Sunday, June 26, 2011

About birthing experiences

The other day had a great lunch with writer friends and my best friends here in Hville. I think they had an idea that I was and am still angry about a lot of things not the least retraining my mind to the positive. That part had been lost during the caregiving of Bob. All three of us, Bobby, Sabrina and I feel a lingering of feelings unknown to us before we became caregivers.

Somehow the conversation turned to our time in Spain and becoming pregnant while living there. My friends said to write it all here I go:

Moved to Southern Spain in early 1970. My new husband had said that he would never live in America under Nixon but that in truth, was not the reason we left with 2 girls ages 10 and 12 , 4 suitcases and a terrific spirit of newly weds and adventure. We had other problems with drugs creeping in our valley and politics not to our liking.

We lived in a very small fishing village. Had purchased a very small apartment with a view on the Mediterranean when we stretched our necks out the balcony.
It was a small paradise. Tourists were few as the hotels we few then too.
Now, Nerja, is filled with every inch, huge piso's and full of tourists.
The fishing village swallowed up in the shade of concrete towers. I went back and could not find my way!!!!!

While there I found out that I could buy as much Valium over the counter as I wanted but THE Pill was a big NO NO. OK so start with the Catholic system in exchange. I remember reading "Love Story" and I became sort of sick. I had no energy, cried, laughed, was on a roller coaster. I did not get better and decided to see the only doctor in the village. He took care of the babies, your grandma's gall bladder, your boyfriend disease he got from sleeping with the foreign girls, and then there was I. I had Rhonda with me who was already well versed in the language. Doctor nodded and nodded. What was his problem? I knew I had leukemia
I just knew it. Then he asked me when was my last period.
I was puzzled, I said I was late but it was not unusual, I had cysts and was not regular at all. He told Rhonda he would do a test and see if the rabbit would die.
I laughed out loud, I said I am FOURTY!!!!I am not going to have a baby. Drs in America knew better they said I had a tipped whatever.....
Next day back to the dr. he talked too fast, I did not get it and Rhonda jumps up and down. I am still thinking leukemia. Then she tells me: I am going to have a brother. That is what the doctor said. WHAT???I am too old!!!!

Fast forward to September 1972, we now live in a fantastic gorgeous villa as caretakers for American Friends of ours. 4 bedrooms ,4 baths, huge terrace with view on the sea, on a clear day we can see Africa. A gardener and a maid comes with it. I fire the maid as I was cleaning before she came and was uncomfortable with the care but she continued to show up and was paid by the friends so I ignored most of it.
We were surrounded by the best older people, she was British down to her finger nails and tea habits, he was French down to all his sex jokes. We adored them and vice versa.
They loved the girls and the fact that a new baby was on the way.
Helen would come on the hour to check how I was doing. My mother came from Belgium to help when baby would be here.
I went to see the doctor and I had problems with high blood pressure. He suggested I'd see a gynecologist in Malaga and gave me his name.
The dr. to my surprise spoke English so at least I had a conversation on my own on this growing belly. He told me that he was going to London for a week when the baby was due. I panicked, not to worry he said I have plenty of midwives to help.
Seeing that I was a bit in shock he told me that he really wanted to induce labor as I was ready to pop.
Next day I come with my entourage of Helen, Alfredo, my mom and husband and we start the procedure of enduced labor.For some reason we started this in the doctors office so I felt good that he was near.
My on lookers sitting around in the large room together with a silent midwife. Everyone looked at me for the whole damn day, you could tell that they wanted this over with and go home but I wanted it a lot more.
Baby would not budge after 9 hours trying.
Exhausted we all pile up in Alfredo's car and go home.

Sept 4, labor day at home, gruesome murders in the Olympic village but we
ex-patriots as we are called know nothing of this.
My water breaks and I stand in the living room while my dog Julie just stares,
the girls, mother all join her and do the same. No one is moving.
I tell Rhonda to go to Helen and say it is is finally time....

Now I have to explain that proud, boisterous Alfredo had to have the biggest automobile while driving in his hometown of Paris. it was a sleek, long, long Oldsmobile. He could not go in some of the small villages as he could not turn the darn thing around. He was very proud of that sign of prosperity.
So, in the car we go , the old couple Bob and I with child making funny moves in my body.
The road then to Malaga followed the sea, it was all winding, no straight spots, 2 lane, very small ones and it was not unusual to see a rusty car 100 feet below the edge into the sand. No guards on the sides either. Spain was poor and had suffered a lot during their war.
I did not feel the need for emergency and knew I still had lots of time but Helen decided that it was time for calm and some sort of British dignity while pushing the envelope. She took her white hanky and waved it out of the window to alert the drivers around us. Some would signal us it was ok to go around the bend.
Helen's voice was starting to crackle a bit as she would yell "Ayuda" or "Au Secour".
We figured that the ever present Guardia Civil would find us somewhere, I can't remember how long it took I am thinking about one hour to get to the big city.
Somewhere near Malaga a motor escort showed up and we followed them all the way to the private clinic.
It would have made a great Italian movie scene.

Did I know I was going to be in a private clinic?
No one had said that but it was where el doctor would bring babies into the world.
You were supposed to bring clothing for the baby and be prepared with bottles ....and have a maid or at least a tia (Aunt) with you.
Say what?
Rested in a large room next to me my husband with his "Science and Health" book by Mary Baker Eddy. Bob was a Christian Scientist. He kept telling me that I was going to be just fine. I believed him. I was beyond excited that after taking such care of my girls, adopting them and loving them, Bob would have his own child too.
Having said that in all our wedded years (42) he never made a difference between the 3 kids, Never!
In the other corner sat a silent midwife, she was rather hefty with gorgeous long black hair tied and running down her back. She was very interested in her knitting, perhaps she was counting stitches and had just fergotten about me.
I startled her with my "Senora! Mira" and I pointed to some spot between the legs.
She jumped up and actually ran to the bed looked under the covers and said one word:
"La cabeza" and ran away swinging the door behind her.
A stretcher was there in seconds and off I went to the delivery room.
I had to leave my glasses behind and could not see within more than a few feet in front of me.
Whoever was going to help me to go to sleep (he never did) was poking at my teeth and I growled, then he figured that I did not have false teeth he let go and I said " These are mine"!!!!
I noticed black stuff crawling in the light above so I asked someone what was that crawling, I was reassured with the words : "Nada"
Having heard that and the giggles I insisted a bit more and they confessed that cockroaches were inside the neon covers but could not get to me.....
welcome to the hospital!
The doctor was dressed in all white and mask and said very little, but son was ready and they did not even have to tell me to push he was on the way in no time.
The proud doctor said in glorious voice "Hijo!" a son, Spanish men love hijos, macho ones, of course!!!!!
I was just in seventh heaven!!!
They brought me to my room which looked more like a parlor from the Victorian days.
Huge furniture with lots of tassels, it was a standard then , tassels under every couch and chair and lots of gold designs.
This room has huge windows, and long heavy wine colored drapes.
I was put in a regular bed and I asked Bob who was just standing there like a stone Bishop on the square, I said: Where is my son????Where is my baby???
He looked puzzled and said "In the chair!!!!"
I said: Give me my glasses quick!
Indeed a bundle was put down on the seat of a stuffed chair. No crib in sight.
A person showed up and I asked where the crib was and she asked me where my maid was. Say what? Or a Tia? she asked. No, no one.
It was expected that one would bring "help".
There was a storage area I was told for cribs etc....
The "baby" was naked in a blanket. I was asked where his clothing was?????
I had delivered 2 girls in the USA and this was not something I had expected.
So Bob ran to downtown to Woolworth ( had just opened) and got some baby clothing for his son.
Later on we just could not get little Bobby to latch on for breast feeding and
I was told to get bottles very quickly, again father ran downtown to get bottles and whatever else we needed.
They would not give me medication to dry up so Dolly Parton sat up in bed in terrible pain. Finally they came with a sheet and bound the sheet tight around me so the milk could not come in.
Meanwhile my mother had come to visit and wanted me to home asap as this was barbaric the way these people are treating my daughter.
Mother thought that Spain belonged to Africa and that Europe ended at the
Pyrenees. She did come to visit often and did not mind it so much in the end.

Once home it was a guessing game on what to feed the kid.
No formula was established at the "hospital", they said it was a powder and the maid knows it.
The "maid" was now my mother who did not understand anything besides "si" and "discuenta" (discount).
So we just winged it.
We did not give this kid shots till it was LAW before he went to kindergarten.
He was healthy and full of beans , he was constantly following the gardener and
Paco adored him. His beginning words were "dirty squa" .He would mix up the two languages.
We plain forgot to announce him to the city hall, doctors do not do that either,
so months later we got him in the embassy and got him his American papers.
Yes, if your parents are US Citizen and you give birth in a foreign country you are still an American citizen. How cool is that?

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