Eighteen years ago I spent most of my last pregnancy fighting off the cultural norm to deliver the baby via C-Section. Even so, on this day in the year 2000, our princesita (child number four, daughter number one), entered this world…via caesarean.
We were living in Chihuahua City at that time and as my dear Mexican friends and neighbors began finding out I was pregnant they would ask, “So what day have you chosen for the baby to be born?”
Confused, I wondered what kind of question is that? I would reply to that chronic question, “Pues, no sabemos. Cuando Dios quiere (We don’t know. In God’s time).”
With shock, and I mean that literally, their eyes widening, blinks pronounced and their eyebrows furrowing, they would ask me, “You aren’t scheduling a C-section? You plan on having this baby…naturally!?”
Wow. How odd could I be? To think I’d deliver this baby the way women having been doing since Eve started the trend ages ago! Tag another one on to my growing list of cultural blunders. I would find out that C-Sections were the way to go for women in Mexico, at least where I lived at the time.
The reasons? First of all, it was convenient. Everyone could plan around the birth, instead of having life stop because Uh-oh, I think it’s time- the baby’s coming. Second of all, at least according to several women I asked, avoiding natural birth keeps the hips from spreading, allowing the body to retain a slimmer shape. Yeah, well, too late for me. I’d already delivered three boys naturally; any more hip-spreading and I’m guessing my legs would pop out of their sockets. Lastly (and unfortunately), it’s better income for medical professionals.
I stuck to my guns and in so doing became a novelty, a sort of discussion piece if you will. With each pre-natal visit, I repeated my wishes of a natural delivery to my doctor. After a few initial “Seguras? (are you sure?), they started believing me. The receptionist would call my name in the waiting room, announcing to the world, “Señora Hadinger, parto natural” (Mrs. Hadinger, natural birth). Heads turned my way, jaws dropped open, and eyes glued on the foreigner (me) waddling in for her appointment. By the end of my term, I was confident that my doc’s office had caught on that I was serious about this.
On April 25, 2000, I was asked to reconsider my choice in the matter.
My water broke and Mike rushed me to the hospital. After I walked (yes, walked!) into the hospital, to the elevator, into the elevator, rode to the fourth floor, exited the elevator and walked to the nurse’s desk, I was assigned a room. I was given one of those endearing hospital gowns to change into, which I did, quite uncomfortably due to my current condition. Then I climbed as gracefully up onto the bed as any other pregnant woman might do while her water was still breaking and while she was fumbling in vain to keep the back of the gown closed.
A nurse came over to help me lay down comfortably when suddenly her eyes widened, she stuttered, “un momento,” and then rushed out of the room. Within seconds she came back with my doctor and a few other nurses, who after quick glances and staccato discussion, strapped a fetal monitor around me and hooked it up to the machine.
Their alarm was due to obvious amounts of meconium poisoning, and it was affecting my baby’s life, per the readings of her heartbeat. The doctor suggested an emergency C-Section, but would leave the decision to me since I had been so opposed to the idea.
Just then, Mike, who had been parking the car and finally found out where I was, entered and discovered the severity of the matter. There was no question now; no longer a matter of convenience or aesthetics, this was possibly a matter of the baby’s life or death. Yes, cut me open and take her out ASAP!
Mike could not come into the operating room with me and I was a bit frightened and lonely as the rush was on. I would have preferred them to knock me out completely, but with only a localized anesthesia I was left coherent, allowing my mind to race with thoughts like “No one even knows this is happening, do they?” “I wish Mike would be in here with me,” and “Someone needs to call my mother.” Then I closed my eyes and prayed, quelling my nervousness and a panic that began creeping in.
Within ten minutes, my little girl was pulled into this world. The whitest and biggest baby most in that operating room had ever seen, with reddish blonde fuzz crowning her head. Later, in the hospital nursery, she was the object of curiosity to all who peered through the window and wondered about the big white baby placed in between much smaller and dark-skinned ones.
Today, that girl becomes an adult. She is our very own Mexican-American, holding dual citizenship. In fact, I’ve won certain brownie points with the nationals here since I am “mamá de una Mexicana (mom to a Mexican).”
Throughout her life here in Mexico, people have dubbed her “La guërrita mexicana” (the little white mexican). My husband calls her Peanut; I call her mamita.
We all call her a gift from God.
(this is an updated version of the original post from years ago!)