Healthcare + Having Babies

26 Mar
Arab Medical Center at 5th Circle in Amman (our go-to place for high-quality healthcare)

Arab Medical Center at 5th Circle in Amman (our go-to place for high-quality healthcare)

I got out of the swing of writing last week because I caught a nasty bug or bacteria or… whatever, it was gross and infected my tonsils and throat.  Thanks to Phillip for taking care of me and to Arab Medical Center for 1500mg of antibiotics.  (I do love drugs when they’re used responsibly.)

That reminds me.  I wanted to write about the Jordanian Health Care system.  To preface the details I’m about to write, let me just tell you that within about 24 minutes on Thursday of last week, Phillip and I had arrived at the hospital’s clinic, checked in, gotten a doctor’s examination, received a prescription, paid about US$3.50 for my medication, and were walking out the door.  As we left, we noted how we’d still be filling out paper work in a U.S. waiting room if we had been back in Atlanta.

For whatever reason, lots of Americans are utterly freaked out at the thought of a public health care system like the one Jordan has.  Phillip and I pay around US$128.31 per month (total) for our health insurance coverage.  (It went up by around 33% from our first year in Jordan due to one of my co-worker’s deciding to visit the doctor about once a week throughout the 12-month term.  She no longer works at our company, by the way.)  This is CHEAP compared to my Atlanta employer’s “family” plan —  which was about US$250 per month for the premium alone — especially considering that we didn’t pay anything at all for my doctor’s visit last week.  We paid a tiny amount for the medication and that was all.  In fact, our taxi ride to and from the clinic cost more than our actual visit.

Our expat friends told me and Phillip, almost as soon as we arrived in Jordan 2 years ago, that we should have babies while living in Amman.  My initial thought was always, “Oh, are you going to take care of them for us?”  Apparently, some of the nicest hospitals in the Middle East are here in Jordan.  Mothers can stay in luxury hospital suites (which include a bed for dad), get the best doctors, and benefit from excellent equipment and resources all for around $2,000 per birth.  That’s right.  In two months, the mortage payment on our house in Atlanta would cover the total birthing expenses of our CHILD.

Economically speaking, I’m sure the day will come when I regret not taking advantage of the maternity health benefits here.  But, I will at that time remind myself that I also didn’t want to dodge traffic walking in trash and mud on my way to work everyday with a ever-expanding baby bump.  Nor did I want to experience chasing down a taxi in the middle of the night while going into labor.  For me, myself, and I, the state of “being pregnant” ABSOLUTELY necessitates the possession of a car.  Call me a snooty American.  I. Don’t. Care.  :)

Oh!  I thought of another funny thing related to people who are not my husband telling me that I should have babies.  In Jordan (and perhaps in several other Arab cultural contexts), when a couple gets married, the public expectation is that they should try to concieve a child as soon as possible.  As in, if the wife isn’t pregnant within the first two months of marriage, rumour spreads that there must be something “wrong.”

Graph:  The average number of children per family in the U.S.  It was hard to find a similar stat on Jordan, but according to the Population Reference Bureau in 1990, the average number of children per woman in Jordan was 5.9 -- not exactly the same measurement, but illustrates a difference from the U.S.

Graph: The average number of children per family in the U.S. It was hard to find a similar stat on Jordan, but according to the Population Reference Bureau in 1990, the average number of children per woman in Jordan was 5.9 — not exactly the same measurement, but illustrates a difference from the U.S.

haha…  Phillip and I have been married now for 34 months and 3 days.  When Jordanians (women, that is) learn this information (i.e., after they complete their mental calculations for how many children we could’ve had by now), the next question is always, “WHY DON’T YOU HAVE KIDS?”

In the beginning, I was offended by this inquiry into a very private part of my life.  Now, I just smile and say, “Most Americans wait a few years after getting married to have children.  It’s our way.”

“Well,” remarks the wide-eyed wonderer, “I will pray that if Allah wills, you will have children very soon.”

“Thanks,” I reply.

And then the conversation moves on.

After Phillip and I have returned to U.S. life and conversation topics appropriate for American culture, I imagine that there will be days when I need something to laugh at.  These baby conversations will be among the first that I recall.

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One Response to “Healthcare + Having Babies”

  1. Joanna March 27, 2013 at 1:20 am #

    Your creative combination of whit and wording made this story, as any of yours, a laughable one for sure! Glad you’re feeling better, sister!-Joanna

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