Im sorry to those of you that actually bother reading this- that ive not posted anything in a while, but ive been busy becoming a mummy!!!
And heres my story of how…………………………………
On the 29th Oct I went to the clinic to be induced at 8am which meant leaving the house at a ridiculous 5am or something! Because allthough the hospital isnt that far away we all know from other blogs the traffic is a NIGHTMARE!
I wasnt as terrified as I thought I would be as we arrived, I was nervous- but then who wouldnt be right?- knowing you are about to give birth??? the scary thing I think, and that has freaked me out during the 9 months of pregnancy is the not knowing how it will all plan out and how painful it will be.
Anyway I was in comfort knowing that Juan would me with me the whole day, because not only had every doctor we had seen said he would have to be there to translate, but just incase those doctors changed their minds on the day, we had even made a special 2 hour journey to the clinic one day previously to get the head of the hospital to put it on the system. so I knew it would be ok……………….
Or did I??? This is Colombia afterall, and things never quite go as planned and people here dont seem to understand what it is to “fear pain” here! (why is that??)
So I wasnt too suprised when they told me to go through to the other room ON MY OWN, to put on my hospital gown and have my drip attached for the medicine to be filtered into ALONE! from there I was put in a wheelchair and pushed to another side of the hospital / without Juan or my phone! I think I knew in my heart at this point that I was going to be doing this solo and that having Juan there was always wishfull thinking! But still I wasnt that nervous suprisingly, and its not because I was at the “so fed up of being pregnant point” because I wasnt (I had actually had a very good pregnancy in reality so I cant complain. I was feeling ok, sleeping kind of properly and was still wearing my clothes – not maternity ones). I can only imagain that I wasnt as nervous as I had assumed I would be because now I was on my own my brain was pre-occupied with having to be self sufficiant in spanish, and get through this without breaking down!
I was placed in a room with 4 other women all of us at different stages of labour (HORRIBLE) – I mean come on, its hard enough trying to think of something other than the contractions and dialating and waters breaking without watching other people go through it first and watching them experience no pain at all to women who scream as if they are dying! its really un-nerving! However, I began to have my contractions and within 2 hours they had gone from being every 20 minutes, to every 5 minutes! The nurse came round to do a routine check for me and the lady next to me (who I later found out later was at the same stage as me) The reason I thought she was further along than me, was because while I was suffering mild discomfort (like period pains every 5 minutes that lasted 30 seconds ish) she was spending every 5 minutes screaming and crying and asking for painkillers!
Anyway the nurse came round at about 12pm to break my waters, she did this manually as they hadnt broken naturally. It hurt I wont lie to you, but it only lasted 5 minutes ish and this was the first time I doubted my ability to be able to go through with the birth. But even during this I didnt cry!! Yay me! Somewhere deep down inside me there was a voice saying “Claire stay strong and think how proud Juan will be of you if you do this all alone with out needing him or being a wimp!” (I kept thinking that a true colombian would be fine with this whole scary procedure and its only because im british and therefore a wimp when it comes to any type of pain) so I held my fears ack and coped!
The contractions continued every 5 minutes and I had begun to bleed a little, but when I was checked again at 1pm by the doctor I still hadnt dialated at all. when the doctor came back to check me at that point the lady next to me was asking for her epidural already and was screaming and crying ALOT – it was funny becuase the Doctor obviously knew she was at the same part of labour as me and was cross that she was making such a fuss and actually told the lady off telling her “come on dont be so stupid, its not that bad you are over-reacting and your going to scare this poor english girl who has no idea whats going to happen next. She is having to do all this alone and in a foreign language and already shes braver than you are!” and with that the doctor turned back to me and said in her best english “shes annoyed me but you are good – if at 3pm your not dialated more than 3cm we will have surgery ok?” I nodded very overwhelmed and with that she left.
The thoughts going through my head at that point were very mixed. On one hand I was pleased that a cesarian was an option because I have to admit the thought of pushing the baby out didnt appeal much and quite honestly I was still convinced I would be one of the people to die doing it, but on the other hand I couldnt help but think that by having a cesarian I would be letting Juan down, as he was hoping it would all be natural. I felt that Id be cheating him and that it wouldnt make my brave journey so far as rewarding at the end as it should have been. However I trusted that the doctors would do what was best for me and the baby.
At 3pm the doctor returned. I had a look at the machine behind me before she came over to my bed. This machine displayed numbers which I were told was my heart rate and it was at 200! no idea what that means but the doctor saw it and straight away said surgury was needed as my numbers were too high and I still was only 1cm dialated! (not suprised it was high after all the nerves and 7 hours of contractions).
“bueno, gracias. A que hora?” was my response hoping that surgery would be put off until later or tomorrow, because now I knew for sure I would be opperated, on I had come over feeling a little scared!
“5 minutos mi amor” was the Doctors response!
– COME ON, really!!!!! This is colombia…………….. I was counting on the fact that everything takes ages to organise in this situation, but goes to prove me wrong, when something is needed Ahora means AHORA! and with that I was taken off my drugs, put onto a different bed and was prepared for surgery! I had to sign forms to say I understood the details of the epidural and surgery involved- and I hate to say it, but I signed them only understading half of what I had been told by the anaesthesist! (probaly should have asked for Juan or someone to translate at this point as I did hear the word “muerte” (DEATH), but I was too pre-occupied with panicking to try to ask questions about it.
Once I was strapped onto the bed and they had started wheeling me into another room I think all my fears and panick caught up with me and I burst into uncontrollable tears. All of the eyes looking at me (as thats all I could see through their scrubs) were male eyes, and all of them did their best to comfort me. I lost the ability to talk in either language and simply shouted “JUAN???” I could see them shaking their heads at me and again I knew I would be alone. One lovely surgeon however understood my pain /hurt /fears /confusion /anxiety and he came to me and said in very loud english…….”hello, You are English no?, I am peter the surgeon. you are ok, and in 5 minutes you have your baby, listo?” (to those who dont know “listo” means “ready”)
I couldnt help but laugh at his funny english attempt to make me feel better and although it hadnt worked (I was still terrified), I wanted him to feel good so I smiled and said thank you and ok.
At this point I had to face my prudish fears as I was stripped naked and asked to sit on the edge of the bed with my hands on my knees and my chin on my chest while they gave me the epidural. I was shivering like mad from nerves and being cold as well now that I was naked, and so it took them a while to stop me moving so they could inject my spinal cord! Once the completly painless epidural had been given it was only 20 seconds or so before i felt the effects – and I didnt like it!!!!!! before I went completly numb and lifeless as expected, I went through 5- 10 minutes of severe pins and needles over my whole body and I felt all hot/cold and clammy. not sure if this was normal or not, and wanting to check, I panicked as I realised I was so nervous I had lost the ability to talk at all – so I closed my eyes and trusted that they would know if something was wrong from the 100’s of machines I was linked up to. (but with my eyes closed and the security of the machines I still couldnt help thinking about surgerys that go wrong where the people are put to sleep but they still feel everything!! – yes Im a pesamist!)
Here began the most surreal and amazing experience of my life EVER! strapped to the table naked with my arms and legs spread like something out of CSI, and with a slightly seethrough bed sheet infront of my face, the light was switched on and after a DEEP breath, I witnessed Niko being cut from my belly and pulled out! I always imagained what it would feel like to hear his first cry, or see him for the first time, and I dont know wheather it was the letting go of built up adrenaline or the sudden realisation of it all being over, but I still dont know what it felt like as I wasnt thinking about it/him or anything at all really. I was able to ask if he was ok, but that was it, after knowing he was ok, I simply closed my eyes, blinked back a few tears and stared at a spot on the celing! I just wanted some comfort. Maybe thats selfish of me, but as far as I was concerned I felt lonely, tired, emotional and I just wanted someone to hold my hand and be there to tell me everything was ok and it was all over. Everyones voices and noises got further away and even when they held Niko next to me for me to see, I didnt know what to do or say. I think it was weird because how can you fully appreciate a new born baby when all you can move is your head??
I was stitched back up and dressed again- also put in the hugest adult nappy ive ever seen!!! lol, then I was transfered onto another bed. Another weird situation knowing I was being moved and held and transfered but not being able to feel anything at all!
After a while – and ive no idea how much time had passed, I was able to feel most my body again and had started to re-gain normal emotions (therfore feeling frantic to meet and hold my baby! am I a bad mum for not wanting to hold him the second he came out of me – or is that normal under the circumstances?? I dont know), but as they bought my little bundle of love to me all wrapped up in the clothes and blankets we had bought him, I knew I would have unconditional love for him for the remainder of my life so that made up for my doubts of mummyness! (yes ive made that word up)
I would tell you all about the aftercare, the nearly passing out just after the cesarian and needing morphine, the lessons on breastfeeding , the sharing a recovery room with the same lady I shared a room with before the birth (the screamer) who had given birth naturally at the same time as me, the excruciating pain everytime I tired to move, cough, sneeze or go to the loo etc, and all the other things, but to be honest none of it matters, and its all such a dizzy memory because at theis point Juan was with me and we had our baby and life had become all I ever wanted it to be.
Happiness doesnt come much better than this whole experience, and even now, 1 month later, I still cant believe I did it – this scared of everything, not able to cope alone, not able to talk spanish girl coped giving birth ALONE, in a FORIEGN country!!
Goes to show that humans are able to achieve anything if needed! and I’m living evidence of this – If this story doesnt give anybody else strength, at least it has given me confidence to know that I can push myself out of my comfort zone and survive when I have to. – Parents-to-be, DONT listen to other peoples horrible birth stories, dont be afraid of it, just enjoy the moments and know that it will all be over soon!
(I have to admit, maybe Im only being brave about it because I had the easy option of surgery because honestly I still am not keen on the idea of a natural birth) – However the recovery with a natural birth is so much better/quicker, almost instant. Whereas it took me 3 days to be able to walk normally again and 1 month to recover and heal completly.
So what have I learned throughout this experience?
1) Im Braver than I thought and Im proud of that!
2) If my spanish is adequate enough to get me through giving birth alone, I should have the confidence to use it everyday.
3) Juan is the best support and husband-to-be ever – waiting in the hospital waiting room for me for 2 days.
4) As disorganised and late for everything Colombians usually are – When they have to do something as an urgency they can bloody do it!!!
5) And lastly, now im back to my size 8 and flat tummy, ive learned I never want to be fat again – So I, the gymphobic, am going to excersize and actually appreciate being able to do it and move normally!!!!! so good to feel like ME again!
Thanks for reading guys and hopefully this will give some of you parents-to-be hope that its not all that bad!