Tuesday, May 8, 2012

So you wanna have a baby in Poland, Part 4

I should finally finish this series and get to the birth of Rosie, I guess – especially since Rosie is 4 years old already and I have been writing this blog for what, 3 years now.
The fact that I see Rosie’s beautiful face everyday especially early in the morning – Mommy, you sleepin’? - should have reminded me to get my thoughts together and put something down on paper, well, on computer anyway. What reminded me that I should write, however, was a news story I saw the other morning (or rather heard,  I was doing my make-up) on TVN24. Apparently, Poland has a problem with aggressive patients. That’s what reminded me to write about Rosie’s birth. Don’t worry, Rosie wasn’t an aggressive newborn ;)
Ok, so the news report wasn’t exactly about aggressive patients…it was about signs hung in the doctor’s office to remind patients how to behave – to knock and wait, to not knock and wait, to just wait, to be nice to the personnel, to not be aggressive to the personnel, that aggression towards personnel will be prosecuted and that there is some registry of aggressive patients. Po prostu Bareja ;)
Even the coolest of the cool can blow their tops sometimes especially when we are sick, we have to wait in line for 3 hours,  the lady at the registration desk basically told us to feck off and the patient next to us has sneezed something gross all over our shoulder. Maybe we should keep our cool in situations such as these. It’s not the doctor’s fault. We shouldn’t take out our frustration and aggression on the doctor. But sometimes, just sometimes we should.
Let’s continue our story…
We had our little bald, baby Lizzie at home (she’s 6 now) and everything seemed perfect. One cool thing in Poland is that a mid-wife comes for a few home visits after you and baby come home from the hospital. Our mid-wife was very nice, helpful and experienced. I appreciated her visits very much. For you American moms some information- giving birth is covered under the health fund here– you don’t get a bill no matter what -even if you have complications, even if you have to stay in the hospital longer. The condition of the hospital certainly won’t be as nice as you’d like but, anyhow, you can’t really do anything about that. The mid-wife who comes to your house is within the health fund services as well, as are the first pediatrician visits and any GP visit for you and child (if you can just get your foot in the door…but more about that later).
What I didn’t know was that if you got stitches for any reason after giving birth, you could report back to the hospital and go to a special room where the nurses removed stitches all day long. I visited this room with these ladies after Rosie was born. They were surprisingly jolly for removing stitches from crotches and bellies all day long. My doctor, the Ordynator, did not inform me of the possibility to visit these jolly ladies with Lizzie. I had to go to his private office and pay to remove the stitches. It later turned out that he had MISSED a few and the mid-wife removed them for me in my own home (she carries a sterile kit with her).
I was enjoying my time as a first-time mom – diapers, breastfeeding and everything. Unfortunately, I got a pretty bad mastitis in one breast. Or maybe I should say fortunately, for my private doctor. 9 visits and 2 months later, I still had mastitis, 5 cm in diameter to be exact. It’s like having a 3rd breast – a very painful 3rd breast. Finally, I convinced my doctor to drain it, but when I arrived at the hospital at 7:00 a.m., baby in tow, he decided we would wait (?!?), treat it with a “laser” from some machine that looked like the control panel of Czernobyl, and I should come again to his private office.
I have a new doctor.
Who is not afraid of 3rd breasts…
…or scalpels.
Lizzie was soon turning one. It was time to take stock.
Our inventory:
MC900072629[1] Mom with 2 healthy breasts, no wonky 3rd breast thanks to the new doctor and his trusty scalpel
MC900072629[1] Dad – very enamored with the new baby and grateful to the new doctor for returning Mom to normal, well, as normal as Mom gets
MC900072629[1] Baby Lizzie makes 3, unaware of breast issues, sleeping through the night, eating “real” food
We asked ourselves, Hmmm, why not 4? And why not now?
That’s exactly what my doctor asked when I visited him for a check-up and said that we planned to try to get pregnant in a couple of months. He said “Why wait? You have a beautiful egg just waiting to be fertilized”. Actually he said something like this, “Dlaczego? Piękna jajeczka czeka.” Is it wrong that I told my husband that eggs can be fertilized for up to 15 days? And that for those 15 days vigorous sex was needed at least twice a day? Nah, that’s not wrong. I mean look at the results – Rosie! Yep, we made ourselves a baby Rosie. We even got to see her on the sonogram in egg form. Amazing, isn’t it?
Well, the whole pregnancy went fine. I was much more tired this time taking care of a baby (Lizzie was 1 when I got pregnant), carrying a baby and looking after myself and our home…oh, and my husband…oh, and working. By week 36, I was ready to pack it in and had already planned my last week of work. Rosie would be arriving any day now…except that she wasn’t. Each child is different as is each pregnancy blah, blah, blah and I should have known to expect anything. What I wasn’t expecting was to be pregnant ONE MONTH longer with Rosie than with Lizzie. Believe me, I was so relieved to be on my way to the hospital.
My relief ended when I actually entered the hospital. I knew where to go because I had been a patient there a few times before. We had official permission for a family birth from my former doctor, the Ordynator. It was a little after 7:00 a.m. and not much was going on at the hospital yet. The nurse opened the door at the Admittance Office and asked loudly, “What’re you doing here?” I thought it was pretty obvious but answered, “Having a baby”. “Not here,” she replied. “Why not here?” I asked. “We’re full,” and she closed and locked the door from the inside.
It was all a little too “no room at the Inn” for me, but I wasn’t ready to start looking for a manger just yet.
I didn’t sit down either because as you may know, it is practically impossible to sit down while in labor. I paced the waiting room and waited for Misiu who was parking the car.
He came in and the zadyma began. The nurse was quite flustered by Misiu and got the Doctor on duty. I remember this in a kind of a fog because I was in labor and my point of concentration was between my legs not on the doctor in Izba Przyjęć. The Doctor (whose nickname is too vulgar to write here) very unkindly informed us that the hospital was full and that we should go to another hospital. It was 7:15 a.m. – the start of morning rush hour. I informed him right back that there was no time and he said with one hand on the door handle, “You’ll make it”. He did not examine me nor did he offer transport. And a “full” hospital means that NOBODY is giving birth, all the birthing rooms were unoccupied. The regular hospital rooms, however, were full.
Not to put the cart before the horse, I told the Doctor that he could transport us – baby and me – after the birth. He said, “No. That is not possible”. I began yelling at him that it was not a fecking toothache. The baby was on its way. Then he finally examined me, quite roughly, said all was ok and left. I told the nurse that I couldn’t just leave, that I was afraid that something could go wrong. She did a quick KTG (CTG) and declared, “You hear that, lady. Your baby is alive.”
What a relief.
Misiu’s stance the entire time was, “Doctor, you will admit my wife to this hospital”-which he repeated over and over. I’m sure that all the Polish folks reading this understand very well, but I will spell it out for the rest. I was no longer a private patient of the Ordynator. I know that being his patient wouldn’t have made the hospital any less full, but you can be sure that if I had still been his patient, we would not have been treated so poorly.
It was 7:30 a.m. and we had been escorted to the door and asked to leave.
I realized that this was probably going to be the first birth in this hospital unattended by any medical personnel, but you can’t stop the birthing process just because the Doctor says no. There we were in the waiting room. What to do? Risk a car trip that would take at least 45 minutes maybe longer? Drive down the street to Biedronka’s parking lot and call an ambulance? Give birth right there in the waiting room? Another couple had arrived for a planned C-section and had heard everything that had transpired. They were in panic – for us, not for themselves. We choose the last option as the only option. Rosie was on her way out and there was nothing we could do about it.
I can tell you that  if you want to get the ball rolling, just remove your pants in a public place. Things will definitely start happening after that. In fact, more problems should be solved by pants removal. (I accept no legal responsibility for this advice. Remove your pants in public at your risk.)
Things will happen - such as doctors will admit you to the hospital…it may also have had something to do with something Misiu said involving the words “dam ci w łeb”, but who can be sure?
Does that qualify us for the aggressive patient registry?
At 7:45 a.m. I was walked upstairs to the birthing area. One annoying thing is that they repeat the admittance procedures upstairs – extremely annoying when you are a foreigner and in labor. Anyhow, I told them that I was in labor - in labor-labor not just first contractions-labor and was promptly hooked up to the KTG for the second time. Super.
Slowly and loudly, the mid-wife said, “When you feel the baby move, press this button.”
Me: How about when the baby starts to cry I press this button?
Mid-wife in her smooth “I am talking to a crazy person/flight attendant” voice: Once again, when you feel the baby move, press this button.
Me:-----
After a  minute-
Mid-wife: You don’t seem to understand. When the baby moves, press this button.
Me: I understand very well. The baby is not moving because the baby is coming OUT.
The mid-wife took her first peek under the sheet and shouted “Oh my, let’s get you to the birthing room”.
It was 7:50 a.m.
Across the hall to the birthing room we went where Misiu was waiting for us.
There was some water breaking. I learned a new word “kucaj” and that kucanie is a great birth position. I learned that drugs are expensive and there are not enough for the mid-wife and for me ;) I got a vitamin B shot. My strength gave out during kucanie and the mid-wife helped me onto the birthing table for the grand finale and said that I was very zgrabna for a pregnant lady (compliment no 1). No cutting was necessary – but in a crucial moment  the mid-wife looked up at me from between my legs. I expectantly awaited her instructions when she said,(compliment no 2)…
“You know what? You have a really nice smile. Please tell me that you don’t use just plain old toothpaste. Now push.”
And just like that Rosie was born which I was able to see reflected in the light fixture on the ceiling. Misiu cut the umbilical cord. There were some tears. All was well.
It was 8:00 a.m.
4 years ago.

13 comments:

princeska said...

That is a horror story!!! Glad I live in Scotland now and plan to have a baby here (not anytime soon though). Shall be fun too ;)

Kasia said...

You are one brave woman, and I am really glad that I had my baby in the US. At least nobody was rude to me in the hospital!

fiona_apple said...

Oh my... I should not be reading this... Two months to go with my second one and now I am scared shitless...

ds said...

Znowu się jednocześnie śmiałam i płakałam. Straszne, śmieszne i wzruszające. I understand why you needed 4 years to write about it. But all's well that ends well, right?

AnetaCuse said...

And I am really glad I'm not having a baby anywhere ;).

But seriously, this kind of stuff makes you really, really angry. Even just reading about it happening to someone else makes you angry. Maybe it's a good thing guns aren't as commonplace is Poland as they are in the US.

Chris said...

Thanks for all the comments. I really don't want to scare anyone (fingers crossed and thumbs held for you fiona_apple) or say that the Polish health care system is bad or something. This is just something that happened to me. It was shocking for us too when it happened and we were so furious but as always we did what we had to do. I repeat, taking off your pants in public makes things happen and fast.
And AnetaCuse, I didn't think about using a gun at that time, but I sure wished I had had a patelnia or other such implement...w łeb!

papageno said...

You indeed are quite memorable :)

Chris said...

As one of my students says -

Sank you. Sank you very much.

:)

kobieta pracujaca said...

You are amazing! Turning such a horror story to a great read is a true gift! And I'm happy I had my baby in Canada, where I didn't have to pay the hospital bills and, at the same time, everyone in the hospital was great and very friendly.

Kasia said...

Polish healthcare system is not bad??Here is my latest - I am super mad!
My father - went to the dr. in Feb. Dr found something wrong with kidneys. Did an ultrasound then ordered a cat scan. Wait for cat scan - 2 months. The date arrived - went to the hospital - the machine was broken. Rescheduled for today. Went this morning. "Sir - the results of your blood tests are too old". We can do blood tests now if you pay. It was cheap - he paid. Sir - your results are not good. We can't do the cat scan. Come back when your results are better. REALLY??????

Chris said...

Oh my goodness, Kasia, that is terrible. I am so sorry for your father. Imagine how a person, ill and alone, can navigate the system. You can't win.

PS One of my students had a small home repair accident this past week(think hammer vs. hand) and went to the ER. They didn't x-ray him because the x-ray machine was broken...end of story. They didn't tell him where he should go or what he should do. Just that the machine was broken, period, koniec, kropka.

fiona_apple said...

I think your blog post caught me off guard there. Usually I am cool about the subject – I believe that the great experience from my first labour will help me. That is why I am very grateful for my first one to have been born in NL in the atmosphere of pure empathy and understanding of what labour is and feels for a woman, how strong and vulnerable it makes her at the same time.

Fortunately, the porodówka reality in Poland is changing. I have heard many positive stories about staff and procedures. But the thing is you still NEVER KNOW. You might be treated as a human being starting a new life or a nuisance, a feckin’ claimant disturbing a coffee break, a hypochondriac or a lunatic. And that is not even wrong. That is SICK.

Chris said...

fiona - You are so right about the "you never know" part. Pregnant women (or any patients for that matter) are so worried about all the variables that could go wrong, it is a shame we cannot always rely on the staff to be one of the "right" variables.

Despite the fact that the doctor did not want to admit me to the hospital, I view my 2nd birth as a positive experience. I knew what to expect. I knew what I was doing - and the midwife was great. My treatment before and after the birth left a lot to be desired but during the actual birth, I felt supported.

I know I didn't have a choice about the natural birth anyway but now I see that it was the best option for me. I had 2 relatively quick births without complications and recovered very fast. Now if given a choice I would do the same even if I had another option. (And 3rd babies practically fly out, don't they? - Don't sound the alarms, no 3rd babies are on the way.)