Should I stay or should I go? A decision many an ex-pat mum-to-be has had to make.
Concerns regarding the language barrier, perceived differences in procedures during labour, supporting family network—these are just some of the factors that will go towards the decision to stay in Ibiza or return to the UK.
There is no right or wrong decision, everybody has to do what feels right for their own family’s needs. In this admirably forthright report families correspondent Carly S gives an account of her own pregnancy in Ibiza.
In early January 2013, my husband and I went to see a specialist at Can Misses as we’d been trying to get pregnant for over a year and a half and had had no joy. We were elated to discover at our appointment that I was actually pregnant. Beaming and excited, we called our parents and shared our news. We moved from the boat (that had been home since moving to Ibiza) into an apartment, excitedly discussing names and plans for the future. I was overjoyed and floated around on a cloud of bliss. However, in the sixth week of my pregnancy all this excitement came crashing down when I miscarried. Devastated doesn’t even begin to cover it. I cried inconsolably, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t think about anything other than the torturous unanswerable ‘why’ and I felt as though part of my heart had been torn away.
Through all of it, my husband was incredible. The medical staff I encountered was also amazingly supportive and caring. They were gentle in confirming the news, reassured me that I could try again and booked me in for a scan two weeks later to check that everything had returned to normal. It had, and the consultant told me my cycle should return in the next few weeks and there was nothing to stop us trying again if we wanted. This was something my friends and family who’d experienced miscarriages in the UK had sadly not found. There, it seems the only time a mother’s invited back is if she is still experiencing pain or bleeding after a few weeks. The ‘check up scan’ is not part of the procedure. Medical staff deal with thousands of cases like these and, in my friends and families experiences back home, can treat you in an almost blasé, dismissive manner, forgetting that what’s normal and common to them in the medical world is devastating and heart breaking to you. Fortunately, the doctors and nurses I met here were understanding, sympathetic and gentle and I am forever thankful to them for showing me such sensitivity.
When, a month later, my cycle hadn’t recommenced as the doctor had said, and I was feeling nauseous I began to wonder if I might be pregnant again. A home test said I was, so I called the medical centre for an appointment to confirm it. When it was confirmed by my midwife Ana Amor Belen a few days later, I was walking on air again, but terrified it would end in another miscarriage. I shared these fears, and a few tears, with Ana at that first appointment and she was incredible. She hugged me, listened, told me that if I was not meant to be pregnant my body would not have allowed it so soon, gave me her personal phone number so I could call whenever I wanted and made me feel a whole lot more positive about the whole thing. She booked me an appointment for a scan at Can Misses the following week to determine how far along I was. We wept happy tears to see a kicking, wriggling foetus and hear its strong heartbeat. I was completely surprised to discover that I was eight weeks pregnant, just nine weeks after miscarrying. The obstetrician, however, was not surprised and said women are incredibly fertile after a miscarriage or a birth.
Throughout my pregnancy Ana was amazing. With her brightly coloured clothes, chatty, friendly nature, vibrant energy, quirkiness and genuine care, Ana was a breath of fresh air. I looked forward to my appointments with her and loved the way she closed her eyes and breathed deeply when checking my bump and the way she chatted and put me at ease. On day one I had high blood pressure (not surprising considering the circumstances), so Ana made me see my doctor who told me to monitor it at home for a week. At home, my readings were normal, so he decided I actually had ‘white coat syndrome’ but advised me to keep a check on it anyway at home and let him know if it went up. Knowing I was nervous due to my previous miscarriage, he made weekly appointments for the first trimester to check my progress, again something my UK family and friends had not experienced.
A wonderful summer passed without incident and myself and my ever growing, kicking, wriggling, marvellous bump were incredibly well looked after. Antenatal classes with Ana were great and were really helping improve my Spanish too. When my home blood pressure reading was high three weeks before my due date, I called Ana. I had an appointment for later that day anyway, but she said to come in straight away. She took my blood pressure, found it dangerously high and checked the baby’s heartbeat and found that to be a little quick as well. I started to panic, but she calmed me down. She called my doctor who recommended sending me to urgencias in San Antonio. Ana only had a couple more appointments so she saw them, and then came to join me in urgencias, chatting and keeping me calm as I waited. They confirmed I had high blood pressure, prescribed medication and sent me to Can Misses labour ward to have a thorough check over. My husband left work and collected me and we went to Can Misses where I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and told to take it as easy as possible for the rest of the pregnancy. They gave me appointments for weekly monitoring and urine and blood pressure checks until three days after my due date. Our baby was scanned, listened to, measured and diagnosed as absolutely fine and ready to come out any time in the next few weeks. I was so relieved. Ana phoned me at home that night to see how everything had gone. She had gone above and beyond her duty and we felt incredibly supported. Mike and I decided that if our Wriggler (a moniker we’d used for our baby, whose sex we didn’t want to know in advance, due to its constant moving, kicking and squirming in uterus) was a girl, her middle name would be Amor, in homage to our inimitable midwife.
When I still hadn’t given birth three days after my due date and my urine results had confirmed that my pre eclampsia was worsening, the staff at Can Misses decided to induce the labour. I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for over a month, the baby was in position and everything looked good for a fairly quick birth. I agreed to the induction as I was now the size of a small house, with swollen feet and hands, and I was growing impatient to see my baby. I was sent to the delivery unit and Mike came in to join me, picking up the hospital bags on the way. It turned out Ela wasn’t as ready to leave as the doctors had thought. I won’t go into detail, but she took thirty six hours to arrive and required forceps. When Ela Amor Violet arrived at 11:30pm on November 16th, I wept with joy. Our little miracle was finally here.
From day one, I was impressed with the staff here. My doctor Ricarte, my London trained and fluent English speaking midwife Ana and my nurse Monica were all fabulous. Everyone in the delivery unit was amazing. They were helpful, but not overbearing, kind, friendly and kept us informed throughout. Oscar, the male midwife who induced me, also ended up being with me for the final stage of labour and the birth. He was wonderful calm, encouraging, sensitive and reassuring. The staff on the labour ward for the three days I was kept in after the birth was also, with the exception of one nurse utterly devoid of people skills, wonderfully caring, attentive and friendly.
The aftercare here is brilliant. My nurse was still monitoring my blood pressure until last month when she decided it had been good for long enough for me to be dismissed. The language barrier wasn’t a problem as many of the professionals spoke English and those that didn’t were incredibly patient with my less than perfect Spanish. Every other woman I’ve spoken to who’s given birth here has had nothing but good things to say about the level of care. If you’re worried about having a baby in Ibiza, please don’t be. I don’t think you could be in safer, more caring hands.
Spanish Midwifery Website
Mums in Spain—great resource for ex-pat mums