Sunday, July 05, 2009
Yesterday I took our pregnant friends to the MD so they can decide where to have their baby in a few weeks. The options are slim, there is a government hospital here so decrepit and awful that I am literally afraid to even go inside. The other option is a private hospital, better than the public one but still far below any lowered expectations I may have. The problem with the private hospital is that it costs money to have the baby there, around $500 US which seems like a steal yet far too outrageous a cost for most of the folks who live here. As our baby gift to them we'd already offered to help with some of the costs with the agreement that the rest would come from them. Problem is, they were quoted an inaccurate and lower fee the first time they inquired so now they are looking at about $200 more than they were planning, a cost that exceeds their budget.
They've been going back and forth, their stress level rising. The other day they decided to scrap the idea all together and go back to the public hospital but rumors, unfounded or not about the level of care have got them scared. We went to the private hospital so they could get the information again and hopefully accurately because they have to decide now, the private hospital won't deliver the baby without a couple of prenatal visits first.
When I picked them up their usually happy faces were grim. I asked how they were doing and was met with silence until the father said Jen what would you do if you were us? and I responded carefully, it's not my place to give advice and yet it's hard to watch young scared kids about to become parents not having a plan for what to do. I would learn as much as I can about my options and then go from there and they nodded and off we went. We went to the private hospital, the same place I took J those months ago that scared me silly and talked with a nurse. We learned the true costs of the delivery (the 500 US with 80% of that needing to be put down as a deposit two weeks before) if there are no complications, an additional 1500 US if things were to go south and a C-section was needed.) She hasn't had some of the blood work she needs and they will want an ultrasound (this is the only hospital in the area with an ultrasound machine) so that will cost extra too. I see their eyes roll back in their heads, I know the standard delivery costs are probably manageable but if costs go up they would have no way to pay. The other option for a few hundred dollars less is to go to a private doctor and birth in his office without equipment and hope for the best.
I tell myself babies are born this way all over the world every single day but no matter the mantra I feel like I might throw up.
So we get back in the car and the mother is silent and on the verge of tears, the father is getting agitated, he needs a decision and still isn't sure what to do. I decide to be direct and ask them how much money they have and he tells me what is in his bank account, all the money they have in the world isn't quite enough to cover the standard private hospital fees so I ask them then if money wasn't the issue where would they choose and it was the private hospital hands down.
The mother looked at me and asked where I would have wanted to have M and I couldn't tell her the truth, that every fiber of my being is screaming NONE OF THESE PLACES NOT ONE BECAUSE THEY ALL SCARE ME THEY SCARE ME A LOT but there are no other options so I looked at her and smiled I think I'd choose the private hospital too so we talk about options and they decide to ask an uncle for the rest of the funds they need and he agrees to give them the money and now strapped but decided they can move forward.
So tomorrow we'll go back to the private hospital and open an account, she'll see a MD and get her tests done and hopefully the birth will be routine and all will be well. They've asked me to come along and I'm awkward, I am not family and I am unsure of my place and yet they have asked and so I will go, not sure if I will be sitting in the waiting room or invited to come along. On the way home I carefully inquired about how much she knew about what to expect, the village is full of mothers so I have to assume they've talked it through. Do you know how to recognize when you are in labor and how to time your contractions and she nods slightly and I have to assume it's true. If you ever want to talk the whole thing through I am happy to just let me know and she nods again and I leave it at that.
There is no such thing as epidurals here and so she's in for it once it starts, there are no breathing classes or those cozy little mommy-daddy circle groups talking everyone through the routine, just a woman and her body as women and their bodies do what they do all over the world every single minute of every single day but my own lily-white body still can't quite manage it, knowing the luxuries of the West and the ways we are unbelievably coddled with soothing music and doulas, water births and prenatal yoga. And with machines that measure the baby's heart rate and medicine to help with the pain. Again I am reminded I do not think I am tough enough for this.
There are few cars out in our village so we offered to be on call so we can drive them to the hospital when her labor starts and J and I have agreed that when the time comes I should be the one to take them and he'll stay home with M, generally these things happen in the middle of the night so I expect this will be the same, a long drive down dusty roads without a clear sense of what will happen when we arrive but the fervent prayer that nature will naturally take her course and while it has nothing to do with me it still comes down to this: my own uncertainty of the world and it's struggles and how things are unfair and why some are privy to so much more and how many things can go wrong and how money makes you cautious and how money can solve your problems and even now I sit here scared for all the things I never had to think about before coming here.