued looking and speaking to the nurse in Czech this time furiously typing on his keyboard. He asked me again about the baby moving. I said yes. I looked nervously at Aaron, trying to figure out what was happening. We had just had her on the heart monitor, and everything was fine, so I was unsure of what was happening and he seemed frantic. He talked to the nurse some more, asked me again about her movement…a third time, in a commanding tone, unsatisfied with my previous responses. Then he told us, that he was unable to detect blood circulation between the placenta and Maggie. He said it made him a bit nervous, but that it wasn’t too the point of high concern. He asked us to come to the hospital the next morning at 7am, so he could do another ultrasound, this time on his equipment to check the status. Aaron asked if we should be concerned, he said, "not yet." (…really comforting!) …but again he would not give any specifics when we pressed him. …typical.
One of the many heart monitor readings for our sweet Maggie Girl.
So, we went home…packed, in case we were to stay at the hospital the next morning. Of course, we made it to the hospital early…we are American. The doctor was not yet there, but came shortly after 7. He took us in immediately for the ultrasound. He said that it looked like the placenta was not growing anymore, and that it would not be beneficial to keep Maggie inside any longer. We asked if she was developed enough to be born, we were at 38 weeks, he said everything looked good and was developed to the point of delivery. We asked if there was a risk to keep her inside longer, he said that if she stayed inside, it would affect her and possibly cause a stillbirth…so, we obviously chose to go ahead and have her. We knew God was in control, but hearing the words spoken “still birth" in a foreign accent, in a hospital a world away from family still sends shockwaves through Aaron and I. It didn’t matter the context.
First, we are thankful to God that we even started the discussion of a C-Section. Because of my positive results for Strep-B, we were able to talk about this option. Which in turn, caused us to have a special ultrasound with the Head of Delivery…which in turn, found a problem that may have not been found until a week or so later. It is obvious, God had his hand on this time, on me and on Maggie!
Our doctor that was going to deliver Maggie originally, was unable to do a surgery that week due to a sick child…so, not only did God take care of finding this problem early on…BUT, he also arranged for the Head of Delivery, the doctor with whom all other doctors have do their C-Sections and is at the top of his group in all of Czech, deliver Maggie! What a great God.
After the next morning’s appointment, we left the hospital knowing a little more information. Knowing that we would come back the next day to check-in and welcome Maggie into the world and knowing that, there were a lot of butterflies and excitement as we drove home. Then, it started to sink in…I was about to almost be split in-two, in a foreign country.