In Which I Am Grateful

The Fistula Foundation, or, Obstetric Disasters in the Third World That Make Me VERY VERY GRATEFUL To Be An American Woman With Health Insurance

Sometimes I need a good hard reality check to remind myself that most of the decisions that I and other middle-to-upper class moms worry about are, by and large, first world problems. And that while I’m pouting because the hospital we chose isn’t *quite* what we had envisioned for an optimal birth experience, the fact remains that we have at least three well-staffed and clean hospitals to choose from, not to mention the option of highly qualified local midwives. We have choices and the means to pay for whatever path we like. Furthermore, if for whatever reason I was unable to have children, I would not be thrown away by my husband but instead would have the entire sum knowledge of western reproductive medicine at my fingertips.

While I make fun of my constant bladder uproar, I consider myself supremely lucky that bladder infections are the only complication I’ve suffered, and that I can treat it with a $10 antibiotic that I can pick up within two hours of being diagnosed by my friendly local pee analyzers at the lab. A strep-B test might be a touch uncomfortable but I can hardly deny its benefits. And if a weird and horrible complication should arrive while I’m in labor, I can be in a sanitized operating theater in under 20 minutes. I would do well to remember that the things I sulk about having to have as a matter of “routine” at the OB or at the hospital are the very things that, had they been available, might have kept some women and babies in developing countries from dying.

I don’t think that because we have options we should just “shut up and be happy” about the state of things, or not take the decisions we have the luxury of making for granted. There are serious problems in the American medical industry that need fixing, and parents in the U.S. that don’t get much-needed education about all the options available to them. Babies and parents suffer in America too–from lack of access, lack of education, arrogant doctors and the abhorrent practices of insurance companies. But I do think a bit more grace and gratitude on my part would not be amiss.

We will be donating, oh yes.