Monday, September 15, 2008

Having a Baby in the Czech Republic

Could it be a prison? It kind of felt like it . . .
Maybe a grocery store? They used grocery carts as strollers.
Well I've had a lot of requests to write about what it's like having a baby in the Czech Republic. I wrote this and realized it was really long, so the three things that struck me as being the most odd were 1. The whole shopping carts as strollers thing was different. 2. They put a big tatoo on Benjamin's chest to identify him. I had a bracelet with his name and number on my wrist. And 3. that I had to weigh the baby, take his temperature and record everything. What did the nurses do? Check to make sure my numbers looked good. So now feel free to read as much or as little as you want. It's kind of divided into two parts: Pregnancy and delivery, and hosptial stay.
Pregnancy and Delivery
This blog is dedicated to Alena Pilková who is watching Vinson at the park right now and is the only way that I would have time to write a blog like this. So I've had a lot of people ask what it's like having a baby in the Czech Republic. It's a lot different than the U.S., or at least my experience with Vinson in the U.S. The last month of pregnancy in the Czech Republic you go to the hospital for check ups because the doctor that you have visited for the pregnancy to that point doesn't do deliveries (or at least mine didn't). I had to have three check ups. First I have to preface this with the fact that Prague is experiencing a baby boom right now. To give you an idea: I called to sign up for the hosptial at 13 weeks into the pregnancy and Benjamin had 2 due dates. One was in August and the second was September 2nd. It was a good thing he had a Sepember due date because August was already full at all of the hospitals. So they are short on facilities. All of the mothers in the last month of their pregnancy - or with an at-risk pregnancy - go for these check ups and so there are about 20 women waiting on hard couches for the first half of the check up (about a 2 hour wait). I had no idea it would be so awful, so I didn't bring a book or anything and nearly died from boredom. Then they check the baby's movement and heart rate. I had to do plenty of these with Vinson, but there was no waiting. Only four mothers can do this at a time and it's a 20 minute process for each mother, but there's always a chair empty because the nurse wasn't very fast. And then, if that wasn't enough, you wait in another line to see a doctor. About a 4 hour process, altogether. It was a different doctor each time and they would check dialation and if the baby had dropped, etc. Everytime, I had a checkup scheduled I would hope and hope that Benjamin would come before the next one because they took so long and I had to find someone to watch Vinson. (Thanks Melinda!!!)


As a little bit of background information, with Vinson I was induced and had an epidural before feeling much of anything, so I felt like this was my second pregnancy but my first real labor experience. I didn't really know what a contraction felt like or when I should expect Benjamin to come (early or late) according to the due date, etc. I had been having really sporadic contractions for an entire week and then on the morning of the 5th I had contractions every 10 minutes. Dan and I called a taxi and woke the Kings up to watch Vinson at three in the morning. I had 3 contractions in the taxi, but it didn't faze the driver one bit. At the hospital they said that the contractions were too far apart and that I should go home and come back later. No buses were running - it was 5 in the morning, after all - so we walked to the tram stop and took a tram home. I could tell people were adverting their eyes because it was obvious when I was having a contraction. I think I did pretty good at being inconspicuous, though.


After trying to sleep at home for a while, I went to Melinda's house and paced around waiting for the contractions to get more frequent. I called Dan and we went to the hospital. Again, on the bus I kept having contractions, but it was the bus that goes to the hospital- you would think people would assume this was normal, but I have been suprised how few pregnant women I see on the bus. With all of the ones in the checkup lines, they must get there by car or some other way. So, yeah, I was somewhat of a spectacle and again, people diverted their eyes. This time we were admitted to the hospital. I had to be strapped in for them to check my contractions for 20 minutes. By this time they were getting pretty bad and I just wanted them to give me an epidural as soon as I got there. They skipped some of their normal prep work and had Dan sign a bunch papers that the expectant mother usually signs and I was taken to the delivery center. It is a big room with partitions separating all of the mothers who are delivering babies. I had heard about this before and had visions of me having an epidural and feeling nothing but hearing two or three women screaming and cursing (in Czech) while I was delivering the baby. But I was the only one delivering at the time and didn't have to hear someone else screaming. I got an epidural. YEAH! Epidurals aren't very common here, so one of my biggest concerns was that an anethesiologist wouldn't be on duty or something and I would have to tough it out. Benjamin came fairly quickly. The umbilical cord was around his neck so he came out really purple, but he was/is healthy.

10 comments:

Stephanie and Co. said...

Thanks for sharing. I was totally curious. I'm glad everything worked out and you didn't have to hear anyone else cursing. :)

n8, kris10, and scout said...

Val, you are such a trooper!

Spencer and Kimberly said...

I have to say, I think it is so funny that they put the baby in a grocery cart. The big number on the baby is quite interesting too!

Karey said...

Wow! I guess the grocery cart works as an isolette alternative :) Question: did you have to put in five crowns to use the grocery cart? You are so brave to have a baby in a foreign country and I'm sure Benjamin will always love hearing about the unique circumstances surrounding his birth!

SD Fiddlers said...

Val, you are amazing! I love the picture of benjamin in the shopping cart. Whatever works, right? I'm glad everything went well, but I can't even imagine having contractions and trying to ride a bus full of people. We are proud of you!

Matt and Leticia said...

Oh man Val, that is a great story! I'm glad you had time to share it with us. I'm glad that things went well and you are now home enjoying your cute new addition!

Emily and Kyle said...

Congrats! Yes, and thanks for sharing that story! I can't believe it! So interesting and a little bit, um scary to me! What a cute baby! You did a great job. I can't wait to show Kyle this post, he is going to have a good laugh about those shopping carts.

Rebecca said...

Aww... how exciting. Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

We shared this with a friend who worked in the delivery room as a nurse for many years. She thought it was wonderful

Dan's folks

Jessie Clark said...

Congrats! I didn't even know you were having another baby. It sounds like delivery there is an EXPERIENCE. Good job. Waiting 4 hours for appointments would be torture without a book or anything. You really are a trooper.