February 13, 2014

And then we… gave birth.

Welcome London Noelle… you are our little miracle!

This is the blog post where I talk about giving birth to an elephant a baby in a hospital in Saudi Arabia.  But don't get your abayas all twisted up, I'll keep the story PG with only a little blood and poop.  (Her poop!  HER poop! Don't panic!)

There really are no analogies that do the feeling of giving birth justice, the closest I could think of is that 'Chubby Bunny' game I used to play in church youth group.  You know the one where you stick an inhumane amount of marshmallows in your mouth and then attempt to say the words "Chubby Bunny" something like 5 times without gagging?  Yeah that one.  That is what birth is like.  Except during birth, there is a freaking elephant inside your mouth, and instead of saying "Chubby Bunny" 5 times you're displaying your knowledge of the more colorful parts of the English language for the L&D ward staff.

But for realzz female readers and 1 male reader, it feels like an elephant marshmallow is coming out of your mouth and I'm all like, "I can't open my mouth that wide!!!" and the abnormally cheery midwife is all like "Your mouth is designed to do this sweetheart", and I'm all like "WELL MY MOUTH WASN'T DESIGNED TO DO THIS!!!!!!"  Then they tell you to cough (??!?), and I'm all "I can't cough, there is an ELEPHANT IN MY FREAKING MOUTH", and we argue about why I should cough…. but seeing as my mouth is exposed to the whole world and Andrew is looking a bit green, I cough just to make the midwife happy and low and behold a very angry, poop covered baby slides out.

Angry yet cute

It was more or less like that.  (Andrew's Note: It was less like that.)  

Fine, so it wasn't quite that dramatic.  Epidurals make for very pleasant birth experiences, but it really did feel like an elephant, and there was lots of baby poop.  Perhaps we should start back at the beginning.

I went into the big hospital on the large Aramco camp, Dhahran, on the day before the baby's due date for a possible induction due to low fluid levels and placenta calcification.  After a stress test on the baby, they determined that her heartbeat wasn't responding to stimulus like it should.  My explanation that my baby was just "chill 'cause of all the prenatal yoga" didn't convince my doctor.  So we grabbed lunch then headed up to the induction room.  Yes that's right kids, in Saudi Arabia they put all the ladies being induced in a room together separated by curtains.  The first thing the midwife tells me when we enter is "Just ignore the moaning".

Awesome. I'll get right on that.  Good thing these curtains are so dense….

So then they did an internal check* and found out that I was already in labor on my own, contracting consistently and dilated almost 2 cm!  This was great new because it meant that as soon as a hospital room was available, I could get out of the induction room as I didn't have to be induced.  The only thing they did was strip my membranes** which can help the labor progress.  

At this point they told Andrew that he wasn't allowed to hang out with me while I progressed as no males are allowed in the induction room, (even though I wasn't being induced.)  Initially I thought I would be really mad about this but it ended up being fine, the first part of my labor was quite boring.  I did lots of walking and resting.  So Andrew did what any good husband would do and went to the mall which was right down the street (hey, I was buying you Christmas presents!)  6 hours later they checked me again and I was 4 cm!  And because my water had not yet broken, my contractions were not bad at all.  Lots of walking around the L&D ward helped me to feel like I was vaguely in control of my body.  Finally around 9 PM a hospital room opened up, evidently it was a busy night for having babies.  I moved in and told Andrew to head over.
(I got that text on my way to buy the now famous "Baby Night Jacket".  I was halfway through the mall between the jacket store and the car and I really needed a jacket!  The entire way I kept thinking, "This is going to be awful…something's going to happen and she's going to have the baby and I'm going to miss it, and for what?  A stupid jacket???"  I got it quick, panicking the whole time, and made it to the hospital in plenty of time.  It's a great jacket, by the way, the best I've ever owned.  It keeps me warm but not too warm and has nice sleeves.  That's all about the jacket.)  
Once he arrived, they gave me the eipdural.  At the point the pain from the contractions was not bad at all.  I realize I am lucky, not all women feel this good at 5 cm dilated, but my water hadn't broken so that provided lots of cushioning against the contraction pain.  The eipdural was amazing.  I was completely mobile and I could feel everything, but I couldn't feel any pain.  I loved being able to move my legs and torso and feel my legs and torso, just without experiencing pain.  It sounds bizarre and it was bizarre, but I loved it!  At midnight they broke my water and realized that baby girl had decided that it would be fun to poop inside me.  Which meant that when they broke my water… it wasn't just water that came out.  IT WAS HORRIFYING.  It was also not a good thing for baby girl, the midwife told me that things needed to progress quicker rather than slower to be on the safe side for the baby.  They gave me pitocin to speed the process along.  About an hour and a half later the midwife said she needed to use the restroom and Andrew was zonked out next to me attempting to forget the poop water visuals swimming in his head and I started feeling different.  Like an elephant was trying to push its way out of me.  But the midwife had gone to the restroom.  I frantically started pushing the emergency call button on the bed.  The one on the bed didn't work.  Anywhew… the midwife came back and I told her that something felt very different, lots of pressure.  I also told her that the call button was broken, to which she replied by showing me the actual call button, not whatever thing I was pressing.  She did another check and was all "Oh!  It's time to have a baby!"  I had gone from 4 to 10 cm in an hour and a half.  She prepped the area, called the backup midwife in the room, and I began pushing.  6 or so pushes and 1 cough later, London Noelle Redmon slid into our lives; pink, angry and covered in poop.  It was incredible and is the most amazing moment I have ever experienced.  Because of the poop situation they checked her over to make sure there were no complications but she was fine and was snuggled up*** to me almost immediately.   (The midwife asked what her name was and Allison (who was crying) pointed to me (who couldn't talk because I was crying).  She just smiled and went back to cleaning up the baby until I could get it together.)  We named her London because we wanted something unique and beautiful, and Noelle because we wanted something to remind us of how miracles happen at Christmas, and this little IVF baby is our little Christmas miracle!

"Bint" is Arabic for "daughter", so her name was "Daughter of Andrew Redmon" for the time being.
I will now write her actual name in Arabic because I can.
Getting my money's worth from the classes: 
لندن نويل ريدمون 

Andrew and I spent two or so hours with her and then they transferred**** me to the post-pardum ward.  Unfortunately, Aramco has a terrible policy that kicks the husband out of the post-pardum ward unless its visiting hours (4-8 PM weekdays and a bit longer on weekends).  (I went back to Ras Tanura, even back to school to finish out the workday which was very strange.  All the new employees were aghast at me being at work instead of with my wife and newborn daughter :-)  Believe me, I wasn't trying to be a hero…there's just absolutely nothing else to do.)  I knew this ahead of time but it was definitely not fun to have to say goodbye to my husband just a few hours after delivery.  This rule is in place because some people here had a tendency to bring all their extended families into the hospital rooms disrupting other patients and creating problems as you have to share a room.  I still don't understand why they can't allow 'just husbands' into the room though.  Seems a bit drastic.  Regardless, I stayed a day and a half and checked myself out out early, figuring that if I'm not going to get sleep, I might as well not get it at home!

Okay.  That was long, well done if you're still with me here.  And if you're following all the ***** you get a gold star for effort.

London Noelle Redmon
8 lbs 4 oz
Born 12/18/13 at 1:48 AM

So we have a baby.  She is amazing and beautiful and I have to continually tell myself that I should not gnaw on her cheeks, as that would most likely be considered a check on the 'parent fail' side of this list.  London is now 8 weeks old, and what amazes me the most is how much I see her change on a daily basis.  It's like front row seats to a show that is always different.  I hate that Andrew sometimes misses something that happens while he is at work.  But oh my goodness am I especially grateful to him for carrying a job that allows me the privilege of staying home with London.  Every single day with her is different because of how much she changes and learns, it's just amazing!  Are you nauseated yet?  Too much baby-ness?  Tough cookies, I get at least one post about baby right?

Daddy and London

Not only is she a great baby, but she has done really well with the method/schedule we have her on every day, and (drumroll please)...thanks to the schedule...she is now sleeping from about 11 PM-6:30 AM almost nightly, and takes five 1.5-2 hour naps each day!  I absolutely love nursing her and am pumping about an extra 5-8 oz a day and freezing them for use later in the year.  Our freezer has more milk baggies than food.  On that note, we're also SO thankful to our Ras Tanura community for the meals and visits and well wishes - we live in an amazing place with amazing people.  Keep growing, Little Bean, we love you!

*Um… NOBODY (i.e. my female friends) told me how fun those exams were.  Let's stick 4 chopsticks into your mouth to check the status of your tonsils.  Oh not your tonsils??  Further down your esophagus?? OUCH.

** It's when they separate the water bag from the side of the uterus.  Like separating and orange peel from the orange.  Except much much much worse.  And holy OUCH.

*** So I was all 'I want to start nursing my child the minute she gets out'.  What they don't tell you about this little scenario is this, your legs are splayed open for the world to see because your midwife is stitching you up.  Thats right, friking STITCHING YOU UP… and yes… down there!  So the bed is tilted, your legs are in the most awkward position known to exist, there is blood and poop running everywhere, and they hand you your child to start nursing.  For the record, never done this before.  So I latch her on as best I can see in my semi-angled-legs-in-the-air position and was pretty darned proud of myself.  She's sucking like a champ on both sides.  It's only later that I see 2 black bruised welts forming on each side that I realize little lady and myself had missed the target by about a half an inch.  Parent fail #1 of many :)

****I pretty much fainted in the wheelchair on the way to the hospital room.  Something about low iron and blood loss.  They wouldn't give London back to me until things stopped spinning.  The brought me fruit juice and a birthday cake.  #youknowyou'reinaforigncountrywhen

***** Made you look!  (HA!)

Now for more pictures that are cuter than heck:

What??…. You didn't wrap your kid up in pink cheesecloth?

7 weeks and practicing some tummy skills

Hey pretty lady!


  1. Thanks for the wonderful, miraculous story!!! London is absolutely beautiful!! What a blessing!

    In God's Unfailing Love,

    Aunt Jan

  2. loved the narrative! you guys are going to be great parents!

  3. She is adorable! Look forward to hopefully getting to meet her this summer!

  4. Seriously. I have been reading your blog all night. Could you friend me and my wife Kim on FB? I'd love to be able to exchange emails as I go through this interview process and we decide if we are moving over there to work for Aramco. Glenn and Kim Makechnie.

  5. And now I realize my first comment never posted... I have an interview in two weeks. I am a geologist currently living in Denver with my wife and two boys ( 5 and 2). Would love to get in touch with you guys!

    1. Hi Glenn! Just found you on FB! We'd LOVE to chat with y'all!

  6. Hi there! My name is Heather and I was just wondering if you would be willing to answer a quick question regarding your blog! If you could email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com that would be great!