Friday, September 28, 2012

Open Doors

When we moved into our apartment building, I took homemade scones to each door on our floor, hoping to make some new friends.  Unfortunately, only one opened her door to me.  People were inside their apartments--I clearly heard TVs blaring, music playing, water running--but they dared not open their door to an intimidating young foreigner holding suspicious baked goods. 

Discouraged, we ate the scones ourselves.  

However, nine months ago something happened that changed everything...I got pregnant.

My baby bump was like magic.  Suddenly, every neighbor I ran into wanted to chat.  Congratulations!  When are you due?  Is it a boy or girl?  Will you have your baby in Taiwan?  Where are you from?  From there, it was easy to share some brief but meaningful small talk. Without trying, I made at least five new neighbor friends.

One neighbor brought me homemade rice dumplings.  Another started surprising me with special crackers and bottles of juice.  Another gave me her phone number and told me to give her a call if I needed any help.  Yet another knocked on our door, introduced herself, and offered to pick up things from Costco for the baby!

I never expected that getting pregnant would open doors to new relationships.  Amazing.

And...I didn't even have to make any scones.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why We Are Planning a Home Birth

38 Weeks
When we tell people we are planning a home birth, they usually react with horror or a, “you-go-girl!” Everyone eventually asks, “Why?” 

Here are two reasons that were NOT factors for us:

1.    We are NOT trying to avoid necessary medical interventions.  We thank God for modern medicine.  It has saved the lives of many women and babies.  Necessary medical interventions are…well…necessary.  If a problem arises during labor, we will transfer to the hospital (which is only a 5-10 minute drive from our apartment).  

2.     We are NOT pursuing some sort of idyllic birth experience or sense of personal accomplishment.  Some women who advocate home birth are “mom-zillas” (affectionately named after wedding crazy-bridezillas) seeking a ‘perfect’ birth experience: a birth that is convenient, comfortable, and provides a sense of personal fulfillment. The truth is that births rarely go according to plan.  We need to be flexible.

So, why are we planning a home birth?

We are planning a home birth because it is in the best interest of our family.

1.  Home birth is in the best interest of our baby.
By choosing home birth, we are eliminating unnecessary medical interventions that may harm our baby.  These interventions are routine in Taiwan’s (and many of America’s) hospitals and are often done without consulting the parents first.  For example:
--Pitocin and other drugs are frequently given to speed up labor or provide pain relief that can cause baby distress
--Membranes are often artificially ruptured to speed labor, which can also cause baby distress
--Forceps and vacuums are routinely used to speed delivery for the doctor, which can harm baby
--Baby is often taken from mom and dad after birth for extensive testing, which prevents bonding and the opportunity to establish breast-feeding
--The umbilical cord is routinely cut immediately before it stops pulsing, which can negatively affect the baby’s blood volume and blood pressure

--Our midwife, trained and equipped to address most birth-related hiccups, is baby-focused rather than speed-and-convenience-focused.

2. Home birth is in the best interest of mom.
By choosing home birth, we are eliminating unnecessary medical interventions that may harm Kayt.  Again, these interventions are routine in Taiwan’s (and again in many of America’s) hospitals and are often done without consulting the parents first.  They include:
--Mandatory intravenous drips, fetal monitoring, and even stirrups that confine mom to bed for her entire labor and delivery
--Unnecessary C-sections done primarily for the doctor’s convenience or to correct problems caused by drugs and other previous interventions
--Routine episiotomies, which are often more painful and take longer to heal than natural stretching or tearing
--Unapproved drugs administered via the IV that might have adverse affects on Kayt (especially since she has allergies to gluten and other drugs that are not understood by most doctors in Taiwan)

--With the midwife’s assistance, she can labor in positions that promote a normal and healthy delivery
--She can easily communicate with the midwife in English, helping her make informed decisions to keep her and baby healthy
--She will be allowed to eat/drink during labor, and we can be sure that everything going into her body is gluten-free

3. Home birth is in the best interest of dad.
In Taiwan (and still sometimes in America), dads are often not present for their wife’s labor and delivery.  By choosing home birth, Kalan will be able to participate in the birth of our baby.
--He can participate in comfort measures during labor, guided by our midwife
--He can easily communicate with the midwife, and make important decisions in the case of complications or emergencies

Home birth is in the best interest of each member of our growing family.  We are glad that it is an option for us. Yet regardless of what happens on the big day, we want to respond with hearts full of thankfulness.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Baby Shower

We met at an adorable, cozy cafe near our apartment.
Hungry Caterpillar theme...I love that children's book!

Caty made gluten-free caterpillar cupcakes...YUM!

An amazing friend.

Delicious fruit tea...(and my baby bump at 37 weeks).

Playing a game.

There was laughing...

...lots of laughing!

Binky (Caty's mom) made us a baby quilt!

Admiring the baby animals and creative stitching.

Enjoying baby Caleb, the newest addition to the Wu family

Hannah, my newest friend in Taiwan.

Friends since middle school...can't believe we're married and starting families now!

Taiwan family.  What a blessing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Saying Goodbye

September 8-9 was our last weekend with Micah.  Now that he is confirmed to be HIV-free, he has been moved to an orphanage for older children.  He will live there full-time while his social worker searches for Taiwanese adoptive families.  

Saying goodbye was the hardest thing we've ever done...and it is taking us some time to grieve.  We feel like we lost a part of ourselves, and it hurts.  He is a special, irreplaceable little boy.  We thank God for our year with Micah, and for His faithfulness in bringing Micah one step closer to a permanent family.  Thanks for all your prayers and support during this time.

Below are some pictures from our last weekend:

To read more about our weekend fostering experience, click here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

2012 TLC Foreigner Retreat

Last weekend was our church's annual foreigner retreat.  We went to Bali in northern Taiwan.  Here are a few photos (thanks to our friend and former Chinese teacher, Evangeline, as I forgot the camera).

Joyce, Kayt, Kelley, and Melanie...enjoying a walk around the retreat center.
Evening game time...Dutch Blitz!
Sharing testimonies

Kalan leading a group discussion 
Taking notes and sharing

Praying together...Pastor Moses and Philip
Talking between sessions with John and Barbara...the wiser ones among us   :)
The beautiful view from our room
And here's Micah, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy the retreat--so much space to run many people to play many cookies on the snack table...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ghost Month

This was outside our apartment building last Friday afternoon:

Unfortunately, it's not preparation for a neighborhood block party.  It's an offering to appease the hungry ghosts who are said to roam freely during this lunar month.  Tables like this one lined our street, along with barrels of burning paper money.  (Click here to read more about ghost month).

Please pray for Taiwan, and especially for Taiwanese Christians who find this to be a very difficult time of year.

Monday, September 3, 2012

35 Weeks

This is me standing in our shower (yes, our shower space is right between the bathroom wall and our washing machine.)  As you can see, it's becoming a bit of a tight squeeze.  :)  Baby Zhen Zhu is really getting big now!

I've been feeling well, just more tired than usual.  Normal routines, like carrying groceries home from the market, have become more difficult.  I've resorted to using the stroller for food shopping trips...and definitely get some funny looks as I roll through the neighborhood.  But hey, it works!

Here's our latest cross-cultural pregnancy moment...

One of Kalan's co-workers asked him to bring her one of my sanitary napkins (an unused one--we made sure to clarify!)  Her married friend wants to sleep with it under her pillow in hopes that she will become pregnant.  Another Taiwanese friend explained that it's probably an old superstition that attempts to please the "bed god," who is the same as the "child god."  I don't think this is a common tradition, but we found it interesting.

In other baby-preparation news, my bassinet-sheet sewing experiment was a success.

I cut 3" of fabric around the mattress.
Then I sewed some elastic on the ends, pulling it taut as I stitched.
Then I hemmed up the inside to make it look nicer.
And voila!  This sheet cost me less than $1 to make, compared to the $20 Brica brand sheets sold online for our bassinet.
Just about a month to go...we can't wait!  :)