Having a baby New Cal style

I promised myself I would write this blog while I was in the hospital and all if it was fresh in my mind but alas I did not. Part of the reason I started the blog was to share my experiences with friends and family but, also, to share information for future expats coming to Koné.
So here goes…
Back a few months ago we decided that I would have the baby in Koumac. There is a small hospital there with a OBGYN on call. They provide labour and delivery services in two labour rooms. My midwife, Cécile, spoke highly of the hospital and told me feel free to go visit. I decided that I would see the place when I went! I had two friends that delivered there and both spoke highly of it.
Fast forward to May 26th. After seeing my midwife aka sage femme, I started mild contractions. Keith decided rather than wait to see what happened and drive in the dark, we should just head for Koumac. We’d get a hotel and if nothing happened so be it but, if it was real labour we were two minutes away. I must say I protested. I just wanted to stay home. Keith and my sister in the meantime ignored me and packed. By 5pm we were in the car and headed for Koumac. As we drove my contractions continued and intensified. By the time we arrived in Koumac they were 10 minutes apart. We checked into the Monitel. I headed to the room away from Seth as I was starting to really feel the pain. Within 2.5 hours I announced to Keith it was time to go to the hospital.
We drove the 2 minutes in total silence. I must admit I was nervous. Would the delivery go well? Would I understand everything in my second language? We arrived and headed to the Urgence entrance because it was after hours. We rang the doorbell and waited for someone to come. I had a contraction while we waited. They opened the door and I said, Maternité? The three people all laughed since I was clearly pregnant. They took my ‘carnet de maternité’ and my file folder with all our information and took us through the hallway to the labour and delivery area. The hospital is old. It is a 42 bed hospital that has emergency services, labour & delivery and an operating room. I would assume ( because I can’t find out the answer) that the hospital is 30+ or so years old.
I was brought into the room, hooked up to the monitor and told the midwife was called and was on her way. I looked around. The room looked pretty much exactly the same as my delivery room in Canada. It was clean, modern and had the same equipment. I felt relieved. It was not long before the midwife arrived . She was a young woman that was there doing an on call rotation from Noumea. She checked me and told me I was indeed having the baby today as I was already 5 cm. Next up was my epidural. The anestisiologist also had to be called in, he arrived quickly and the midwife and nurse prepared for his arrival. He was a nice man, the same doctor that had done my consult. We exchanged hellos and he got to work. Now, I want to preface this with the fact that what happened next could happen anywhere but it just happened to happen here. Keith left the room and the had me sit up so he could put the epidural in. Forty- five minutes and three attempts later and he finally got it in. It was a very painful process and I was VERY happy when it was over. Once the epidural was flowing and I was much happier the midwife checked me once more. I was 8cm and 15 minutes later I was 10! It was going fast! In the meantime another patient arrived and they tended to her. They asked if the thought I could wait until she had her epidural before I pushed. I said yes I could wait. Once they returned everything moved quickly, within 15 minutes on May 27, 2014 at 3am, Theo Mack was born! He only took three pushes and he was out! He did have the cord wrapped around his neck so Keith was not able to cut the cord. The midwife removed it and then asked for my hands. She placed them under his arms and said, “pull your baby towards you” so I did. I was pretty special! The rest of the delivery was standard and Theo spent sometime in the incubator having his oxygen saturation monitored. I felt at ease with the staff and really enjoyed having a midwife.
After all was deemed okay and the epidural removed we moved to my room. I had a single room ( not guaranteed) that had your standard hospital bed and bassinette. The room was clean but old and run down. The bathroom was clean but also in need of a renovation. The shower nozzle was broken off the wall and the tiles a bit dingy. Then reality set in, I had to spend at least 4 days here! The food was actually very good for hospital food. My only disappointment being breakfast. It was a piece of baguette, butter & jam with you choice of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or café au lait. I wanted a huge breakfast every day since I had just given birth and was breastfeeding. Lunch was a hot meal of fish, brochettes or quiche with more baguette, cheese and a fruit. Dinner was a soup, a protein, rice and vegetables with cheese. And let’s not forget about goûter at 3 pm, black tea and two cookies.
The staff were great, from the nurses, to the midwives and the aides soignantes, everyone was very kind and helpful. But I might as well say it after 4 days I was dying to get out of there. The room was cleaned thoroughly everyday but it’s just old. No amount of cleaning can turn it around. It’s not what I am used to. The other thing I noticed was that they opened all the windows during the day. This had me confused for two reasons, one, everyone smokes outside and you can smell it wafting in and second, there are no screens on the windows, what about Dengue?
On Friday, we bathed Theo at 7:30 am, I put his going home outfit on, I showered and packed knowing that I was supposed to go home. At 4pm the doctor finally arrived to do his examination of the baby and then the midwife did mine. It was a long day but we finally made it home. Overall the experience was great. There were little hiccups but the whole thing was a positive experience. So, we have another crazy adventure added and checked off on our list, have a baby in a foreign country. I am glad we decided to have him in Koumac and he will forever have it as his place of birth!

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