Saturday, July 18, 2009

El Nada Hospital

With any luck our baby will be born at the el-Nada Hospital. I keep having dreams that we never quite make it to the hospital and frankly, I'm a little concerned that we won't. I didn't quite recognize when I was in labour with Rachel and I'm worried I won't recognize it this time around, either. Dr. Baxter lectured me while he was stitching (and stitching and stitching) me up that I had better start heading to the hospital sooner with the next child because childbirth tends to progress faster with subsequent births, so unless I wanted a child named "Highway" I had better get in the minute I suspect I'm in labour....

...which with Rachel wasn't until I was already transitioning.

Amiee said that if I don't think I'll make it to the hospital to just rush over to her house instead (because it's way closer) and I can have the baby at her house. She and Brent researched all about home-birthing for one of their children (although they ended up having it at the hospital) and she sounded pretty comfortable with the idea, although I mostly think she was joking.

Andrew keeps telling me not to be so pessimistic; he's pretty confident that we'll make it to the hospital. I don't feel quite so confident about it, obviously. In Orem the hospital was 5 minutes away from our house and 15 minutes away from BYU campus and there was always someone around to drive me to the hospital. Here? We didn't even know where the hospital was before today and I have no idea how long it takes to get there from here in a car with the unpredictability of Cairene traffic. And we don't have a car. So that complicates things, especially because if I go into labour while Andrew is at school he will be at the mercy of the AUC bus system, which runs somewhat sporadically and it takes an hour just to get from AUC campus to Maadi.

All my worrying aside, we eventually had to figure out where the hospital was, anyway, so that's what we decided to do today.

El-Nada's website was less than helpful, but provided us with an exact address. We knew it was on Roda/Manyal Island and within walking distance from the metro stop at el-Malek al-Saleh. We also knew that you turned right after crossing the bridge onto the island, but we've only ever explored the other direction. Turns out it was super easy to find.

We did end up riding the metro and walking there, which isn't how we plan to arrive at the hospital when the time actually comes, by the way, and it isn't a very long walk. Andrew was trying to imagine his mom walking there by herself from the metro and wasn't sure he could. I can, though; it's really not a bad walk.

The hospital is right above a big McDonald's, but the McDonald's is so big and impressive-looking that it's hard to imagine there is a hospital right there. There is. Just around the corner from the entrance to the McDonald's is a small, unimpressive sign announcing your arrival at the hospital.

The receptionists were hospitable and spoke English. We were immediately handed a price list (yes, a price list) for the rooms we could stay in and were assigned a tour guide of sorts to show us around. He didn't speak a lick of English and neither did anyone else that we ran into: nurses, janitorial staff, elevator guy.

Our tour guide showed us some of the cheaper rooms. I guess that in spite of our obvious Americanness we didn't look "money" enough to be shown the more expensive rooms. Usually people assume we're rich because we're American; it was refreshing to not have this assumption be made, but I'm still a little curious about the upper-class rooms. The rooms range in price from 300 LE (55 USD) for 1st Class to 1900 LE (340 USD) for the Royal Suite. We were shown a 1st class room, a 1st class lux room, and a lux suite.

The rooms were decent enough and smelled like a regular hospital...the decor, however, reminded Andrew and I of our baby pictures instead of Rachel's baby pictures. The furniture is outdated and definitely as old as it looks, but I can deal with that. I don't plan on staying at the hospital very long. As much as I want this to be a positive experience, staying in a foreign hospital for longer than I have to simply doesn't sound fun. Still, they were about the same size as the room I had for Rachel's birth...of course, we stayed in the triage room the whole time we were there because there wasn't time to assign us to an actual room...but still. They looked fine.

We hear the nurses are nice...but require adequate tipping to assure quality care. The food is not the kind of food you would expect to be served after having a baby (nothing to help loosen things up and get things moving), but the rooms are equiped with a mini-fridge (well, at least the 1st class lux on up through the Royal Suite) and there is a grocery store across the street. There's pretty much everything you could want just across the street, really. Clothings stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, American fast food (a guarantee for sanitary ice), and local Egyptian grub. It's quite the neighbourhood for a hospital to be located in. We aren't used to jumping out of the way of donkey carts to get to hospitals...

...But it really does look alright. We're happy to know where it is and that it looks like a normal (but rather antique) hospital. We didn't see the delivery floor or the nursery, but I'm sure those are fine, too.

On our way out of the hospital we shared the elevator with a young couple carrying a little baby girl. Rachel was in awe. The mom held the baby up for Rachel to see and we congratulated them. She seemed to survive the experience, so that was encouraging.

Packing for the hospital stay is going to be fun. We have to bring our own linens for the baby--no blankets, burp cloths, hats, or shirts are provided. We have to bring our own diapering and bathing supplies. We have to bring our own towels. We have to bring our own...everything...which is part of the reason I don't want to stay at the hospital very long. If I have to supply everything myself anyway I'd rather be at home so I don't have to pack and unpack everything.

The name el Nada seems a little ironic to me, because they supply nothing and in Spanish "nada" means nothing. So we're going to the Nothing Hospital. In truth, مستشفى الندى / el Nada Hospital means either the hospital of wetness, moisture, or dew; or the hospital of generosity or magnanimity. We think the Hospital of Generosity is the best bet, although Andrew likes the word magninimity far better. We hope that it isn't the Hospital of Wetness or the Hospital of Moisture because that just doesn't sound sanitary. Hospital of Dew is acceptable, although we're really quite sure it should be translated as generosity.

I sent our parents a "list of things we want from America" a while ago. It was pretty short.

"I guess we're just used to living here," I quipped, "I can't think of anything we need or want."

But I forgot I'd be having a baby here, I guess...or at least what labour and post-partum pains are like. While I'm not planning on having an epidural, I would like some Dermaplast or Epifoam to deal with the post-partum pain and I don't know if they have that here. I don't know how I'll manage to walk out of the hospital without it was a lifesaver with Rachel. I think I'll be making another list of medical supplies we'd like after seeing what they have available in the pharmacy here. We haven't checked for things like witch-hazel tucks or numbing sprays because, frankly, we don't normally use those things.

We still have several weeks to go, so we aren't in too much of a rush...


  1. You make me feel so old. I have never heard of Dermaplast or Epifoam!

  2. Oh, mom! You missed out. Big time. They're numbing sprays and they're fabulous!

  3. Did you have an epidural with Rachel or was it too late? You are a brave brave woman. :)

  4. Do not forget the Dulcolax, or however you spell that wonderful miracle drug. :)

  5. it happens that i work in this hospital .. my name is dr Osama . i am an anesthesiologist ..
    if anything i can help with plz ask ..
    good luck and dont worry everything will be just fine .. by God's well ..

  6. I forgot when you are due and what you are having? I pray that all will go well too!!! I wished SouthWest flew to there and I would come be your nanny, eh?

  7. End of October...and a girl (we think, should know for sure, for sure the end of this month).

    I'm actually super spoiled and my mother-in-law is planning on flying out in October to help out. She'll be staying until around Christmas (see? spoiled!). It's nice of you to offer, though, and would be fun to have you around!

    We'll definitely come by and see you when we're back in the States!