The girl with no chart
There are people, like Brangelina, who adopt children from different countries. And then there are people, like Jasnic (that would be us), who have their children in different countries. Actually, come to think of it, Brangelina even had their biological children in different countries as well. So they have us beat on every possible front: looks, money, fame, amount of children and tattoos.
When I was in the hospital with B3, my pushy nurse kept commenting about how we’d had children in three different countries. I guess mixing things up gives me a good sense of perspective about what’s necessary and what’s extra.
I must say, I had quite a good experience with the Canadian system. The nurses in the hospital were super friendly, the facilities were perfectly good and I felt well cared for throughout the 41 weeks.
My first experience with socialized medicine was when were living in London and I was pregnant with the Gort.
In the UK (at least in 2003/2004) all prenatal care is done exclusively by midwives, unless you have a high risk pregnancy of some sort. They assign you to a group of midwives based on where you live. Since we lived in Balham at the time, I was told to report to a clinic in Streatham, which was one of the more dire medical offices I’d seen in my young life.
After my first appointment, I asked to go to a different clinic. Which also coincided with our move to Clapham South. Clinic number 2 was reminiscent of a 1960s school building. And I was kind of afraid to use the bathrooms, for they seemed a bit on the dirty side to my eyes. But the actual care seemed fine, if on the less invasive side of the spectrum. My only beef was with the midwife named Annie who, when I told her about the false labor I’d been having, condescendingly told me: ‘you won’t miss going into labor.’ Gee thanks.
Finally, I did go into labor ten days past my due date. We had to take a taxi to the hospital, seeing as we had no car, and I’d been told that parking was extremely limited, anyway. So Jason called the taxi and gave our address information. Then I called the hospital, which I’d been instructed to do. They tried to talk me out of coming, if memory serves. Maybe because I didn’t sound like I was in pain?
While I was on the phone with the hospital, the taxi driver called to say he was there. Since we didn’t answer the phone, he left. And so, with the contractions becoming more painful and closer together, Jason had to order a second taxi. For a wife who was ready to throttle him. Not that it was his fault, really.
We arrived at St. Thomas’ Hospital at about 6.30am. I’d chosen St. Thomas because they’d recently opened a brand-new birthing center, for women who opted for drug-free deliveries, and wanted to go home as quickly as possible afterwards.
The taxi driver very kindly dropped us off in front of some side entrance where I had to climb the steps to the main floor. I was not pleased. We got to the birthing center and there was no one at the reception desk. Finally, we went to ‘regular’ delivery unit where we were told that all the rooms in the birthing center were full. So they put us in a ‘regular’ delivery room until one opened up.
The nurse who admitted us put her hand on my stomach during one of the contractions. She gave me a pitying look and said: ‘[that contraction wasn’t very long] it’s still going to be a long time.’ (Approximate time: 7am.)
It wasn’t terribly long before a room opened up and we were sent over to the birth center. Another midwife arrived and told us she’d be back to check on me within thirty minutes.
Jason and I were left in the room by ourselves; the only other face I recall seeing was that of the toast and tea lady, who came by to drop off some refreshment for my ‘coach’. ‘Don’t even think about it,’ I snapped at Jason as he reached for a cold piece of toast. A story that will live on in infamy along with his denying me an epidural for B3.
Meanwhile, I was being hit with contractions constantly. Maybe two minutes apart, who can remember. Finally, around 9.45am, about three hours after arriving at the hospital, I yelled at Jason to go and find someone. Anyone. A midwife named Jo showed up. She finally checked to see if I was dilated. Sure enough: 10 freaking centimeters.
Thanks a heap.
I believe the going excuse was ‘shift change’. The best thing about Jo was her soothing voice. The worst thing, probably her lack of sound judgment. Seeing as she allowed me to get up after delivery/hemorrhaging to take a shower. Which means I passed out twice..in the bathroom. They put me on a gurney, and raced me to the other part of the hospital. In the process, they lost my chart. So all I had for the remainder of my stay, were a couple of pieces of paper stapled together.
They let me recover in a private room, where Jason was able to crash on the floor on a 2 inch foam mattress. Then they transferred me downstairs to the ward. With 5 or 6 other women and their babies. One of the singular worst experiences of my life. Nothing but two curtains separating me from other recovering women and their crying babies. And various people coming in at all hours to check on me or ask questions, right when I’d finally doze off to sleep. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
One rather nice perk…after you have the baby, midwives come to your house to check on you and the new addition. So you don’t have to schlep a brand-new baby to a clinic, wearing yourself out in the process.
Another nice perk…no medical bills.