Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Giving Birth in Spain: Labor and Delivery!

Sammy is 2 weeks old today so I figured it was time to write about my birthing experience here in Spain. When I was looking for information about what it's like to have a baby in Spain, I couldn't find much via my multiple Google searches. I'm happy to report that when you Google "Giving Birth in Spain" this blog shows up on the 2nd page of search results. So hopefully this recap of my experience will help out a fellow American expat in the future. If you are just a friend or family reading this blog, I guess you can enjoy (or die of boredom) learning about Sammy's birth. Warning-it's a little long.

One happy birther . . .

**I had an GREAT birthing experience here in Spain. But as I've mentioned before, the labor process here is highly medicalized. Therefore, if you are more comfortable with a more natural approach to labor, having a baby in Spain could be frustrating for you. So keep this in mind as I write because many of the reasons I loved it are reasons that could have driven you crazy! **

*If you'd like to know about a non-medicalized birth in Spain, this blog features 2 Americans who are having baby number 2 here! Scroll down to the bottom and look through their topics for info about pregnancy and birth.*

First off, I went into labor on my own which contributed to a better delivery. I woke up around 5:15 am Wednesday the 14th with a very strong contraction. Over the next 45 minutes I started having a few contractions but wasn't sure if this was real labor or not. At 6:00 I started timing them and another 45 minutes later, I realized they were 7 minutes a part. I told Jesse I was going to get up and see if the change in position slowed them down. A half hour later I was back telling him that I was most likely in real labor because the contractions were getting stronger and were continuing to come every 6-7 minutes.

Jesse got up and took a shower and I tried to get last minute things ready. I kept my priorities straight-updated Facebook, sent some emails-Oh, and woke my Mom up to tell her I was finally in labor. By the time Jesse was finished with his shower I was so glad because the contractions were getting much stronger. After awhile I realized he hadn't come out of the bathroom. Turns out he was shaving!! I kindly reminded him to HURRY because I needed to get to the hospital-NOW!

We left about 7:45 a.m with contactions coming every 3-5 minutes. As we hit the onramp to M-30 we saw what every pregnant woman in labor wants to see: traffic. It usually takes 10 minutes or less to get to the hospital. On labor day: it took a half hour!! I loved the stop and go lurching of the car during the contractions . . . .

When we first arrived at the hopsital, we were nervous because the initial staff almost seemed oblivious to the fact that I was in labor. One guy did get me a wheelchair to sit in which helped. After Jesse forked over some money for the deposit (we have privado insurance) they let us go up to the maternity floor. The male nurse noted my pillow I'd brought from home and joked that mine must be much better than the hospitals. It was.

On the maternity floor there were two distinct parts. There was the triage, dilation and delivery rooms in one part, and the actual hospital rooms in another part. In the triage room I gave them my epidrual form (Yes I made it to the hopsital without forgetting it!) After the nurse in triage determined I was in fact in labor, (dilated to 3 cm) I was taken to my own dilatacion room. This was just a room with a bed, monitor, IV and a single chair. By now the contractions were unbearable. Wait what am I saying, they were unbearable long before we left the house! Around 10:00 I finally got my blessed epidural. Jesse was asked to leave which made me sad because the anesthesiologist ended up taking awhile so I had to endure quite a few contractions without him there. Not fun. Within 15 minutes of getting the epidural I was another woman. Which was good because we found that most of the things we were being told were not being understood by Jesse so I had to translate what they were saying to him. Speaking in another language during such intense pain is not my idea of fun.

For the next half hour I was able to relax and since Renae's labor took so long we figured we'd be in the dilation room for quite awhile. Jesse was making plans to run home and grab some things when the matrona (midwife) came in to check my progress. I was dilated to a 5 so she said Jesse should not leave. I agreed. By the way, each time the matrona came in with the nurse, I never knew who was who. I didn't know if they were nurses, doctors or what. They were really nice but they didn't tell me their names like they do in the states. I was left alone in the room with Jesse for most of the time that morning after I received the epidural. Around 11:15 the matrona came in to check my progress and told me I was at a 10! So she had me start pushing. Thankfully, I wasn't in a bed in stirrups so the pushing part was pretty similar to the states. Once he was down far enough, the matrona said it was time to head to delivery.

The delivery room looked just like a surgery room. Infact, it was a surgery room. They do that in case something goes wrong and need to switch to surgery mode. This is where the infamous stirrups showed up. They gave Jesse some scrubs and had him wait while I was wheeled down to the delivery room. There, a nurse transfered me from the bed to a chair with stirrips type thingy. I saw the doctor for the first time here, but had no idea what she looked like as she was already in scrubs. I also didn't know her name. Lesson learned-that doctor you see during prenatal appointments? It really doesn't matter because you'll get whoever is on duty and you'll only see her when it's time to push the baby out.

Jesse came in shortly after I arrived and then the fun began. And also the weirdness . . . I'm not sure if this is something they do in the states, but there was a nurse on my left who pushed with her arms on my stomach while I was pushing Sammy out. Talk about weird. And really really uncomfortable. My matrona was on the right and she was very encouraging and helpful. In the delivery room I think I pushed for about 10 minutes and then he was out! They placed him on my chest and Jesse and I enjoyed our first glimpse of Sammy. I think because I was still functioning in Spanish the first thing I said to him was in Spanish, but honestly, I don't remember. Jesse was my English speaking cheerleader from behind as he was directly behind me the whole time. When they took him away to be cleaned, measured etc, I didn't hear him cry. When I asked about it, the typical Spanish nurse said, "This isn't a movie." Yeah. Loved my matrona, wasn't a fan of the nurse. I quickly made sure I didn't tear like I had with Renae and was beyond happy to discover I only needed 2 or 3 stitches and they'd only had to cut a little bit! Hallelujah!

When everything was taken care of, they transfered me back to my hopsital bed on wheels, and wheeled me back to the dilation room with Sammy in my arms. We had to wait there about 2-3 hours while a hospital bed was prepared, and so the matrona could monitor me. I was able to relax and enjoy some quiet time with Jesse and Sammy. Eventually Jesse went home to get my Mom and Renae. When I was finally able to go to a hopsital room, a nurse came and wheeled me to a room in the 2nd part of the maternity floor. We said good-bye to the labor and delivery nurses and staff, and we never saw them again.

During the hospital stay, Sammy had one pediatric nurse who came and weighed him, bathed him and did all the necesary tests. She was wonderful and super friendly. I wasn't assigned any specific nurses, I just had some that would come if I needed something. An OB checked on me once a day to make sure everything was healing properly. Otherwise, we were really left alone. Had this been my 1st child, I think I would have been overwhelmed. But since it was my 2nd and I was in good condition, I really liked it. When I needed something, I could call them. What's kind of weird about this though was that I could have never fed Sammy and they would have never known. No one was coming in to check how often he was eating, and for how long, etc. I did however have to call the nurses station when he did his business in his diaper. Which by the way-we were responsible for changing those diapers. Jesse had me call a nurse to help one time because he was having trouble changing an icky diaper. Love it. My hospital did not have a nursery so Sammy was with me the entire time. Jesse was also able to stay with me because the couch turned into a twin size bed. So nice!

Honestly, overall, it was a much better experience than my birthing experience in the states. I don't really think it has anythinig to do with location, but rather the fact that Renae was my first, she was induced and it was a long hard labor. Sammy was my 2nd, I went into labor on my own, and it was much faster. (7 hours compared to almost 24!) I highly recomend having a baby here in Spain. So if you are ever 9 months pregnant and in the neighborhood, don't be worried! You'll be fine!

Things I missed from the states:

  • The kind labor and delivery nurses. They are so helpful, informative and friendly!
  • The food of course. I mean, no hospital food is great, but you really want food from your home country after labor.
  • Having family come visit us at the hospital. We were blessed to have friends come which made us feel so loved, but we did miss seeing our family!

Things Jesse missed from the states:

  • The kind labor and delivery nurses. They are so helpful, informative and friendly!
  • Feeling like he was helpful. Jesse felt useless here because he couldn't understand a lot of what was going on, and they usually spoke to me without even acknowledging him. I however just needed his presence and was constantly making sure he could be with me because he kept getting sent out for various things.
  • The nurses who changed diapers. Jesse was stuck with diaper duty during our hospital stay.
  • Free food. With Renae, I could order food for free, but Jesse couldn't. However, I just always ordered extra and he ate the rest. I mean, who is going to tell a woman who just gave birth she can't eat all that? Here a woman came in each day and read me the 3 choices for each meal. I had to pick ahead of time what I wanted. It wasn't that great.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Just Some Pics From the Week . . . .

Going from one child to two is quite an adjustment. Thus a lack of picture taking. Thus a lack of blogging. Thus lots of complaining from family about lack of pictures. Please accept Sammy's apologies as it is really all his fault.

Sammy is nursing pretty well. We had a few days of stress but my friend in Praque saved the day as we figured out the nursing problems came from the pacifier we were using.

Sammy sleeps pretty well too. He'll sleep about 4-5 hour chunks at night. Once we moved him out of our room we all started sleeping better.

I can't say Renae is the biggest fan of Sammy. Sometimes she'll come give him hugs, but in general, she doesn't interact much with him and does not like it when he cries. Her catch phrase "Too loud!" everytime he cries is getting old . . .

I'm feeling much much better than I did after Renae's birth. And I highly recomend having a second child as the transition isn't nearly as shocking as having a new baby. I've loved having Jesse around more too since he doesn't exactly have a typical 9-5 job.

People here are saying Sammy looks like Jesse. But we still really can't tell. His eyes are small like mine, as the pediatrician so kindly pointed out. To me, he still reminds me a lot of Renae when she was a newborn so who knows who he will look like.

Speaking of the milk man . . . you know that joke in English about a child looking like the milk man, as opposed to the father? Well here they say the child looks like the plumber. Interesting.

I think we're safe with either culture's jokes.

We had a visit from Tep who gave Sammy a Nacho Libre outfit. So cool.

Daddy and Daughter on their way out for a walk and "chuches" (the Spanish word for candy)

And I stole the picture below from my future new sister-in-law, Tarica. Love it!! I think Sammy looks just a wee bit like Tim, don't you?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sammy's Movie Debut

I chose the song "Beautiful You" because one day I was listening to this song while walking, and I began reflecting on our time here in Spain. I realized that Christ has truly become beautiful to me. I've been blown away at the things He's taught us here, the relationships He's brought into our lives, and the grace and love He has shown us. I've especially seen how wonderful and beautiful a relationship with Christ is through this pregnancy and birth of Sammy. God has answered the prayers of many, and He is forever faithful and true.

Friday, October 16, 2009

We Did It!

We successfully gave birth in a foreign country and language and made out with a beautiful healthy baby boy! Jesse, Sammy and I left the hospital today and are glad to be back at home. I do have more pictures to upload . . . but that will have to wait. We're all pretty tired and we're trying to take advantage of Nana being here to help with the house, Renae and of course all the baby holding duties.

I will say that I'm anxious to write all about our experience and to wrap up the Giving Birth in Spain series. This birthing experience was 180 degrees different than Renae's-all in a positive way! It was a GREAT experience, exactly what I needed and wanted, and I feel 100% better after the birth than I did with Renae. I'll write more about everything later but I will tell you that I woke up Wednesday morning at 5:15 to a strong contraction. By 6 am I noticed they were coming at regular intervals and by 7 am I was tell Jesse to hurry up with his shower because we needed to GET TO THE HOSPITAL. We arrived shortly after 8 and Sammy was born at 12:08! I'd say 7 hours was pretty darn nice compared with an over 24 hour birthing experience with Renae!

Sorry there are no new pictures. I'm getting ready to head to bed soon. Our phones are turned off and we're going to lay low the next few days. Check back later! Thank you to those from home who prayed for all the stuff I asked you to pray for-God was so good!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Who do you think he looks like? Vote in the poll to the right!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Introducing . . . .

Samuel Allen Masson
born in Madrid, Spain at 12:08 PM, weighing 3.4 kilos (7.49 lbs)

Pictures and more information to come soon. For now here is how/why we choose his name:

When I was pregnant with Renae, we decided on Samuel for a boys name (we wanted the sex of the baby to be a surprise) because he was Hannah's first born whom she dedicated to the work of the Lord. We wanted our first born (and any other children of course!) to be given back to God for His plans and purposes as well. When Renae was born and they announced "It's a Girl!" we put the name Samuel back on the shelf for any future babies.

I found out I was pregnant again in January and immediately, we both knew we wanted a boy. (We'd wanted one really bad the first time too!) One day, early on in the pregnancy, I remember sitting on my bed talking to God and I asked a very simple question: "God, I know you can and will do what you want. But I'd really like a boy this time. Will you please give me a boy?" I know it sounds simple, but my relationship with Christ has grown leaps and bounds since our time here in Spain, that my prayer life is radically different. It felt so natural to just ask a simple question to God, knowing full well that he could give me whatever kind of child he wants.

Then a few days ago, I was reading 1 Samuel and I found this verse: So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, "Because I asked the LORD for him."

The day our doctor told us we were pregnant with a boy I couldn't believe that it was true. We knew we wanted to use the name Samuel again. Now that I know why Hannah named her son Samuel, I'm especially happy to give him this name because I did ask God specifically for him. What a blessing little Sammy is to us!

Sammy's middle name comes from my Dad, Richard Allen. We wanted Sammy to be named after another great man of God and my Dad is a perfect fit. We pray that Sammy will be kind and giving to others and a student of the Word, just like his Grandpy.
More news coming soon! Julie is doing 'very very good', by her own words. She said it was a great experience. They will be moving into a room soon and they expect to have internet once they are settled.

On behalf of all your family, friends and blog readers... Welcome, Sammy! We are so happy you're here! Love, Aunt Kari

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Letter from Renae

Dear Little Brother,

I thought I would write to let you know that you better get here soon! My Mommy has been pretty anxious this week about your arrival. She's been cleaning, and walking a lot, and talking about "what if this", "what if that" regarding when you show up. I've lived with her for over 2 years now and I can tell that she is pretty restless! However, you are in luck because Nana showed up this morning and Mommy seems pretty relaxed now. She just says you better come very soon. I hear tomorrow is your estimated birthday. Birthdays are pretty fun so I recomend coming to your own.

You will have a blast with Nana-which is another reason to come out soon! Nana brought me a puppy that barks and walks when I push buttons! I'll let you watch when you get here. She also brought some yummy candy from the place where our parents are from. I don't think you can have any though so I won't have to share with you. Sorry. Nana is lots of fun so don't miss out!

I also think you will really like Mommy and Daddy. Dad, well he's a little goofy, and he does not like it when I make a mess (so don't make too many dookies in your pants if you want to win him over). Mommy, well she's pretty cool too. I can't decide which one I like better. Daddy and I are pretty good friends. And he's so big and strong. Mommy, well, she's my Mom. I love her.

I'm supposed to be taking a nap right now. Just wanted to send a quick note to let you know that you better get here quick. I'm looking forward to giving you kisses and showing you my new puppy!

Love, Renae

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who Would Have Thought . . .

. . . that tacky carnivals exist outside of the south and smalltown USA.

Apparently unhealthy food, overpriced games and knock-off Disney rides are abudant world wide. Thank goodness! On Monday night Jesse was returning from soccer and noticed that a neighborhood in Madrid was hosting a carnival. I've been eager to get out and walk as much as possible so we didn't think twice about heading to Barrio del Pilar on Tuesday night.

We both are suckers for things like carnivals. We love the atmosphere, and even the greasy unhealthy food. And now that we have a 2 year old . . . we LOVED watching her take in the sights.

The food was actually (probably) healthier than Iowa State fair food.

I figured if the food was gross, it can only help contractions along-right?

Renae had no interest in the hot dog or Jesse's grilled bread/pepper/chorizo thingy.
She did of course eat the french fries . . .

We let Renae go on one ride (the cheapest one.)

This was the look on her face most of the time . . .

This was also a common look throughout the night.

I had to teach her how to eat cotton candy. (By the way, that huge thing was only 1 euro!)

Yet another look we didn't expect. Common Renae-its pure sugar!

We will never grow up . . .

Barrio del Pilar-thank you for a fun, random night!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Family of Three on a Nice Fall Day

This could very well be our last weekend with just one child so we took advantage of the beautiful October weather and headed to Retiro.

Renae leads the way.

Daddy and Daughter attempt to kick the ball around.

A "hell-ee-cotter" has been spotted in the sky.

Daddy loves to give kisses.

A non cheese face smile.

No smile for Mommy though . . .

The Plaza de Castilla is actually one place we hadn't yet been to!

And once I discovered a Subway restaurant could be found there . . .

. . . we had to check it out! Can you spot the Massons in the reflection?

Listening to music on Dad's phone is one way to entertain a 2 year old on the Metro.

And the day is finally complete with a visit to Rosa who always gives an abundance of snacks.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Like Mother… (definitely) Like Daughter!

This is Jesse chiming in for a rare blog. No, its not because Julie is in hospital stirrups pushing our baby out. But rather this morning had a story worth my time to write and tell everyone, and I wanted you to be able to see this from my perspective. So this morning was eventful for sure. Be warned. Though this story is humorous, it is not for the weak. But first, feel free to interpret the sketch below. ……

I was trying to get showered and shaved this morning before running some errands. (Ironically, Renae is doing the potty-training thing lately and so Julie’s and my radars are on high alert to deter any “accidents.”) While amidst shaving my backwoodsman beard, I hear Renae come trotting in to the bathroom saying, “wipe please.” She didn’t appear to be wet at all. That was the problem.

She had a couple nuggets (non-chicken kind) in her underwear and it was grossing her out (she wasn’t alone on that one!). I helped her out of her underwear and sat her on the potty chair – while I still had a half foam-beard from the shaving cream. Renae kinda freaks out at poop. Julie does too.

When Julie came to flush Renae’s creation, it was apparently an overwhelming odor for her and she started to gag. Meanwhile, Renae made herself gag when she smelled her own poo being flushed away.

(It doesn’t stop here … this is a downward spiral.)

In the chaotic moment, Renae threw up on the floor. Julie couldn’t contain her gag-reflex, and decided to share in the moment with our daughter. It was an orchestra nobody wishes to compose. (Here enters the wind-section.) Julie rushes to lean over the shower in time to not cover the entire floor with her … “contribution” and there, she camps out for a minute or two.
(Jesse is currently finding cleaning supplies and mop.)

Renae is scared and decides to cling to Julie’s leg while she is bracing herself against the tub. Seeing Julie gag/puke, sets Renae into round #2 with her own bout of “odors/visuals vs. gag reflex.” (So far, its: Odors=2, Females=0.) Our daughter puked a little more while supporting herself on Julie’s leg. This picture would be priceless if the camera was handy. My wife doubled over the tub, and my daughter huddled around my wife’s knee. Both puking and gagging. This all caused Julie to finish the episode with a few more hurls. (MTV’s “Fabulous Life” can move over, because it can’t compare with my riches in the “for better or for worse” lifestyle.)

So it was my turn to finally enter (stage right if you will) with my paper towels, cleaning chemicals, and a mop in hand. While my two girls were in the shower (after it was cleaned) and washing up, I gathered clothes for the wash, grabbed chunks off the floor (with as many layers of paper towels between my fingers as possible), and then proceeded to mop the bathroom floor. I never imagined that I would be the strong-stomached one in my family.

Everyone is now fine. Julie chalked it up to being pregnant. I finished shaving. Renae is still poop-training … hopefully with no more repeats like this morning. (Final outcome: Odors=4, Females=0.) Have a good day everyone. I’m sure it did not start off worse than this (I hope).