She Said he Said – March 2017 insights into parenthood
Hello, I’m new to this blog writing thing so apologies in advance if what I write doesn’t actually count as a blog, but this is the only way I know how to do it.
I suppose I should introduce myself first. My name is Judith. I am a 40 something Brit who has been living in Madrid for nearly 10 years (crikey 10 years already). I moved here with my future husband (yes, I could have escaped!) when his job relocated. My husband is a wannabee geek (I will not let him have the full title despite his protests) and works for the European Space Agency (that’s the European version of NASA). We met while we were both living in Holland and moved to Madrid in May 2007 when his job relocated.
My life changed completely: from having worked in the clothing industry to becoming an English teacher. In 2010 I bought the academy I worked for (which if you think that makes me a high powered exec or something, think of the complete opposite) and then in Oct 2016 I became, along with Mayte, an owner of Kids in Madrid.
People have been telling me for ages that I should do blogs or vlogs. “Write about what you know”, they say referring to teaching. So, following their advice, I’m going to write about my experiences as a parent, which is funny as I consider myself to be always learning on the job. My other half will chip in with his side so you get a dual perspective. But, ladies, as we all know, us women are always right!
So, yes, I am a mother. I am the proud mummy to my beautiful (no bias there at all) 7 year old daughter who was born here in Madrid. This leads me to my first story of parenthood (or impending as the case may be):
I WON’T BE ABLE TO TRANSLATE WHILST IN LABOUR
As mentioned, future husband and I moved here in 2007, May to be exact. We tied the knot the following year and, doing the maths, I must have ended up getting pregnant in September 2008.
My pregnancy, thankfully, was straightforward despite the fact that I was not the youngest mother ever. On a Thursday morning I woke up early about 6am needing the loo and noticed some slight bleeding. I don’t recall being overly concerned as I’d heard this could happen near to the due date, but I woke up my husband and off we went to the hospital. Seen very quickly by a doctor (“the doctor” as I will refer to him now, sadly too much time has passed for me to remember his name). He reassured me everything was OK and it would be at least another week or so before our baby would arrive. Very good, reassured, home again and husband out to work.
At about 10:30am the contractions started. No panic, early stages, but husband returned home and off we trotted to the hospital again (yes, typical first time parents). Seen by “the doctor” again, some kind of test done, reassured again it wasn’t going to happen that and sent off home again.
No surprise, the contractions steadily increased in frequency so at about 6pm we returned yet again to the hospital and this time I was admitted. It was a different doctor who was on duty at that moment. We were shown into a very spacious delivery room and all the necessary medical steps undertaken.
I’m going to fast forward a little here, partly due to lack of memory, but also to leave something for another tale.
I can’t remember the hour but I know I’d been in labour for what felt like a decade. I believe it could have been some time in the early hours of Friday (husband – any recollection?). Contractions had been proceeding as they should, ie frequent and blooming painful, and body was doing everything it should (need I go into detail?). However, there was one thing that wasn’t playing ball – the future joy of my life!!
Despite pushing with every contraction my baby just wasn’t budging. I think this was early indications of her being like her daddy!!
By this time “the doctor” was back on duty and when he walked into our delivery room I could see his surprise at us being back. Not my fault our baby had decided to come along earlier than he anticipated.
Now at this point I must interject and explain something. After two years of living in Spain our Spanish was so-so. Both of being British we speak English at home and our jobs both use English. Consequently, we only really needed Spanish when we were out and about and it’s amazing how you can get by. We were learning Spanish, but just hadn’t mastered it by the time of giving birth. We stilll haven’t now, but it is a heck of a lot better.
My Spanish is, and if I’m honest, has always been a bit better than my husband’s (sorry husband but it’s true). However, I will admit that his listening skills are usually better than mine. I had already advised my husband well in advance of labour that I would not be able to translate whilst in labour, believing – and quite rightly so – that my mind and body would be otherwise occupied.
So, back to the story. In walks “the doctor”, surprise registered and then he starts talking and explaining something to me. Not one word made any sense and he must have mistaken my blank look for either foreigner understanding or mother-to-be-in-lots-of-pain-understands-everything-look. I look at my husband for translation/explanation/clarity, basically anything and got just a reassuring smile in return.
In that moment the next contraction happened and at the same time “the doctor” leaned over me, one hand grabbed the opposite bed rail and the elbow of his other arm was pushed, forced into the top of my big round pregnant belly. Up until that point I hadn’t screamed despite the full weight of each contraction (more on that another time), but by hell did I scream then.
The scream was honestly not for effect. It was a pure involuntary reaction as it was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt and it was the suddenness of it.
However, that was not the worst. Not expecting it, my body went on automatic pilot and responded by pushing “the doctor” off me. It was an immediate reaction which I did without thinking – and I did it with some force. Yikes! But I just hadn’t expected his elbow to be forced into my belly and in my tired mind it was as though I was being attacked and needed to defend myself.
Thankfully “the doctor” did not fall over or hit any crucial instruments, but he did look extremely surprised! Oops.
At that moment, it registered what “the doctor” had been doing. And it also had registered with my husband who was looking somewhat sheepish as it had finally dawned on him that he was supposed to tell me what was going to happen.
I duly apologised to “the doctor” who explained again what needed to be done. I think if time had allowed he would have done a drawing for me. This time he made absolutely sure I understood what would happen – that he had to use his elbow and body weight to get future daughter moving down towards the exit. And that was the worst thing – I had to go through the pain again. And, trust me, it was painful.
Needless to say, after this, both my husband and I had learnt our lessons. My husband knew it was his job to listen and translate. And I knew it was my job to listen and translate too!!
Thank you for reading. More to follow soon. Over to my husband.
On a Thursday morning I was woken up early about 6am by the wife, who seemed to want to have a chat at a rather inconvenient time. “Can’t this wait?” I thought? I’m missing my beauty sleep (not that I need any of course). Ah, sleep –
“Oi!” I seem to remember someone mentioning to me. Ah, the wife. I must have dozed off again. What does she want at this unforeseen hour?
“I think I’m bleeding a bit” she said. “Oh.” I responded reassuringly. “Ah, well. No more sleep” I said to myself.
So off we went to the hospital. And off we went back home after being told by the doctor (I’m going to refer to the doctor as “The Doctor” the same way as I refer to the cat as “The Cat”. Can’t think of his name. Not sure if I even cared) that it’s a bit too early and we should come back in a day or so. We decided anyway (probably the contractions again) for another visit to the hospital/home turnaround before agreeing that it’s best to stay at home for a while longer and check the contractions.
I Googled a bit about contractions, and apparently once it reaches once every 3 mins that’s when we should go back to the hospital and see The Doctor. I like numbers me, so I timed her contractions every few minutes or so, and noticed it started going down from ten minutes to 6 mins to 5 mins and then to 3. I said, “Hey wife, they seem to be converging to 3 mins, look at this chart –“
“TAKE ME TO HOSPITAL! NOW!” my wife suggested.
“Oh. Okay.” I responded. I felt a little bit dejected that she didn’t like my Excel spreadsheet, but there you go. Just no appreciation. Anyhoo, off to the hospital we went.
“What? You are back already?” another doctor (I’ll call him “Doctor Two”) told us. Well actually the Spanish equivalent. Well, at least that’s what I think he told us. “It’s going to be a while before you go into labour” (I think he was referring to my wife, not to me) so just lie on this bed and let’s see how it goes.
It goes over 10 hours.
By this time it was 5 in the morning. By this time also The Doctor was on shift. Wife was kindly keeping me awake every 3 minutes by screaming with contractions. Every 3 minutes! Wish I had noise-cancelling headphones, I thought.
My wife was also squeezing my hand and making sure I was awake by gently digging her fingernails into my skin. I forgot to tell her to cut her nails before going into labour. Or I did and she had ignored me.
Now I should tell you that I have been denied sleep for 23 hours. Normally I can keep awake without sleep for up to 5 hours, I’m quite good at that, but 23 hours?
So I didn’t have much sleep, right? I do seem to recall she asked me to translate everything The Doctor said just in case. But she also keeps telling me that she’s better at Spanish than me, so I thought that she may want to do the translating instead. No?
Anyway, The Doctor had mentioned about his needing to stick his elbow into my wife’s stomach to push our daughter out or something to that ilk, and I figured my wife also got the same message as she’s so good at Spanish and all that, and did I mention that I had 23 hours without sleep? So it didn’t quite register that I had to translate the Spanish. So before I knew it said Doctor stuck his elbow into my wife’s stomach. The Wife screamed, then shoved The Doctor off her, while shouting something that I was really very glad was entirely in English. I do remember the shocked look on The Doctor’s face. To say I was rather surprised would be an understatement too. Using my sharp analytical mind, I realized that my wife didn’t know that he was going to do that, and I should have translated in advance. Oh. Oops.
Well, The Doctor had to do it all again. Wife was prepared this time too. And so was Doctor. Husband was hoping that this time round Wife wouldn’t use the Spanish equivalent of the words she used first time around when elbow landed on stomach.
Well, despite all of that, Baby was nice and snug in my wife’s belly and didn’t feel the need to come out at that time, so we had to wait a few more hours and another surgical procedure before Baby finally decided that the racket outside is getting rather too much and it’s best to go outside and see what the bother was about. And she finally did. And she was beautiful.