The long wait is over. Now we can tell you all about giving birth in Guanajuato! After touring the birthing ward at Plaza Mayor and paying the 5,000 peso deposit, we settled in to wait out the last days of the pregnancy. At 38 weeks, I was as uncomfortable as I’d ever been: sleepless with swollen hands and feet, not to mention the huge basketball in my stomach that made even short walks difficult. The 90 degree days were the bane of my existence. Luckily, Cormoran came a little early.
On May 24th I woke up at 4 am with mild cramps. By about 6:30 the cramps had started to come in cycles, so I ate breakfast and packed my overnight bag while everyone else was still sleeping. I woke my mom and David up at 7, showered, had Mom braid my hair, and started pacing as the cramps became contractions. It was such a calm, happy morning. Since this was my second birth, I knew what to expect and what the pain would feel like. I told myself that it wasn’t pain, just pressure, and and felt good about how quickly things seemed to be progressing. We were hoping for a quick labor this time, unlike Spencer’s nine hour labor!
At 8, David and I said goodbye to Mom and Spencer and set out to walk the 20 minutes to the hospital. It felt much better to walk through the contractions than to sit in a cab, and it was a beautiful sunny morning. The streets were still fairly empty given that people seem to stay up late here, and another expat walked companionably with us for a few blocks to exchange Guanajuato stories before he left us at Cafe Tal, a coffeehouse popular with expats and college students. He didn’t notice I was pregnant at first, and was surprised to hear that we’d moved here specifically with the intention of giving birth in Guanajuato.
The walk took us past the theater and into Plaza de la Paz where our clinic in Plaza Mayor is located. We headed upstairs to the birthing ward and told the administrator who I was and who my doctor was. My doctor called me five minutes later and asked how far apart my contractions were. When I said five minutes, she said she was on her way. Quickly after that, they installed us in a pleasant room overlooking the plaza, with an anteroom full of couches and a TV. It looked like I was the ward’s only resident, and it would stay that way—David and I had the place to ourselves for the next 24 hours!
Our experience giving birth in Guanajuato in general was fairly traditional. Unlike in Luxembourg, they had me change into a hospital gown and slippers right away. The room didn’t have any yoga balls, or ropes, or other birthing aids, but I found that music and pacing was good enough for me. Also unlike Luxembourg, the nurse found a good vein the first time around instead of blowing out my vein trying to get the IV in, so I was soon dragging around an IV rack. By 9:30, the contractions were intense. My doctor arrived to check me, and I was already at 6 cm—fantastic! Fannntastic. Within another hour I was at 8 cm, and the doctor said she would prepare the delivery room. I don’t know if it’s all the walking we did throughout the pregnancy or just the fact that this was my second, but I would absolutely recommend a lot of exercise during pregnancy–it can’t hurt!
At this point I asked for the epidural. I’d started reading about hypnobirthing near the end of the pregnancy, but I know myself. If we had a third child, I’d do a lot more preparation but as it was, I wanted the spinal block. The anesthesiologist was great, and after that sick popping sound that meant he’d pierced my spinal column, I felt the telltale toe tingling that meant the medication was working. By the time they wheeled me into the delivery room, I was pretty numb from the waist down.
The delivery room itself could have come from a 1950s film set. Huge white lights on the ceiling, bright white walls, and one big old metal table with stirrups. Maybe because I was the only patient that day, there were five people in the room: my doctor, the anesthesiologist, the pediatrician, and two nurses. My doctor asked me if I felt ready to push and I wasn’t sure how to answer. I didn’t feel anything at all. I said “A little?” and they started having me push. I discovered later that I was not ready to push. The actual delivery took about fifteen minutes, much longer than with Spencer, and I panicked a little when I felt one of the doctors pushing on my stomach. I’ve read this greatly increases your chances of tearing. My doctor told me when she could see the head, and after one final huge push, I heard Cormoran crying lustily. I want to see my baby right away, but this was the traditional hospital experience. David, in full scrubs, cut the cord, and then the pediatrician took the baby to administer the Apgar test, and wipe away all the vernix. Again, I wish they wouldn’t have wiped so much of it away. Ten days later his feet and ankles were peeling, but it was a small thing in comparison to having a very healthy baby boy. My doctor gave me ten stitches, and then the pediatrician held Cormoran close to me, and he stopped crying.
They wheeled me back into the labor room and gave him to me, where we nursed for the first time. Overall, it was a great experience. The labor was 3.5 hours in total, Cormoran was a healthy 7.4 lbs and 20.8 inches long, with a fine feathering of light brown hair. Some of our friends came to visit that day, and we enjoyed the afternoon resting and admiring our brand new sleeping baby. He was perfect.
The nighttime part of giving birth in Guanajuato was a bit horrific—David wasn’t allowed to stay with me in the ward, and he had a bad sinus infection anyway, so he went home. The afternoon nurse didn’t really come to check on me, and when the wind blew my door shut, I couldn’t call for help when I needed to use the bathroom. No one had told me how to call the nurse, I couldn’t reach the phone from the bed, and the bed’s call button didn’t work. On top of that, it was hard to reach Cormoran to get him out of his bassinet to nurse him, and the mosquitoes were feasting on me. Finally at 2 in the morning, a nurse came to change my blood soaked bedding, help me to the bathroom, and help me with Cormoran. After that we managed to sleep for a few hours. Luckily, we were able to leave the next day with a clean bill of health, a diaper bag with some diapers and formula as the hospital’s gift, and the bill we expected, just about 11,000 pesos.
I’ve been healing well, and other than a blocked tear duct and a little jaundice, Cormoran is doing great. Breastfeeding is difficult, but at least Cormoran seems dedicated to figuring it out with me. Spencer never wanted anything to do with the boob, and I’m enjoying my second chance to get it right, even if it is excruciatingly painful. After giving birth in Guanajuato, I guess we’re on to the next stage of life, that is, life with two children. Things have been pretty hectic, what with trying to arrange for Cormoran’s US and Mexican citizenship, and a medical catastrophe with our older son, which you can read about in the next post. Still, we have zero regrets about giving birth in Guanajuato. Bring it on, world, this fantastic four is ready.