Viimsi Hospital and the adjoining birth centre, Fertilitas, are part of a socialist architectural complex that is par for the course in Estonia, not unlike one of those bunker-like shopping community centres you find around Sõpruse and Keskuse in Mustamäe. You get used to it and think no more of it.
Viimsi is a more affluent spa-ish area and the air is cleaner. Though it's not on the sea or anything, the facility is pleasant enough. Our room looked just like any "SPA" or sanitarium room, with TV, WiFi, good lighting...
The birth room is very cozy at Fertilitas, leaving the impression of perpetual candlelight. A rocking chair, which my wife notes is useless for her in the actual process, adds rustic charm as a prop. There is a bath for water births. The house music (we didn't bring our own or a guitar, thinking the less distractions the better), if desired, was Jack Johnson, basically the epitome of mellowness and whatever the opposite of egoism is. Good choice.
Down the corridor from our room is a fantastic palm and tropical plant choked atrium with statuary. It's overgrown like a secret garden and a little decadent, with algae-stained tile. This may not sound appealing, it is clean, and seems alive in a fertile way, more than, say, a slick, art deco Nordic hotel atrium. It looks just like the courtyard of a hotel we stayed at in Mazatlan. So the combination of socialist architecture, quality health care and tropical paradise said "Cuba" to me, though I have not been to the island.
Besides a flat fee for birth, and a fee for each bed-day, we paid extra to retain the services of one of the midwives, as I mentioned in one of my posts. It just doesn't work out the way you planned. She was fine, I guess, conferred with us and was in touch, but she was mortal too and when it came down to it, and we were in the actual birthing room and Jack Johson was playing after 24 hours of irregular painful pre-labour, it was another midwife who was there.
No complaints there: the entire bill came to $600, which to me seems negligible considering we were there for five days.
On the negative side, there was a sense of a private clinic that wasn't there in 2005 when Morgan was born. Not that a public hospital would be preferable, natch. Yet I got the sense they were hurrying along the process to make way for the next batch of birthees. A doctor even said, around the time when we were eating spicy food, that the coming weekend would be busy for them and that we should think of inducing. We didn't, and the process started naturally, albeit very slowly.
My suspicion is that you only get one chance to give birth, even if you are not in actual labour. After your one chance there is pressure -- in the form of an array of subtle cues and suggestions expressed as foregone conclusions -- to induce, to resort to surgery, or other clinical options...
In this case, Lorna was postdue and there were signs that she might be close to foetal distress, so who knows. I trust Estonian doctors. But I do insist on knowing by what path they arrive at their recommendations, and it seems they don't always want to say. It's something I've experienced in the past. As a patient in Estonia, especially coming from a different cultural background, you need to be an investigative journalist if you want to get to the bottom of your case.
One thing worth mentioning, and I noted it on the Fertilitas customer survey, was that the cleaning staff were completely from another planet. A bewildering mixture of obsequiousness, class-fuelled disgruntlement and just plain illogical thinking.
One patient who had bled on the floor in the IC unit said that a cleaning staff member who happened to be in the room at the time, that "I didn't need that kind of gift."
The hospital had provided do not disturb signs, but if these were not to keep out cleaning staff, I wonder what else they would be used for. It seemed that after I asked that uneaten food not be taken away immediately, they made a special effort to be unpleasant, pointedly failing to take away one empty yogurt container or one dirty spoon. And they seemed to take offence when I would leave some food that they served.
Vibe is very important in the birth process, and if the people who enter and exit the room the most often are weird, it negates part of the effort of the doctors and other dedicated staff members. The overall impression from Fertilitas is still a warm one. And I would recommend it.
Though, God, if I were a woman, I wish we had the Dutch system of supported home birth. It is effective, safe and humane.
All's well that ends well. Laps on käes -- we have our child.