One last birth post

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Things I didn't do (or won't be doing):

...eating seaweed soup for 30 days. I don't care how nutritional it is. It's slimy and gross. I eat occasional pieces of seaweed in other soups and dried seaweed on sushi rolls. Good enough.

...waiting several weeks after giving birth to bathe. According to one explanation from a Korean friend, after giving birth a woman's joints are disconnected and bathing could therefore be harmful. What???? Yes, her English is excellent, the communication issue is all cultural.

...waiting 21 days before anyone outside my immediate family can see the baby. My Korean mommy friend had a hard time understanding that I was inviting her over to see my 4-day-old baby. She did call to let me know she had her baby and was home from the hospital, but she didn't invite me over. (Oh, well.) She went to her parents' house in another city and won't be back until after the 21 days.

...waiting 100 days before leaving the house with baby. Seriously, I would have to be committed. Apparently, that's changed recently, but most women still don't leave the home for the first month. So I told Matthew to round up when people ask how old Rowan is. At three weeks, he was PRACTICALLY a month old.

...wearing shapeless tops that zip across the chest. That is the breast-feeding wear here. Most items also seem to be decorated with cutesy cartoon characters. Layering a tank top under my normal shirt works just fine, thanks.

Lowan, I mean Rowan

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rowan with his hospital cart tag:

More recently:

Step 1: Give birth.
Step 2: Obtain hospital birth certificate.
Step 3: Return to hospital to request that father and baby's names be added to birth certificate. (First copies only identified baby as 2nd child of Catherine.)
Step 4: Have employer translate certificate.
Step 5: Ask employer to change name translation (로웬) from Lowan to Rowan.
Step 6: Take 10-day-old baby, assorted official documents, copies, pictures, and money to U.S. Embassy in Seoul.
Step 7: Wait one week.
Step 8: Receive baby's Consular report of birth and passport via courier. Pay courier W10,000.
Step 9: Take baby, passport, etc. to local immigration office. (This is the next step that we need to complete. We need to apply for a visa for Rowan before he is 30 days old.)

Magical Mystery Card

My magical card, which was issued to "Cather," along with a somewhat explanatory note written by my doctor.

Sometimes, living in Korea is like a puzzle. I receive one piece after another, until I'm finally able to understand something.

At my 36 week appointment, my doctor gave me a "prescription." It was a form that he had signed, which he told me I should take to the bank. He explained that the bank would give me a card I could use to pay for prenatal appointments. The total value of the card is W200,000 and W40,000 can be used towards each appointment. He wrote down a few things in Korean and told me to ask a Korean friend about it.

I asked one of Matthew's co-workers, the same woman who graciously translated my birth plan. She hadn't heard of the program, but translated the form for me, then did an internet search and got back to me with what she'd found. Her understanding was that it was only good for prenatal care. As I'd assumed, it's another government-funded program to help raise the very low birth rate. Also, she told me that it would take a week after I turned in my form for the card to be issued.

I took the form to NongHyup bank where we have our accounts. The teller who always helps me placed a phone call, since no one there seemed to know anything about it. She told me I needed to go to Kookmin Bank (KB) downtown. The KB teller seemed familiar with the program and told me I needed to open an account there to have a card issued. After filling out multiple forms, she said my card would arrive in one week. Later that afternoon, she called to tell me that she forgot to have me sign a form and needed me to come back in. I took care of that two days later. My card arrived the very next day via courier.

In the meantime, I visited my pregnant Korean friend. She already had her card, even though her due date was two weeks after mine. This irritated me, because we have the same doctor AND he had given me the form at the same appointment when he'd run several (relatively) expensive, and in my opinion unnecessary, tests. I figured that he'd forgotten to give it to me when he was supposed to and cost me an extra W40,000. My friend did say that the card could be used for 15 days after giving birth. She planned to swipe her card each day at the hospital until it was used up.

I was able to use W20,000 for my 38 week appointment the week before Christmas, then had Matthew swipe the card the two days I was in the hospital, which took W80,000 off my bill (bringing the total bill to about $200). I also used it for my one-week postpartum appointment, but that was less than W3,000. It was at that last appointment that I noticed a poster on the wall. I recognized my lovely pink card and saw the date at the top: December 15, 2008. It's a brand new program, which explains why the doctor didn't give it to me earlier.
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