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

Giving birth in the UAE vs. the USA

Over the last few days, I've been thinking about sifting my recent birth experience into the differences between here and the US. It's not an exact science since birth experiences can be (and are, in my case) wildly different even when they take place in the same country. But here's my best shot at what was really different between here and there.

Food. There was very little food available to me during labor. The only thing I could get was a "sandwich" (kiri cheese and flatbread) from the hospital kitchen, and a bottle of water. Both of which took over an hour to arrive. That's why Jeremy went out and bought our own food.

The situation was slightly more dire after midnight in the recovery room. The awesome food service I talked about in this post wouldn't start until the next morning, and in the meantime I was famished. Again, all that was available to me from the hospital was flatbread, so Jeremy went on another food run for me. We asked if we could get Subway or someone to deliver to the hospital, but they said security wouldn't let the delivery guy in the door. That policy should be changed, at least during nighttime hours. Because when you've just given birth to a baby, flatbread is not enough. Nope.

Bedside Manner. In the US, I feel like they explain a procedure, then they do the procedure, then they talk to you about the procedure they just did. Not so here. They just did the procedure. I don't want to freak anyone out, but for a few days after the birth, I kept having a weird reflex that someone was trying to check me and I was totally surprised by it and then I would realize that although that happened a few times, it was not happening anymore. The L&D nurses' attitudes were a little brusque as well.

Modesty. The hospital gown they put me in was just dripping with fabric. It covered me from neck to wrist to toe, with lots of billowing pink gingham in between. Shortly after birth, when the male pediatrician came in to check Sterling, they closed the curtains around the bed so I couldn't be seen. Similarly, in the recovery room, anytime a male member of staff was going to come in, the female nurses came in first to make sure I was decent and to give me a heads up. I'm not saying that in the US these precautions aren't taken, but this was a level of protection of my decency that I haven't experienced before during the childbirth process.

Jeremy's Comfort. Poor Jeremy basically spent 10 hours sitting in a hard plastic chair. The L&D room did not have any couch or soft chair for him to sit in. At one point when I was in the bathroom, he asked if he could lie down on the hospital bed, just for a minute. Poor guy. It actually affected me during labor, knowing how uncomfortable he was.

I mentioned in another post how we would have had to pay almost $100 for him to stay in the recovery room with me. I thought that was a little weird, but whatever. Maybe I was the weird one for considering having my husband there with me - when we left recovery, we did so at the same time as a Saudi woman, who had a female entourage with her and an honest-to-goodness hotel luggage carrier cart for all her belongings/gifts/platters of food/etc. Then there was me and Jeremy and my purse and the baby. So maybe we're the ones doing it wrong.

On call? The doctor who delivered Sterling was the doctor on duty at the hospital when I went in. I was disappointed that it wouldn't be my regular doctor, but I figured there was nothing I could do about it. So imagine my surprise when I saw my regular doctor the next day and she chastised me for not calling her mobile when I arrived at the hospital. I didn't even know that was an option! I guess it is.

Culture clash. The doctor who delivered Sterling came here about five months ago from Damascus. It was clear in many little ways (and when it came time to push, in a big way) that she was used to doing things the way they do them in Syria. In some ways, I feel like I got a Syrian birth and a UAE birth all in one, thanks to my very Syrian doctor and the way she managed things.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some details. It's hard to separate what is different because it's here vs. there, and what's different because it's now vs. five years ago, or because it's this doctor vs. that doctor, or whatever. This was my best effort.

Now, the differences in obtaining birth certificates/passports between here and there - that is quite the story. I'll tell it to you when it's finished.

Kirk Gibson and quicksand

October 11th, outsourced