our chileno son

over the last ten months I was nervous about so many things being pregnant in a new country, in a language I barely knew more than hola, gracias. half the time I had to guess what the nurses were saying during labs and ultrasounds, wondering if I followed instructions correctly. I had no idea if language would be a problem during labor, and if it would add stress to an already intense situation. I misunderstood the time for appointments, showed up for an appointment I thought I made but hadn’t, and generally fumbled my way through the entire pregnancy.

my obgyn was recommended by someone at church, and was great despite being away at a conference for the actual delivery. when I first started showing, he was visibly excited about what he called my “maternal profile”. most checkups he complained about not having any work to do given my “completely normal pregnancy”. I was also nervous about how the natural birth thing would go down in a country where the elective c-sections rate is 70%. chilean women are generally composed, well put together and the horrors and indignity of childbirth are avoided. thankfully, my ob was fully supportive from the start, and the midwife seemed to understand exactly what I hoped for without having to explain.

I had emi in a birth center in the US, so having this baby in a Chilean hospital brought with it another round of unknowns. when we first went to the ER after my water broke, the whole experience was completely different as we sat there chatting with the nurses and filling out paperwork. I was disappointed with how it felt like a hotel and wished we were back at the birth center, but really once labor got going these things no longer matter. during labor I don’t even remember what was said in Spanish and what was in English, but the midwife seemed to know what I needed and Nate was practically my second midwife, translating and helping with pain management.

staying at the hospital afterward was amazing and may have convinced me that delivering at a hospital is better! I didn’t change a diaper until we got home, and being forced to rest and having time with just the baby made the first couple days so peaceful. having nurses help me move around, meals brought to the bedside and being able to sleep helped me recover quickly. they either sequestered me to a corner or the hospital is always that quiet, but I rarely heard the commotion of urgency you would associate with hospitals; although Chileans tend to be quiet unless they’re drunk in which case there are no limits. apparently all the other rooms had a constant influx of visitors, Latino families being tightly knit and the culture hugely celebratory of children. it was always surprising how genuinely delighted people were to find out I pregnant, from male acquaintances to pharmacy staff. it didn’t occur to me at the time, but maybe the nurses felt sorry for our quiet little party of four.

we’re back to reality, still trying to get paperwork and visas and now birth certificates and passports too. Emi is an intermittent doting sister, demanding much more attention than I anticipated and acting up in subtle ways, but occasionally wanting to hold the baby and give him kisses. we’re back to sleepless nights but without the panicked cluelessness of first-time parents and therefore able to enjoy the middle of the night cuddles just a tiny bit more.

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