1.09.2008

fair warning: it's long and mostly for my mother.

so let me set this one up for you...

hong kong has two forms of health care: private and public.

the difference:

  • private = pay a premium, use a doctor of your choice, give birth in a 4 star hotel disguised as a hospital;

  • public = free, assigned a midwife at labor, share a room with 6 other chinese women, husband has limited access to you and newborn, rice congee for breakfast.

while i really would be fine with a situation somewhere in the middle, i'm not gonna lie, i'd much prefer the private scenario.

the problem: the private hospitals in hong kong are swamped with mainland chinese women scheduling c-sections so their children will be hk citizens and receive all the benefits thereof. what that means for me: no room at the inn.

the solution: see a private doctor with hopes of getting squeezed into the private hospital at the last minute, but as a backup plan, register at the public joint and concurrently receive public hospital checkups for their records, just in case.

with that said...

last weekend i went for my first public hospital checkup. if my girth didn't already make me feel like a cow, the scenario at this clinic certainly did: about 30 pregnant women are "corralled" in a holding room, each waiting for her weight to be measured, blood pressure to be taken, and urine sample to be tested -- similar to cattle lining up in a milk barn waiting to be vaccinated and tagged.


something special: you have to bring your own urine sample from home. call me crazy, but that day i felt a little uneasy roaming the city with a pill bottle full of bodily fluids marinating in my handbag.


if the nurse squawked "normal" at you after all three screenings, you were herded back into the corral to eagerly await examination. when i was called back for my exam, i was greeted by a small army: an intern doctor barely old enough to shave, two preteen intern nurses who looked like they should be hanging out with my 16-year-old sister, and a couple of elderly midwives instructing them all what to do. the "doctor" asked me a few questions, most of which i had to ask him to repeat because i sure wasn't following his english, poor lad. he told me that if i start to experience pain, i should go to the hospital immediately. thanks captain obvious. then the shy teenage nurses proceeded to poke and prod at me while the seasoned midwife barked cantonese at them and occasionally turned around and told me to "relax." sure thing lady.


back to the comfort of the corral. my appointment was essentially over, yet ironically this was the longest part of the entire visit -- waiting for the front desk to schedule my next appointment. i sat there for a good 25 minutes without any action, so in the interim i decided to covertly snap off a couple of pictures of the clinic with my brand new digital camera. bad idea. i forgot to turn off the flash, and my covert operation ended in utter failure. two seconds later an angry nurse was hovered over me, threatening, "no picture - you get ticket!" i apologized profusely, trying to make it sound like an accident (well, it was an accident that i left on the flash), deleted the picture so the commies wouldn't have evidence against me if my camera was confiscated, and let the wave of homesickness just pound me.

can't wait to go back.

25 comments:

Mikel said...

Erin, you are a strong woman. I'm very much freaking out for you right now. I'm so sorry!

Lori said...

geeez, i know you've told me all about this before, but reading it like that made my stomach sink a little bit for you. HOWEVER, you're a smart woman and i'm sure it's all going to work out!! lets pray some mainland chicks car breaks down on the way to hk and you get her spot. ;)

The Pacini's said...

I'm so sorry!!!! I am praying for the private hospitals to open up for you! Just think, your next pregnancies should be a breeze...surely you will be in america for those, right???

Brien said...

Maybe you should move to India. They treat cows really well there. Maybe good treatment would transfer to prenatal care, as well.

Ashlee said...

Does private hospital accept Starwood points as a bonus, like slipping a tip?
Wow what a story. You are one brave soldier. Love the cow picture, helped the story. Visuals are always nice.

Scott, Heidi and clan said...

oh, i don't know what to say......
i have phobias in great depth about these situations -

Anonymous said...

Ha! Witty post hon. I'll have to train you in McGuiverisms so your pic goes unnoticed next time. Love you.

Vause Family said...

Oh my.

Vause Family said...

Oh my.

A and L said...

I'm so glad you stalked me! I was about to write Linda and ask for you blog address. Thanks for the Christmas card- I loved it.
I was actually thinking since were globe-trotting cuz's (we're moving to Jordan this summer) and all that we should defiantly keep in touch.

Jessica said...

what a crazy (and funny) story. i hope you luck out with the delivery situation, but if not you will have some interesting stories to tell baby burton about his unique birth. hang in there! about the pic -when i went to get a new social security card they asked if i had a camera (yes, i'm a mom-i always have a camera)so i had to go back to my car and leave it. i was going to take a pic of the outside for spite, but got nervous so congrats for at least having the courage to take a pic! ha

Scott & Lindsay said...

good grief skeener. look at all the life experience you're getting. i hope you don't get ticket.

hilary said...

oh my goodness, i am so sorry! i knew about the whole public/private hospital deal, but reading that made me feel so bad that you actually experienced that. we're praying for you sister! hang in there!

Abbie said...

advice: pray like you've never prayed before. you'll be fine. you're amazing and at least this isn't the first baby they've delivered, right?

Mardi & Jeremey said...

Oh my gosh! And I thought going to the dentist in a foreign country was bad. Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery are scary enough. I can't imagine what you must be feeling. I will be praying that the private hospital becomes available for you. I am sure you will be fine, but hey, what doesn't kill you just makes you stronger, right?

DD said...

We're praying for you too. Everything will be alright...hopefully you won't catch yellow fever from all those blasted commies! 助福你我的孩子...(Bless you my Child)

Alyson said...

oh friend! I kinda feel sick for you right now. gulp! I still can't believe you are having a baby in HK! You are so incredibly brave! We'll definately be praying for you, but I just know everything will be okay and soon you will be back in the good ol' USA. Love ya!

kate said...

oh dear. i'd suggest flying home, but delivering on an airplane would probably be worse. my sister lisa had a baby in shanghai, i'll see if she has any advice . . .

greta said...

just have to say we love you!

Mardi & Jeremey said...

From everything I have heard, pregnacy classes are over-rated. I am already dreading the huge hospital bill I am going to get, why add to it? I did take a hospital tour. I think that really helps. Can you image if you wouldn't have taken a good look at the public hospital before you delivered? You probably would have had a heart attack during delivery!!!

HOUSLEY FAM said...

I don't know what to say....That almost made me cry! I know you will do just fine though.

Laura B from the LBC said...

Oh that sounds downright horrific....I have something to look forward to, right?

Jacee McGuire said...

"Holy Cow", Ha! That is insane. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for ya, lets hope for the private hospital. Lets just say, what an experience.

M said...

Do you get an epidural? That is unnerving. However, people have babies before they get to the hospital and live to tell. If my husband hadn't been able to see me, I would have been delivering the baby myself. So I feel for you.

darrellandamy said...

YIKES! You are one tough cookie Erin! Good luck this next month! I hope it all goes well!
--Amy (Gerritsen) Sonntag

old me.