Modern Medicine, Traditional Care

Modern Medicine, Traditional Care

“I think it is time,” Winnie said as she woke me

Adrenaline shot into my body, and I sprang into action like a headless chicken.  Get dressed.  Grab the bag of clothes we had prepared in advance.  Fill a water bottle.  Throw a bag of snacks into the backpack.

OK, we are all set to go to the hospital.  What have I forgotten?  There is something…. Oh, the wife!

We slowly walked the two blocks to the hospital, stopping every few minutes for the contractions to pass

My Mandarin isn’t very good, especially at 4 am, but I made out a few phrases… “…you walked here…?”  “…probably too early…”

After a quick check the nurse sent us home with some clear instructions for when to return

18 hours of increasingly painful contractions later and amateur hour was over.  There would be no walking this time.

Our taxi rolled up to the hospital around 11 pm, and the nurses quickly confirmed we would be admitted.  But after nearly an hour of waiting, we were still waiting in the lobby and I started to get grumpy

“Oh, they said if we wait until after midnight to be admitted, then it saves us about $200,” Winnie explained.  Frugality runs deep with this one

Things proceeded quickly from there.  We were escorted to our private hospital room, contraction monitoring machines were connected to Winnie’s body, and an epidural was inserted to reduce pain.

A few hours later, we were wheeled into the delivery room.  I’ll skip this part, because some things cannot be unread.  And definitely no photos, because those same things can’t be unseen

At 6:13 am on April 11th, little Julian aka 聿安 aka GCCjr burst onto the scene, weighing 3013 grams (6 lbs 10 oz) and 51 cm (20 in) in length

I cried when I first saw him.  Winnie did too, but probably for different reasons… one of which was the 200 lb nurse that pressed her full mass down upon Winnie’s belly during peak contractions.  As GCCjr’s first act in this world, he promptly peed on her (that’s my boy!)

Strike a Pose

Strike a Pose

The Childbirth Experience in Taiwan

Everything about our experience giving birth in Taiwan was top notch.  The hospital was modern and clean.  The care was warm and friendly and efficient.  The Doctor was as experienced as they come, having delivered thousands of babies during his long career

The standard stay in the hospital after childbirth is 3 days, during which we had a private room with a sofa, flat screen television, and nursing care that constantly provided for Winnie and Julian’s needs.

Hospital Room

Hospital Room

All of this at a price that is hard to beat

Childbirth ExpensesPaid by InsurancePaid by Us
Private Hospital Room (3 nights)$44$383
Doctor's fee$336
Meals (3 days)$127
Management fee$173
Misc medicine$14$1
Test fees$25
Exam fee$29
Baby care expensesPaid by InsurancePaid by Us
Data processing$91
Pediatrician fee$46
Birth certificates (English and Chinese)$23
Health check #1$1$19
Health check #2$29

Total (uninsured) expenses:  $2,032
Total cost with insurance: $1,277

Additionally, the Taiwan Government has an incentive program to encourage increasing the countries’ population.  For filling out some paperwork we received a cash bonus of 20,000 TWD (~$650)

Postpartum Center

As a part of Chinese culture, there is a nearly sacrosanct period of rest after childbirth.  For 1 month, mother and child are forbidden to go outside, and the mother is not allowed to wash her hair or drink cold water, amongst other things.  Winnie wrote a blog post a few months ago saying she thought this was odd and superstitious, and her inbox filled with angry emails.

When I recently went to the Taiwan Immigration Office to process my residency, it was mandatory that Winnie be present.  But all I had to do was say, “She is on her month of rest after childbirth” and show a birth certificate, and this requirement was cast aside

An entire industry has been created around this month of rest in the form of Postpartum Centers aka Baby Hotels.  During this month, nurses are available to provide baby care 24/7.  They will feed your baby, change his diapers, bathe him, watch him over night so Mom can sleep, and attempt to meet any and all requests.  In fact, if you were inclined to not see your child at all for 30 days, they would gladly support this

After our 3 days at the hospital, we also moved into a Postpartum Center that was on an upper floor of the same hospital.  Some of the nurses were wonderful, and taught us how to change diapers and give the boy a bath, how to use a breast pump, and so on.

Baby Hotel

Baby Hotel (super tacky)

After 2 days, we were ready to move out and return home, but having paid for 7 days in advance we were in a bit of a bind.  Since we had some scheduled Pediatrician check-ups, we stayed on.

(For $20 without insurance / $10 with, we had a detailed cardiac assessment from a respected pediatric cardiologist.  All is well)

It is certainly convenient to have all of your medical needs a short elevator ride away

Baby HotelPaid by InsurancePaid by Us
Private Suite (7 days)$1,306
Misc fees$3

At ~$225/day the price tag seems reasonable, albeit not the best or most comfortable solution

Home Care

After a week, we returned home.  We’ve violated the taboos of outdoor air and shampoo, but resting at home is definitely superior to resting in the aseptic hospital environment.

GCCjr getting ready for his first ride

GCCjr getting ready for his first ride

(As an aside, it is fairly normal in Taiwan for people to hold infants in their laps while riding in cars.  I’ve even seen women riding scooters with infants strapped to their chests.  Instead we got GCCjr this sweet ride)

To continue the month of rest, we contracted help.  For 2 weeks, Monday through Saturday, a friendly Grandmother comes to our home from 9 am to 6 pm

She buys groceries, cooks meals, helps with diapers and bathing and feeding, and helps with cleaning and laundry.  Winnie definitely sleeps more as a result

For 13 days of service we pay $916, or about $75/day.  After our Home Care service, we will have a few days to ourselves before my Mom and Grandma come to Taiwan for 3 weeks

Fun and Profit

We’ve only been parents for a few weeks now, but so far so good.  There is definitely a lack of sleep and an abundance of diapers and ear piercing screams, but this has all been overshadowed by the smiles and snuggles

So far, we’ve introduced GCCjr to the joys of the spa day

Spa Day

Spa Day

…learned that he has inherited the gluttonous gene from his father


Too… much… milk…

…discovered that all of our Western friends think GCCjr looks Asian, and all our Asian friends think he looks Western. Either way, he is a handsome little devil #notbiasedatall (Eat your heart out #RoyalBaby)

He Gets His Looks From His Mother

He Gets His Good Looks From His Mother

And developed a new appreciation for nap time

Nap time!

Nap time!

It has also come to my attention that in Chinese culture, the eldest son is responsible for caring for his parents in their old age.  That should provide an additional margin of safety in our little early retirement plan ;)

Some friends recently gave birth to their own bundle of joy in Seattle, and shared their own story to compare & contrast the price and experience in a future post.  The price tag and quick return to home are a bit startling to me

Between our IVF procedure and childbirth, our total expenses will be a little less than $13k

Do you have Children?  How does this compare to your own experience?