Monday, October 6, 2008

At Last: The Story of Mercy´s Birth

For all of you who have been waiting for the story of Mercy´s birth here it is at last. For those of you who don´t care or had rather not know the details, please be patient and I´ll blog some different stuff soon.

My mom and Shelly (my friend from the States) arrived on Wednesday September 10th late. It was the day after my due date. At the airport waiting for them I started having regular contractions. They got to about 15 minutes apart and then just stopped in the night. Another disappointment, but this time it was cushioned by the fact that my mom was here. A little earlier in the day my doc had called and moved my appointment to Friday morning. So we just took it easy on Thursday and let my mom and Shelly get some much needed rest. We were so grateful that they were on Aerosur since American Airlines had cancelled all their flights to Bolivia because of the political turmoil. Over the next few days we stayed mostly inside but ventured out for a little sightseeing, shopping and doctor´s visits as we could.

On Friday I saw my doc who said I hadn´t progressed too much. (For those of you keeping score I was barely dilated and only about 50% effaced.) I had an ultrasound to make sure the placenta was in tact and functioning well since I was already overdue. It was so she sent me home with the sad news to come back the following Wednesday. I was hoping to be induced as I knew Mercy was getting big. We asked her approximately how big Mercy was from our ultrasound measurements. She said about 9 pounds. And believe me I felt every ounce of it. I hoped everyday that week to go into labor, but alas no such blessing. Mom, Shelly and I did manage to get some meals in the freezer so we would have something to eat after the baby came. I went back 8 days overdue on the next Wednesday when the doc told me I had progressed some, but none too drastically. (I was dilated to a 3 and between 50-70% effaced she said generously.) I was really hoping she´d induce me that day, but she wanted me to be a little more ready. I felt ready!! Over ready! She said we´d meet at the hospital for an induction on Friday afternoon. By the time Friday rolled around I was 10 days over due, really miserable and my mom had been here for 9 of her 14 days.

Thursday afternoon we went to a new grocery store here in town as a diversion. I´ll blog more on that later, but you have to understand that this was a HUGE event for all us gringos here. A new grocery store that even had Frappaccinos and some other American products as well!!! My one friend described being as excited as being at Walmart at Christmastime. On the way to the store we stopped at the hospital where I had hoped to deliver. It´s the newest and best hospital here in Coch. They gave us the tour of three rooms and we choose one. They had a semi-private room where I could be with someone else or we could reserve the other bed and Joe could sleep there. They also had a private room with only one bed. The other choice was way better than the rest. It was a suite. They only had one, but it was soooo nice. It rivaled birthing rooms in the States. It even had air-conditioning. Unheard of here. They are window units, but hey it´s freon and cold air!! As far as I know the labor rooms at that hospital are the only hospital rooms in the entire city that have AC. We were excited and asked if we needed to pay in advance. The tour guide/nurse said no, just come in the next morning and check in. Well, that night less than four hours later we received a call from our doc. She said all the rooms there had filled up unless I wanted to share a room with another patient. I didn´t. So, we went to plan B. Another least it´s fun to say although it makes Joe sing whenever he hears it. I called a couple of friends who had been at Copacabana. One had even delivered there. She said it was "more rustic". My other friend used the word "antiquated". These are not necessarily the words I wanted to hear, but at least I was going to be induced the next day. We went back and repacked our bags since this hospital like the rest does not provide any amenities. By amenities I mean toilet paper, post-partum pads, meds for me, diapers, wipes, soap for washing the baby (if you don´t bring it, they don´t wash her), clothes for the baby, etc. If you need it you have to bring it. We also packed food and juice in a cooler as we were told by a friend to do so (thank you Laura for that great tip!) along with a sleeping bag and pillow for Joe and a large mirror so I could watch the birth. We looked like we were moving into the hospital not just going to be there overnight.

The next day, D-Day, Shelly made me a chicken salad to take along for my dinner and I went grocery shopping for the other things I needed. Then about noon Joe, my mom and I headed for the hospital where they put me in the ER and started an IV. Soon my doc arrived and we went up to a room where she started the Pitocin drip fast and hard at 2:00 to induce my labor. From the beginning I had contractions every 2 minutes although for the first few hours they weren´t too bad. There was no box to make sure the drip was consistent so we had to keep counting the drips to make sure I was getting the right amount. (Thanks again Laura for that tip!) My friend Angie came and stayed with us as did another friend Linda who is also a SIM nurse. It was great to have them there. Angie was very encouraging as normal and Linda was a big blessing as she helped with all the medical stuff and intervention with the nurses. My doctor was wonderful as well. She didn´t leave me at all. She stayed by my bed for my entire labor and then of course through the delivery. It reminded me of my midwife in the States....very nice. Of course I was more than thrilled that my mom was able to be there. And last but best was Joe. I know that I never want to try to go through a labor/delivery without him. He´s my rock and my honey.

Around 3:30 or so they gave me an enema (YUCK!!!). Still standard procedure here. It made me very ill. I was having diarrhea and vomiting too. The one good thing about it all was because of the force of the vomiting my water broke....that´s never happened before...the doc/midwife always had to break it in my past labors. So between the diarrhea, vomiting and my water breaking Joe said I had a traffic jam of body fluids. The one good thing about it all is I think it helped to speed up the labor. After my water broke my doc asked if I´d like an epidural. She said it would take about 30 minutes for the anesthesiologist to get there. (Since she´s Bolivian I took this to mean it would take him between an hour and an hour and a half.) So I really needed to make a decision. A couple of different times in the States I´ve had trouble with my epidural where they anesthesiologist went too far and hit my spinal fluid. Once I even got the awful headache that accompanies that complication. I didn´t really want to risk that here since if they don´t do the procedure (blood patch) to cure the headache or if it doesn´t work I could have the headache for up to a couple of months. So I said I didn´t want the epidural. Now for those of you who know me know I LOVE epidurals (I´m the President of the Epidural Fan Club and believe all good "epidural guys" need a big raise!) and have always had one for my other deliveries, but I thought this was the best decision this time.

Things started picking up steam and getting pretty dog gone painful. The pain was intense, but worse was the way the contractions were coming fast and hard...still about 2 minutes apart or less and the peaks were lasting almost a full minute. About 7:00 I felt like I needed to push. The doc checked me and I was only at a 7. Not close to pushing yet. It was about this time I started wondering if I was going to make it and how much longer was it going to be. Earlier I had secretly hoped to go past midnight so that Mercy would be born on Joe´s birthday. But at this point that was the LAST thing I wanted. Since I felt the urge to push the doc decided to go ahead and take me to the delivery room.

They pushed me on down to delivery and parked me in the hall. Joe, my mom, Linda and the doc were all putting on scrubs and getting ready to join me. Now I was all alone and in some severe pain. I remember quoting Psalm 23 and praying out loud as it seemed that the sound of my own gringa voice was comforting. After what seemed like a long time, but I´m sure was only a few minutes I said rather loudly ¨¿Donde esta mi esposo?" Joe heard me and came rushing down the hall with the nurses calling after him that he wasn´t ready because he didn´t have his shoes covered or his mask on. (The nurses really don´t like having anyone in the delivery room and I had a room full. They only allow it for gringos. And only then if the doc approves. My wonderful doc even let my mom and Linda stay with me. Bolivian men still sit in the waiting room and wait.) I was grateful to have Joe back at my side and helping me through the pain. He says he was injured by my tight vice-grip-like squeezes of his fingers, but I think he´ll make a full recovery.

By the time I got into the delivery room I was at an 8 and still wanting to push, but not quite ready. It was burning hot in there. I was drenched in sweat and they had a small heater going to keep the room warm for the baby. The nurses started trying to cover me up and put leg warmer kinds of things on me which I didn´t want since I was so hot. At this point I didn´t really care if I watched the birth or not. I mostly had my eyes closed through the unrelenting contractions. So my mom being the caring and innovative person she is used the mirror to fan me. That helped alot as did sitting up instead of lying down on the delivery table. I finally felt like I was going to make it. Around this time the doc told me I could push. I did about three times then she gave me a huge mediolateral episiotomy (yuck again). One last long push (while the doc was telling me not to push but to wait as she was putting up her instruments from the episiotomy) and into the world came a huge beautiful baby girl. They put her on my chest and I thanked God over and over again for this precious life and gift he had given us. Joe asked the staff to pray a prayer of thanksgiving with us. As usual he broke down with the emotion of the moment.

Mercy Darlene Holman (the Darlene part named after my mom) was born at 8:10 pm on September 19th weighing a whopping 10 pounds and 3 ounces. She was 23 inches long. And did I mention gorgeous? She´s also as close to perfect as a fallen baby can be. She nurses well and ever since she was 5 days old she´s been sleeping through the night. This is one benefit of a large baby and half and half for breast milk. :^) At 11 days postpartum I was able to get into my pre-pregnancy jeans. This is one benefit of living in a 3rd world country and getting some sort of diarrhea bug postpartum.

A few of fun side notes to make this long story longer for those of you who are still with me:

After the delivery they were wheeling me back to my hospital room and hitting every thing they could along the way (I was never so grateful that I didn´t have a c-section). After I was gone all the nurses and docs left as did my mom, Joe was left alone there with the baby. He called after Linda and asked if someone was going to bring Mercy up to my hospital room. Linda asked the pediatrician who said "Oh, he can take her". Quite different from in the States where there is an electonic alarm on the baby and every nurse and doc must make sure the baby matches the mom and dad´s hospital bracelet. In fact, none of us had a hospital bracelet. As they were taking me back to the ER Joe called after me...."Her name is Denise". That´s as formal as it got.

Speaking of that...when I checked into the hospital I didn´t have or show any i.d. and after her birth we didn´t fill out any paper work, birth certificates, etc. She´s just "under the radar" until we go downtown and get all of her citizenship paperwork. Right now other than this blog there is no record of her existance.

When Joe was making his way back to my hospital room with Mercy first he went back to the locker room to retrieve his clothes. He couldn´t change since he was holding her so he took his clothes and headed downstairs. Of course all the lights in the stairwell were out and it was night time. Bolivians don´t like to waste electricity. He couldn´t see. So he was holding her tightly with one hand and with the other he had a death grip on the handrail (at least there was one of those) and he walked like the old man Tim Conway used to play. He didn´t want to drop the 20 minute old baby.

After I was back in the room I was greeted by a smiling and still encouraging Angie who gave me one of my favorite guessed it.....a real Starbucks Frappaccino in a bottle! Thanks, Ang. A nice topper for a great day!

The staff at the hospital left us alone all night...also unheard of in the US. One time right after I was taken back to my room after delivery the nurse checked my temp and blood pressure. The next day she asked me if I was able to go to the rest room. I guess it´s a good thing I didn´t wait on them to take me. Once before 10:00 pm and again the next day a doc stuck his head in the door and asked if we were all okay. We said yes and he left. We went home 12 hours after her birth and after paying our $200 bill that included the hospital stay, the delivery and the pediatrician. (Our sweet, wonderful Christian doc gave us her services as a gift. We found this out the following week when I went for a post partum check up. God provides again.)

As soon as we arrived home we were swamped by kiddos wanting to see and hold Mercy. She smiled like crazy at them. I´ve never seen anything like it. I don´t know who was the most thrilled. (Kids 12 and under can´t visit at the hospital so they weren´t able to see her until we got home, but as I said it was pretty soon after her birth.)

Later we Skyped my dad with the web-cam so that he could see Mercy.

Back at home we received lots of encouraging emails from friends all over the world. We are indeed blessed.

A short four days later Mom and Shelly left for the States. We were sad to see them go, but so glad they were able to be with us for the time they were here.

Here´s another pic of our newest addition in the cute outfit my dad sent for her.


melissa Thomas said...

We have been praying for you guys. So many nights I have been awaken at 3 am and you come to mind so I just pray !! I cant believe your story !!! How crazy that you just left with this beautful baby and no papers to sign WOW !!! We are all so happy for you . Im dying to get all the stories from Shelly when I finally see her !!

Love and prayers !
The Thomas Family

Anonymous said...

She is so amazingly beautiful!

Again, thank you so so much for allowing me to have a part in the miracle.


D&P said...

It was great to hear again about
this great event. I appreciate
so very much being able to share
this time with you. Thanks for
being the wonderful son and
daughter that you are and allowing
me to be a part of this special
time in your lives.

She is a very special girl.

We love you very much,

Mom and Dad

Anonymous said...

WOW!! What a great story she will be able to tell about her birth for the rest of her life! She is absolutely beautiful! All the cultural differences were truly amazing. I guess no one is worried about someone wanting and extra "gringo" baby!! Congratulations and I am continuing to pray for all of you!
In His Grip,

The Holmans In Bolivia said...

Thanks so much for your prayers. We definitely appreciate them. I know that God is listening to you at those 3 a.m. times. I´m just sorry you aren´t able to sleep then and pray another time. :^)
I hope you catch up with Shelly soon and hear more about our lives here. Thanks as usual for your love and support.

Thank you for being there with us and for your encouragement. I am praying that you are back to your old self (minus some stress) really soon!

Thanks for letting Mom come and help out here and be here for her namesake´s birth and thanks for all the gifts.

Thanks for coming. We´re glad you were able to be a part of the miracle. You´re the best. We all miss you. Come back soon and bring Dad next time!

Love to you all,

The Holmans In Bolivia said...


I said that very thing about a ´gringa´ baby. :^) It´s been fun keeping up with you even long distance. Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement over these past months. They mean more than you know. I hope in about 2 1/2 years we can get together in good ole Mansfield.


Deb said...

Loved reading every word. What a wonderful story and what a BEAUTIFUL baby girl.

We are so happy for all of you!!!

Sun said...

OH WOW - she is gorgeous! SO so happy for you! Sunshine

Shirley Koons said...

Denise& Joe,
Your baby girl is beautiful, as all your children are.
In His Love,
Shirley K.

Anonymous said...

I have GOT to send the midwives a link to your page! They will not believe this!! What a sweet blessing and so GORGEOUS Mercy is! Hugs, my friend!!!

Gloria C said...

so beautiful! thanks for sharing!

kibbe said...

Congratulations all of you! We're thrilled for you here in the Huntington home! Thanks for sharing the birth story....She looks gorgeous! God is so very good.