Thursday, 21 January 2010

Of matrons and matronas By Kate

Our midwife rocks - and believe me, after hearing a few stories about some of the other matronas in Madrid, it's a lottery and we're quids in. Or at least, euros in.

This morning we decided to drop in on Maite to seek advice about our, erm, little episode yesterday. I was still pretty certain there was nothing to worry about, but Theo wanted to be sure. Accordingly, we toddled off to the Centro de Salud in Ciudad Lineal to catch Maite at the end of her Thursday morning posparto session. When we arrived, the room where we have our pre-natal classes was a veritable buggy park of new babies, surrounded by attendant mums, dads and grandmas. We decided to wait outside until there was a bit more parking space.

While we waited, a senior senora spotted my bump and came over to ask us all about it. She nodded approvingly when we told her we were having a girl and said girls were "blessed". She then asked if we were going to raise our daughter with "beliefs". After puzzling over the translation of that for a moment, we realised she was talking about religion. Rather than answer her directly and get into an argument which our Spanish probably wasn't up to, I told her my grandparents and mother are all Catholics. But what about me, she wanted to know? I told her I had been baptised into the Church of England. Protestant, she inquired? I affirmed that this was so. It's just as good, she replied, clearly relieved that our daughter was in with at least a chance of a Christian upbringing.

One slightly unexpected side-effect of our wait in earshot of the new baby club was my reaction to the sound of the infants crying. In the past, the main emotions I've felt when hearing a baby bawling were sympathy for the parent and (it has to be said) a certain amount of irritation at the disturbance of my peace. This time, on hearing one newborn crying in serious distress, I started feeling twitchy, as if I should get up and offer comfort, then felt helpless and upset, then became teary. A tissue was needed to mop me up and if the baby hadn't mercifully calmed down, I think I would have been in a worse state than it was. That's pregnancy hormones for you, I guess. I think it's highly likely that I will react emotionally to our own ones cries at times, especially early on - but I sure hope I get to grips with it sooner rather than later, for everyone's sake.

Eventually, the room emptied of all but two babies and their mums and (in one case) gran so we went in to wait for Maite. We chatted with the assembly about our forthcoming happy event and how they were getting on with their own newborn nippers etc., until finally Maite made her appearance. To assess who she needed to see first she asked us and the two mums what we needed from her. Theo plunged straight in and mentioned that I had been bleeding. Maite looked startled and concerned until Theo described the circumstances (I'm not ashamed to say I blushed at this point) at which, her expression relaxed and she hooted with laughter and the other mothers broke into grins.
"It's normal, nothing to worry about!" she said, while I felt my cheeks start to cool down.

But to set our minds at rest, Maite ushered us into her consulting room, bade me to bare my bump and ran the fetal cardiomonitor over it. Fosbella's heartbeat rang out loud and clear, going like the proverbial clappers - just as it should be.

"All fine, no sign of fetal distress, relax", said Maite and smiled reassuringly. Phew, then. But I resolved to go out and buy nappies later in any case - there may be a month to go, but who knows what may happen? Time to get the nest ready, methinks.

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