So you want to know what it's like to be pregnant in Thailand.
Where do I begin?
Let's start with wanting to buy a cotton nightshirt to sleep in. They have cotton night shirts. Just none made to go over pregnant bellies. I could buy 3 of the teeny tiny things they do sell and sew them all together to fit over me. That was one option I considered. But since I have to sew, I just went and bought fabric and hopefully in a few days I will just make the thing and be able to wear it while breastfeeding a baby also. An enterprising business person could probably make a bundle if they had maternity clothes tailored and sold here in a boutique. Women here just make do with what they can find.
Today I realized that not one of the many babies in the hospital waiting room was strapped into a car seat, or stroller, or any other sort of carrying device. They were all held. You know how in the US they won't even let you carry a baby around in the hospital in case you drop it, and they won't let you leave with your baby unless it's in a car seat? Yeah, that doesn't happen here. They carry babies, and they are so sweet with them.
Just put yourself about 30 years ago in terms of common obstetrical practice in the US and you have Thailand. They put your feet in stirrups when it's time to push the baby out, many hospitals don't let your husband go in the room with you, and they believe VBACS are the most risky thing you can possibly attempt. Even if you've already had 3 of them.
Today I tried to keep a straight face while a young Thai doctor s earnestly informed me that my chances of uterine rupture are so much
higher now, 11 years after my original C-section, than they were the first 3
times I had a VBAC because my uterus is old and stretched thin and just
a very high risk. She then reassured me that C-sections and natural births in Thailand cost almost the same. She understands that you would want a VBAC in the US to keep the cost down, but here, where it is the same, why take the risk? She also told me that it doesn't hurt that much after the first day or two and that they will give me a lot of morphine. I kept a straight face through this piece of bullshit also.
(I had a C-section once. I know how long it takes to heal and feel normal after. Don't tell me I'll feel fine in a couple of days and that it won't be hard to take care of my other 4 children or not be able to lift my toddler when he's sad or even do the regular wrestling that is the bedtime routine with the little squirmer.)
There is one doctor in Chiang Mai who will perform VBACs, at a private hospital. They only allow her to because she has seniority. Only she leaves the country on Wednesday and doesn't return until after my due date. When I asked her what I could do she told me I needed to go to Bangkok. I wouldn't find any doctors here in town who would let me just labor and deliver. (I have no idea how she expects me to get there. I'm too pregnant to fly and it's a 12 hour trip by bus that would likely send me into labor on the way.)
So I tried another hospital, and an OB that my friend Cindy really liked for her 2 births. He was kind, and funny, a tiny old man who took my entire birth history in stride. At the end of the appointment he informed me that he is 64 and no longer actually attends births because he can't be up all night any more, so he would write me a letter to refer me to another doctor at another hospital where I could try for a "natural birth".
Except I had already seen that doctor, and she's leaving the country for 3 weeks.
So today I scheduled myself for a C-section, with the doctor who earnestly believes my old tired uterus is about to explode into a bloody pulp at the very first contraction. I got her to agree not to schedule it before my due
date, which is fine because I've never gone all the way to my due date,
(famous last words), and also didn't disagree with her too much when she
told me that the placenta would dry up and shrivel and stop feeding my
baby very soon afterward if I didn't do it then. I lied through my teeth when I promised to call her immediately if I started labor before then.
And then I paid almost $400US for them to advance order me some Rogham. In the US it's usually around $100. But RH negative blood types are rare in Asia, and it's harder to get here. (Plus, at about $15US for a Dr. appointment, they aren't making much money on patient care. Apparently most hospitals over charge for, and over prescribe, drugs because they get a cut from the sales and make some money that way.) I sat for an hour while they called hospital after hospital to locate some. This of course is why I'm pretending to schedule a C-section. I need to be registered at a hospital in order for them to advance order that Rogham in case the baby is born with an RH positive blood type.
(The good news about my blood type is that I'm a universal donor. I can give anyone blood. But it's kind of a pain in the butt when it comes to managing it during pregnancy.)
I also need to have a doctor on record who can vouch for the fact that I was actually pregnant, and did actually recently give birth to the child I will be bringing into the hospital with me after it's born. I need this in order to get paperwork from that doctor to take to the community head in order to get another paper to take to the embassy in order to get my kid an American birth abroad certificate so they can leave the country some day. Got that?
Of course, anyone who has been reading here for a while knows that I have no intention of going anywhere near a hospital until after I've already delivered this baby. They just can't know that. It has to look like an accident for the sake of paperwork.
I have found a lovely midwife here, ex-pat, who delivered her own twins at home, and will fly up from Bangkok when I call her to attend my labor.
Since I usually have some advance notice, this should work out just fine. It's only an hour flight.
Since it turns out that I'm going to be essentially lying through my teeth anyway, to not get my baby cut out of me when I'm perfectly capable of pushing it out myself, something I started out trying not to do, I realize I should have just lied through my teeth to begin with and completely omitted the bit about having a C-section. It's not like their record keeping is all that thorough to begin with.
Now I have to figure out when I'm going to call the doctor and tell her I'm having contractions. I think after the baby is born, followed by another call half an hour later telling her I'm not going anywhere I'm already pushing. I'll meet her at the hospital with the baby.
Now we can just settle in and wait for this baby to be born. Oh, and I have to figure out some names.