Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pregnant in Turkey

One of the cool things about being pregnant in Turkey is there doesn't seem to be a limit to the number of ultra-sounds you, the patient & mom-to-be, can have.

According to the various books, articles, blogs etc. I have read (& stuff other women have told me) in most of Western Europe and the UK, the standard number of ultra-sounds is 3 (one per trimester). Further up north (in Holland & Sweden) 3 seems to be a max. In fact, after they've confirmed you are pregnant, they send you home and tell you to come back once you're ready to have the baby... if, that is, you're planning to deliver in a hospital or clinic and not at home (not my cuppa personally, but whatever).

In Turkey, -at least, in Izmir, as a foreigner with a terrific (lady) Ob-Gyn who speaks good English and specializes in IVF babies (not our case)- we get to "go to the movies" (dixit an enthusiastic hubs who otherwise is as allergic as they come to hospitals) and see our "bebek" once a month! How's that for entertainment!?

Seriously, it's pretty cool. Not that I can compare with a previous pregnancy or anything like that. Just that I kind of look forward to seeing little arms and feet waving. After our first memorable visit (12 weeks, at which point our bebek not only actually looked like a human baby for the first time, but also gave us the ultimate pleasure of jumping up and down and doing a little jig!) I was so looking forward to the second one, (16 weeks) that I felt as though I'd been stood up when the little person slept through the whole appointment. The nerve, I tell ya!

OK, so they don't have insurance companies running their health policy either. And maybe not everyone has an ultra-sound this often. But your monthly appointment doesn't just last 5 minutes flat, with 20 patients waiting outside, and that feeling that really you can read up on your pregnancy on the web or contact a mid-wife instead of bothering the doc.

Our doctor here is available and a caring human being. And, should you have the slightest complication, your Ob-Gyn calls you at home to ask how you're doing. Not just once either. And you can call her on her mobile phone when you're not sure you're OK. And she drinks coffee, sometimes answers her mobile phone in the middle of a sentence, calls her assistants "kids" and has McDonald's for lunch 'cause she's just walked out of the OR where she delivered another baby. She has bad hair days, too - but she'll notice what you're wearing and compliment you on your looking nice today. And... she still has the time to do an educational show on national television about IVF and reproductive health in general. And... she has kids of her own.

I know a few people who have become doctors and who really wish they could spend as much quality time with their patients - but they would have to bill them a bomb and would get in trouble. I know of patients who think their doctors have muted from human to something akin to a mechanic for homo sapiens.
A few people I know have benefited from "medical handling" similar to this one, (in Serbia and Russia) and can compare it to medical experience (treatment for illness or pregnancy) in Australia, Switzerland, the UK, France or Holland. Without a doubt, they all preferred the perhaps less glamorous, sometimes bare and unadorned structure with a human touch to the fancy clinics where the doctor can hardly remember your name and you are beginning to wonder whether you have been swallowed by a file/case/number.

Sure, it means that you're not always seen on time and it can take some getting used to. But hey, I was worried about having "bebek" here, and now I'm thinking that my extremely competent Swiss made Ob-Gyn is going to seem a tad like clock-work after a pregnancy the Turkish way.

A BIG thanks to Isla, who noticed I was pregnant before anyone else and who took me to Irenbe after my first experience with the "gentleman-professor-Ob-Gyn" who nearly made me wish I wasn't pregnant in Turkey.

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