If you are wondering, concerned, or curious about having a baby in Puerto Rico, read this post!
When we first considered moving to Puerto Rico I was so excited and I only had one stipulation:
“If I agree to this move, then we are going to try for another baby once we get settled.”
Of course that wasn’t a hard sell because we always intended to have a couple of kids and our first child was already turning a year old soon after the move. So, we agreed and off we flew to Puerto Rico! It wasn’t long after we celebrated our child’s first birthday that I was pregnant with baby number two! We were having a baby in Puerto Rico!
My first obstetrics appointment was intimidating and exciting. Having had one child born in the states I thought I knew what to expect, but I was in for some pleasant and some not so pleasant surprises. First of all, depending on the hospital or clinic you decide to go to for your prenatal care, the nurses may or may not speak English. Thankfully we made sure to choose a doctor who spoke English very well because I think things get lost in translation especially when instructions and information is being relayed quickly. For the first few appointments my husband came back with me and stayed for the entire appointment to make sure that I was understanding the nurse’s instructions and not getting confused. However, once I got the hang of it and the nurses got familiar with me, we were able to communicate well enough that my husband would stay in the waiting room until it was time for the ultrasound.
I found it so exciting that in Puerto Rico I got to have an ultrasound at EVERY appointment! It was so much fun to get to see our baby grow each month! They even measured the amniotic fluid, baby’s femur, and head circumference during each ultrasound to track that the baby was growing steadily. Of course this meant that the appointments were longer but I never felt that this was a bad thing because it made me feel like I was being well taken care of and the baby was being well monitored.
The obstetrician I chose was a bit intimidating and strict, which made me feel nervous because she would always scold me about the amount of weight I had gained between visits. In her defense, it was not unwarranted scolding. I gained a TON of weight! 45 pounds total to be exact. :-[ What can I say, I had an insatiable craving for butterfinger candy bars and pernil with rice and beans. lol Nevertheless, my doctor earned the secret nickname of “Hitler” for her constant badgering of “CONTROL CONTROL!” However, even with all of that, I knew that we had chosen the very best doctor and I trusted her with my and my unborn child’s life. Even if she harped about my weight, she was always very reassuring and confident that this pregnancy was going to be smooth and without complications, (unlike my first which was whirlwind of complications that led to early bed rest and a premature delivery) and she made good on those promises.
When it came time to deliver it ended up being decided that I would be induced. From all of the ultrasounds they concluded that if the baby got any bigger I would not be able to deliver naturally. So, at 38 weeks we were scheduled to check into the maternity ward for my induction. The process for me was pretty simple, I just had to show up and they took me into my room and got me all dressed and they hooked me up to the IVs and monitors and there I laid. Of course my husband on the other hand had to run all over the hospital signing papers for this and that. By the time he finished and arrived in the room it was not a moment too soon because the baby’s heart rate had plummeted from the prostaglandin gel and the nurses were frantically trying to remove the gel and recover the baby’s heart rate. Of course all of this chaos was happening in Spanish and I was terrified! All I knew was that the baby’s heart rate had dropped and the machine alarms were going off and everyone was rushing into the room. You cannot begin to imagine the relief I felt when my husband and doctor walked in and like magic everything seemed to settle down and the baby’s heart rate began to steadily increase. It was at that point that we all agreed pitocin would be a better option.
After the switch it wasn’t long before the anesthesiologist was called in to place my epidural. Thankfully she was very patient and kind and more than happily came in several times to re-place my epidural when it became apparent that it was only working on the right side. Unfortunately, we were never able to get it working right before it was time to start pushing, but it wasn’t for lack of trying!
The delivery was fast and it wasn’t long before I had my new baby in my arms. Now this was all very new for me, not because it was my first time having a baby in Puerto Rico, or that it would be much different in the states, but this was the first time I got to snuggle with a new baby in the delivery room. My first child was so premature that I only was able to hold my baby for a brief moment before they whisked it away to the NICU. Being able to truly gaze upon your very new born child and immediately breast feed and bond with it those first moments after birth was amazing and one that I felt so blessed to have finally had. I truly enjoyed being able to sit for the better part of an hour just holding my baby while the nurses took care of the room and charting.
Once the time came for me to go to recovery, the nurses took the baby to the nursery for it’s bath. Unfortunately my husband was not allowed into the nursery to help with the bathing (hospital policy), and visiting hours ended while I was in recovery so my husband brought me a sandwich from the cafeteria and kissed me good bye before he left. It was late in the evening when I finally made it into my shared hospital room and got to see my baby again. Of course I was in for a big surprise when I was told that the water in that particular hospital room had been shut off and would not be turned back on until 11 pm due to a problem with the plumbing! I had delivered my baby at 1:30 that afternoon and was not happy to be told that I wouldn’t be able to shower until after 11 pm! I swear I must’ve sat there holding my baby and staring at the clock the entire time until the nurse finally came in and told me I could shower! lol I was so relieved! Yet that relief quickly faded when I asked the nurse to take the baby to the nursery and to please bring me a towel so that I could get cleaned up. I remember feeling like the walls were crumbling in upon me when the nurse told me that the hospital does not supply bath towels and I was supposed to have brought one from home! I can still vividly picture the nurse’s frantic expression as she watched me have a complete sobbing meltdown when I realized that there was no way I could shower after having waited that long for one. lol Bless that woman’s heart because I’ve never seen a medical personnel run that fast down a hallway to retrieve bed linen! You cannot imagine how grateful I was when she came running back with a bed sheet for me to dry myself with!
After I showered I requested that my baby be brought back to me so I could enjoy the full experience of having a my baby in the room with me; one that I had missed with my first child. I pretty much stayed up the entire night because my roommate was weeping very loudly and her female guest was talking constantly trying to console her. I have no idea why she was crying, but between her crying, her baby crying, her guest talking, and my baby thinking it was daytime, there wasn’t much quiet for me to rest. I think I probably texted my husband 100 times that night complaining about how awful it was that he wasn’t allowed to stay with me and how I hated sharing a room.
Thankfully my knight in shining armor arrived bright and early and told me to grab my stuff because he had me transferred to a private suite for the remainder of my hospital stay! I don’t think I had ever loved my husband more than I did in that very moment. He was my savior from the hell I endured those first 18 hours after giving birth and the private suite was spectacular! The entire length of the room was huge windows that looked out over the city and I had a huge bathroom with running water all to myself! It was completely worth the $200 per night price tag! The cherry on top was that my sweet wonderful husband had even brought me 2 towels! My heart skips a beat just thinking about it. 😉 I spent the next day and a half cuddling with my baby and enjoying occasional visits from my husband and eldest child. It was lovely.
When I was finally discharged it was quick and easy because we didn’t have to pay any hospital fees. First my obstetrician came in to check on me and see how I was doing and to give me my discharge papers. Then minutes later the pediatrician came in to check the baby and to make sure that I was doing alright with breastfeeding, and we were on our way.
The next big hurtle for our growing family would come a few days later when we had to go to the Demographic Registry (Registro Demografico) to fill out all the paperwork to get our baby’s brand new Puerto Rican birth certificate. However, I’ll leave those details for another post.
So there you have it! I hope this post helps those of you out there thinking of having a baby in Puerto Rico. Of course this was just my experience and your experience will most likely be very different. I honestly enjoyed writing about it, and please do not let my experience deter you from having a baby in Puerto Rico. I would honestly do it all over again in a heartbeat if I were able to now that I know what to expect. Good luck!