Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Kimchi Kid Says The Cutest Things!

Showing off the dragonfly he caught.

After his bath today Thomas came into my room to say good night. He showed me his wrinkled fingers and said "Oh no! Look Mommy! My fingers are Grandmaed!"

Watching TV with his baby brother.

After he pooped I went in the bathroom to wipe his bum. He shouted at me "No Mommy! Don't look a my poop! Don' t look at my poop! It's a big dirty one!"

Super Thomas to the rescue!

Thomas wanted desperately to watch "Super Zero" on Youtube.
He said to his daddy " I want to watch 'Super Zero'! The flying one with the clouds! Like the new spiderman! And the many flying and airplane! 'Super Zero'! I want 'Super Zero'!"

After a few frustrating minutes of trying to find out what video he was talking about we realized he meant "SUPER HERO" and it was an X-men cartoon he'd watched.

When we explained his mistake to him he said "Oh, sowwie Daddy. Sowwie."

If you want the puppy to come to you, this is how you have to hold your hand! Words of Wisdom from the Kimchi Kid!

Thomas knows that his Daddy sometimes goes out at night. Usually they shower and get ready for bed together. If Daddy doesn't do it with him it means he's going out. Thomas doesn't like that so he tries to come up with a way to prevent Daddy from leaving.

"Daddy! You have to take a shower! Daddy you're dirty! Daddy you have to take a shower, take off your shirt and panties and 바지(pants)!"

After the shower when Daddy still isn't undressed and ready for bed.
"Daddy you have to take off your shirt! Daddy you have to take it off or you will be 아픈(painful)!"

He talks a mile a minute these days so I've decided to make a concerted effort to share some of his hilarious logic and quirky comments. Watch this space!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kid's Cafes!

A kid's cafe is like a cleaner, nicer, alcohol-free version of Chuck E. Cheese. You always hear stories of parents getting drunk and in trouble with police at Chuck E. Cheese's in the USA but trust me, kid's cafes here are totally different!

We love kid's cafes and there are several in our area. We've been taking Thomas to them since he was 9 months old. The concept is generally a large play area with toys and blocks, a jungle gym/hamster cage/ball pit to climb and slid in, a cafe section for parents to relax and drink coffee at and several staff members to play with and moderately supervise the children. They tend to have a breastfeeding room and some infant bouncy chairs and exersaucers as well. It is a great place to go and relax with fellow parents, usually us mommies go but sometimes you see daddies there too. You can have some light snacks or order a meal and have a cup of coffee while your child runs around for 2 hours. It's a great way to turn your child into an exhausted, sweaty mess ready to fall asleep and give you a break! Hahaha...

My top tip for visiting cafes is to go early or go late!! You get 2 hours of play time in a cafe but most become crazy busy from around 1pm-5pm. Generally they open around 10am so an 11am start time is great. If you can't make it in the morning, after 6pm is usually slow. I'd also recommend NOT going on weekends unless you are going early or late for sure! It is so hectic then at every cafe and since fathers are usually off work the seating is even more limited as every child has both parents with them. Generally the cafes close at 9pm and offer food options so you can have dinner and relax while your child runs around like a maniac!

There are a few franchise cafes, Dalki Land, Little Bear and Little Prince, Chiro Chiro, etc. Little Bear, Chiro Chiro and Little Prince, are in our area, Bucheon/부천. Dalki Land has several locations, we've visited the Times Square Yeungdeungpo/영드포 and the Jamsil Olympic Park/잠실 올림픽공원.

Name: Little Bear Bucheon/부천점 (Charges for children over 12mths and for adults with a free drink.)
Best for: Young children under the age of 2.
Sorry, only have old pictures from Little Bear!

The cost for a child is 6,000won($6) and 4,000won($4) for an adult. But the adult gets a free drink-coffee, tea, fruit juice, etc.
Little Bear also offers arts and crafts activities once an hour for free which is nice. They have several ride on toys, a block area, a zip-line, a large climbing area, a ball room, a trampoline and a cool room with fans and balloons that small babies love. They also have a book nook and a Wii room.

The downside is they often cram as many families in as possible and they have no tables for you to sit at. This is common on weekends around 12-6pm so we avoid it then. Since it is across the street from us we've gone there the most over the past 2 years. They all know Thomas well and love to play with him, so we can easily spend 2 hours just relaxing while he runs around with the staff.

Name: Little Prince Bucheon/부천점 (A different style, charges for children over 12 months with a free drink, adults are free but you MUST buy a drink or food!)
Best for: Moms with babies and toddlers.
More old pictures, this time Little Prince! Sorry!

Adults are free and children cost 6,000won($6) but get a free organic juice. The catch is that they are a restaurant cafe, meaning that you MUST order from the menu! They do pride themselves on an MSG free and totally organic menu, but drinks start at 4,500won($4.50) and meals start at 12,000won($12). Each adult must order one item so it can add up fast if you are meeting friends.

They have a block area, floor piano, carousel swing and carousel, climbing area, mini train that goes in a circle under the climbing area and a small ball pit. They also have a system where they draw blinds down over the play area once every 3 hours and turn on UV lights to sanitize the whole place!
An interesting feature they offer is private rooms with large screen TVs to watch the CCTV on. This is great to sit and chat with friends and care for a young baby in. You can watch the older children play on the CCTV and the staff are good at watching them as well. They have exersaucers and bouncers for the babies too so it is easier to take the whole family here.
The other nice thing is that because it is a restaurant and you must order food, once the tables are full no more people can come in. It is often less busy inside as a result but if you arrive between 12-6pm you can often spend 1 hour waiting outside for a seat.
We've gone here a few times but we don't go as often because of the wait and the cost.

Name: I Like Dalki in Times Square Yeungdeungpo/영드포점 (Charges for children over 12mths and adults with a free drink.)
Best for: Older children, 5 and up.
The last of the old pictures, these are in I love Dalki!

Children are 10,000won($10) and they get 2 free train tickets. Adults are 5,000won ($5) and they get a free drink. The train is rather disappointing. It goes forward and then reverses back. Exciting at first but it lasts maybe 1 minute in total.
The actual play area here is small and cramped, not good for young children at all. It also gets very hot and overcrowded quickly. They have a ball pit with swings inside, a big bouncy area, two tube slides and a zip line.
Other than that there is a room with a giant teddy bear to bounce and climb on, but generally the older kids monopolize it and make it dangerous for toddlers. There is next to no staff to watch the kids and control the chaos here as well. There is a small reading and computer area, but nothing special. They have an art school you can pay extra to do activities in, but again, this is only really good for older kids.
Since Dalki is a big brand, they have many products available in a gift shop at the entrance which you must go past to get into the play center. Not too great for grabby toddlers! One cute thing they do offer is character cookies, in the shapes of Dalki and her friends' face. Overall the only good thing is the central location. We visited twice but have never wanted to go back.

Name: I Like Dalki Jamsil Olympic Park/잠실 올림픽공원점 (Charges for children over 12mths and adults with a free drink).
Best for: Day trips for the whole family with great food!
Nice newer pictures with the DSLR! I'll take more of the other cafes next time!

It is the same price as Times Square Yeungdeungpo/영드포 but there is no train!! It is the most expensive we've visited.

Children are 10,000won($10). Adults are 5,000won ($5) and they get a free drink.

This location is nice because it is in Olympic Park and so you can play outside and visit the park as well. Make a full day of it! They have a large restaurant area and offer a specialty menu of all natural and organic foods. The quality is very good, the food is delicious and healthy. They have the option to make tofu if you'd like as well.

The whole cafe is full of natural wood and they have some cute touches like airplanes and cars flying and driving around on the ceiling. The ballroom is suspended in the air. They also have a jumping area, zip line and tube slides just like in Times Square. Their reading area is larger and includes some games. Their art center is more integrated, it is an open concept and looked more interesting and suitable for younger ages. It was still very busy with minimal staff but it was more open, with lots of natural light. They had a small area with blocks and exersaucers for babies as well which Times Square was lacking.
If we want to have a nice day out, we may go back but it was quite a trip from our home in Bucheon.

Name: Chiro and Friends/부천 뉴코아점(Charges for children over 12mths with free tokens for coin-op rides and the train, charges for adults).
Best for: Zoning out on video games or TV.
Sorry no pictures of Bucheon of my own!Ilsan location.

This is probably the most disappointing Kid's Cafe in Bucheon. Children are 7,000won($7) and adults are 3000won($3). They do give you 4 tokens for the coin operated rides and train which is nice.

This kid's cafe has several locations, we've also visited one in Ilsan/일산. It is very basic, with a small climbing area and ball pit, a few ride on toys, a small playhouse with books inside, a few coin-op rides and a Wii/ TV theatre area which I HATE! I do NOT want to take my child to a kid's cafe only to have him sit and zone out with a TV show or Wii game!! It has a small train which you get to ride once or twice and it basically goes around in a circle 3-4 times.
There is so much wasted space, it feels half empty and the Bucheon location has the cafe with seats for parents tucked in the corner so if you sit down you can't see your kids! Ilsan at least was more open but they had a hallway and bathrooms behind a jumping area that kids could easily wander out of sight in. Both location have limited staff and the Ilsan location actually had a dangerous setup of a carousel and jumping area too close together. Our little friend almost got squished between them!

Name: Party Play Time in Home Plus/부천상동점. (Charges for children over 12mths, adults are free.)
Best for: EVERYTHING!! We love it!!

Only pictures of the party room at Party Play Time, sorry!
Last but not least is Party Play Time in our local Home Plus!! It is by far our favorite cafe to visit!

Children are 8,000won($8) and adults are free. There is no requirement to order food or drink here! So this makes it the most cost effective for both parents to go and have fun with the kids. They also restrict the number of children at any time, so while it can get busy it isn't too crazy.

This kid's cafe is probably twice the size of every other cafe. They have a train that kids and adults can ride on that actually goes in a large loop around half the cafe. They have a free art area with a real car-a MATIZ- that you can paint! There are paid art crafts as well. There is a large area full of blocks, puzzles, connector kits and a small house with kitchen goods and dinosaurs to play with. The ball pit here is inside the train loop and so the kids have to climb through a hamster tunnel setup to get inside. They also have a large bouncing area and a race track with cool little go-kart things to ride. They've got several electronic games such as a giant floor piano, dance grid, air hockey, video games, stationary bicycle video games, whack-a-mole and basketball shooting. In addition, they have some interesting electronic science activities like a magnifying glass TV, animal sounds, shapes making and some other things that I don't fully understand due to my lack of Korean. Best of all is a separate area with a mini ball pit, exersaucers and ride on toys for kids under 2! They have a lot of staff who are friendly and helpful.

Given the choice, Thomas will ask for this cafe anytime! They really do a great job watching over the kids and there is a small cafe inside where parents can have coffee and chat. They also offer some cooking activities like cookie art for a small extra fee.

Unfortunately we always have so much fun I have no pictures to share other than the party room, but I will next time!

I'll try and update this blog post later with nicer pictures and websites if I can.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy 3rd(4th) Birthday Thomas!

The happy 3/4 year old opening a gift!

In South Korea when you are born you are generally considered to be 1 year old. So when we went to a local kid's cafe to celebrate Thomas' 3rd birthday, they put a "4" on the cake to reflect his age in Korea. Luckily he knows to answer that he is 3 in English, 4 in Korean but it was confusing for a lot of people! Hahaha..
East Asian Age Reckoning - Korea

Koreans generally refer to their age in units called sal (살), using Korean numerals in ordinal form. Thus, a person is one sal during the first calendar year of life, and ten sal during the tenth calendar year.

The 100th-day anniversary of a baby is called baegil (백일), which literally means "a hundred days" in Korean, and is given a special celebration, marking the survival of what was once a period of high infant mortality. The first anniversary of birth named dol (돌) is likewise celebrated, and given even greater significance. Koreans celebrate their birthdays,[10] even though every Korean gains one 'sal' on New Year's Day.[11] Because the first year comes at birth and the second on the first day of the lunar New Year, a child born, for example, on December 29 (of the lunar calendar) will reach two years of age on Seolnal (Korean New Year) , when they are only days old in western reckoning.[12]

In modern Korea the traditional system is most often used, mistakenly even when talking to non-Koreans. The international age system is referred to as "man-nai" (만나이) in which "man" (만) means "full"[13] or "actual", and "nai" meaning "age".[11][14] For example, man yeol sal means "full ten years", or "ten years old" in English. The Korean word dol means "years elapsed", identical to the English "years old", but is only used to refer to the first few birthdays. Cheotdol or simply dol refers to the first Western-equivalent birthday, dudol refers to the second, and so on.

The Korean Birthday Celebrations by the lunar calendar is called eumnyeok saeng-il (음력 생일, 陰曆生日) and yangnyeok saeng-il (양력 생일, 陽曆生日) is the birthday by Gregorian calendar.

For official government uses, documents, and legal procedures, the Western age system is used. Regulations regarding age limits on alcohol and tobacco use, as well as the age of consent, are all based on the Western system (man-nai).

This system can be pretty confusing, so I always stick with just my Western age. What woman really wants to be a year or two older? Hahaha...

We're coming up on the baegil (백일) for Graham and I plan on doing it traditional style this time, especially since Grandma will be visiting us for the first time ever!

Here are some pictures from the 3rd/4th birthday! Enjoy!

The cafe served rice, salad, pork cutlet, chicken nuggets, french fries and orange juice for all the kids.

The Cafe supplied an MC for the party. Thomas got to sit up front and be celebrated by his friends!The MC released a confetti bomb that thrilled the whole crowd!

The lovely photos were courtesy of our friend Shane Lee of the blog Family Lee Together!
Thanks Shane!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's on Mommy Cha's mind?

 Wordle: Mommy Cha

I used my blog to make this lovely word cloud on Wordle.
Guess we know what is on my mind these days! :D

Friday, April 29, 2011

Graham 성호 Cha!! 12:06pm, April 12, 2011, 4.16kg, 55cm.

Despite all our hard work and preparation, Graham was stubborn and refused to budge. He also measured quite large so the lovely midwives at Bless Birth had no option but to refer us elsewhere.

We decided at this point our only options were a repeat C-section or a very expensive attempt at a VBAC in Mediflower. My husband and I discussed our options and we chose the best choice for our family - the repeat VBAC.

Despite having had a not so great experience with our first unexpected C-section we did know that I healed exceptionally well with a very minimal scar. We decided that it was best to work with the same surgeon that we used the first time. We also knew how and what to prepare for the post-op care this time so we were confident that our experience would be better. In addition we had the support of our Morning Calm doula, Karen Zamperini.

I visited the doctor and explained our situation. He performed an ultrasound and was surprised to see that Graham was measuring at 4.73kg-a full kilogram larger than Thomas was when he was born! While the previous doctor we had spoken to regarding a VBAC was terrified that I was almost full term, our doctor was rather nonchalant and scheduled us for a C-section 4 days later. I was surprised but appreciative as I had hoped for Graham's health to at least have a chance at labour. If we started labour before the scheduled day, we would have an emergency C-section. But Graham was very stubborn and we had no signs of labour whatsoever.

The morning of April 12th we were very excited and eager to greet our second son. Karen joined us and took some great photos of me saying good-bye to the first Kimchi Kid, driving myself to the hospital and waiting to go in to see the doctor. It was great to have her there and she was determined to help me to breastfeed as soon as I was out of recovery.

At the hospital we were asked a few basic questions, but one question I found very odd. They asked what type of C-section I wanted. My husband explained to me that they could perform an operation that made it easy to conceive a 3rd or a type that wasn't as easy. My husband immediately replied that we were done with 2, but I was worried that he perhaps didn't fully understand what they were asking. Just in case I asked for the easy-to-conceive-#3 style, because I didn't know if they would tie my tubes or something otherwise!

We then went to the delivery and nursery floor and that was when things started to go slightly wrong. I'd hoped that my husband could stay with me and come in the operation room, but they told me he could not. I was then instructed to undress, put on my robe and lay on the bed. After 10minutes by myself they realized I needed some translation help and brought my husband in. I was glad to see him as I was feeling lonely and teary, not the feelings I wanted to have at this point. They then escorted me into the operating room and he left.

There was a male nurse who tried to explain to me what to do next, which was comical and confusing. He kept talking about "shrimp, make a shrimp back" which meant nothing to me. Turns out they wanted me to curl up like a shrimp on my side to receive the spinal anaesthetic. I laughed at this and did as they asked. It is quite hard to do this move when you are 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant with a huge belly! The male nurse tried to help hold me and the doctor of anaesthesiology told me what she would do. They would make 2 attempts and if it failed, they would have to use a general anesthetic. I replied that it was fine, when I'd had my son she had done it successfully on the first try and I was 15kg/30lbs heavier that time!

It didn't work. It was horrible. I've never had such an awful feeling in my whole life. Just typing this makes me feel physically ill. She tried twice and then they had to bring my husband in. I was hysterical. It was so, so awful. I cried and cried, I apologized to my husband for being weak and told them not to try a third time. I couldn't allow them to do that to me again. I was so upset because I could only have the general anesthetic now and that meant I would miss the birth of my son. I cried and held my husband's hand as they made me count backwards into oblivion.

When I started to wake in the recovery room, the nurses brought Graham in to me. I will never forget seeing my beautiful baby boy for the first time. He was wearing a little white cap and they latched him onto my left breast. He suckled away, staring at me with one little eye opened. I was so happy to see him! I thought he looked just like his big brother and I was so in love! After that brief moment he was whisked away from me and confined to the nursery for the next 24 hours.

I was so happy that they allowed me that brief moment, and that first latch. The rest of my time in hospital went very smoothly. Doumi stayed with me the first 3 days and nights. She was so amazing, it made my experience so much better. Knowing what to expect and being prepared made the whole post-partum recovery a lot easier. We had a brief bout of bad latch in breastfeeding but the lactation consultant on staff was awesome and helped immensely! We had Graham with us all day and he stayed in the nursery from his 9:30pm bath time until 5 or 6am. They had a strict cup feeding policy in their nursery and the extra rest I feel really helped me to recover. We were able to go home at noon on Saturday, so I was very happy that things went so smoothly in the post-partum recovery department.

Since then he has been feeding and sleeping so well. He is nowhere near as fussy as his big brother was and he has been so good! We're truly blessed that he is healthy and happy!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

VBAC Update!

Come out anytime Baby Graham!

Well Baby Graham didn't arrive in March despite the best guesses of everyone involved. This meant we had to go for a 39week check up with the midwife.

That was when we received bad news. Baby Graham's head is getting bigger and the midwife is now concerned that with such a large head there will be too much strain on my scar if we go past 40weeks. Previously she had said she would allow me to go until 41 weeks at her clinic, but now we're only allowed to 40weeks and 1day. If Graham doesn't come naturally on his own by then, we're going to have to change to a hospital.

Unfortunately, the odds of a hospital here in Korea allowing me to attempt to VBAC after 40weeks, especially with a baby who is measuring large, are slim to none. As one doula told me, I'd have to "show up pushing" and basically that is something my husband and I are not comfortable with. I can only go so far without his support as well, so I'm looking into options.

The other midwife we've spoken to on the phone regarding this has said she wouldn't take me unless I went to Mediflower and had Dr. Chung back her up. Due to the distance and the cost of the clinic(TRIPLE what we'd pay here) we had ruled it out as an option already. We had hoped she would be willing to handle us if we came to her clinic but she won't consider it.

There is another large women's hospital down the street from us. According to Korean mom's cafes it offers VBAC but again, the rules are strict. Since I've not had any examinations or care there, it may not be an option. We're going to check into it nonetheless as a possible back-up plan.

For now though we are working on all available natural options to get Graham moving out on his own.
In addition, we've focused all our energy on Monday, April 4th 2011 as the birthdate. 4/4/11 sounds good to me!
So please send us positive energy and vibes for a smooth, natural VBAC on Monday!

Thanks so much!
XOX Mommy Cha and Baby Graham

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The WHY of my VBAC.

My first big baby, the Kimchi Kid, cuddling up to my big baby belly.

I realize it has been 2 months since my last post, for that I apologize.
Things have been busy for us with our business, work and life in general. I've been focusing on preparing myself for the birth as well as preparing our cluttered home for the arrival of baby Graham Seong Ho. (Graham is the middle name of my father and paternal grandfather, Seong is the same first Korean character as the Kimchi Kid's name.)

Through out this process I really have come to several realizations as to WHY I want to VBAC despite the difficulty of doing so in South Korea.

My first reason was for my family. I want to be able to be there for BOTH my sons from day one, not trapped in a hospital bed, unable to see or care for them until a week or more later. I worry so about how the Kimchi Kid will adjust to the new arrival and I want to be sure that he knows I still love and care for him. I've never been away from him for very long, never longer than a day since he was young, and I think it would be hard on us both.
I know as well that breastfeeding the Kimchi Kid was a painful and difficult process that lasted 2-3 weeks, most likely due to bad latch and our separation for the first 5 days of his life. I don't want to repeat that with baby Graham. I want to be able to breastfeed without the blood, pain and tears that I suffered through the first time and I believe a VBAC will enable me to do so as I can be with my newborn from the start.

My second reason was for my own personal health. A C-section is major surgery with the possibility of major complications. I was lucky that I healed quickly and easily the first time but there would be no guarantees the second time. That being said, it still took me over a month to be able to walk without major pain, and over a year before the sensation returned to my abdominal area. It was very strange to scratch my stomach and feel nothing for so long. Having a VBAC will allow me to heal even faster and return to my family in terms of walking, standing and caring for a newborn. It will also allow me to have the chance to bond earlier and easier with Graham.
I have educated myself thoroughly regarding the risks of a VBAC but I really feel that they are slim compared to a secondary C-section. The most common concern is Uterine Rupture with a VBAC. The incidence of uterine rupture with VBAC in a mother who has had a low transverse incision is approximately 0.2–1.5%. This was the incision style I had.
The reasons behind my first C-section were poor. I was only truly in labor perhaps 12 hours. This is very short for a first time birth. I wasn't given any drugs to ripen my cervix or speed up my labor. I was simply in pain and denied pain relief with a C-section the only option being provided to me. Despite my best efforts at preparing, I was sorely unprepared and stressed at the idea of transferring to a different hospital at that moment. While we made the decision to continue to try for the natural birth, not having a doula, any labor support or suggestions on how to reposition and avoid back labor meant our resolve quickly ran out. I was in pain without relief and my husband couldn't handle seeing me that way. We had a C-section, much to the satisfaction of our doctor who 100% believed we would have one from the start.( A warning sign we completely missed!)

My third reason for a VBAC is that I am an excellent VBAC candidate. I had a low, transverse incision. I did experience labor and had no complications of my health nor my son's. I healed quickly and easily. It has been more than 18mths since I had my surgery. My blood pressure and hemoglobin levels are all ideal. My weight gain has been right on target. I've exercised and done my best to maintain the proper nutrition during this pregnancy. I feel great and it shows!

I've built a solid team of supporters, my doula from Morning Calm Doulas, Karen. My closest Korean friend Jo, who had a natural birth with a midwife here 3 years ago. My husband who learned from the first birth and has been more proactive this time around. My midwife, Midwife Seo, who informed me that her only purpose will be to watch and catch, the birth is up to me and my baby. I feel truly blessed to be surrounded with so many people who are willing to work with me and baby Graham to have the birth we want.

Next time I post, I hope to be posting about our successful VBAC!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why I am Going to VBAC- Part 3: Options and Resources

Hard to believe bringing these little feet into the world is such a drawn out and stressful process at times!

This is it, the 3rd and final portion although things haven’t been finalized yet.

After I made the decision to switch doctors and VBAC my husband had a conversation with the mother of one of his students. This mother happens to be the doctor who performed my 1st C-section. When he informed her of our decision, she decided to “educate” my husband as to the dangers of VBAC and the benefits of a repeat C-section. Basically, she scared the crap out of him and I had to do some major convincing. I arranged a meeting with Mama Seoul/Karen of Morning Calm Doulas. She will be my doula and has also been a very vocal and positive advocate for VBACs since I met her. I informed her privately that she was going to have to do her best to “sell” VBACs to my husband and she agreed to take the challenge.

Luckily the meeting went well and he relaxed enough to drop his opposition to VBAC although he was still not 100% on board with the hospital choice. This was something that would crop again later, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

Karen lent me an excellent book, “The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Better Birth’’ by Henci Goer. It was a fascinating and excellent resource that I devoured within hours! I found so much practical and clear information that I could easily share with my husband between the pages of the book. I also shared it with a pregnant friend who had a vaginal birth the first time but with a negative hospital experience. Things were looking up, I was feeling positive and empowered about my VBAC! But of course, things are never as easy as they seem.

After our latest appointment with Dr. Chung at Medi-Flower my husband had finally had enough. He decided he disliked the doctor and no longer wanted me going all the way to his clinic, a 1.5 hour drive from our home. We had an argument, I cried, he refused to concede and I was back to square one.

Thankfully my closest Korean friend was a big proponent for natural birth and was willing to support me any way she could. We spent an afternoon searching Korean websites for information regarding VBACs in Korea. We found 2 options in our immediate area plus a natural birthing center I had recommended to my pregnant non-VBAC friend. I called Lisa Fincaryck of Birthing in Korea who is another doula friend of mine who also speaks Korean very well and has worked in many different Korean hospitals. She informed me that for 99.9% of Korean VBAC births, you have to be the IDEAL candidate for a VBAC for them to even consider taking you on. Very often a “maybe” is actually a “NO” and a client of hers had even been turned away from her hospital of choice WHILE IN LABOUR because the doctor simply changed his mind. Her best advice was to consider contacting a Korean midwife who had experience with VBAC, Rosa/Kim Ok Jin of Okbirth. She agreed to contact her for me first as they are quite close and would contact me later. This was very exciting to my Korean friend as she had given birth with Kim Ok Jin at her clinic in Asan! While it was still a distance away, it was another option to present my husband.

Surprisingly enough, Rosa/Kim Ok Jin recommended we try the birthing center that is 400m from our apartment, Bless Birth of Bucheon. She was willing to take me on as a client but due to the distance and my husband’s reluctance she said we should try our closest option first. I called Karen and she also recommended trying this option after hearing what we had found. IF I am forced for whatever reason to have another C-section, the hospital will still be in our own area and my husband’s concerns about being able to see me and the baby if we are hospitalized would be relieved.

As it stands now we have an appointment Friday morning at Bless Birth to meet and discuss our VBAC with the midwives and nursing staff. Hopefully things will go well and we can focus more on the preparedness part of the VBAC journey! To that end we will be doing the Hypnobabies Home Study program.

I’ve decided to compile all the links to people, clinics and resources I’ve talked about so far in my lengthy blogging!

Natural Birthing Centers:

Rosa/ Kim Ok Jin’s OK Birth center in Asan

Bless Birth in Bucheon

Dr. Chung’s Medi-Flower OBGYN and Natural Birth Center in Seocho


Lisa Fincaryck

Karen Zamperini

Other Resources:

“The Thinking Women’s Guide to Better Birth” by Henci Goer

Hypnobabies Self Hypnosis for Childbirth

Hypno Birthing, The Mongan Method, Self Hypnosis for Childbirth

Informative blog about Cesareans

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Mommy Cha

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why I am Going to VBAC- Part 2: Bait and Switch

Our Happy Family!


As part of our preparation for the Kimchi Kid, we decided to study Hypnobirthing. We both were a bit skeptical at first but we quickly grew to love the class and the concept. My husband was so impressed he told every expectant father he met that they HAD to try it! In terms of reducing our fears about birth and teaching us about the birthing process, we were really impressed. We knew very little, we expected birth to be scary and painful. But thanks to Hypnobirthing not only were we excited and positive about the birthing process but we decided to try for a completely natural birth, something we had never previously considered.

As part of our preparation we took our doctor our natural birthing plan, in English and Korean. This spelled out very clearly our hopes and preferences for our birth experience. These included:

· No IV.

· A private labour and delivery room.

· The ability to move around as I saw fit.

· No shaving.

· No episiotomy.

· Light food and drinks.

· The cord to stop pulsing before cutting.

· Immediate breastfeeding.

Our doctor spoke English well and asked for some time to review the birthing plan. At our next appointment he agreed to everything we asked, except for the food part. Drinks were ok, food was not. We were so happy we had found such a forward thinking doctor and only 5 minutes from our home! We had heard so many horror stories of birthing in Korea that we had expected the worst. Little did we know that we were actually being set up for a “bait and switch” birth experience.

When we were almost full term, our doctor informed us that the Kimchi Kid was measuring over 4kg. In South Korea this is considered an automatic C-section. We laughed off his concerns and to appease him agreed to meet with the surgeon, just in case. She was a lovely lady and we assured her that with my wide hips and family birth history we would be fine. She smiled and explained the C-section process, just in case.

When I went into labour, we were very calm and relaxed. I listened to my iPod and labored on the toilet, the most comfortable place in my home. When the surges (contractions) became 3 minutes apart, around 6 hours after starting timing, we called the hospital. They told us to come in and we excitedly headed to the hospital, confident that we would have our gorgeous son with us soon!

Upon arrival I was put on a bed in a communal labour room. The OR was in my line of vision with a very unhappy sounding woman in it. The bed next to me had another unhappy sounding woman in it and I had to lie on my back and wait for them to check us. I questioned my husband as to why we weren’t being shown to our private room and he asked the nurse. They had no idea, but with some hurried discussion finally agreed and sent us to a room. The nurse came in to check my dilation, I was 3cm gone and she said it would probably take about 7 hours more. We were excited and confident that those 7 hours would fly by!

Shortly after a different nurse arrived and told my husband that I was to be put on an IV. We said no, that was not in our plan, ask the doctor. She was shocked and left quickly. Another nurse came, this time to shave me. Again, we declined, a little annoyed this time and she also was shocked. I moved to the toilet in our room for more comfort and our doctor finally came. We said we were surprised that no one knew of our plan, but he brushed it off. He told me I could sit on the toilet but not birth their (of course) and sad I was doing well, “better than he expected”. At the time we just laughed at their lack of faith and preparedness.

Things were going so well that we had an extra bed rolled in so my husband could sleep. He took a nap, I relaxed and the surges got closer and closer. I was now feeling the every 1 minute or so, with minimal rest between, but doing well. At this point a nurse came in and asked me to lay on the bed for an exam. I climbed up and lay on my back. The nurse then strapped on a fetal monitor and waited. For me, it felt like an eternity! Finally I demanded to know what she was waiting for and she replied she was waiting for contractions. I shouted that I was HAVING them, constantly, hurry up and check me! She finally examined me for dilation and to our disappointment we found that we had only progressed to 4cm after 6 hours.

During the time I was laying on my back, the surges became more painful and centered in my lower back; I was eager to get off the bed and back to my toilet but quickly discovered that something had changed. I struggled to get back to my relaxed state, listening to my iPod and sitting on the toilet. Very quickly I realized the pain was becoming unbearable and I woke my husband and demanded that we get an epidural. This is where things went wrong…

My husband called the nurse who came and told him I could NOT have an epidural. We were shocked, this had never occurred to us, so he demanded she call the doctor. We had to wait for the doctor to come and when he arrived he informed us that I could NOT have an epidural due to my WEIGHT. I was over 90kg at this point in pregnancy and he said that they did not have a large enough needle for me! I was beginning to get very stressed, I had no break between surges and the pain was awful. I asked what our options were. The doctor told us I could have a C-section or I could move to the larger University hospital which was older, had a bad reputation and I did not like from previous visits. I told him that neither were options for us and I would continue.

I struggled back to my toilet, in tears now, going out of my mind with the pain. I breathed, I did my Hypnobirthing exercises, and I listened to the iPod. Finally I staggered out and shouted at my husband, “CUT ME OPEN AND TAKE MY BABY OUT!” My poor husband was as unprepared as I was and quickly called the doctor. The speed with which they took over was remarkable.

I was immediately put back on the bed, an IV was inserted, fetal monitor attached, a nurse shaved me and we were whisked into the operating room. The room was brightly lit, fully staffed and it seemed to me to be very short notice for a 4am procedure at a small private hospital. They moved me to the operating table, told me they would attempt a spinal twice and if it did not work I would be given a general anesthetic. They rolled me to my side, inserted the needle on the first try and bliss flooded my body. I cried my thanks to the doctor and they laughed. I said I could continue now, but they had already cut me open. THE KIMCHI KID WAS BORN!

I was in a haze after this. I remember wondering where my baby and husband were. I remember shaking, uncontrollably, my teeth chattering in recovery so badly I couldn’t speak. I remember piles of warm blankets heaped upon me. I think I remember seeing my baby, but since it was also the first photo I have of him, it may be a false memory. The next thing I remembered was being moved to a bed and told not to sit up or move for 18 hours lest I suffer excruciating head pain. Then I slept.

When I woke again, it was day. I was alone and my husband had gone to work! Not having been in a Korean hospital we had no idea that this was going to be a problem. Around noon a student‘s family arrived. They had been close to us for a year and the mother was a nurse. She tried to get Thomas from the nursery for me but my husband had accidentally taken the “ticket” that allows you to “check” your baby out of the nursery. After a few hours they left and my husband arrived with the ticket. Finally I was able to see and hold my baby. Thomas slept the whole visit and was returned to the nursery. My husband left to teach and I was alone again.

Around 6pm another woman was rolled into my room. She had also had a C-section. She was as out of it as I had been and slept several hours. I then noticed that her mother had to do certain hygienic things for her that I had expected a nurse to do. I was shocked and dismayed to realize I had been there 12 hours longer and NOTHING had been done for me. I was so embarrassed to inform my husband of this when he returned and ask him to do them for me. He was equally shocked but we did what we had to do.

The rest of our stay continued in the same vein. Thomas was in the nursery all night. He came for a few visits during the day and I nursed him. He slept most of the time and I rested. My husband had to help me do EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING! We begged to be released and were told 7 days was the minimum stay. Finally we were allowed to leave on the 5th day as I had healed so well. At this point I hadn’t been with my son for more than 4 hours at a time. The nurses were useless for the whole stay, even refusing to fetch me more diapers when I ran out despite the fact that I could barely walk, I had my baby in the room with me, I was alone and the nursery was on a different floor from where we were! I was so relieved to get home to the comfort of my own bed and the support of the amazing helper/nanny who is still with us to this day!

We ended up with a happy and healthy baby, who through the joys of co-sleeping, baby wearing and breastfeeding was never fussy and the apple of our eyes. Teething was a breeze, solids feeding, walking at 9mths, toilet training, etc. All milestones he has reached easily and happily. So we never really thought about our birth experience. That is, until we became pregnant again.

After the Kimchi Kid was born I became a member of an Expat Parents group here in Seoul. I finally met many other mothers in similar situations here and I made some wonderful friends. One of the mothers I met was Mama Seoul, who was a very strong advocate for VBAC, something we had never thought of. Through discussions with her, links on her website and so on, I slowly became re-educated about birth. What I learned surprised me and raised some concerns about returning to our hospital.

My husband however was unconvinced. He saw me heal well, saw our son grow and thrive, and remembered the difficulty of my stay in the hospital. He was convinced the easiest thing to do was simply schedule a repeat C-section. The fact that he was also teaching the child of my C-section doctor reinforced this decision in his mind after I became pregnant. She informed him that we could easily have 3, even 4 C-sections with no major problems, she did it all the time!

We agreed to a compromise. If we had a girl, I would have a C-section. Another boy, then we would try to VBAC. This worked well until we discovered we WERE having a boy!

My doctor had slowly stopped speaking English to me and had started speaking only Korean, and only to my husband, despite ME asking him direct questions in English. This annoyed us both but we let it slide. Then my blood test came back with high protein levels. We had a 2nd test done and it also had high protein levels. I was concerned, but the doctor CALLED my husband and TOLD him over the phone that I had to have an amniocentesis and that Koreans would consider termination in this case. The look on my husband’s face was one I will NEVER forget, and I am crying just typing this and remembering it now.

I was devastated, HE was devastated and I called my closest friends, my doula friend, and then googled the HELL out of AFP and amniocentesis! We made an urgent appointment for the next morning at a different hospital as I REFUSED to go back to a doctor who treated us with so little respect that he didn’t offer an alternative and dropped the word TERMINATION so casually over the phone.

We spent 3 hours at the new clinic, Medi-Flower, which is 1.5hours away. Dr. Chung was so patient and caring, he listened to us, and gave us our options, the first of which was an intensive ultrasound with a doctor of radiology to check for any possible defects. This took 1 hour itself and we were given the all clear with 99.9% assurance that our baby, Baby Graham, was fine. We then toured the facility and I showed my husband the birthing tub and room I had decided to birth in. We never went back to our old hospital and I am so happy with our decision!

The 3rd and FINAL part of my story will be HOW I am preparing for a VBAC, what obstacles we have encountered and the final WHY! Thanks for reading so far!


Mommy Cha