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.


J. et K. said...

Yeah - you'll be at the top of page one on search results in NO time. All those good keywords and such... NO time, I tell you.

This is going to be an invaluable resource to lots of moms-to-be!

The Beasley Family said...

Wow! There's so much that's completely different than my delivery here and yet so much that was the same (I, too, missed the kind nurses from the states). I feel pretty cheated, though - I never knew they changed your baby's diapers in the states! I got one diaper changed for me here. That's it. I'm so glad you had such a great experience. We can't wait to meet Sammy in March!

Beatriz said...

What a shame! "This is not a movie"...I can´t believe it...
I´m thinking your post works the other way around too. Now I know what to expect if I had to deliver a baby in the States...

Johnson Journal said...

Hey I had a doctor pushing on my belly too while I was delivering Bailey in Turkey! I thought he was going to break a rib! Glad everything went well. I loved my deliveries in Turkey. But I also enjoyed my American experience too. I was only in labor 2 hours. And one of those hours I had my epidural and slept only to be woken by the mid-wife saying your dilated to 10! Sammy is a cutie!

Jenny said...

I'm so glad you're dilivery with Sammy went 100 times better than with Renae. What a blessing. I told Tom that our next delivery HAS to be better than Aiden's or we aren't going for #3. Haha. I think I would have liked it to be left alone in the hospital. The nurses were very helpful but I NEVER got any rest b/c someone was ALWAYS in my room doing something. Maybe I'll fly to Spain for #2 for that very reason...j/k. We're so excited to see sammy!

Meredith said...

WOW! It's interesting to read how different the experience is in another country! THere are many things I would have missed about delivering in the states, but it would have been SOOOO nice to be left alone! Our very sweet nurses were barging into our room constantly. Thanks for sharing!!

Mandi said...

Julie, I loved reading that! I know I've said this before, but one of the biggest things I prayed for was that you'd have a better delivery than you did with Renae! I am SO happy to hear how well it went for you! I, too, think it might have been nice to have a little LESS nurse presence in those days after giving birth, it seemed like they came in ALL the time, and they weren't always quiet and considerate! But yes, they were kind :-)

Love you!

Anonymous said...

I just delivered in Ohio and a lot of this actually sounds the same. So interesting. Thanks for sharing, Julie.