Life in Poland

So you wanna have a baby in Poland…

So, you wanna have a baby in Poland.

You should start from choosing your hospital.

After you have chosen your hospital, you should choose an OB/GYN associated with that hospital. Your OB/GYN will perform some tests, give you some vitamins and wish you luck in getting pregnant. Your OB/GYN will not actually come to the hospital for your child’s birth, but at least you can allude yourself that the thousands of zloty you have paid your OB/GYN will make him/her feel morally obliged in some way.

Actually, I’m wrong. You shouldn’t start from the hospital or the OB/GYN. You should start from checking your bank account for sufficient funds.

I suppose that is a good place to start anywhere, not only in Poland.

In my case (funds secured), I chose the “baby” hospital where I had unfortunately spent some time in the scary “interna” section a few years back. It only made sense to then choose the boss of the hospital, the Ordinator (sounds cool, like The Terminator), as my private doctor. I made a pre-pregnancy visit and we were rolling.

We, however, suffered a false start which landed me in the hospital. I knew the situation didn’t look good but was still taken aback when the sonogram technician informed me that “You, ma’am, are no longer pregnant”. Too bad for me that the bad news was delivered just as another patient opened the door, asking “Można?”. I quickly covered my bloody legs in shame. I didn’t even have a moment to myself to think about what I had just been told. I had to hurry up as a line was forming. I quickly dressed as I had undressed, blood and all, in front of 2 technicians while patients peeked their heads in to check if it was their turn yet. They have the “rodzić po ludzku” campaign, maybe they should have “miscarry po ludzku” too.

I was admitted, the next day given the “standard procedure” and sent home on the 3rd day. My papers indicated I had occupied a bed for 3 days which is important because the hospital doesn’t get paid for stays under 3 days. 5 days is better.

I was placed in a room with 5 other women, 4 of whom were recovering from hysterectomies and one other who was waiting for hers. In case you have never been hospitalized in Poland, you should know that patients love to talk about their illnesses and operations, the more gruesome the better. The ladies in the room were a bit annoyed that I wasn’t holding up my end of the conversation and by the second hour in that room, I went to the nurses station and asked to be moved to another room.

My doctor immediately agreed (benefit of going to his private practice). He had not wanted to place me anywhere near the baby ward and he thought I wouldn’t understand what the ladies were jabbering on about. I was placed in a double room with a university student who was waiting to get a cyst removed from her leg (and yes, she showed me the cyst). Not very gynecological in my opinion, but she seemed happy even after they had re-scheduled her operation for the third time. She was missing her exam session at uni. I think that was the point. What an wasteful way to get out of your exams.

Anyhow, I was not allowed to eat or drink prior to my procedure which was not a problem considering how bad hospital food is. The next day, I was led to the procedure room by a very nice doctor who later was the doctor at my first birth. I was surprised to see 5 people in the room besides myself. That seemed like a lot for something they assured me was routine. The anesthesiologist began to fill out the forms with me. Name, address, date of birth, PESEL…All was well until – “Czy pani jest na czczo?”

I had never heard na czczo before and couldn’t even ask the doctor what it meant. I told him in Polish that I didn’t understand and asked him to ask me another way. He asked, “Czy pani jest na czczo?” Hmm, that didn’t seem to be another way but just the same way as before. I repeated that I didn’t understand and could he ask me in another way (czyli innaczej). He asked me louder. Then, he asked me slower. After that he asked me louder and slower. I still replied that I didn’t understand. He turned to the other doctor and asked if I had bumped my head (really). That I did understand and I reminded him that I’m not Polish. C’mon, duh, he filled in my very-not-Polish name on the form. Anyhow, the other doctor, Dr. Nice, asked me if I had had anything to eat or drink (czyli na czczo) to which I replied no, and we were rolling.

I hopped on the table and a man sat down in front of me and with no greeting (excuse me) spread my legs. I immediately sat up and asked who he was and what he was doing. (He thought I had bumped my head as well). He was still looking at me with no explanation when I asked by the way who the 5 people in the room were and what they were needed for. With a heavy sigh, he explained that Dr. Na Czczo was going to administer the anesthesia, Dr. Nice was to assist as were the two nurses who were opening a sterile kit which included, gulp, a saw (I am not kidding). I nodded and asked “A pan?” to which I got an exasperated reply, “I am the doctor!” I stuck out my hand as if to introduce myself and said “Ja jestem pacjentką, najważniejsza w tym pokoju”. He was not impressed.

Then Dr. Zblazowany asked me to sit back so Dr. Na Czczo could begin knocking me out. As the mask went on, Dr Na Czczo (whose intelligence was already in question) asked me (as is practice in administering gas) who the first king of Poland was. I answered “jakiś Bolesław ale pierwszy prezydent USA był Waszynton”. Next, he asked me to count backwards from 50. I told him that I could count back from 10, 5 times and he said to begin. I was out before cztery. I suppose they were relieved.

I woke up some time later in my room. Dr. Nice told me that “smacznie pani spała” and that I could go home the next day. I went to the shower room to get washed up. In the shower room, I met another lady who was intently observing me (which is BTW not cool in any shower/stranger situation but especially not cool in a hospital).

“Well,” she said as I struggled to somehow maintain my privacy, “what’re you in for?’”

“I was pregnant,” I replied.

She cackled, “Well with all that blood, I guess you aren’t anymore”.

Polish hospitals, gotta love ‘em.

I returned to my room where I set in to watch the soaps with roommate and waited till the next day to go home.

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  • Reply
    May 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Chris – I love you 🙂 I have tears in my eyes for a few reasons: because it's very sad. And very funny. And because I'm grateful I'm not there anymore :)BTW miscarry po ludzku is ronić po ludzku – sounds pretty much like rodzić po ludzku. There's no way they'll ever have a project called that. That would only confuse people 😉

  • Reply
    May 28, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Kasia- Thanks for the love. I love you too. Who wouldn't? (Knickers for a quid, anyone?)I have plenty of knickers so I've started to cheer myself up with funny socks 🙂 and sad was the tone I was going for, so I guess I hit the mark. You're right, ronić po ludzku isn't going to happen.ChrisPS Kasia – Why are you up so late? I'm off to bed.

  • Reply
    May 28, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    .Gods damned. That wasnt funny, not one bit. What a poor way to treat ppl there, I'm sorry to hear you went through all that.I have a small request please? If you could put subtitles to the polish phrases? Google translation still does a poor job with Polandish.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2011 at 2:25 am

    What a coincidence, someone just comment on my blog about higher european civilization vs. american:))) stardust

  • Reply
    May 29, 2011 at 3:16 am

    40 years later and the Polish hospital stories are still scary. Ok – I will fight with the insurance companies and will not complain anymore about the American healthcare system:)Your \”na czczo\” story sounds like my husband's story, when they asked him at the doctor's office if he brought \”mocz\” and he had no idea what they were talking about. They repeated louder, slower and still he had no clue, until somebody said: \”did you bring siusiu?\”. That he understood.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2011 at 4:04 am

    Poor, poor Chris! 🙁 It really depends on the hospital, believe me… Last time I visited one (to have my kid, who is now 8 years old) everything went fine, even though I was a poor, scared teenager. However, if I haven't had company with me, I would have spent a lonely night in my single birthing room, with no food or water, while not-quite-pleasant night residents checked between my legs every so often. No pain relief, either, and I got yelled at for not putting in enough effort at the end. Ah well. At least no hospital bills, though.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2011 at 8:04 am

    I may be a bit better now, but still – giving birth was my very first contact with hospitals jn general. And I was shocked to enter the world where no one cares who am I. Love the \”najważniejsza w pokoju\” but I really believe that they didn't care. I was \”raised\” on hospital TV series (you know, hi-I-am-Jenny-your-nurse, nice to meet you) and a guy entering the room and ordering to undress and spread the leg without actually saying who he was. And I was like WTF, who are you, a window painter?Not going to repeat it :->

  • Reply
    May 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Darius – Sorry. I'll remember for next time. I promise. Maybe the story isn't very funny, but what was funny was that we had to feed for the TV with 2 zloty coins to watch the soaps!Stardust – 🙂 I see blogger problems touch us all.Kasia – I had a similar problem with the mocz. Except that I didn't understand that I had to bring it in a container.Anon – My stays in the hospital were not all bad. A very nice nurse \”organized\” me some soup after my procedure. And you are right about the bills. How nice to return home from the hospital with my baby without worrying about paying additionally for the birth. Zuzanka – If giving birth had been my 1st contact with Polish hospitals, I may have had a nervous breakdown. Fortunately/unfortunately I was well prepared. And you are right that they didn't care. I just wanted to remind them that what is standard, routine, even boring for them was very stressful for me and the other patients. I had a very similar window painter experience too. I taught that dr a lesson ;)Chris

  • Reply
    May 29, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I'm sorry you had to go through all that. I lost my first and it wasn't a good experience (hospital-wise). You were great talking to them like that and telling them (reminding?) that you were the most important person in the room. Many people complain about hospitals here, in Ireland, but I love the way they treat patients, the way you would like to be treated in Poland. Another thing is that the level of knowledge here is questionable but it's more about luck of docotors not them being not trained enough

  • Reply
    May 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    lack of doctors, I mean specialists, not GP's. Sorry about the mistakes.

  • Reply
    May 30, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I'm so sorry to read it, even if your writing is almost as funny as always. Hospitals are one of the main reasons for which I don't live in Poland and don't want to go back. maybe even The Main One, for that matter.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2011 at 6:44 am

    A difficult and painful experience but expressed very movingly and deftly. I really enjoyed reading this blogpost and feel for you greatly. Thank you for having the courage to write and post it. Paddy

  • Reply
    Lois B
    May 31, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Chris, I'm so very sorry for your loss and the way you were treated.I also wanted to tell you that while I was spending the day with a Polish friend today, it came up that we both read your blog. It's a small world.Sending hugs your way.

  • Reply
    May 31, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    kasia.eire – Now my method for good treatment (I mean interpersonal treatment not medical treatment) is to take responsibility myself to steer the patient/doctor conversation in the direction that I would like. You'd be surprised how much our behaviour influences how we are treated. Or maybe it is because I sound like a child in Polish and they are sorry for me :)ds – That's funny because health insurance is one of the main reasons we are not moving back to the US!Paddy – Thanks for the compliment. I sincerely appreciate it. Lois B- Thank you my fellow Polish housewife 🙂 Wow, the world is small. That makes me feel good. Chris

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