Birth in Taiwan - Anne Marie's Story
My name is Anne Marie and I've lived in the country of Taiwan for six years. My husband and I moved here together to serve as missionaries two years after we got married. We love living here, as the Taiwanese people are very kind and the lifestyle is super convenient! As I suffer from endometriosis, I struggled to get pregnant for the first five years of our marriage. Our first pregnancy was a loss, which made our second pregnancy very anxiety ridden for me. When I did become pregnant with my daughter, I wanted to do things as naturally as possible. I found a doula, had minimal check ups and ultrasounds, and overall had an extremely healthy pregnancy. I even found a midwife that would do a water birth at our home!
Unfortunately, when I was 38 weeks pregnant, out of nowhere my midwife cancelled on me. She had changed her mind and did not want to do the birth. I was crushed. It was a holiday weekend, so hospitals and clinics were closed. I would have to wait until the holiday was over to find an alternative. Baby girl, however, did not want to wait! My water broke before I could find another midwife/doctor. The next 24 hours were really scary for me. I went from expecting a natural water birth to two failed epidurals, 20 hours of labor, three hours of pushing, a severe allergic reaction to one of my meds, and eventually a csection. Talk about a surprise!
The sudden change of birth plan and early birth of my daughter totally threw me for a loop. It took me a really long time to come to terms with what had happened. It wasn't really anyone's fault; hospitals here are socialized here and heavily medicated births are normal and what most women want. My doctor did a great job; but there were a lot of cultural things during my aftercare that gave me severe culture shock.
I never realized that I hadn't processed my daughter's birth trauma until I became pregnant again. I'm currently 34 weeks into this pregnancy and this time around have a scheduled c section (I did not qualify for a vbac.). I wouldn't say I feel in control or even happy about my birth plan this time around, but I have peace. In the end I learned something through all of the disappointment with my daughter's birth: flexibility and letting go.
I think that as an expat, there are sacrifices you have to make if you want to be successful in your host country. Usually we think of these sacrifices as being away from family, inaccess to familiar foods, or living in a type of home you aren't used to. Through my experience I learned that having the exact birth that I wanted was a sacrifice I had to make. It was a difficult sacrifice. I wish I didn't have to go through that. However, in the long run, it was worth it. I love this country we live in, and although I don't understand everything that is done medically or culturally, I can be flexible. I can adapt. At the end of the day coming home with a healthy baby is what matters the most. And I can't wait for that!