When I was pregnant, I was obsessed with finding out as much as I can about the process of child birth, what my husband and I would be expecting at our chosen hospital, what steps we needed to take, what documents we needed to prepare and even down to the things we needed to bring. I would call my health card company and even the hospital we chose to deliver Enzo in for the most random questions I would conjure at night when I had a hard time sleeping and Enzo was practicing karate chops inside my tummy. I couldn’t find anything that was updated and had all the things I needed to know, I had to ask a lot of people questions and ask for help and most of them were very willing to lend a hand. I found GirlTalk, a forum on Female Network, very useful and the the users there would be very much willing to answer most queries. I also asked my friends who have given birth recently (shout out to Bits, Iya and Che) to share their experiences. I know, it’s supposed to be a magical indescribable moment, but as much as possible, I wanted to be prepared.
Okay, so I admit, I’m a bit of a control freak. If there’s a huge sale I want to go to, I would gladly prattle off to Mark what our “strategy” would be (make a note of all the items I want – preferably with photos, take note of how much each item costs versus the sale price, divide and conquer, yadda yadda…) and I would make sure we stick to the “plan” and if things don’t go according to plan, it is safe to expect a small (unnoticeable, really) tantrum. Hahaha. I know. I’m loads of fun.
Anyway, I thought that once I had given birth, I’d make a detailed post about my experience so that those who plan to give birth in the same hospital would pretty much have an idea of all the things they would need to prepare and some basic costing as well. This is going to be detailed and a bit TMI, mostly because I don’t want to forget everything that went down and when Enzo wants to know how he was brought into this world (well, not the actual how with the birds and the bees – I’ll leave that to his father,) I’ll be able to tell him, well check out this website, I’ve written ALL about you. I wonder how he’ll take this news. Ha ha. :-p To be clear, the following were part of our plan:
1. Give birth via NSD (normal vaginal birth) the keyword being spontaneous.
2. Ask for epidural only during the actual delivery process.
3. Avail of the child birth package via NSD
4. Go home after a couple of days at the hospital and be back on my feet in no time
5. Exclusively breastfeed
6. Be skinny and pretty again(???) before the year ends.
Now let me start this tale. During my routine check up at 36 weeks, my OB – Dr. Rowena Rivera – noted a spike in my blood pressure. She had me undergo a Doppler ultrasound, which covered all the basics of the usual ultrasound, plus it noted the blood flow to the baby. I had that done on the same day and everything was normal, except for what they call “notching” here and there, which happens when there is an increase in blood pressure (so yeah, that didn’t tell me WHY, it just confirmed that there was something amiss) then I had a urinalysis done. The results showed no protein in my urine, which thank God, rules out pre-eclampsia. This gestational hypertension didn’t have a reason, my pregnancy is the reason why I’m getting a high blood pressure. My OB asked me to monitor my BP every four hours every day and take notes, then to come back the following week and if my blood pressure didn’t go back to normal, she would proceed to induce my delivery as I would be 37 weeks by then.
The following weekend was when Typhoon Yolanda was supposed to make landfall and even if Metro Manila wouldn’t be a direct hit, Mark and I decided to go to the hospital two days earlier in case the typhoon brings floods and we wouldn’t be able to go out anymore. My BP the whole week was normal, but when my OB checked in her clinic, it went up again. That was Thursday, November 7. She said I’m still not dilated. She showed us a chart of 0 cm to 10 cm and I asked where I am at and she went, “Not even part of this chart” so we were to come back on Monday, November 11 and we will see where we’ll go from there. In the mean time, we religiously monitored my BP and prayed that my BP would go back to normal and let Enzo come out whenever he wanted. I honestly didn’t want to be induced (see #1) because I read that it hurt more and you’d have to ask for epidural (see #2) and the epidural prolongs the labor. Having complications also meant that we won’t be availing the package (see #3) I wasn’t really thinking much about the epidural and the package, all I really wanted was for Enzo to have a say in the whole thing, because it is HIS birth day and I want him to get to decide.
I kept talking to my boy and I was telling him, “You will come out when you want to and how you want to. If you want to meet us on the 11th, then let Mommy and Papa know. If you still want to stay inside Mommy for a bit, that is fine as well. Whatever you want.” On Sunday, I started spotting a bit and at night, a mucous-y blob the size of a 10-cent coin plopped into the bowl when I peed (TMI, yeah) and I didn’t panic (because I was obsessively researching the moment I saw those two pink lines, yes) because I knew that I could give birth in the next 24 to 48 hours or I could give birth the next week. It simply meant I’m having my bloody show and part of my mucous plug has come out. Lorenzo has given me a hint of what he wanted. I brightly told Mark, “I think I’ll give birth tomorrow.” Just like that, we went from worried to super excited in a flash.
Monday morning, we squeezed inside Pepe (all our bags were packed and they filled the trunk and the back seat – yes, we brought the carrier, car seat, stroller, all his comforters and blankets and pillows, clothes from size NB, 0-3 mos, and 3-6 mos, I made Mark bring our two pillows and a big hot dog bolster – AND in the following days, he came back to the house everyday to bring more stuff… Just in case) and when Dr. Rivera checked me, my blood pressure was normal (yes!) I was 3 cm dilated, my cervix at -3 station (the start, I think) and there was blood and sticky stuff, which she said was a good sign. I don’t need to be induced, I am in labor and I should grab a light lunch, go to the pre-labor room afterwards and expect to feel contractions in the next few hours. She said I may give birth within the day or very early the following day. I was like, “See ya later, doc!” Yay!
So after calling our parents and grabbing lunch, we had my requirements checked by my health card representative and PhilHealth. Then, we went to the admitting area and reserved a room just in case my OB wouldn’t let me avail the package (obsessive planning, remember?) and with those things done, I went to the pre-labor room. I was attached to a machine which checked Enzo’s heart rate and my contractions. A very good looking male (but openly gay, thank goodness) doctor did another IE and explained more stuff to me, reassured me and informed my OB that I was ready to go to the labor room. They gave us the go signal to avail the package and Mark was informed. While they were preparing my labor area, I was given something to make me poop AND THAT WAS NOT FUN AT ALL. Anyway, they took a urine sample, blood sample, my BP and wheeled me towards labor room. I was introduced to quite a number of people – residents, pre-residents, interns, midwifes, nurses, other doctors – who will be attending to me and they were all very nice and knowledgeable. I still didn’t feel any contractions at this point and a resident never left my side. When she had to leave, another one replaced her and they all kept talking to me and encouraging me. At around 4pm, my OB checked in on me and I still wasn’t anywhere near giving birth. I was at 4 cm and my cervix at -2. She asked the midwife to take me to the consultation room to have dinner with my husband. When I got out, Mark was there with my Mommy and Popsy, they had a note ready to give me in case they wouldn’t be able to see me before I give birth. Hehe. I had dinner with them and still no contractions. Around 6PM, my resident asked me to walk around the labor area and I can spend more time with my husband if I wanted to, so I walked around the consultation room while gobbling on my bacon mushroom melt with my biggie iced tea. Had I known that it would be my last real supper for a few days, then I would’ve asked Mark to get me the Baconator and heaps of fries plus the baked potato. Anyway, around 7 PM, I was starting to feel twinges every 5 minutes so I kissed my parents and Mark good bye, his mom was also there by this time, and I went back to the labor room thinking, yay we’ll be out of this room by midnight!
My doctor came back around 10 PM and pierced my water bag. I was 6 cm by this point and cervix at station -1. Around 11 PM, my husband was already bugging all the nurses and calling the labor room to get updates. They told him I was fine. In truth I had already asked for an epidural and was waiting for my Anesthesiologist. I forgot my Anesthesiologist’s name, but she’s very kind and I barely felt her inserting stuff into my spine. Although I felt a little bit Girl, Interrupted-ish when they asked me to form arch my body into a C, with my whole back bare and a male orderly holding me down because I was having really big contractions by this time and I needed to be steady so they could insert the thing between the thingies (bones? discs?) in my spinal column. They had also started inducing me by this time, so my contractions were about 2 minutes apart and seriously f*cking strong. Around 1 AM, I was already 9 cm dilated, but my cervix was still at station 0 (it had to be at station +3) and Enzo’s heart rate was slowing down. They gave me an oxygen mask and asked me to lie on my left side. I was going bat shit crazy at this point because I could feel his head, I could feel him wanting to go down and every time this happens, his heart rate goes down from around 140+ to only 80-90+ and I couldn’t do anything. The residents were already helping me, making me push while they assisted. They did this until around 2 AM when one of the residents called Dr. Rivera and she came in, smiled a sad smile at me and said we had to deliver via emergency CS. She went out to talk to Mark. And for a selfish minute, I cried. Because I made my son go through that whole painful experience (if I was in pain, imagine having to push your way out of a tiny tunnel, head first, with no idea what the heck you’re supposed to do? I don’t think childbirth is scary for mothers, it’s scary for the baby) I mean, he’s been trying to push his way out hours ago, I let him go on that long with his heart rate going down. And because that was honestly painful. Like getting tattooed all over your body in one day. Even with the epidural, I was on the 6 out of 10 on the smiley-frowny-face scale (some women fall asleep. It didn’t work on me :-p) I could hear the residents and nurses reassuring me, someone was even telling me she knows how I feel and had to go through the same thing. Someone was patting my forehead while they prepared to wheel me out. I wanted to thank them, but out of tiredness or just plain drama, I wasn’t able to acknowledge their reassurances.
I was wheeled into the delivery suite and they were prepared me. I remember looking at the door to check if Mark was already inside and then I heard his voice and saw him and I closed my eyes and let things be. I remember not being able to control my shivers and also puking. I remember knowing and getting the numb sensation that I was being opened up and then Enzo was on my chest, breastfeeding. He was born on November 12, 2013 at 2:58 am weighing 7lbs. And 15 oz, an ounce short of 8 lbs. :-p When I woke up again, I was inside the recovery room and it was already 7 AM, the nurse told me. Enzo was wheeled in and he stayed on my chest, breastfeeding for less than an hour. I remember thinking, we made that? He’s perfect! I remember telling the midwife, he’s so beautiful and the midwife told me, “Ang laki and ang haba nya! Ang puti! Pwede po sya basketball player. Rinig na rinig po yung iyak nya sa nursery, ang lakas.” It took me hours before I realized i couldn’t get up or that I had on a catheter, that there was blood continuously flowing out of me and into the sheets, that I was on morphine and oh, I had undergone a surgery! I was so fixated on him (I still am) that I’m 100% sure I’d go through all that again just to have him. So a note to his future girlfriends – DON’T EVEN.
…HAHAHAHAHA, I’m kidding.
ANYWAY – Some basic information on the costs:
1. We were deciding between The Medical City and St. Lukes but we ended up choosing to give birth at The Medical City because it’s nearer to us than St. Lukes. My OB also holds her clinic there, so it was the obvious choice. I had my lab tests done there as well, but I can only give an estimate of the costs as my health card covered those and I don’t think we kept the receipts.
I’ve had three ultrasounds – vaginal ultrasound at 6 weeks, which was a little less than 2k, the CAS (Congenital Anomaly Scan) at 24 weeks, which cost less than 4k (it’s totally sulit if we had to pay, we would) and the Doppler Ultraosund, which was also a little less than 2k. You have to schedule the CAS ahead of time because they only accommodate two patients per schedule, it takes about an hour or more.
I’ve had a lot of lab tests done, which I think amounted to a little less that 10k, but this was the whole course of the pregnancy, not one payment. Again, that was covered by my health card.
The parking rate… is too darn high. But there’s a flat rate for 24 hours. I don’t know how much, I think less than P200, you just have to go somewhere to have something validated (OKAY, this isn’t turning out as detailed as I want it :-p), I can ask my husband. Anyway, they’ll give you a welcome kit when you check in.
If you decide to get the delivery package, it costs 67++K for NSD and 90++K for CS. The room would be at the baby friendly ward – which isn’t a ward, really. It’s a big enclosed area with about 20 rooms that have walls. These rooms face each other and have a tiny hallway and a nurse’s station. There aren’t any doors for the rooms, instead it’s more like a folding divider. So you’d still have privacy. The “room” is tiny, though. It’s enough for two people and the baby, which is required to be roomed-in. It doesn’t have a couch – it has a chair, the baby’s bed, a small cabinet and the patient’s bed. If you’re situated on one side, you get a small window, but if you’re on the other side, there’s just the wall. There are two comfort rooms on each end of the baby friendly ward. But that’s okay. If you’re delivering via NSD, you wouldn’t really notice and you’ll be out of there in no time. 🙂 The package includes epidural, 3 days stay if NSD and 5 days if CS, 6 hours in the labor room, the use of delivery room, newborn screening and the PF of the OB, Anesthesiologist and the Pedia. It IS a good package. It isn’t visitor friendly, I think, because of the lack of space, but visitors can always go to your house when you and your baby are settled. You don’t need to reserve the package, you can ask your OB if you can avail of it and they give you the go signal. If not packaged, I think the cost of this ward is around 1k+ per night. If you ask me to choose between the baby friendly ward and the semi-private room (a little less than 2k), I’d go for the ward.
If you want to get a different room, you won’t be able to get the package, you can’t upgrade. This means that the labor room, delivery room, epidural shots, professional fees and baby’s fees will also change. We got the room with the couch, TV and fridge and comfort room which was around 3,000 per night.
There was a welcome kit, which included a thermometer, two small cups I suppose are for expressed breast milk, towel, tissue, alcohol, soap and cotton. There’s another kit for the baby which was in a bag that included two basins, lactacyd for baby, johnson’s baby wash, a pack of diapers, two medical city bonnets for the baby, uh… I can’t remember what else (you can find the list on their website) You have to bring the rest if you don’t want any extra charges. They can provide you with a binder (I had to get two because the first was blood soaked and I didn’t really bring one) or a diaper or whatever, but you have to pay the charge. Each change of sheets or use of whatever has an extra charge. So if you’re unsure, you can always ask.
I don’t think you’re allowed to bring feeding bottles. They are a huge advocate of unang yakap and breastfeeding. They also require the baby to be roomed-in. But this experience was one of the best things for Mark and I. We were taught how to change nappies, how to breastfeed, how to give your baby a bath, how to clean the nose, how to swaddle, and more. Since I couldn’t move around a lot during the first week, Mark became an expert in giving baby baths, changing nappies, burping, swaddling and cradling Enzo.
I stayed at TMC for a total of 5 days. I used the labor room for 14 hours and my husband was allowed to enter the delivery suite (additional charge for the scrub suit etc). Anyway, the hospital bill (my bill and Enzo’s bill) amounted to around 90k.
2. My OB-Gyn is Dr. Rowena Rivera. She is the head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology/Ultrasonography Department of TMC. Her clinic hours are Mondays to Saturdays, 9AM to 12 NN and 2PM to 4PM, except Wednesdays 9AM to 12NN only but better be there by 8am because her clinic is ALWAYS packed. If you get there at 9am on a Saturday, you’re likely to be #30 on the list. Her secretaries would sometimes allow you to reserve a slot the day before your chosen schedule. They’re very nice and accommodating. Dr. Rivera is upfront and no-nonsense. I find her dry sense of humor exactly my type and we feel very secure with her. It’s like, if she says it is so, then it is so. If you don’t have a health card, he consultation fee is P500. I’ve had other vaccines that she administered (Flu shot, Hep B tetanus toxoid) but I forgot how much those cost. I think 1k for the Hep B and 300 for the anti-tetanus, 600 for the flu shot.
Here’s the part that depends on the doctor. I know some of her patients were charged around 30-40k for CS and more or less half of that for normal delivery. Our PF for Dr. Rivera was 60k.
3. Enzo’s Pedia is Dr. Elizabeth Palmero-Reyes. She is the head of the Pediatrics department. Like Dr. Rivera, she exclusively holds clinic at TMC and her clinic hours are M-Sat 8:30AM to 12NN except Wednesdays and like Dr. Rivera, her clinic is ALWAYS packed. What happens is the fathers reserve a slot at Dr. Rivera’s clinic while the mothers and babies are waiting for their turn at Dr. Palmero-Reyes’. Mark and I like her a lot, she is very reassuring and calming. Like Dr. Rivera, she knows her stuff. Her secretary always replies immediately to any concern. They allow reservation for a slot on the same day. Usually by 9AM, they’re already turning down reservations for slots so better reserve and be there really early. She charges P500 for the first consultation and P400 for the following ones.
She charged us with a PF of 6k.
4. My Anesthesiologist was… Oh crap, I can’t remember her name. But her hands are light as a feather and she’s also reassuring. She’s also pretty and soft-spoken (okay, I know no one really makes their choice of anesthesiologist on looks, but if you’re in pain, you tend to look for pleasant things and her face was a good focal point) BTW, I didn’t choose my Anes. The good looking male doctor who turned out to be gay asked me if I preferred a boy or a girl as an anesthesiologist and I said sexual orientation didn’t matter and he shouted to the whole room, “Mabuhay ka Mrs. Baltazar!” As far as I know, the PF of the Anes is usually half of the PF of the OB, so in our case, we were charged 30k.
Basically, we spent a little less than 200k plus the food and the parking and gas and the coffee! Hahahaha. But Philhealth was also deducted and also my health card covered some of the costs. Don’t forget to bring your MDR, Claim Form 1 and Certificate of contributions for PhilHealth and your PhilHealth ID. They would need this upon checking out. Also bring your marriage certificate (if applicable) because they would ask for this to facilitate your child’s birth certificate.
Would I recommend The Medical City as your partner in giving birth? Yes! QWould I recommend my doctors? Definitely! We had a really good experience overall. Everyone has been helpful and knowledgeable in their field. The nurses, midwifes and resident doctors made it a point to provide us with all the help they can give. Enzo made a lot of nice lady friends in that hospital, they took care of him and handled him like he was a relative or even their own. They don’t let you out of their sight for very long. I trust my doctors completely and I believe in their expertise, trust the hospital’s facilities and equipment and for us, that was the point. This isn’t the average amount you’ll be spending if ever you choose the Medical City, I know of people who availed the package rates and adhered to it. I also know some people who underwent CS there but paid a little less (around 120k) or more (they used the Lamaze Room but ended up giving birth via CS (200+k) but it could be a guide on what you need to prepare in case your plans don’t pan out. I’m not saying you need to shell out that much to get a good experience, I’m just sharing the details of what went down with my own delivery in case it could help someone else in making preparations or making decisions. 🙂
Was it all worth it? Heck, yes! 😀
Now. How to accomplish #6?