In the next couple of weeks I’m in for one of life’s more visceral experiences. I’m due to give birth at Brigham Women’s. As a fully paid up member of the Harvard Insurance I want bells and whistles and if you were to throw in a jazz band I won’t complain.
Since I’m going to one of the top women’s hospitals in the world I’ve decided I want the full Monty: I’ve put in a request for an obstetrician, a pediatrician, an anesthetist, a psychoanalyst and an entomologist -all to be present throughout the process. They can bring their friends if they like, but only if their friends have jobs which end in “ist.” I’m looking at this as an opportunity to network with professionals.
No pain, no gain
I have the benefit of being a seasoned expert in this “bearing of children” game. I have one already and I think I was lucky – it was not the most painful experience of my entire life. In fact it only ranked as number five. The other four are ranked below in order of pain:
1. Our nine-day hike around Stewart Island: we had to walk through thigh deep mud and we only had enough food for a three-day hike. My knees turned inside out and I looked as though I’d had an industrial accident with a face pack. That was 220 hours of excruciating agony followed by nine months of physiotherapy.
2. Torn hamstring: I’d like to say I tore it whilst bungy jumping but I was in fact just bringing in the groceries. Needless to say I was on crutches for a week and had physio for six months.
3. Gastroenteritis: after eating some deli ham I came down with a nasty case of Campylobacter. That was two full days of being extremely ugly followed by another four days of a “liquids only” diet.
4. I can’t even remember what number four was.
But my point is this: in none of those circumstances did anyone offer me good drugs. Whereas in childbirth if you stub your toe getting out of the elevator someone is on hand to shove an epidural in your back. I’m expecting Brigham to be able to offer me top of the range drugs from all the big names: Pfizer, Eli Lilly…in fact I hear Afghanistan’s got a bumper crop of opium now that the Taliban have gone.
Can it be so different here?
On my tour around Brigham I was talking to a fellow prospective who I swear must have been a Kennedy – she had a certain style (I generally come across as “comfortable” rather than stylish and so I felt a little intimidated). After telling her I had a son already and that he had been born in New Zealand she said, “Oh, well that must have been different.” And I thought about her comment… I’m pretty sure that aside from any Coriolis Effect the physiological experience is likely to be pretty much the same. As for surroundings – you generally don’t notice what pastel shades are used in different hospital settings.
So, we’re going to have a little American in our family. People ask me how I feel about this. I’m torn between sounding too effusive, just in case people think that I deliberately came here pregnant so that I could get someone in my family to sponsor me for a green card when they turn 18 (thus crediting me with a level of farsightedness that I simply don’t possess) and sounding nonplussed (I have heard that once you get a social security number the IRS follows you to the grave).
So, exciting times all round. Be aware that perhaps my next article might be full of grisly details that will require Harbus censorship. You may not want to read it over breakfast.