Moving house, Country and job in a 3 month period would not be complete without falling pregnant in a Muslim country before you have your health insurance sorted.
Delighted with the news of the new addition, I couldn’t wait to tell everyone at home mainly Quinn Health Insurance who for the princely sum of Eu. 9,500 would gladly cover a family of four in the Middle East. This included all the premium reductions we received for being healthy, non-claiming clients for the past 10 years, equaling to zilch. Not having taken a risk assessment course or anything recently, I calculated that this sum, equivalent to QR. 50,000 was probably not a cost I was going to incur in having a baby, so we decided to attend a public hospital. The public hospital in Doha, Qatar is the Hamad, the procedure is, once you have your sponsorship sorted, you are entitled to apply for a health card which makes your eligible to medical care at a much reduced cost, i.e. Ultrasound in the Hamad, Eu.8, Ultrasound in Galway Clinic, EU. 190. The Hamad, while it doesn’t have a baby grand parked in the foyer, is free of charge to Qatari Nationals and a state of the art hospital.
Eager to engage the expertise of a ob/gyn, I made my way along to the hospital. I proceeded to register at the front desk, where I was asked for the following documentation, passport of both parents, Qatari ID of both parents, Birth Certificate of both parents and Marriage Certificate. I swiftly informed the registrar that we did not have the Marriage Certificate, (my life flashed before me, I was going to star as the first victim in the new TV Series “Knocked-up Abroad” my face was going to be blacked out and I was going to tell the nation how I gave birth in a Middle Eastern prison and that baby Mark/Mary was retained and I was sent home, I would dedicate my life to the campaign to get my baby back).
It was then that I was informed that not alone could I not seek pre-natal attention in this hospital without a marriage certificate, I was running the risk of being deported with evidence of being married while pregnant. Instantly recognizing the seriousness of this situation, I began to rhyme off all the things I had in my possession which proved we were married, firstly, my hand cut teardrop diamond engagement ring, set in platinum, with matching wedding band, which incidentally had to be made to match, my Gina shoes, my wedding DVD (sorry “our” wedding DVD) none of which seemed to make an impression, the registrar simply replied, “I would advise you to please come back with marriage certificate”. The truth was, I had never bothered to collect the certificate, there seemed so many things to do at the time that I just didn’t get round to it. Several phone-calls, emails and four weeks later, I obtained the marriage certificate from Ireland. Back to the Hamad Hospital we trotted, delighted to have everything in hand, my file was completed and the appointment made for the first scan. Excitedly we made our way to the “Women’s Hospital” just before entering, we were beckoned back by the registrar where she politely told us that no men were allowed enter the women’s hospital, under any circumstances. I asked, “what about the birth”, to which she replied that men were not allowed enter any part of the women’s hospital and that included the labour ward and delivery suite, however, a women could bring her sister or mother for the birth. Crestfallen after all my hard work, I left the hospital, determined not to deny my husband of his part in the birth and even more determined not to shoulder all the responsibility myself! I couldn’t help feeling somewhat defensive about my specific requirements, I was beginning to feel as though I were asking for a string quartet to be present in the delivery ward to soundtrack the birth or that I deliver the baby on the back of a slowly moving open backed truck driving down the Corniche while being clapped on my passersby and well-wishers. Back to the grapevine, and a few days later I found a hospital in Doha that would accommodate westerners! Yee Haw! Thrilled with my new find, we made our way to the out-patients department, where the administrator asked us a series of questions to open our file, one of which was, “Were you related to your husband before you got married?”. This was going to be fun.