After a bit of exhausted sleep, I went to my mother in laws for breakfast. One of the best things about Costa Rican mornings is the coffee. On the morning of August 9th (day one for Miranda), that fresh brew hailing from nearby volcanic fields hit the spot like a sunbeam in a November prison. Coffee, fresh bread, emergency room tales and anxious to see my wife and daughter; that was how I spent Mirandas first morning.
Ari called around noon to let me know she was alright and that she actually had a bed which meant that we could visit. After making plans to go to the hospital during visitor hours (4 to 7) with Ari’s mom, I went back to our place and finally packed the bag for my wife I’d been meaning to put together for days. Around 4, we headed back to the hospital to at last see Ari and Miranda. We told the security guards who we wanted to visit visit and were promptly told that we needed a visiting pass. The main glitch here was that the window for visiting passes was closed during visiting hours. That’s right, we needed to ask for our pass outside of visiting hours. Nor could I bring up anything for Ari. No, she wasn’t allowed any clothes. Ok, they could make an exception for the baby but nothing else! I was frankly losing my patience to say the least. Nearly 16 hours had passed since her birth and I had yet to see my child. The only reason I knew that my wife was OK was because she called me on borrowed cell phones. And they were telling me that I couldn’t see her because I failed to get a visitor’s pass during non-visiting hours. I realize its best to laugh at such silly times but the chuckles were a bit hard to come by. No, I was feeling rather like the active volcanos that make up a fair part of Costa Rica’s landscape. I somehow managed to act like most Costa Rican volcanos though and quietly let off steam instead of erupting in seismic fury.
Fortunately, my mother in law knew how to deal with the system and put her “strong character” to use. She basically let the gaurds know that she was going to drive them crazy with verbal fury until they allowed us entrance. Neither guard had the will to withstand such an onslaught so they gave in but would not budge on the clothing issue. So, we took turns staying below with Ari’s clothes while the other went up to visit.
Finally, 16 plus hours after Miranda was born, about 24 hours since I had last seen Ari, I got to see them both. The ocean’s wave of relief washed away all fears and I was at peace to see that Ari and Miranda were fine (thank God). Miranda was (and still is) beautiful and precious as all children are. We enjoyed our reunion along with our new addition and then Ari told me what happened up there behind the scenes of the Costa Rican hospital system.
This is the inside scoop:
“They were doing the fetal monitoring test when someone, I don’t know if she was a nurse or doctor, said, “Oops, I just broke your water”. No, it didn’t break on its own, she ended up accidentally breaking the membrane and so that’s why they kept me in the hospital. They gave me drugs to quicken the birth, to dilate me further but that seemed to be going pretty slow. In the meantime, I saw Karen. She was in a lot of pain and I tried to comfort her although there wasn’t a lot I could do. I am sure it was at least nice for her to have someone near whom she knew. I wasn’t in any pain at all. In fact, I couldn’t even feel the contractions. The only problem was that the baby wasn’t ready to come out. Sometime after about 6 centimeters of dilation, the staff told me that I had “meconized water” and seemed to be pretty anxious but refused to tell me anything other than that they were going to perform a C-section. No, they didn’t tell me why. Before that happened, one nurse even wanted to take away my monitor because she said I was assigned to another hospital and didn’t belong in Calderon Guardia. Luckily, a doctor refused to let anyone remove the monitor. I didn’t feel much of anything during the procedure and noone even bothered to tell me whether Miranda was alive or dead until I got to see her today. I got to hear all of the hospital gossip though. I don’t know where my clothes are, I thought they had given them to you. You should see it up here. The nurse in charge is like a sargeant. She told all of us; “Listen up mothers! No one leaves until they breast feed and change their baby!” You had a C-section? You can’t leave until you can show me that you can walk!”
Fortunately, Ari complied with all orders and was honorably discharged the following day along with our daughter Miranda. I saw the nurse she was talking about. If you have seen “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, then you have seen her too. That nurse looked so disgruntled and sour, I’m surprised her mere presence didn’t curdle the very milk those babies had to drink. When Miranda cries for no apparent reason, maybe she is thinking of her.
We made it home safe and sound and despite almost having to return to the hospital after Ari’s Mom accidentally slammed Ari’s thumb in the car door, everything turned out fine. Later on, our pediatrician explained to us why Ari had the C-section. Ari’s water had broke, she hadn’t dilated much and Miranda had defecated in-utero; a delicate matter where the baby can choke on his or her own fecal matter. He also told us that the anaesthesia had affected Miranda a bit too because they had to give her oxygen.
Although everything turned out fine, the next time, I think we will look into private clinics.