Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Wonderful Christmas Gift

Warning: Long in length but hopefully worth the read!

Two years ago today I received the most wonderful Christmas gift. It was a warm, summer morning in December, right here in South Africa when my sweet little Victoria Amira entered the world. I thought as tribute I would answer the question most often asked of me regarding living in Africa, “What was it like to have a baby overseas?” Here’s the short (ha) version…………..

The Shock Phase
Four weeks after moving overseas, changing careers, and starting a ministry I found out I was pregnant with child numero 3. Can we say “SHOCKER”! I hate to admit it but I wasn’t very excited in fact, I had some long conversations with God about His timing and plan (as if Rich and I had nothing to do with the fact that I was PG). I really did not know very many people at the time and knew nothing of the health care system here. I called my one friend who technically wasn’t really even a “friend” yet, we were still in the “courting phase”, to recommend a Gyn. I was also informed that in this country once your gynecologist confirms your pregnancy they immediately pull out their day-planners, do the math and schedule your C-section. Oh yea, I am very serious.

Upon meeting the greek man that would eventually deliver my newborn I tactfully shared with him the apparent revolutionary fact of natural child-birth. I did make mention that I am all for legal pain-reducing drugs though.

The Sobering Phase
I finally sobered up to the fact that this was both a good thing and a God thing. I chose my hospital as I had a choice of 2 for care and delivery. I decided to go with the one that didn’t have stark white walls making it feel like an insane asylum.

During my hospital orientation I was informed of my choice of rooms: a private room referred to as ‘the suite’ OR the general ward with 12 beds in one big room separated by sheets they referred to as curtains and 1 bathroom. It was a no-brainer…I chose the private room and refuse to call it a ‘suite’ as it wasn’t by any definition.

I also received a list of items I would need to bring with me to the hospital. There was a very long list for the baby and another long one for me. It seemed to be in a foreign language with listed items like- nappies, nappy wipes, cotton wool, ear buds, aqueous cream, etc. My one ‘friend’ helped me interpret the list and confirmed that I had to bring absolutely everything baby or I would need. The hospital did not provide “care” items. So much for packing light.

The Surreal Phase
December 17, 2004, I woke with the feeling that today was the day. I arrived at the hospital at 10:21 a.m., with much luggage in tow. My contractions were less than 2 minutes apart. I walked through the front door and to the delivery ward. There is no emergency valet and wheelchair service here due to the high number of C-sections….no one (except me) walks through the door having contractions. The sister in the delivery ward greeted me. RN’s are referred to as ‘Sisters’ here. Although, I was never catholic, having a ‘sister’ by my side through delivery made my experience feel all the more holy….that and the drugs. I immediately explained that this was my third child and she was well on her way would she be so kind as to call the anesthesiologist?! She gave me a patronizing look, suggested I get settled, have some tea and once she confirmed I was ready she would call for assistance. Our ‘disagreement’ went on for a few minutes, she was quite persistent I have a cup of tea (hello, I am here to have a baby not for a tea party) and I was quite persistent I get my drugs! She reluctantly called my favorite person in the hospital (the drug-dispenser) and admitted me.

Horror shown on the sister’s face when see found that I was 8 centimeters dilated and fully effaced. She frantically ran around muttering, “I don’t know how I am going to get everything ready”. I think she could have used a cup of tea (and drugs) at that point.

My doctor arrived with what looked like wading boots on….I wasn’t sure why he thought he needed knee-high rubber boots and quite frankly it made me a bit nervous.

10:40 a.m., my glorious moment had arrived…no not Tori, my anesthesiologist.

By 10:50 a.m. my lower body was numb, much to the sister’s delight I had my cup of tea and I was ready to take on the world or at least bring someone into it!

What happened next was nothing short of a miracle in my book… inexplicably one of the most precious moments of my life.

At 10:56 a.m. Victoria Amira Franzen, my wonderful Christmas gift arrived….pain-free I might add! What a truly surreal and heavenly moment to physically hear and see that little miracle that grew in my womb breathe her first breath of the outside world.

What started for me as uncertainty and progressed with much insecurity has now become 1 of the 3 most certain things I know and love. I could not be more grateful to God for His timing, His plan and His gift!

Happy Birthday my precious Victoria!


Ginger said...

So very worth the read. What an adorable photo. Isn't God wonderful how he meets our every need? He knew the desires of your heart and brought that little bundle into your lives in His perfect way and timing. It really didn't matter where in the world you were because HE was right there with you handling the whole thing for you. I just love stories like this and I sure needed to hear this one today!

Sohailah said...

thanks for the great great story. What a wonderful read - I appreciate the humor and it sure does make me miss you.

Total aside: I have a 19 year old girl I have mentored for a few years who is DYING to go to South Africa and work in an a orphanage for the summer... help???? She happens to be the girl Josh was in love with - she was worth every tear he shed.

michelle a said...

What a beautiful story! I loved reading it and hearing about everything.

Isn't it "fun" to have a baby overseas? I had a packing list for Ben in Peru, too. I thought it was so strange that I had to bring everything- they didn't provide anything fo me.

So, are you going to go for baby number 4???:-)

Beth said...

Such a GREAT story—I had no idea they shared the same birthday either! Yes, we try hard not to merge any of the birthday with Christmas (no substituting Christmas wrap for birthday wrap, etc.)

Happy Birthday Tori!

Shanygne said...


Happy Birthday, Tori! Happy Anniversary on Baby #3, Michelle!

Gayla said...

What a fun post! And what an amazing event. Congrats, Michelle and Happy Birthday, Tori! (LOVE the baby in the stocking photo!)

Amy said...

So as Kyle and I consider having a baby in Africa, I think I might want to talk to you first...especially as I would have to head to South Africa to have the baby...

rae said...

Beautiful story!

Anonymous said...

I laughed so hard about the comments about sister, boots and the tea party that I had to stop twice and wipe the laughing tears from my eyes. With a fun experience like that I would think you would like to do it again real soon! I bet you would win if you entered it in a contest for "the most unforgettable experience of my life." As I recall, I had an interesting time with the nurse (sister) when you were born, but you wouldn't know about that! Just dad B.

karenkool said...

Let me get this right... 10:40, 10:50, 10:56--DONE??? Holy smokes! You didn't even need drugs, my friend! I wish my births went like that!!! You should definitely have a few more--I'm all done, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Wow, never heard the whole story before - how come? You are too funny and like Dad I laughed a lot. Yes, I'm glad you had number 3 our little, adorable, Tori. Happy birthday, Tori and congratulations, Michelle for another great blog.