To begin the story of Josie’s birth, I should fill you in on the weeks prior to her birth. We knew we wanted to deliver at home again, but we wanted to look into just renting a pool on our own and using our doctor. After I posted a question online, we met with a doula at a place called Nacer Libre (Free Birth). Silka, the doula, asked if I might be interested in a midwife. Upon meeting Tirsa, the midwife, we were sold. There would be no need for the doctor–we wanted to have a peaceful waterbirth at home, assisted by a midwife.
My due date was January 28th. My in-laws were here. My friend was here. The baby was not sure she wanted to be here. The private doctor I see (who delivered Ale at home) had been told that I planned a homebirth with a midwife, but I continued with my visits to her. I was told that the baby would probably come around the full moon, but the full moon came and went with no baby. All was fine in my visits–baby and I were healthy and just waiting for the big day.
I was 41 weeks on a Thursday, and I had to go to the government hospital to extend my maternity leave. They had begun my maternity leave a week late, so that is the only reason I had the paperwork and payment for that long. (In Mexico women receive six weeks before the birth and six weeks after the birth.) If the baby isn’t born by the due date, they will give you a one week extension, taking you to 41 weeks. At that point, they induce or schedule a c-section. The coordinator informed me that I would only have until Monday to delivery the baby. Then they would need to schedule something, because I couldn’t extend my leave past one that day.
The IMSS doctor did a normal check (blood pressure, listening to the baby, etc.), then told me that I needed to go downstairs for an ultrasound. This was strange, but she insisted because I was at 41 weeks. Things began to feel ominous when, instead of pointing me in the direction, a secretary walked me down. On the way, she said I needed to call my husband and have him come meet me. This was really weird. Why did he need to be there for an ultrasound? We tried, but he didn’t answer. Finally we arrived, but I was confused. “Why were we in a different place,” I asked, “and not at the regular ultrasound room?” The secretary informed me that I needed to see the doctor in the Tococirugia. (I had no idea what that word was, but there was a symbol of a pregnant woman. I did know the word cirugia (surgery), and that made me more nervous.
When I told the receptionists that I was going to go home, they said I couldn’t. Because, after all, I was forty-one weeks pregnant. I sat in a dirty little waiting room for about 15 minutes listening to the sound of some poor girl screaming bloody murder in the hallway in front of me. I waited. I speculated. And I decided I needed to get out of there.
On the wall there was a sign that said if you wanted to leave against the doctor’s wishes, you had to sign something accepting responsibility. That sounded pretty good to me, so I asked the receptionist to sign so that I could go home. This was a different girl, and she began to tell me that I could leave–I had not been to see the doctor, so I didn’t need to sign anything. At that point, her partner began to text on her phone saying, “Espérame, espérame. Es que tiene cuarenta y uña semanas…” (Wait for me. She is 41 weeks pregnant… ) I wasn’t going to wait around to see what they wanted. “Okay, bye!” I said quickly, and ran out the door.
I was so scared someone would follow me or call security. I was walking so fast, my heart was beating a mile a minute, and all I could think was, “Get out of here!”
When I made it home, I googled Tococirugia, and found out that it means Labor and Delivery. I sent a message to my midwife updating her on the situation. She said, “It’s a good thing you got out of there! It sounds like they may have tried to induce you. I’ve never known IMSS to let anyone go past 41 weeks…”