I came back from Singapore with great news: everything looks fine, chances of a chromosomal disorder is one in (literally) thousands, I got an 85% chance of it being one sex (which I won’t announce it yet, because there’s still that 15% chance, you know? And I don’t want people calling the baby by a certain gender until we know for sure what that gender is).
But I also came back with questions…
The baby is due, hopefully, 2 months before we leave Manila (and I say hopefully, because right now we’re meant to leave a month after delivery, so we’re still waiting on our transfer plans, which should show our requested extension). Once the baby is born I need to do a BUNCH of stuff before s/he gets a passport and is allowed to travel, all per embassy rules. Usually that is no big deal, but as flights from Manila are always packed, the longer we wait to get our tickets (we can get our tickets until we have passport on hands), the less likely Karl and I and the baby will sit together (and I do NOT want to endure a 20+ hour trip with a newborn, a dog and a cat away from Karl!).
The baby also must sit on an window seat (one of the so many rules of using a car seat on a plane), and those fill up fast too.
So yeah, even the birth certificate is not easy to obtain here in the Philippines and it takes at least a week…
With all that in mind, we really need to make a decision on where will this baby be born. I just found out that Singapore is also an option, and at least there the paperwork moves quicker (you even leave the hospital with a birth certificate!).
Anyone who has given birth abroad, right before moving out of post with the State Department, please chime in! I’m in desperate need of advice.
So here are the PROS and CONS (that I can think of so far)… For a background for those of you who are not part of the Foreign Service, if I medevac for delivery overseas, I am shipped out 6 weeks pre-due date, and can only return to post 6 weeks after the due date. Karl can take sick leave to join me when the due date looms closer.
Delivering in Manila
PROS: I’ll be near Karl, our pets, our helper (specially important when I’m huge and waddling).
-Karl will for sure be there for the birth.
-My friends in Manila will meet the new baby.
CONS: We might not get all the paperwork done in time for both me and the baby to leave the country (one of them is done at 6 weeks post-delivery, and that must be done before we get our travel orders!), so we will likely not be sitting together on the plane, and though our class of tickets upgrades us automatically to the Economy Plus section (the extra legroom and comfort will be super super super important for a 20+ hour flight with a car seat + 2 pets by our feet), those might be all full.
-Finding room for the pets in cabin at the last minute might be an issue as well.
-Medical care in Manila is great, the doctors are wonderful, but I don’t trust the nurses based on many many stories I’ve heard. The main problem here is that nurses are either bad or in training: as soon as they get good, they find a much better paying job overseas (and who can blame them?), so the ones left behind are not the most experienced.
Delivering in Singapore
PROS: I’m only a 3.5 hour flight away, so Karl can see me at least every other weekend, so we won’t have to spend 6 weeks apart.
-I can probably afford to hire help for a few days a week.
-Singapore is a medevac location for all of Asia, so they are used to doing all the paperwork, and hospitals turn information more quickly (as it happens in countries with less bureaucracies), so by the time I return to Manila, or sooner, I should be all set to get our tickets back to the US.
-Medical care in Singapore is comparable to the US.
CONS: Because the State Department really really really wants you to deliver the babies in the US, you only get DC per diem in Singapore, which is literally half of Singapore’s per diem, so we will likely have to use our own money to cover the difference as the per diem (adding BOTH housing and the meals & incidentals one) doesn’t even cover your cost for temporary housing, much less other expenses.
-I will be away from my pets for 3 months.
-I won’t be “home” for 3 months.
Delivering in Washington DC
PROS: My parents can likely come and spend some time with me near my due date, so I won’t be completely alone.
-I also have a ton of friends there, so it’s not like I’ll have no support.
-If something goes wrong during birth, I do trust the doctors and nurses to be very quick on their feet for an emergency situation and that the baby will be fine.
CONS: I will be away from Karl for 3 months, and he will be away from the baby until he moves out of Manila.
-Though I will bring a pet with me to DC, who to choose? And who will take care of the pet while I’m in the hospital?
-I will have no maid for those 3 months, so while pregnant and with a newborn, I’ll have to clean the house, do laundry, shopping, cook, etc. (I do realize American moms do that every day, but this is a person that by that point will have had help for almost 2 years, that is not the best timing to pick the American lifestyle back up.)
-Let’s face it, I will not be returning to Manila: there is no way the State Dept will pay for me to travel back to hang out here for another 2-3 weeks before shipping me back to DC again for our move.
-Karl will do the move on his own (this could have been a pro if my husband wasn’t the type that would donate all our belongings because he hates having “stuff”).
-If I give birth earlier than scheduled, Karl will likely miss the birth (since it takes a good 24 hours to get from Manila to DC, and that is assuming he is able to jump on the very next flight the same day, which is highly unlikely).
So at this point, I’m really leaning towards delivering the baby here. I’m due March 7th, and who knows if the baby will be late, making things even more complicated, but at least leading up to the birth, I’ll be home, with my husband, pets, and don’t have to worry about taking care of the apartment while waddling around. And if I’m very organized, I hope to at least go through my things before the baby is here, so we can reduce some of the stress of moving…