Few things in life are scarier than giving up the familiar for the unknown. Specifically, packing up your entire life into three suitcases, giving up a cushy job and the comforts of home to move 9,000 miles away to unfamiliar lands. Well, why not add another twist to the adventure, just to make things a little more interesting and add a pregnancy to the mix. Now, let me revise my earlier statement and say that few things in life are scarier than going through a complicated pregnancy… ABROAD.
C and I couldn’t be more thrilled that we have been blessed with this miracle, but I have to say, it’s been a little scary. Finding out you’re pregnant, being so far away from friends and family, and not having the first clue about the prenatal care in Kuala Lumpur was all a little overwhelming… at first. For the last 30 weeks I have been scouring the internet to find anything and everything I could as it related to having a baby in Malaysia, specifically expats delivering in Malaysia. Not having a clue where to even start, it was all a little frightening. Vitamins, doctors, hospitals, pediatricians, baby clothes and supplies. The list goes on and on – and every expectant mother can commiserate and add several more items to the checklist. It’s tough getting all of these things in order – especially when you are living in a different country.
However, as mentioned C and I have been living an adventurous life from the beginning, so this pregnancy really is no different and fits nicely with our story so far. So, not one to be defeated so easily, we took things one step at a time:
- Step 1: Figure out health insurance. Oh that’s right, in Malaysia they don’t offer prenatal insurance. Everything is out-of-pocket. Before you choke on your coffee thinking of the exorbitant medical costs back in the states, things here are infinitely less expensive.
- Step 2: Figure out a doctor. Well, it turns out this was also not a big deal because we relied on C’s colleagues to recommend a decent primary care physician, who in turn, recommended a few different OB/GYN doctors in the area. After several google searches later to read online reviews of the doctors, we settled one, and let me say, she is AWESOME. She has a private practice in the Bangsar area close to where we stay, and it’s so refreshing to be able to call the doctor and get an appointment THAT DAY (gasp, totally, unheard of in the US). She is kind, takes her time, and both C and I feel very comfortable in her skills and credentials. Phew!
- Step 3: Figure out a place to deliver. Well, the one and ONLY drawback to our doctor is she has a private practice, so we had to take the extra step of opening a file with another doctor at a hospital where we felt comfortable delivering. Fortunately, she helped us out, and gave us a couple recommendations so we are all set and ready to deliver!
- Step 4: Figure out where to buy baby things. There is no Target, Carter’s or Buy Buy Baby around here, and mostly everything is either really cheap or really REALLY expensive. I can’t tell you how many trips to the mall (different malls) my husband and I made over the last 8 months to piece together everything we needed for our baby girl’s arrival. But, slowly and surely, and we got everything we needed – including cloth diapers!! Woohoo!
- Step 5: Figuring out immigration details. Yeah, that’s a fun one. NOT! Dealing with immigration for not one, not two but THREE countries is definitely a giant pain, but, it’s needed, so one step at-a-time. However, baby girl’s first photo shoot will be for her US passport, her Indian IPO card, and her Malaysia visa. Now, how many babies claim an exciting photo shoot like that? Yep, a truly global baby indeed.
- Step 6: Prepare for the BIG DAY! This is something that is still in progress, as I know, I know, every mom has told me that you can have the best birth plan ever, but when your baby decides to come, everything goes out the window, and you just have to go with the flow. However, with that in mind, there are still several factors we are trying to account for, like traffic (infamous KL traffic, getting a game plan to find a cab to take us to the hospital when it’s time, and gathering items (music, lavender, etc) to make the delivery room as comfortable as possible amidst a totally chaotic situation.
So, with that in mind, it’s been a wild 8 months, and still another 6 weeks to go! My anxieties about giving birth in a foreign country have now waned after I have experienced top-notch prenatal care and visited a few hospitals in the area, and instead those concerns and fears have now been replaced with the normal “holy crap, we’re going to be parents anxieties.” Once we deliver, I’ll write a more detailed review of the doctors/hospitals, so other expat moms-to-be in Kuala Lumpur can have a more complete picture of what to expect when you’re expecting in KL.