Cost: The average cost of having a baby without insurance in a hospital in the US is $9,000 (normal & natural) to $25,000 (complications or caesarian). Our cost here without insurance? - US$4500 (same price even if there are complications) in a great hospital with a great doctor.
Control over medical documents: In Brazil the patient has total control over their own medical documents and information. I retain all copies of blood tests, vaccinations, etc. and I have to give permission for a doctor to make copies to put in their records. It’s nice not having to deal with a complicated process to transfer
Line perks: I get to head to the front of every line or get in the special preferential line (a line for pregos, the elderly, disabled, or parents with babies in arms) at the grocery store, movies, clinics, hospitals (seriously everywhere). Wait time for anything is usually cut in half!
Kids are more obedient at school: Most people seem to think that pregnant women are the most fragile creatures on earth! Without prompting the kids at school are constantly telling each other to be good because the baby is sleeping and they don’t want to scare her (ha!).
Friends help: I have really felt God’s love from some of our friends down here. Friends at school have stepped up to take over my classes so that I can back down from teaching early. Other friends have recommended doctors, made phone calls for us, and helped us figure out the medical system here. And some good friends from church and school are throwing a Chá de Fralda (literally a “diaper tea”) for baby and me tomorrow!
Visa: A shiny new PERMINANT visa will come along with our shiny new baby!
Different medical system: It’s difficult getting used to a different way of doing medicine. Do you get to pee in cup at your doctor’s office? Not me. I have to go to a special clinic to have blood drawn and urine samples, etc. and another separate clinic to have ultrasounds done. Usually there is a long wait to get into the ultrasound clinic (no preferential line if everyone is pregnant). Then it’s usually a 3 to 10 day wait to find the results of the tests. Then back to the doctor for the reading of the results. Where does all this take place? Usually an hour from home in Recife.
Old-fashioned ideas about pregnancy: Again, most people seem to think that pregnant women are the most fragile creatures on earth! I can’t pick up a pencil without being scolded. Suddenly I am incapable of driving, walking anywhere, or carrying anything! I was told by another person not to wear belts because it could give my baby a cleft lip. Although I do appreciate how nice people are about opening doors for me.
Different idea about caesarian births: People usually have two questions when they see that you are pregnant here. First, what’s the baby’s name? Second, are you having a normal birth or caesarian birth? 80% of women in Brazil have a caesarian birth in private hospitals. And 30-50% of women in public hospitals have a caesarian. These are 90% elective procedures. It’s been tough to convenience people that I really am going to have a natural birth, Lord willing. Many hospitals here have to adapt their caesarian operating room for normal birthing room! Luckily, my doctor is very much on my side with the normal birth plan, but if something does go wrong everything is well equipped to perform a caesarian!
Far from home: We are pretty far from many of our friends and family, so many people won’t get to meet little Melody Anabel until long after she is born. But technology and transportation provides some advantages! Some friends and family there are throwing me an over-Skype baby shower! We will also be blessed to have Julie (Jeff’s sister) here to help out in May, along with my mom. Then Jeff’s mom will be visiting shortly after! God is so good.