I Love Romania, but here’s what I learned about doctors
My dad did a stupid thing this past month and broke his arm. I won’t get into the whole story. This is more about “Bucharest’s Anatomy”. After two weeks he went to get the cast removed. He previously made an appointment and that day my mom drove him to the hospital. But lo and behold, the doctor wasn’t there. He wasn’t coming to the Fundeni hospital that day.
This triggered the story of why I Love Romania, but I still don’t get the medical system. Doctors have it hard. They study a lot of years, only to get beat down by the system. What I don’t understand is why they keep perpetuating the process instead of taking little steps to try and make it better. Be the change you want to see in the world kind of thing. Stop it with the God complex and respect rules.
I don’t know about doctors at large. I don’t even know about all the doctors in Romania. I just know a little bit about some I’ve interacted with in the last year in the capital. Doctors scared me for a long time. When I was little and got a little bump my dad always panicked and said “let’s take the girl to the doctor”. So I developed a little thing called “docphobia” or Iatrophobia. Once I got older, I embraced the fact that I need specialists. Google just won’t do it.
Doctors are humans, but…
The cliche “doctors are also humans” is true. I was against this before getting pregnant, but I’ve met the new generation of docs and I reserve the right to change my mind. Because I didn’t have a lot of contact with doctors, I had this misconception that they’re Gods sent on Earth to help us with every little life (medical, nutritional, psychological) detail. But they’re not. They’re not even funny like Grey’s Anatomy cast and that’s a bummer.
And this is why during pregnancy visits with the OBGYN I always went prepared. I had the questions. I had the history files. I always double checked before leaving if I got everything right. Doctors won’t tell you all you need to know about your body and what you should do, that’s why books and Google are great.
What’s not OK is to avoid specialists and just stick to reading and curing yourself. No, read but only so you know what to ask. Be organized, because they won’t. You’re just another appointment to them. And always remind them things they’ve said on the last appointment, don’t assume anything.
Speaking about appointments, although I always had one, they were never respected. Sometimes there were emergencies before me — thank God I didn’t had one — but sometimes they crammed too many people in one day and one session took longer and bumped the rest. The irony, even the biggest appointment of them all — DUE DATE — didn’t go as planned.
Doctors are humans, but I believe they can make the system better. They should try to be more organized and stop saying “it was an emergency” every single time. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. Our newborn was scheduled for a visit with the doctor at 13:30 one day and at 12pm they called to cancel. Guess what, the doc wasn’t coming to the hospital that day. Different docs, different hospital, coincidence? No, this is the seed they’re planting and chaos is what we’ll all reap.
Here’s my experience with Regina Maria
For those of you who don’t know, Regina Maria is like a supermarket chain. They have invested in so many clinics in the past years, that the left hand doesn’t know what the right is up to. In my humble opinion, the quality of their services has dropped with the expansion. Nonetheless, there are still some professional OBGYNs you can work with.
I’m very lucky to have had an easy pregnancy. Everything ran almost smoothly. I ate right, exercised and gain the recommended amount of weight. I took my vitamins and rested. I tried to chill and “spongebob” as many pieces of advice as I could.
I went to all of the appointments because I didn’t know better. Not sure yet if I would do it like this again. But one thing I know, if I ever give birth again, I will try another hospital. I love some of their doctors, but most work in other places too and it’s worth the move. For the amount of money they charge and the team they have it’s embarrassing that they charged me twice for some tests. Of course, once I explained the situation they returned the money.
I’m a firm believer that you should always raise questions and fight for what you know it’s right, even if they say otherwise. Indeed, it took a couple of weeks to get my money back, but it was worth the time, the feedback docs I wrote, the calls, the emails and the patience I invested. It’s all about beating the #madeinRO bad mentality of “leave it” and “this is how it’s done here”.
Here’s more about my giving birth story
A couple of weeks before DUE DATE, we were out and about with some friends. They have two young boys, so it’s no wonder that we wanted to pick their brains. We enjoyed listening to them and smiled when they were a bit shocked to discover that I wouldn’t be giving birth with the doc that followed my pregnancy. She didn’t sign with Regina Maria and I stubbornly wanted to give birth here because a couple of friends did it before and I knew what to expect, sort of.
Not only I wasn’t going to bring my child into the world with the doctor I knew for half a year, but I didn’t even met with the delivery doctor I had signed with via a Regina Maria representative, yet. You have to sign the contract around 26 weeks of pregnancy. We did it when I was in my 28th week — managed to let them drop the extra fee because I wasn’t in my 26th week, seriously?! — but I didn’t rush to shift between docs.
It was around the 36th week of pregnancy when we met our birthing doc. She was nice. She was recommended by our regular OBGYN. If you know anything about us, #thesparrows, you know that Murphy Laws follow us everywhere. If something somewhat bad can happen, it will happen. And this is why I told our friends above and our parents that we don’t care who we’re going to give birth with, because most probably that person won’t be available that night.
I was 37 weeks and 6 days pregnant when I kissed my husband before he went out to celebrate a best friend’s 30th birthday. I then went to make a sandwich which I would enjoy in bed. It was 11pm, don’t judge, I felt big, hungry and like I would forever live in the WC. Before my wild night plans, I had to make a pee stop. On my way out of the bathroom, I had the classic Hollywood-movie-water-breaking-scene…only I wasn’t sure about it.
After 10 minutes since he left, I called my husband and said: “Bae, I don’t want you to panic, but I’m not sure, I feel like my water broke”. In a couple of minutes he was back home. I talked with my birthing doctor. She said to wait half an hour to see if I was leaking some more. That’s when I discovered you leak for a while, it’s not just that one big cinema-worthy moment.
At around 12am, now 38 weeks pregnant, we arrived all emotional and fully packed at the hospital. In the emergency room 4 women checked me out and told me that this is DUE DATE. A week before this I was in the same spot filling out papers so I wouldn’t have to do it at 12am, tired and scared. Because Regina Maria’s system is “effed up”, at 12am on 14.11.2017, tired and scared, I was AGAIN filling in the forms, verbally this time.
After I was set up, they told me in a joking matter that my doctor was out of the city and couldn’t make it. Yes, they waited. I laughed. Seriously and sincerely it cracked me up. And because when you get a door closed in your arse, you also get an angel through the window, the doctor on call that night was freaking amazing.
She smiled, understood our jokes and said that by 7am she wants to deliver our baby. She had a condition, to keep an open mind when it comes to drugs. I didn’t want any (apparently I have a high pain threshold and labor didn’t last long) and 8h after my water broke we had our little beautiful dragon and the rest was forgotten…until now.
Things that are coming back to me
- They say hormones kick in and you forget what happens. I didn’t forget anything. I was just too focused on the baby dragon to care about the rest. After 6 weeks I remember every little cramp, push and shove. I loved my giving birth story. It’s the sleep deprivation after that’s hard.
- That night I met a tired doula who didn’t liked jokes and when I told her to please smile and asked her some questions she snapped at me and told me that she’s the only one there asking questions.
- For this reason my husband, who didn’t want to take part in the birth, only the labor, never left my side. He was the biggest HERO of this story, the other one was the freaking amazing doctor on call.
- That night my husband had to change into scrubs so as to keep things sterilized. The irony was that during our labor there was a big fly having its rounds in our birthing room. Talking about cleanliness in a Romanian expensive private hospital. I wonder where did that fly sit on before she joined the party? Flies aren’t exactly attracted by honey.
- During labor, a lot of people came and left the room and because I was feeling good, I always asked for their names and to present themselves. Needless to say they all snapped at me while saying what’s their business there. Am I crazy to want to meet all these strangers seeing me in my Eve’s costume?
- That night I was a “dinosaur” at Regina Maria. I gave birth vaginally — all births are natural — and without medication, but with a lot of screaming involved. Everybody was giving me stinky eyes.
- I had a lot of popped blood vessels on my face because I gave birth rather fast and didn’t breathe right. All the “professionals” the next day said “OMG” each time they saw me and one prissy night nurse laughed in my face and said “I don’t know what I would do if I were you, you won’t get your face back in the next 3 months”. My mom was the same when she gave birth, my face was back to normal in a week. Suck it! I should’ve said something about her attitude to her superiors, but I just wanted to get home as soon as I could. You have to pick your battles.
- The doctor I signed the contract with left me a SMS the next day apologizing for leaving the city for a party. She’s bound by the contract to not be further than a couple of hours away. I never answered her back and I’m not ashamed about it. Regina Maria didn’t blink an eye and returned to us the money that doctor wanted extra for the birth.
- The doctor on call took a nap during my labor so she could be fresh for my birth. I thank her for being human, for knowing that she had the time to shut her eyes and offer the best she can when she was really needed. She is the reason I left my OBGYN and most probably will continue my annually tests with her.
- During the many papers I signed, they also asked me about any food issues. I eat anything, but I still believe their menu should be checked by a nutritionist. After you give birth, you should definitely eat like an animal, but I recommend they add some oat crackers to the trays instead of chunks of white bread, greasy sausages with polenta and mixes of cheese/eggs/meat as part of the same meal. They sure like their traditional Romanian meals. I’m glad most of the food tasted good, I had some coffee and even dessert with each meal, but my body needed nutrients not bad carbs, fats and sugar.
- One last thing, my baby had on his little transparent crib written in pencil “exclusively breastfed”. I think it’s a funny label and didn’t really like it. I got a lot of stinky eyes because I was adamant about not giving him bottles when he didn’t need it. They even said they can’t take him during the night with the other newborns and bring him back to me every couple of hours to be fed, because they’re only two nurses and can’t manage. I didn’t mind, I wanted my baby with me, but I also called them to my room every time I needed help, because that’s what I signed a contract and paid for. This made me feel like I was weird and like I wanted special treatment, when all I wished for was a natural experience. I fought hard to get it and so should everybody!