Monday, January 05, 2009

My Birth Story In Honduras

Baby is now three weeks old. In this time I feel like I have gone through so much physically and emotionally that I feel like it's been much longer.

My due date was Dec 20th. The morning of Dec 15th I woke up feeling a little strange. Nothing major, but it was enough for me to call Papa and tell him that I felt a little different and for him not to make plans for that day, night or the next few days. I got on the phone with a girlfriend and chatted for a long time and decided that I would probably deliver within 72 hours.

I stayed busy around the house doing laundry and cleaning a little here and there. Then I got the great idea that I should cook a nice big Spanish tortilla that could be eaten for leftovers for a few days. I finished cooking and was letting it cool on the stove when I became extremely tired and sleepy. Strangely sleepy. I curled me and my big o' belly up on our tiny little couch and completely knocked out asleep. I remember having some pain in my sleep but it wasn't enough to completely wake me up. I was woke by my son asking for some help with something and I felt a pain again and this time it got my attention. Whoo hooo. It only took a few moments longer and I announced it was time to go to the hospital. After a few "are you serious?" questions from Papa he is convinced.

We call my parents and Sister Sprout to let them know, get my bag ready, and make a few phone calls for our son to be picked up from the hospital. Papa gets the laundry off the line that is hanging in the back, we gather everything we think we need and we pile into the truck and leave while my lovely tortilla is left sitting on the stove as we drive away. Don't worry it was saved. Papa's cousin came to the house to get a few things we forgot and got it in the fridge. The tortilla proved to be great post baby leftovers.

Papa had just gotten home from work when all this started happening and it was now rush hour on our way to the hospital. There was a looong line backed up to get onto the main road. Papa asks if he should cut in line and after a quick thought, I tell him yes. I use the last of my pregnancy privileges and the traffic cop stops traffic and lets us through. I really didn't feel like sitting in traffic having contractions. I had always complained to Papa that riding in his truck would send me into labor. On the way to the hospital I told him I wasn't worried about all the bumps anymore and maybe they would help. Ha!

We arrive to the hospital just after dusk. Our doctor meets us there and I am admitted. I am wheeled down to my room while Papa and Brother go off to handle some admitting paperwork and wait for Papa's cousin to come pick up Brother. I give Brother a kiss goodbye and tell him that it was time for the baby to come out of mama's tummy. He looked a little worried for me, bless his little heart. I kept a smile on for him.

My room is like an old hotel room. A bit drab. Now that I think about it, I think the hospital could have originally been a hotel! My room even had a patio. At that moment alone in the room I am suddenly missing what I know in MN at the birthing center where I had my first two kids. I missed my midwives who gave such supportive care. I felt alone and scared sitting there. I called my girlfriend from my cellphone then and bawled. Just bawled. How I wished there was a way out of this. That I could put it all on hold and I could fly home to MN and go to what is familiar to me. But after a bit of crying I knew at that moment that I had better suck it up, put my head on right and just get this job done and over with.

I had opted to not have an epidural. I was a little worried about the side effects of getting one and I knew that with drugs there is a higher risk for complications and c-section. I felt prepared, but I also felt scared knowing what will come as the labor progressed. It ended up being a good thing too, because when they tried to hook me up to the fetal monitors the machine ended up being broken and they could not locate a working hand held doppler to listen to the baby's heart. It was quite frustrating and a little scary for a moment. If I had gotten the epidural, it normally would have required that I be under constant monitoring. I hadn't realized how much I put my faith in machines. But with a little reminder from Papa that God will take care of us, I moved on from my fear and again focused on getting baby born. My doctor did end up bringing some of his equipment over from his office to do some monitoring. Even my doctor seemed to be a little frustrated with the hospital's lack of working equipment.

Things slowed down with my labor once we got to the hospital and it took a while to get it going again. A doctor threatened pitocin and I half jokingly told him to "shut up". He didn't really get my sarcasm. I've noticed that some Hondurans don't seem to understand that. What got the labor started again was walking. We were not allowed to walk outside the room so I walked the patio and the room. Yes, I did feel kind of like a caged animal. It was a surreal time for me. I stood on the patio looking out onto the city and thinking how strange that I was going to give birth in Honduras.

I knew that I would be delivering late and I instructed Papa to ask about food for me after the baby was born. I hadn't had dinner and knew that I would need some food. Turned out they wouldn't have anything for me to eat so I sent Papa out to get me a Subway sandwich.

Things picked up at that point and it was a long hard labor. It went on longer than I had anticipated. Finally somewhere around 1:30am I was so ready to be done. I was exhausted and I think Papa was too. At that point I wouldn't even let him leave me to go the bathroom. The contractions were coming about every 1 to 4 minutes for 2 hours lasting about 30-45 seconds each. I know this because with no working equipment, Papa was instructed to keep track to make sure everything was going okay.

Finally I am ready to deliver Baby and it was an extremely strange, surreal and bizarre experience for me. Nothing like I thought it would be and nothing like my previous two births in the states. The first thing that surprised me was that I would have to leave my room and go to a very bright and sterile delivery room. The second big shock was that I was going to be strapped down. When I explained the birth to my mother, she said it sounded very similar to how it was 30 some years ago when she was having me and my sisters. I believe it too. The equipment they had in there did look to be about 30 years old, at least!

After 9 hours of labor and all the interesting and sometimes stressful moments, Baby was born and I was looking at that beautiful little person and all I could say over and over was, "Thank you, Jesus". I was truly grateful and oh so glad that it was over. Baby was brought over to me exercising her lungs and having a good cry and as soon as she was in my arms she was quiet and listening to me talk. It was a nice little chat and then she was whisked away to the nursery for an exam with the pediatrician and Papa.

Baby was born at 2:40am and she was just perfect. My recovery was fairly easy in the hospital. I think part of this was because I didn't have any drugs. I didn't need any pain meds that they offered me. The food was good too! One of the nurses that was on duty when Baby was born brought in some of the other nurses and explained to them that I was very strong. I'm not exactly sure what she meant by that, but I must have made some kind of impression because she said I was strong every time she came to check on me.

I stayed in the hospital the night Baby was born and then the following night. One of the interesting things about the hospital bill that we got was that we were charged for every little thing. Down to the garbage bags!

I'm sure there are those asking - would you have another baby in Honduras? I've had three weeks to think this over and the answer to that is if I was going to have more children (not planning on it) I'm not so sure I would have another baby in Honduras. Or if I did decide to, I might do more research on finding a place that I would be more comfortable and possibly finding a good midwife. - But I'm not having more children. Did I say that? (he he) When I was in labor one of the things I would sometimes say was "Thank God this is my last baby!".

I have described this as my "mission impossible" birth.
Mostly, I am just so grateful we made it through the birth healthy.


Brandy said...

Wow, what an interesting story! With my hubby wanting to move to Honduras, I'm not so sure I'd have a baby there..(thank God, I'm not planning on any more children either!) The part that got me was the strapping down part! Woah, now that is really weird and I would totally freak out! lol

411 from Down Under said...

Thank you for sharing hon. I loved hearing about the birth. You were very brave!

Live Simply Love Strongly said...

What a great birth story! I'm so glad everything went smoothly. My husband's grandmother was a midwife in El Salvador, and his mother had 5 0f 6 kids at home with midwifes. I am a huge midwifery advocate. That being said, I highly doubt anyone could get a midwife in Honduras of the same calibur as what we have here in the States. A midwife here is a medical professional who has specialized training. A midwife in Honduras (the few who still exist)are women who have apprenticed with another midwife, and although they probably have a lot of wisdom passed on from midwifes through the years and some knowledge of herbs, do not have the same medical training, nor the resources for an emergency transfer to the hospital. If I was in Honduras and pregnant, I would think about flying a midwife in from the States, or going to the States to give birth, or going last minute to the hospital in Honduras. Anyway, your baby is soooo cute!

Live Simply Love Strongly said...

Oh, by the way, my mother-in-law uses, "callese" in the same way we would use "shut up" (like a no me digas/you've got to be kidding kind of thing). That's not something she picked up in the States either...but maybe she's the only Central American woman who does that though???

Kelly said...

Wow, what an amazing story of an amazing woman serving an amazing God. Glad He's in control, huh?

Honduras Sprout said...

LSLS - I would definitely find a midwife from the states. I know there are some here. I know a woman in Copan who had her baby at home with a ex-pat midwife from Canada who just happened to live in town too.
Another interesting thing that I heard is that in Copan, a mother is paid money to give birth in their hospital/clinic there. Apparently this is to give incentive to mothers to prevent home birth problems.

Kelly - Thanks! And yes, I am so glad He is in control!

Honduras Sprout said...

Brandy - the strapping down thing was strange and surprising to me, but it also made me think about what birth is like for many women in Honduras still, and also what it was like for many women a generation ago in the states.
I'd love to see birth and woman's health be improved holistically in Honduras.

Live Simply Love Strongly said...

When you refer to Copan, are you talking about SRdeCopan or Copan Ruinas?

Honduras Sprout said...

Copan Ruinas. Sorry for the confusion. I think I almost always refer to it as only "Copan" and usually hear SR de Copan always said in full.

Anonymous said...

What a Beautiful story!!
We have 3 children also, a 10 yr old boy, 2 yr old girl and a soon to be 1 yr old girl and that last time I was saying the same thing. LAST ONE! But the crazy thing about that is seeing your BEAUTIFUL pictures I could see myself doing it just one more time!!! That makes me feel a little PYSCHO!! LOL

At any rate congratulations again!!
Thanks for recounting your baby story for all of us...

Anonymous said...

I am sorry your experience was not that memorable. I am now curious to know what hospital was it where you gave birth? It surprises me that they still have equip from 30 years ago.. outdated... well, for being San Pedro Sula, the Industrial Capital of Honduras... that is a shame. Tegucigalpa's Hospitals are better, and you have a choice of several private hospitals. Public Hospitals... no question about it... there is a huge problem with them in Honduras.

Well, FELICIDADES POR TU BEBE... Una Niñita Sprout Hondureño-Americana. Yupi Yupi!

Honduras Sprout said...

Georgette - Hi! I wish I would have looked into the hospital a little more. It's supposed to be a good hospital (Bandana) and we went on that reputation. I think there might be some hospitals with more updated facilities in SPS. I did ask my doc if I could see where I'd be delivering and he said I couldn't until I checked in.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda, but it all turned out okay.

About the public hospitals, they do seem to be scary. I know a nurse who did a volunteer day at a public hospital with labor and delivery, and she said she was shocked at how things were done and said she was very afraid the mother and/or baby would die. The mother had pre-eclamsia.

Thanks for the nice comment!

leo said...

Well, Bendaña IS old (, traditional and reliable, but old, that is a fact for us sampedranos. You should've checked Hospital Del Valle (, its relatively new thus new technologies, new equipment. And the more obviuos choice for excellence is CEMESA (
In response to Mrs. Asfura, there are options an SPS.

Honduras Sprout said...

leo - thanks so much for the links! That is very helpful. I didn't even think to try to look and see if they have websites. I wish someone would have made a solid recommendation. People would ask where I was delivering and I'd tell them. Then after I delivered people started telling me about their experience at Del Valle, etc. and how it was so nice, etc, etc...and I'm wondering, "Well why didn't you tell me about this BEFORE!?" ha ha. Oh well, like I all worked out. The 30 year old equipment worked just as good I guess. If it ain't broke...

Honduras Sprout said...

I thought of something the other day that I forgot to mention.

Some may be aware of this already, but having your husband or significant other present during the labor and delivery is not as open here in Honduras. A cousin told us that at Hospital Del Valle that she could have no one with her. She had her son two years ago. Not even her mother was allowed in. Another friend who delivered around the same time as me also had to deliver alone. And it's not just for c-sections. These were normal vaginal deliveries with no complications.

I've heard stories that one reason for this is that a father one time attacked the doctor thinking he was hurting his wife. But honestly, I'm not exactly sure why these policies exist some places.

I had heard about all this prior to delivering and talked to my doc about it and he assured us my husband would be allowed in and he encouraged fathers to be present. Another reason we went with Hospital Bandana.

Anonymous said...

Yikes -- what an experience! I'm surprised they didn't give you a knife to bite down on or something -- just like old times. (ha.) Glad everything worked out and there were no complications. Congrats on the new babe!