Pregnancy Detour: THE HOSPITAL

Pregnancy Detour: THE HOSPITAL

Ah yes. The hospital in China. The hospital in Shanghai. First of all, you have to understand that this is the GOLDEN PIGGY YEAR. This means there will be a baby boom this year. I was going to say a MINI baby boom, but in China there is no such thing as “mini” when it comes to people. The population is just something that you have to take into consideration.

One of the most amazing things about the hospitals here is the service. There are so many people in Shanghai and especially with this year that the people, the nurses and the doctors give us the idea that they really have absolutely no interest in helping the customers in any way, shape or form. The customer service is atrocious and they serve the patients with contempt and annoyance. With that said, everyone here in Shanghai feels that this is normal and they are accustomed to this kind of treatment, which creates angry people, annoyed husbands and exasperated parents. One of the most annoying parts of going to the hospital is when you have a question about where to go and what to do first. There is an information booth but if you dare ask the ladies a question they will act as if you have violated their break time or personal time. If they do give you an answer they will do so in the most lethargic and lazy way. They use their heads to point. I don’t know how, but perhaps the cartoon can help you understand… but if you are really lucky, they might utter a noise which is supposed to help you know if she means the third floor or the second floor. The annoying thing about this whole situation is me. Michelle is the only one who can really communicate with these people but she is accustomed to these answers. Stupidly, I go ahead and ask her what the lady said so that I can help her or at least to know what’s going on… to which she replies that the woman said nothing at all. To which I reply, WHY NOT? Thus I become the annoyed husband about 2 minutes after we enter into the hospital. Annoying.

There have been a couple different hospitals that we’ve visited. I wanted to review a few and tell you about the different situations at each place.
RED HOUSE or Hong Fangzi which is affiliated with Fudan University. Michelle says, “Oh it’s insane. It’s inhumane. The ultrasound was crazy. They quarreled with the nurses like a market, nobody can keep silent, it’s a hospital not a market, drives me crazy. If I told you, you wouldn’t believe it.”

One of the first times we went to Hong Fangzi was an episode that I will never forget. Very early on in our pregnancy we decided to make sure everything was going well. After we traveled all over the hospital paying and carrying pee and all that stuff, we went to get an explanation of the paper that was given to Michelle. The doctor saw me and decided to try to explain the issues in English. So she looked nervous as we were both staring at her, and she giggled a little bit and spoke these words: “Hee Hee, you are threatening abortion, Hee hee.” My eyes grew really really big, my mouth fell to the floor, and I said EXCUSE ME? She continued to give me an annoying smile and she said it again. Michelle quickly translated and told me “threatening miscarriage” which wasn’t much better. Apparently the explanation was that we should be more careful and take it easy. After the impulse of beating her for saying “abortion” faded, I became the exasperated and annoyed husband. If my hair was longer, it would be more gray.

Ren Ji Hospital. Very close to our home, attached to a very famous school in Shanghai. Michelle says, “Very crowded, the doctors and nurses there are just nasty, like when they know you are pregnant there is no change in expression, no words of caution, no explanation just a word, you’re pregnant.”

The process of paying in the hospitals here in Shanghai is interesting. Besides the absolute nonexistent customer service, (ie. yelling at the person for money, throwing change back at the customer, etc.) paying is something you do every step of the way. Multiple times. Any stage of the visit that you don’t know what to do next, your best bet is to just go down and pay. Since this is the GOLDEN PIGGY YEAR the lines are ridiculously long. There seems to be just an inherent distrust of all people here that if the doctors and nurses treat people then those people will just leave without paying for their treatment. It probably would happen more often than not, but they could introduce a more efficient process where you pay for everything at the same time. Not 3 yuan here 200 yuan there 15.90 yuan here and 378.30 yuan here. It’s just ridiculous. This is the reason why most women who go to the hospital go along with their mother or husband. The extra person is designated as the “stand-in-line person”. Their job is very simple. “We have to pay first before I pee in this cup, quick go down the stairs, stand in line, pay, here is my card and then bring the paper back with you, meanwhile I’ll drink more water. Quick Quick!” It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it.

Number one Fu ying Maternity Hospital. Near Huaihai road in downtown. Michelle says, “First time wasn’t so crazy. Solo trip, same thing as the other places. Too many people, too many women too many pregnant women. Also like a market. You have to wait in a long line, just to get your blood taken. The bathroom was, I can’t think about it, you’ve never, it’s just like, you don’t know where you should stand, or where you squat, so wet so smelly, the nurses there and all the hospitals are the same, you ask a question, they won’t answer they just gesture or point, there are too many patients.”

To give you an idea of the crowds who come to the hospital I drew a picture from my memory of the scene at the desk of Hong Fangzi. Michelle was going for one of our first ultrasounds. The scene was a large desk where there were two nurses who were announcing people’s names as to who was next. But if anyone came up to the desk you would’ve thought they were giving away free money. There were so many ladies crowding around the desk YELLING and pushing and shoving. Finally, the hospital police came to try and make it more orderly, which consisted of telling some of the ladies to stop pushing. But it did nothing. All my wife wanted was an ultrasound. She is definitely more civilized so she just stood and waited for her turn. Any question she just asked the police man. Smart girl.

On to Month 5.


  1. Cricky

    Man alive…this sounds like a nightmare to me.

  2. Anonymous

    I know what you are talking about. You feel hopeless and powerless when you standing behind the crowd and watching people trying to get a spot by pushing others.

  3. Linda

    I would’ve voted for ‘supergirl’ if that was an option. I’ve enjoyed catching up on your posts and the cartoons. My fav is the hospital counter – it’s true to life! Nice capture.