Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Child Birth in Costa Rica, a Husband's Perspective

We, my wife and two young children, arrived in Costa Rica to start our new life a year ago and now we have a 3 month old baby, so what does that tell you? The first thought is ANCHOR BABY and we should have named her Sofia “Permanent Residency” Meeks but that would not be true. She was conceived under the influence of tequila just like our other two children. When we arrived in Costa Rica we decided to take a few weeks’ vacation at the beach before settling in Atenas. For the first week our kids had a bit of the airport stomach sickness, spending most of their time inside, asleep or watching movies, giving my wife and I a bit more time on our hands. So with the help of a baby sitter and the aforementioned tequila, little Sofi was conceived. We wanted one more child, but we didn't want to spend the first year in our new adventure pregnant. That’s what happened and we are happy it did.
The pregnancy went just like the first two: the first three months of debilitating morning sickness; the second three months of feeling fantastic; and the last three months of feeling like and behaving like a silverback gorilla - eating everything in sight, snarling, growling, snoring, burping and farting, and, sometimes, just turning her back on us. We chose a highly recommended doctor in Atenas because we did not want to make the trip to CIMA in San Jose as most gringos do in this country for our monthly and sometimes weekly visits. Our doctor, Geraldo Rojas was fantastic and he even gave us his personal cell number. He does not speak English but with our growing knowledge of Spanish and his English speaking daughters, which he was kind enough to bring in for every visit, we were able to navigate through the process; and besides, we're pros - we have had two kids so there wasn’t too much to explain. The doctor visits were $100 US and we received a 4D movie with ultrasound with each visit. Doc Rojas diagnosed and treated minor skin problems and my blood work along the way at no additional charge. In the states we would have been sent to specialists with more appointment and more hassles.
Our due date was February 8th but little Sofia came early. On our doc visit on January 1st my wife was dilating and he said the baby could come any time after the 14th. So we moved my mother-in-law’s trip up 2 weeks and on the day she arrived in Atenas from Texas, January 21st my wife started having contractions. It’s like my wife mentally manipulated the situation to get that baby out the moment we had someone there to help with our other children. Now, in my opinion, my wife is a wus when it comes to pain and sickness, she often stays in bed all day with a cold; while if I have a cold, I go to work. After taking care of her, the kids, her duties and mine for 6 out of the 9 months of this pregnancy, I was not very sympathetic that night, and questioned the severity of her contractions. In fact, I was not very sympathetic during the 9 months which I am ashamed of and have apologized and am apologizing again in this blog. Nonetheless my wife explained to me very clearly to call the doctor because we were going to the hospital right now. I do not know what contractions feel like, nor what it is like to pass a bowling ball out my butt, and never will, so you ladies out there don’t hate on me, but the contractions were inconsistent and I was afraid we would drive into San Jose and be sent home.
We arrived at CIMA at 7pm. We chose CIMA because it is considered the best hospital in Central America and it is right off the pista (highway) in Escazu. Catholica Bibliteca is very good as well and cheaper, but it is in the center of San Jose. If you have ever driven in the interior of San Jose, you would understand why it is something we wanted to avoid on the big day. CIMA received us well. Upon arrival, I explained our situation and they sent us up to the delivery floor, put us in a room, and hooked my wife up to the machinery. Most everyone spoke enough English and with my Spanish we had no problems. The machine indicated that the contractions were more consistent but mild, as I expected, and the nurse suggested we go home for a few hours. My wife gave me the look so I nicely explained to the nurse that we were not leaving, get the doctor here, because we were inducing and going to have this baby tonight. She kindly obliged my request. Doc Rojas called me back soon after I talked to the nurse and said he was in Alajuela (20 min away) and would be at the hospital soon. Dr. Rojas arrived approximately at 8pm gave the order to administer the induction meds and my wife was relieved that the baby would soon be out. I was instructed by the nurse that I needed to go down stairs and check us in. I went down and the line for admittance was in the emergency room area and the line was out the door. I returned upstairs and explain to the nurse my quandary, she made a call and in an hour I was sent back down, where I was quickly moved through the process with very little paperwork. I was given a price upfront for a standard delivery (no C-section) of $1600 US. They wanted the payment in full but my debit card has a $1000 US limit for security, so they were fine with what I could give them. By 11pm the induction meds had kicked in and we were having full blown contractions. Before my wife asked for it, Doc Rojas had the anesthesiologist in with the epidural to relieve the pain (dolor en EspaƱola, as my wife learned right away). The epidural meds were different from the meds my wife had with our other children. It was called a walking epidural making her feel edgy and it was necessary to re-administer 2 additional times, so I assumed it was not strong enough since she was still feeling the contractions.
Back in Texas, our hospital room was the delivery room as well, hell we could have had the whole family in there if we wanted, but in Costa Rica it was old school. When my wife had dilated to 9cm she was moved to the delivery room; which was an operating room, and I was moved to a room where I scrubbed up – dressing in scrubs, the hat, booties and the mask. I met my wife, feet up high in the stirrups prepped and ready. The birth was like the others, quick, a few good pushes and beautiful Sofia was born at 2am. The pediatrician was there through the birth and personally took care of the baby not the nurses. He took little Sofi to the nursery and my wife was moved to another operating room. We had planned a tubal ligation in advance because we knew we did not want 4 children. As the staff prepared my wife for the next procedure, the pediatrician reappeared and reassured me Sofi was doing great moments before he scrubbed up again with Dr. Rojas to assist him in the tubal ligation. I watched through the window as they began the operation and, to my amazement, the doctors waved me into the room. After all, I was still dressed up for the occasion. This was awesome for someone like me who is not squeamish and fascinated by the medical profession. Doc Rojas started by making a small 1 ½ inch incision below my wife’s belly button before stretching out her stomach to what seemed like about 10 inches above normal position, making room to find the tubes. I was thinking to myself, “Man, is she going to be sore tomorrow?” It took some digging around, but Doc located the first tube, cut and cauterized it, and then he said “Primero estas bien, uno mas” (first one good, one more) and I replied “Good, she can’t get pregnant from that side now” and everybody in the room burst out in laughter. He cut and cauterized the second tube, sewed my wife up and all was done in about 30 minutes. It was a simple operation so I didn't get to see my wife’s heart beating or her intestines but it was still pretty cool. The doctors all shook hands, thanked and congratulated each other on a job well done and then moved my wife to recovery. I took off my doctor costume and went to check on Sofi.
When I went to the nursery to check on the baby, they told me Sofi was waiting in our room. I went up to our room and there she was, all bundled up in the nurse’s arms, nibbling on her gloved finger. I spent the next 30 minutes gazing at another healthy, perfect, little baby thinking how blessed we were before my wife returned from recovery. Finally, my wife nursed little Sofi, gazing into her eyes as I did, thinking the same thing, I'm sure, and then we all fell asleep around 4am. Breakfast came at 7am, mine was complimentary, along with a gift basket including a nice bottle of wine. Soon after, a nurse showed up to bathe the baby in our room, unlike in Texas, I had to go to the nursurey to watch the bath without my wife. Niki got to see the whole thing this time, the last time. 
By 2pm all the standard doctor and admin visits were done and we were given the orders to go home. That’s right; in less than 24 hours we had a baby, a tubal ligation and were on our way home. But first I had to pay the bill. The doctor was easy since we had agreed on a price in advance of $2800 US for everything - the birth, the tubal ligation; he paid the pediatrician and the anesthesiologist. Paying the hospital was not so easy. When I went to pay the bill it was approximately $2600 US, about $1000 more than what they quoted. I understood that with the tubal ligation it was more than a standard birth but they handed me a 6 page detail of all the charges in Spanish and I wanted the opportunity to go over it with our doctor. So I offered to pay more than half and pay the rest after I went over the bill with our doctor. Not a chance, they literally would not let us leave the hospital without paying the bill. With my spider sense I could feel my wife upstairs in the room losing patience because she was dressed, had the baby dressed and they were ready to get out of there. So I caved and paid the bill, knowing it was a fraction of what it cost with the other births in Texas. When I returned to the room my spider senses were correct, and the wife, which is usually a wus did not want to wait for a wheelchair so she got up, baby in arms, and walked out of the hospital. We drove home knowing we could drink as much tequila as we wanted for the rest of our lives with no consequences other than a hangover, which only lasts for a day, not 18 years to life. Pura Vida!

1 comment:

  1. Recently, my best friend Christina has suggested me a cima online courses with Practice Tests Academy.It's actually saving my time and it's providing me much scope of practicing more.Now i can spend more time in studies.


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