Premium: 5 Things I'm Scared Will Happen When My Wife Gives Birth in a Spanish Hospital

Will all the blood vessels in her eyes burst again?

This is based on actual events but I've changed certain names and other details. And yes, I have exaggerated at times. But I do have a wife and a son. So that part is true.

"I'm going to need a big push from you," Clara, the physician's assistant, said.

My wife, Radford, was sitting on the partially-reclined hospital bed in a hospital in downtown Manhattan. It was 6:30am. Sweat covered her face, and she gripped my hand. She was holding it pretty hard, I thought. My hand might bruise, actually. Should I say something?

"Radford, you can feel the baby's head," Violet, our trustworthy doula, said.

"What?" Radford said, as if this was the craziest thing anyone had ever told her.

"Yeah, reach your hand out," Violet said.

My wife reached her hand out and felt the top of our son's head. She started crying.

"Radford, I need another big push," the doctor said in her monotone, as if making a coffee order.  

Radford had only just started pushing a few minutes ago. We had arrived at the hospital about two hours ago at 4:30am after being awake all night. And now she was touching the baby's head.

Shit.

Radford gripped my hand even harder, let out a guttural groan, and fucking pushed.

As she pushed, blood gushed down from both nostrils. It fucking gushed. Everywhere. Over her mouth and chin and down onto her medical gown and the bed.  

It was like out of a horror movie. That's how Radford described it after. She thinks it's funny now.  

The doctor looked up. "What's happening?" she said. "That's not good."  

"She gets a lot of nosebleeds," I said, as I searched for tissues or a cloth to give her. When I looked back at her, I could see blood vessels had also burst in my wife's eyes and cheeks.  

A nurse helped Radford wipe the blood from her nose and mouth, and the physician's assistant put her focus back on the baby.  

Radford gripped my hand again and pushed.

                                                                         ***

Giving birth is an intense, painful, and often traumatic experience.

Not just for husbands.  

When I ask my wife how the birth of our first son was for her she says, "Fine."

And now she will give birth again. This time in a foreign country where we moved last year and where I can only speak the language un poco.

Here's what I'm afraid will happen in Spain.

1. She Or the Baby Will Die

Obviously a big one. While Americans like to think we have the best of everything, the quality of healthcare care is high in Spain. This country has good hospitals and good doctors, and my wife will be giving birth at a hospital that many recommend. Like everyone we've talked to says this hosptial is amazing, the best in the area, fantastic. I'm actually thinking of moving in there or staying there for the weekend.

But despite the high level of care and that many people love this hospital, still, I worry. As a black woman giving birth in the U.S., my wife was three times more likely to die in in pregnancy and postpartum than a white woman, according to research into maternal deaths.  

While it's not clear from research I've seen that such a disparity exists in Spain, will the medical staff make the right decisions during the intensity of the moment? And if she cannot advocate for herself, will I be able to help? Which leads me to my next worry.

2. My Spanish Won't Be Good Enough to Help Her

After our first son was born and my wife had been transferred to a shared room, I went home for a quick nap and shower and returned with Shake Shack for both of us. The baby did not want any.

When I walked into into her shared room, I could tell right away she was not doing well. For one, she was moaning. "It fucking hurts," she said. She was about to cry.

Soon a nurse entered the room.

"How are you doing?" the nurse said to my wife.

"Oh, fine," my wife said, sitting up straighter, hiding the tears, and adding some carefree levity to her voice.  

"Wait, wait," I said. "You are not fine. You are in a lot of pain." I turned to the nurse. "She is in a lot of pain. She's not doing well."  

The nurse looked at her for confirmation and more explanation.

"Okay, yes," my wife said.  "I am in a lot of pain."  

The nurse was able to increase her pain meds and help her get more comfortable.

That conversation was obviously in English. Will my Spanish be good enough to help her again? But it does improve slightly after I've some alcohol. Maybe I should drink during her labor and delivery?

3. She Will be in Pain

My wife had a bad tear and needed to be stitched up. She did not have an epidural. And whatever they gave her as pain relief before stitching her up did nothing for her. As I held my son to my chest for the first time, we listened as she screamed in pain.  

It was fucking horrible.    

I didn't know what to do. I was holing my son. should have said something to the medical team. I didn't know what was normal or not normal and I wrongly assumed it was fucking obvious that she was in extreme discomfort and they would do something to help her. But they didn't seem to care.

4. There Will Be Even More Blood

As I was sitting holding my son to my chest, I was also looking over at my wife, I noticed all the buckets of blood.

Is it normal to have that much blood?

How much blood did she lose?

Jesus.

The buckets were filled with blood and bloodied cloths.

Will that happen again?

5. We Will Need to Pay 20,000 Euros  

In the United States, despite having health insurance we ended having to pay about $20,000 USD out-of-pocket for the birth of our son. That was true despite it costing over 2,000 per month for health insurance for our family.  

As part of our visa to live in Spain, we are required to pay for private insurance. it costs about 2,000 euros per year. While our prenatal visits have all been included, I am not sure what will be covered?  

Will we be hit with a surprise bill?

The thing is I'm focusing on trying to boat a sailboat. My wife doesn't know this yet but it's super important and I'd rather spend money on that.