Monday, March 21, 2011

Babies in Korea

We have been fortunate to have built strong relationships with our director, Kim Yong Jin, and his wife Kim Myeong Seok. They are wonderful people and they treat us like family. We were especially touched when we were invited to visit the hospital not long after their first child was born. Just like everything here, it was a fascinating experience. I expected to visit their room and hold their beautiful baby girl, but none of that happened. Instead we were in a waiting room that surrounds the nursery of the hospital, where all of the newborn babies stay. The nursery walls were glass so that everyone could crowd around and see the babies.

After a baby is born, the baby stays in the nursery until the mom is released from the hospital. Mom and Dad don't actually get to hold or feed or take care of thier baby until mom is discharged. Twice a day the hospital has 30 minute viewings of the babies. This is what we attended. There were about 25 babies all in the little hospital beds behind the panes of glass. It honestly reminded me of an aquarium.

The family is given one ticket per viewing. At the viewing, they can flash that ticket when their family is ready, and one of the nurses will hold up the baby so everyone can see her. This lasts for 2-3 minutes at the most. Then the baby goes back into the crib. Finished. The family doesn't get another baby encounter till the next viewing that day when they'll be given another card that gets them another couple of minutes of time. When we were there yesterday, Mrs. Kim saw her daughter for the first time (almost 48 hours after the delivery). She didn't have the strength to come downstairs before that point (she had a c-section as most of the women here have). We witnessed her laying eyes on her daughter for the first time and it was a beautiful moment, but there was glass between them. It was so strange.

Not long after that, the visiting time was over. The curtains were pulled and the babies disappeared again. It was clear that the babies in the nursery are well taken care of and loved. There were several nurses constantly walking around checking each of the cribs and sometimes picking up a baby to feed or just to hold.

I know this isn't the only way to have a baby in Korea. Our friends Lindsay and Whit had a wonderful hospital experience and their beautiful baby boy Finn stayed in their room with them. But our director was surprised when I was asking so many questions. He said that this procedure was typical for all of the hospitals he knew of, big hospitals like the one they used and small ones alike. Now Mr. and Mrs. Kim are home with their sweet baby girl. They are enjoying holding and loving her. But they say their still trying to decide on a name. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. That does seem strange, but I think having a baby is bound to be weird no matter how you go about it. The industrialization of the process just makes it more so. And what's up with all the C-sections?

    On a related note, I just heard about people wanting to use dolphins to help the birthing process, as in you swim with dolphins while giving birth. Stupid new age hippies.