The rest of the story

Read the first part here!

We stayed in the hospital for two nights after Ellis was born.  Those were two really long days and nights. We had one or two "He's crying and he's not hungry and doesn't need a diaper change, what do we do?" and I think I said "I can't believe we have a baby" over and over and over again.  But for the most part we rested, in between when the nurses would come in every few hours.  Reuben had a sofa bed to sleep on.  We got to keep Ellis with us all the time except when he went to get his shots in the nursery.  Ellis's paediatrician happened to be one of Reuben's classmates in high school (in KL).  We also had to get a baby bath 'demonstration' which involved some complex manoeuvring of cotton balls all over his face (only use drinking water!  wipe the eye only once, from inner corner to outer corner!), and then we were required to take a baby bath 'test' the morning we left the hospital.  To, you know, make sure we were competent parents.  We passed, thank goodness.

We had plenty of well-wishes and lots of visitors, which we loved.  Some of them were friends Tim and Amanda who stopped in on the way to Amanda's appointment.  She is also going to Dr. Narinder and is due 3 weeks from now (she's the one I shared the recent baby shower with).

Our babies
The in-patient food was pretty good; the "maternity selection" (which I was not required to have, but opted for anyway) was styling a very gingery Asian menu.  I ended up eating a lot of chicken and rice.  But why don't hospitals give dessert?  Reuben got food at the cafeteria.    What was really great was the giant "candlelight dinner" (sans candles) the hospital gave us on the second night.  Oh, and hot Milo 3x a day.  I am now addicted.

"Candlelight dinner". with bottled apple juice, because they're classy like that.
Now let's talk doctor.  We gave birth to Ellis at Island Hospital in Penang.  We chose Island (there's three other big hospitals to choose from in Penang) because of Dr. Narinder, who came highly recommended by multiple friends and friends-of-friends of ours (you can read about their experiences here and here).  And it's true.  He's fantastic, for lots of reasons.  I know that if I had to do it all over again (anywhere in the world), we would still choose him.  I guess we have to stay in Penang now!

Dr. Narinder pioneered water birth in Malaysia and brought it to Penang.  He's the only doctor that does water births here on the island.  I guess it has gotten more and more popular (and will continue to do so, considering how many pregnant friends we have already recommended him to!) because the hospital now has two pools and they're planning on building a permanent fixture in the labor ward.  His card says that he is a specialist in "natural birthing methods".  Unlike many doctors here in Asia, he actually listens.  He gives sound advice. Plus, he gave us a birth plan to fill out and discuss with us, a 'multiple choice' of sorts, which was super awesome and made it so easy for us.  And when the time came, he respected all of it and we didn't have to worry about anything not being like we requested.  Another great thing: he will give you an ultrasound at every appointment.  The cost of the ultrasound is 80rm, which is about $25 (and covered by our insurance!)  We were completely confident in him and his "let your body do what it needs to do and I'll intervene only when I absolutely have to" approach.  He gave us his cell phone number so we could call when I started to go into labor.  He stayed with us pretty much the entire time from when I was admitted until after Ellis was born.  He let Rachel, our doula, stay with us the entire time, against hospital policy.  He even worked through our insurance hassles with us.  Who else does that?

Dr. Narinder and Ellis.  Ignore Ellis's face, he's super happy about my doctor too.
Island Hospital was pretty good to us, too (except for the elevators...of course; see previous post).  They don't do 'appointments' here; they give you a date (which is flexible, we've showed up on other days before and they don't seem to notice) you just show up between this-and-this time.  Doctors have their own hours every day they see patients, usually half the day and wait in line.  We generally waited 30 minutes, maybe up to an hour at the most.  Care is good - people tell me Island Hospital is the most expensive on the island, but that's all relative - "expensive" means seeing a doctor and receiving care (for us, it was the consultation plus ultrasound) for less that $60 an appointment.

 I hear all the time from people who live in other parts of SE Asia and how they move to Penang to give birth, to send their kids to school, or to live in better comfort and/or safety.  I have a doctor-friend who is serving at a mission hospital in Africa right now who has been tugging at my heartstrings with stories of how she's lost mothers and babies simply due to the lack of equipment that would be considered standard in more developed parts of the world.  It's easy to take Penang for granted, but this makes me realise how privileged we are to live here and how we are really not in want or need of anything.  Unlike what most people back in the U.S. envision about us living in Malaysia, no, we don't live in the jungle, we're far from living a primitive life (not that it's a bad thing), and I certainly did not have to give birth in a malaria-ridden mud hut.  Candlelight dinner, people.

All in all, we have so much to celebrate and praise God for - we had not even one complication the entire pregnancy or during the birth!  So you can stop worrying about us all the way on the other side of the world, we're in good hands.

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© Reuben + ErinMaira Gall