Initially we planned to go back to Taiwan for the birth of our second child but upon giving it more thought we realized that logistically it would make more sense to do it here. It’s just unfortunate that the Taiwanese embassy in Jeddah had just closed in May so we have to fly to Riyadh for paperwork from now on.
Since I had given birth in Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital before, we decided to stick to the same place. One time though, when I took the KAUST bus to DSFH, we stopped by IMC (International Medical Center) first. I was amazed at how it looked from the outside. It was like a hotel with a lavish driveway and plants and beautiful lighting and uniformed staff receiving guests outside (or was that just my imagination?) I enviously watched as the pregnant ladies got off at that stop. Then we got to DSFH and I felt like I was in a market with lots of people, overworked staff and almost no assistance. I guess it was a busy time (Thursday evening) but it made me wonder why I didn’t consider IMC first, since our BUPA insurance covers it anyway. But after talking to some people I realized that:
- IMC only accepts you if you start seeing them at 28 weeks, if I’m not mistaken.
- You need to book your own appointments with IMC and our clinic here, KAUST Health (old name KMC), does not help with that. There is also no KAUST liaison person at IMC.
- I’ve been warned that since IMC does not have many delivery rooms, there is a chance that you could be turned away if you happen to arrive at a busy time. My doctor told me that two of his patients had been turned away recently and since DSFH has bigger birthing facilities, it was in theory, a better bet to stick with DSFH.
So Oliver’s due date was on June 1, one day before Jasmine’s birthday. I prayed that they would not end up having the same birthday because I could imagine that being a problem for them when they are older. Jose insisted that it would be great because we’d save a lot of money on birthday parties.
We celebrated Jasmine’s birthday a week early to get it all out of the way and to ensure that we would even get to celebrate at all.
So June 1 came and Oliver did not. That night we fell asleep after streaming a couple of shows on the laptop. I woke up around 2am with contractions. I drifted in and out of sleep for about an hour, not sure if I was experiencing real contractions or just Braxton Hicks, which I’d been having for weeks. The contractions kept intensifying so by 4am I woke Jose up. We got everything ready and by 4:30am we were at KAUST Health, where I was to be examined before being transported to Jeddah in an ambulance. All pregnant ladies are transported to the hospitals in Jeddah by ambulance since we are at least an hour away from the city. Jose then took Jasmine to our friends’ house. I will be forever grateful to Olha and Hannes (and their daughter Varvara, who is like Jasmine’s best friend) for offering to take care of her. We left KAUST at about 5:30am accompanied by a nurse and my doctor at KAUST Health, Dr. Ashraf. It was very reassuring to have my doctor in the ambulance with us. I guess a doctor going in the ambulance to DSFH is standard procedure because you could give birth at any time during the 1 to 1.5 hour journey to the hospital. I tried to remain calm but when we got to the observation room I begged Jose to please get the doctor in here because I wanted to make sure I was still in time for the epidural. The doctor took about 20 minutes at the counter outside writing stuff. I asked Jose to ask the doctor to come in again. A few minutes later she came in to examine me. “Can I get an epidural?” I implored. I’m not sure if she answered me or if it was one of the nurses who told me, “It’s too late. You’re 9 cm already.” What?! Again?! I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. With Jasmine I waited to see how much pain I could bear and when I finally told them I wanted it they said it was too late. For Oliver I decided right from the get go that I was getting an epidural but still it was too late. I asked for a pethidine injection and they said it was too late as well since the baby would end up drowsy. They wheeled me into the delivery room around 7:15 am or so. I was in immense pain, moaning and cursing my fate with these damn epidurals. A nurse asked Jose to go downstairs to file some paperwork. Jose said he didn’t want to miss the birth but the nurse kept insisting, saying that it would only take five to ten minutes. Well guess what, while Jose was downstairs doing paperwork Oliver was born at 7:50 am. At that time I didn’t mind that Jose wasn’t there. I was just relieved that it was finally over and the pain was gone. But now, two week on, I feel kind of annoyed with that nurse who caused Jose to miss the birth of his son. Grrr…
We stayed at the hospital overnight but I let the doctors and nurses know that we would like to be discharged the next day, if possible. People who have a natural vaginal birth can stay two days but I was worried about Jasmine so I insisted that we go home as soon as we could. So the doctors checked me and Oliver and deemed us fit enough to go home. Oh yeah, a nurse also asked us if we’d like to get him circumcised but we declined. Here in Saudi Arabia it is very common to have newborn girls’ ears pierced and newborn boys circumcised, all covered by insurance. Jasmine’s ears were pierced the very next day after she was born and I thought it was no big deal until some European and Asian friends expressed how shocked they were that I got her ears pierced so early. Different folks, different strokes I suppose.
So we went in at 6:30 am on a Friday and by Saturday we were back in KAUST by 4:00 pm. As soon as we got home our neighbor brought us dinner and she had organized a Meal Train for us as well. It is very heartwarming to know that we have some very good friends here at KAUST who are thoughtful and kind.
When Jasmine saw Oliver she was very excited. Every time we hold Oliver she copies us by cradling her toys as well. People ask me how Jasmine is taking it and if there are issues with jealousy. Well, I think I’ll save that for another post…