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Birth Story: Dawson Tian-Ming Chiu

I feel like one lucky mama as I sit down to write the birth story of my second child (and first son), Dawson!

This sweet boy joined our family on June 18, 2021, at 1:44 AM. Fun fact: my first, Lilah, was also born at 1:44 AM. However, my experience with Dawson was quite different. Here’s how it all went down…

Birth Story: Baby Dawson

Monday, June 14th, 2021

By this point, I’d lived through nearly nine uneventful months of pregnancy. I was feeling (and looking) huge. Moms know how this goes: constant back pain, clothing that doesn’t fit, poor sleep, fits of energy and bouts of laziness, and the time slow-down that happens as you approach your due date.

I’d been eagerly awaiting the arrival of June 27th. But on the 14th, I received news that gave me hope for an early delivery: I was dilated to a 4 and 80 percent effaced. My OB told me to stay alert this week since there was a 70 percent chance that baby would make his grand entrance!

Buzzing with excitement, I hurried home to share the news with my family. And then…I waited.

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

By this point, my hope of an imminent labor was starting to wane. I’d tried to remain active throughout the week, and I’d felt twinges of “weirdness” here and there, but nothing significant. Thursday was a fairly typical day. I spent some time shopping, got work done around the house, and went to a church activity in the evening.

After dinner, we settled in for our usual evening routine: watching a movie or show before bed. While enjoying the season finale of Cruel Summer, I didn’t notice anything strange. But afterward, while getting my daughter ready for bed, things started to get weird.

At first, I mistook the pains for (…how do I put this appropriately…) bowel distress. I visited the bathroom about three times in 15 minutes. As the pains continued low in my abdomen, I was starting to get suspicious. Apart from gorging myself on ice cream at the church activity, I hadn’t eaten anything unusual that day. The pain was inconsistent, though, so I chalked it up to some odd third-trimester symptom and continued getting ready for bed.

Things only got worse as I tried to settle in for sleep. My doctor’s warning echoed in the back of my mind:

“Once you feel regular contractions that are five minutes apart, head to the hospital ASAP – I won’t be surprised if this baby comes quickly!” 

It turns out that “quickly” was not an exaggeration.

Friday, June 18th, 2021

Hospital Time 

The discomfort speedily progressed to pain. There was no way I’d be sleeping in this state, and now I knew that this birth story was likely getting started.

Thanks to COVID restrictions, I was only allowed two visitors at the hospital, and my daughter wouldn’t be able to attend the birth. Fortunately, Taylor’s family had been in and out of the house during the week since they wanted to be onhand in case the baby arrived. The timing ended up being perfect. Taylor’s mom graciously kept an eye on Lilah as we mobilized to leave for the hospital. I tried to be helpful, but the contractions were picking up in strength and speed.

After what seemed like ages, we finally began the 20-minute drive to the hospital. The ride was unpleasant. Despite using the bathroom more times than I could count, I desperately had to pee, and the contractions continued to torment me. The feeling was so strange: I wanted to sit down, then I wanted to lie down, then I wanted to walk, then I wanted to pee. My body seemed to be sending so many mixed signals; I couldn’t make sense of it. I focused on breathing deeply and steadily through each contraction as Taylor kept me up-to-date on our progress.

“15 minutes from the hospital…10 minutes from the hospital…five minutes to go…”

So far, I was handling things well, but I figured the pain would worsen.

Finally, we arrived. I hobbled into the hospital with my mom trotting at heels. The guard pointed us toward labor and delivery. Thankfully, they admitted me — and everything felt like a total blur from that moment on.

They hurried me into a room and instructed me to undress. After downing my hospital gown, I eased into the bed, and the team sprung into action. I gathered that I was dilated to a seven and that the nurse needed to place an IV for antibiotics (I’d tested positive for group B strep). Tubes, needles, meds, equipment, and support staff seemed to materialize out of thin air as the nurses moved deftly around my bed.

At the same time, the contractions were getting stronger, and my breathing was falling apart. I knew I couldn’t be too hard on myself — after all, the “practicing” I’d done in advance for a natural birth was pretty pathetic. However, I did feel embarrassed about my inability to cope. At this point, the contractions felt like they were taking my breath away, and my body froze up as each one hit. Amidst all this, my blood pressure was shooting up and the baby’s vital signs were dropping. Suddenly, the entire maternity ward staff was in my room. It was an intense moment!

“Would you like an epidural?”, one of the nurses asked.

Given the uncertainty and pain, I didn’t hesitate. And looking back, I have no regrets! ? After a few minutes, the anesthesiologist arrived. It was a challenge to place the epidural between strong contractions, but he administered the meds right in the knick of time — the urge to push was creeping up on me with each passing moment.

After 10 or so minutes, my legs were floppy and numb. I think the anesthesiologist went a little overboard; they could have removed the lower half of my body and I’d be none the wiser. However, there was no need (or time) to complain. My OB, who had rushed over to the hospital from home, had entered the room. After a quick assessment, she announced that it was time to push!

Pushing with an epidural is strange. Since you can’t feel anything, you’re totally reliant on the OB’s instructions. Each time that she told me to bear down, I felt like I was barely expending any effort. But apparently, my pushes were more productive than I thought — it only took three of them before we heard Dawson’s first cries.

The total time between arriving at the hospital and Dawson’s arrival into the world? One hour.

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Recovery 

Despite the whirlwind delivery, I got lucky (again — see Lilah’s birth story here). I had no tearing and very minimal bleeding. I got to enjoy a full hour of skin-to-skin, nursing, and bonding with Dawson. Taylor and my mom also snuggled with him before we were briefly separated for tests and assessments.

With my first, I remember feeling overwhelmed, scared, and highly emotional after her birth. I suppose that’s common for new moms. But with Dawson, I could truly soak in the experience of having a fresh-from-heaven newborn since I wasn’t weighed down with fear. It also helped that he caught on to breastfeeding immediately, so we didn’t have to focus much on that.

All around, I feel extremely fortunate for a simple pregnancy, a smooth delivery, and a healthy baby. I know I’m in the minority since so many women struggle along the way. Labor and delivery aren’t easy for anyone, but I have no complaints about my experience. Above all, I’m thankful for an incredible support team, a fantastic OB, a top-notch anesthesiologist (lol), and numerous nurses and aides who provided excellent care. We are very blessed!

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2 thoughts on “Birth Story: Dawson Tian-Ming Chiu”

  1. That’s so interesting, my mother in law was only 45 minutes in what she could identify as “labor” with her second (which is my husband). Good job! I had an epidural with H (the one who’s 18 now) and can relate to the “what’s going on?” feeling.

    1. Wow, that is quick! And yes, it’s a strange feeling when you haven’t exactly experienced it before. They got the epidural in so fast with my first that I barely knew what contractions felt like, haha.

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