Our C-Section was scheduled for Friday morning, so our Doctor asked that we arrive on Thursday around 11am to get ready. We thought 11am sounded a little early, but we figured, we've never had a baby before...so, maybe there is a lot of set-up, paperwork, etc. Plus, we are in the Czech Republic; and they like papers, forms and stamping everything!
Arriving at the Hospital
We arrived at 11, and called the Doctor's Assistant, who spoke English. She quickly came to escort us to the registration room. This was a several step process. First, was getting out of the hospital elevator that sticks shut, ironically on the the delivery floor, where we were headed. Aaron put his shoulder into the door and it swung open. We made our way to the "when you think you are in labor, come here" room which doubled as the regular check-in. They sat me down in a chair, and hooked me up to the heart monitor, to check Maggie's heart rate. As I sat there, I looked around the little room, sparse, but clean. The room was divided with two sets of draw curtains, They were both wide-open when I arrived. As I was being monitored for about thirty minutes, I saw several ladies come through those curtains. These ladies were not doing well...one lady, came in, the nurses snapped open the curtain and asked her to get up on the bed...she was mid contraction, but I saw her struggle was real.
My first up close look at labor gave me chills
Trying with all her might, she almost didn’t make it up the hospital gurney, which might as well been a mountain side. Strategically, she shifted her enormous pregnant self, up…without any help from the nurse mind you! Just then, another lady, rang the buzzer to get into the room. She could be heard breathing heavily over the distorted speaker. She came into the room, and they put her in the other curtained area, he hair was dark and short damp from sweat. She didn't stay in the room long, as she was quickly escorted to another area. All the while, I just sat there, not in any pain...just watching in awe of what was happening.
Inside the Hospital, waiting for the Doctor’s Assistant to arrive
The next step was to get all the paperwork and documents in order...and to secure our private room. This is something that we found was a bonus for us. Most of the rooms women go in after delivery, are shared with 2-3 other women…in fact most of my experience in the hospital from beginning to end was with 2-3 other women…privacy really isn’t much of a concern. The private room would be a serious bonus! Since I wanted Aaron to stay in the room with me, we were able to secure it. (For extra cost of course!) As we arrived into the room, we looked around in awe (?). Not sure if awe is the right word...maybe bewilderment? We said, oh this isn't so bad…trying to convince ourselves it was true! It was a corner room, there was a table and refrigerator. Our own bathroom and shower. A baby station and the oldest scale (Made in Bulgaria stamped on the back) I ever saw...it was quaint, not what we expect in a hospital room, but maybe what we had grown to expect in this part of the world. The room was surrounded by windows. Unfortunately, with the building being so old, they were in the midst of cleaning the stone on the outside...so, our gorgeous view was covered by scaffolding, and at random times, working men, with tools, and sandwiches, and beer!
Baby Scale made in Bulgaria (We used this every day after Maggie’s birth.)
As we were getting settled...I am an organizer, remember...I started putting things here and there. Getting things ready for when Maggie arrives, getting things ready for me and making sure Aaron had enough snacks and drinks to get him through the next few days as well. A nurse brought in lunch for me...a typical Czech lunch; soup, goulash and hot tea. We kind of sat around talking and laughing at all that had happened, and that was about to happen. A nurse came in to introduce herself, she would be our day nurse. She only spoke Czech, so we spoke as best we could and mimed the rest when our imperfect-Czech fell through. She said that in a little while they would come and get me for another heart monitor hook-up (our Doctor insisted on this several times that day).
Resting in-between nurses coming in and heart monitor tests
Eventually I was taken to the pre-labor area. This is the area where they have the women who are in the beginning stages of labor...I never quite knew our schedule, they really weren’t interested in sharing it with me anyway. I was hooked up to a machine…not sure what it was this time, I didn’t ask, they didn’t tell me. Next to me was the lady who was across from me in the first room...this time, she seemed to be having contractions more regularly than before. Then, there was another lady. She was having quite a few contractions and having a lot of pain, sweat was beading down her shirt. Again, I just sat there, absorbing this environment like a sponge.
After I was finished with my 30 minutes, I met with the Doctor. Aaron was allowed in too.
You could tell our Doctor was finally figuring out, that Aaron was going to be a big part of this experience…
it’s not always typical to have the husband present and involved. So, he started visiting and chatting with Aaron as well. Most of the time, Czech men are not at each appointment, and sometimes absent at the early stages of the labor/delivery. So, it was a bit different for the doctor, until he remembered/realized, we are American, and that helped quite a bit and he wanted to chat with Aaron about mid-century American muscle cars…Aaron did his best.
Waiting to do paper work and meet with the Dr
He did a quick check-up, and then asked that I have another heart monitor done. He gave me his cell phone number, and asked that I text him with the results. What? Ok... I tried not to laugh, but it seemed odd that I, the patient, was to call him with the results from the heart monitor, that I could not read, from his hospital. "Ok, I will do it." So...I was hooked up again to the heart monitor. About 20 minutes in, a nurse came to check and realized the monitor was not on...so, we started again. Then, I start hearing, what sounds like an animal coming from the floor. Remember the poor lady from before? She was on all fours on the floor, working through contractions as best she could. I thought,
I am literally going to be a part of this lady’s birth story, because that baby is about to shoot out.
...finally, the lady's husband came into the room, and called for their midwife. She came in, and worked through the contraction with the lady, making sure the heart monitor stayed in place the whole time. After about 30 minutes of this they finally decided she should go to delivery. As she left the room, and walked down the hall to the other corridor, I could hear them stopping every minute or so. I don’t know any Czech swear words, but I am pretty sure I heard some then...I have no idea if she made it to delivery, or had that baby in the hall. “Thank you Lord for sparing me that joy!"😃 The nurse came in, and told me I was good to go. I asked her for the results, that the doctor wanted me to text him the results. With the language barrier, I wasn't sure if she got what I was saying or not. She said she had to get someone who could read the results. She was gone for about 10 minutes, and returned with a highly informative “test is good". When I got back to the room, I texted our doctor that the results were, “good". He seemed satisfied.
Now, with the evening arriving, it became time for some pre-surgery prep. Our evening nurse came in and introduced herself, still no English, only Czech. We smiled and chatted a bit about what was to be expected. She drew some blood, and mentioned that she would be in later to shave me...Ok, people...at this point, I figured I was in for a full experience, the only way to make it through is to try and laugh. So, that night, more blood was taken, I was shaved and given an enema. 😃
We were told that there was one person before me in the morning for a C-Section, then it would be us...they figured it would be around 8. However, I would need to be showered and ready at 6.
Getting hooked-up and ready
Trying to rest before the delivery
The morning came, I was very nervous. Waking up at 5, and getting ready, then waiting...well, it was not easy. I was a bundle of nerves, I tried to rest the best I could. We played music and Aaron prayed over the day, and we waited. The day nurse came in, she put my IV in and said she would be back when it was time. At about this time, that enema started kicking in (Sorry ya’ll TMI...I’m slow moving, people)...it was so fun going back and forth to the bathroom with my IV pole, especially since the bathroom was the size of a phone booth...Aaron, was a good sport!
At about 7:30, the nurse came back with a gentleman pushing a gurney. She said, it's time. I went to the bathroom one last time, went out into the hall and got on the bed. Thankfully, there was a small step stool and the help of the attendee to get me up there. The nurse suddenly realized she gave me the wrong gown...so, back down I got, back into the room, where she helped me put the right one on. Back up onto the gurney, laid down, blanket over me...and away we went. Aaron went with the nurse, to a different area to get ready himself. We went down an elevator, arrived on another floor, through some doors, to the surgery area. We were met by the Assisting Doctor, who greeted me with, "we've been waiting for you for several minutes". To which, I laughed out loud (I couldn't help it, this time). I just shrugged my shoulders. I mean, come on people...I can only go as fast as that man behind me can push the bed.
They asked me to transfer from one gurney to another...with no help, I was supposed to slide over...it is not as easy when the gurneys have no wheel locks, and you are nine months pregnant.
It wasn’t pretty, but I made it!!
Next, I was wheeled into the surgical room. There was a flurry of activity, as the nurses were doing their thing. The anesthesiologist came in, and we chatted a bit about what was to happen. The Assisting Doctor, sat me up on the edge of the bed, to get me ready for my spinal tap. He explained (in perfect English) that he would press down on my shoulders to help me not move, and that I should rest my head on his shoulder and he would coach me on breathing and the process as it was happening. I sat there for a few minutes on the freezing table shivering, as we waited on the Doctor to arrive. When he was getting scrubbed down, they started the process. I was very impressed with this stage, as the assisting Doctor talked me through what was happening, what I should be feeling and then I was done. It really was not bad AT ALL! If this was the worst of it, I will be fine, I told myself. I laid down, they pulled the blue curtain up and the Doctor arrived. He greeted me briefly, and they told me, he was going to do a small cut to make sure I didn't feel anything. I felt them wipe me down with ????, and in my mind I was screaming, I FEEL THAT. Aaron came in, and I was so glad to see him. I told him they were going to do a sample cut to make sure I couldn't feel anything...to which he informed me, that they were already into the process and the baby was about ready to come...what?
I had a breathing mask on, and I think I must have been pretty drugged up, as he said I was slurring a lot as I talked. I was really having to focus on my breathing, as I was trying not to hyperventilate from freaking out...I mean, this was my first time to ever have anything this drastic done...and I was not in America. Plus, there was so much waiting, then suddenly everything happened quicker than I expected it to, I didn't get to do all my research, prep and questions answered before we arrived at this point, my defensive mechanism from living as a foreigner for so long.
Aaron, seeing the anxiety in my face, soothed it with his own great experience of getting ready for the surgery... read his FB post at the end of this post. It definitely helped. The nurses and anesthesiologist told me, whatever I felt, I needed to let them know, so they could take care of it. Queasiness, chest pain, etc...were all there and present, to which they quickly helped by adding things to my IV. At this point, I am just some lady laying here on a table, trying to breath and having a baby cut out of her! Aaron later told me, that he saw blood squirting everywhere, and the Doctor was up on the table pulling. He can tell quite the story!
He said, she's out...we heard a cry...to which we both cried.
They whisked her by us, we both tried to grab a quick look. Aaron kissed me, and told me how proud he was of me...and then followed Maggie. He was with her when she was weighed, and all essential things that happen when a baby comes were done. He got some great photos...He also got some "yellings" from the nurse who was attending to Maggie. They brought her to me...oh, what a beautiful sight. I really cannot put into words what was happening and I was thinking, "She was our sweet and beautiful daughter! How long I waited for this moment!" I kissed her, and they whisked her away. The doctor finished up, and told me that Aaron would be able to see me in a few moments, and I was wheeled away.
I was taken back to the entrance of the surgical area, to be moved into ICU. Our Doctor wants all of his C-Sections to go into ICU for 24 hours. He had mentioned this to us previously, and he mentioned Aaron would not be able to be in there unless there was a private room available in that ward...turns out, there was not. We did not know this, no one told us this…at least in English. I would be able to see Aaron in a few minutes, as per the Doctors comments, but this wasn’t the case. While waiting to go into ICU, they rolled the surgical gurney next to a bed. As when I arrived, I thought, are they going to have me get onto the other bed. I was preparing myself to figure out how to do this, since I didn't have help the first time, I figured I might be on my own again...then, all of a sudden, a wooden board was slide under one side of my body. I looked over, and two nurses where lifting the board, and I dumped over into the bed like wheelbarrow with a load of debris…or a load of Julie in this case…really! (rolls eyes) it was quite funny to me.
They straightened me out, and covered me up with a blanket...turns out, I didn't have any clothes on, not even a gown!
Here we go people, are you along for the ride? It's going to get a bit "real" for the next part! This was only the warm up. This was over ten months ago, and I am now finding the ability to write about it. I found myself very vulnerable after my experience. I remember another missionary telling a group of us, her greatest accomplishment for a term was having a baby there. I remember seeing the look on her face when she said that, and not being able to read or understand it…I completely do now…sometimes there are no words. Part two will be coming next week.
Aaron’s FB post about his experience leading up to Maggie’s birth! 😃