Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

From Behind the Stir-Ups!

(I've never done a group blog thing like this before, so please be kind!)

Not that this blog is all about birth or anything, but today was officially declared (by these two ladies) the day to share humorous/frightening/unusual stories about OB/GYN experiences. The above statement, or the following graphic, should scare any wandering males away.

The thing is, although I want to participate, I don't have any freaky OB/GYN experiences. I saw one only rarely before I was pregnant, and then I had one in Syria while I was pregnant with Miriam (although I eventually gave birth using a midwife in the US). I haven't seen an OB/GYN in America in several years.

Anyway, since I don't have any horror stories, I thought I'd share what it was like to visit an OB/GYN while pregnant in Damascus, Syria. It's something I get asked about a lot, though the question is usually phrased something like, "I can't believe you weren't scared to be pregnant over there!"

First, you have to realize that there's no health insurance infrastructure in Syria (or, indeed, in much of the world besides America. Rejoice or lament as you see fit. Personally, I rejoiced). So when we looked for a doctor, we had to choose from an available price range. A single visit to an OB/GYN could cost as little as six dollars out-of-pocket for your run-of-the-mill, Syrian- or Middle-Eastern-educated doctor. We chose a Western-educated doctor who spoke English, and ended up paying 10 dollars per visit.

What did a visit entail? Well, the first awesome thing about my prenatal care in Syria is that I could see the doctor as often - and as soon - as I wanted. I had had a miscarriage before, and so it was nice to be able to go several times in those first few scary months and be reassured by a heartbeat.

Second of all, I could always, always make an appointment for the next day or two. No six-week waiting periods. And once I was in the office, I never had to wait more than a few minutes for my appointment.

The appointment itself would proceed like this: a nice female nurse would call me (and Jeremy, if he was there) back, weigh me, show me into the ultrasound room, and set me up. She was always very smiley. Then the doctor himself would come in and perform an ultrasound, talking me through everything. That's right, the ultrasound was performed by the doctor himself, and he was allowed to talk about it while doing it (I understand from friends' stories that that is not always the case in America). And I got one at every single visit. After that, he'd give me a moment and then we'd meet in his office to talk about anything we needed to.

One of the things we discussed was how much it would cost to give birth to the baby in Damascus. At the best private hospital in town, with my doctor, a normal birth would have cost $500.

It was during one of these visits that my OB/GYN made this statement: "Childbirth is not brain surgery. It's something that happens all the time, everywhere. I like to treat it as a natural thing, not as something that women need to be saved from." Basically, he was awesome.

So there you have my defining OB/GYN experience: short wait times, inexpensive yet quality care, and an ultrasound as often as I wanted it. Who says there's anything to be afraid of being pregnant in Syria?

See what I mean? Farsi?!?!?