My excuse for not writing for ages this time: we were busy finishing preparations for the arrival of a new family member. Aïda Yvonne Robson was born at 12:09 KST on 24 March and weighed in at a respectable 3.6kg (a smidge under 8lbs in old money). Mother and baby are both doing well.
The hospital insists on keeping us in for six nights. This is giving Leyla and me a chance to experience the Korean medical system from an in-patient point of view (while Medina is being looked after at home by her grandmother).
Overall impressions are good. The place is clean and bright with decor that leans more towards tasteful than institutional. Compared with the offerings I have seen in English hospitals the food is also prepared to a high standard. If we had requested western food the situation might have been different but sticking to the local menu has been a safe choice so far. This means a dish of seaweed soup with every meal as its high iron content is considered essential for women who have just given birth. Luckily Leyla quite likes the stuff – or used to before being forced to consume it by the gallon.
We are unsurprisingly at a linguistic disadvantage here. Apart from Leyla’s obstetrician and a special liaison officer nobody in the hospital speaks much English. This has not proven to be a great obstacle but gives rise to the odd frustration. We seem to be getting on well with some of the nurses which helps.
Fluctuations in bedside manner are more of a challenge. The aforementioned obstetrician is by and large a charming chap and similarly the nurses are mostly smiles rather than frowns. Delicacy can be found lacking sometimes though, mostly when schedule is involved.
Yesterday morning was a memorable example. Leyla was asleep. A nurse rushed in at 08:00 to check Leyla’s medication and condition then rushed out again; Leyla went back to sleep. At 08:15 the obstetrician arrived, got straight to the business of tearing off Leyla’s dressing, inspecting the incision and applying a fresh dressing then disappeared as quickly as he had arrived. Hot on his heels came the cleaners at 08:20 armed with a vacuum cleaner loud enough to put Boeing to shame. Suffice to say we were very much awake by that point.
According to ‘the schedule’, mothers should be at the nursery to wash their babies every morning at 06:00, after which the mothers are served breakfast at 07:00. On that basis I suppose one is expected to be awake, alert and ready for anything at eight in the morning. Part of it is down to us being us; part may be down to our having had our first child in Oslo (where the hospital atmosphere was somewhat different) but we foreigners can not readily follow such an early bird regime at present.
So far Aïda is putting a brave face on it all and showing signs of being a very patient baby. When we get home and introduce her to her sister who knows what will happen; let’s wait and see. In the meantime, the obligatory photograph of the newborn sleeping:
Aïda a few hours old