I was only about ten thousand miles away in Cape Town, South Africa. The evening before my departure, Eunsil and I had a long conversation. We knew that the baby could come when I was gone. We prayed and hoped that the baby would come upon our return, but we knew that she could go into labor in my absence. After extensive discussion, Eunsil encouraged me to continue with this trip to South Africa. She could not promise how she might feel emotionally if I was not present at the birth, but she did think that it was best for me to proceed. We arranged for a doula, a professional birth helper to assist the birth process, in addition to the midwife and other nursing staff that would help.
Although we were physically prepared for the birth in my absence, I did not anticipate my own emotions. After she called with the news that her water had broke, I hung up the phone and could not stop the tears streaming down my face. I was struck by the reality that I was ten thousand miles away in Africa while my daughter was being born. Thankfully I was with some pastor friends from Chicago (Pastor Dave Lee from Harvest, Pastor Joshua Kang and his wife Lanna fromLakeview), who were a great support during this difficult time.
More importantly, I am thankful that I could be with my wife via the internet throughout the labor process. The rest of the day was a blur. We video chatted throughout the day through Skype. As the labor became more intense around 12 PM (Chicago), I set myself up so that I could be present through the labor. Our doula, Becky, set the computer very close to Eunsil, so that I could speak to her through the process. With each contraction, I tried to encourage her through it. As the labor became more and more intense, my words became less and less, and my prayers for this whole process became deeper and deeper.
Eunsil is an amazing woman. Since relaxation minimizes the pain, she worked very hard to relax through the process. The midwife commented about her “world-class relaxation.” However, the progression of the labor (obviously) brought increasing pain, but she handled it with such grace and strength. I do think that if men had to have babies, there would be dramatically fewer people in the world.
Finally at 1:55 PM, she was able to push…and push the baby out. All 9 lbs and 9 oz, 21.5 inches of her. With that final push, Eden River Kim joined our family. When I saw the baby come out, another set of tears came rushing down my face. I could not believe the precious gift of new life. The picture at the top of this post shows me talking to Eden via Skype.
I am grateful at God’s perfect timing for this birth. I can only imagine how big Eden would have been if she was born upon my return from South Africa! I am also thankful for all the people who helped in my own absence. While we both wish that I could have been there for the birth, we know that sometime God’s ways are not our ways.
One more thing—I cannot wait to get home now!