Sunday, September 25, 2016

5 Benefits of Being Married to a Doctor

Some of you may know, about 10 days ago, my son was born through elective C-section surgery. For those who don't know what this means, it is basically an operation near the abdominal area of the mother to remove the baby from the womb. It is a fairly straightforward surgery. Our doctor advised us that natural birth posed a higher risk for the baby, but less risk to the mother. On the other hand, surgery posed a higher risk for the mother, but had minimal risks for the baby. Based on that, we decided to take the latter route.

And over the last 10 days, while I was busy celebrating the joys of being a new father, I had some time to ponder our 9-month long journey that led up to the pinnacle of Baby Michael's birth.

There were many ups and downs but on hindsight, this ride was made so much smoother just because my wife is a doctor. I don't show it often enough, but I truly and greatly appreciate the fact that my wife is a highly skilled and knowledgeable physician.

The list below is the top 5 of many other benefits of being married to a doctor.

1. Free personal medical advice/medicine/medical documentation

No prizes for guessing that I get free medical advice. However, being a doctor in the government clinic, she also enjoys the benefits of knowing other doctors, pharmacists who can dispense medication/supplements during her pregnancy.

She was also working in Sibu, Sarawak, which is about a 2-hour flight from Selangor, where I work. As a pregnant lady, taking flights back to West Malaysia requires a doctor's note. And my wife flies home at least 1-2 times a month. Having to go to a clinic to get a doctor's note every time she has to fly would have been a pain in the butt. But since she is a doctor who works at the clinic, getting those notes became no hassle at all.

2. Calm in the middle of a storm

By now, some of you may be wondering how can a pregnant woman fly so often. That is the very nature of my wife. In general, I truly believe that doctors are trained to be strong and independent. To remain calm when everyone around them is panicking. Otherwise, they would never get past 5 years of medical school.

What I truly appreciate about this characteristic is that her calmness keeps everyone else around calm. There were so many unknowns and uncertainties throughout the 9 months of our long distance pregnancy experience. How often do we have to fly back and forth to see each other? What happens if the baby had to be born prematurely? Can she survive living practically alone for 8 months carrying a child?

On hindsight, the past 9 months have been a miracle. My wife has been a rock throughout the last 9 months (and more). We are both truly blessed that our son is born healthy.

3. Other doctor friends

One of the coolest things about being married to a doctor is that they have plenty of doctor friends. I attended a couple of wedding dinners of my wife's friends, and we usually get seated at a table full of doctors. Generally, I don't really understand 50% of what they are talking about, but that is OK because that also means I don't have to talk very much. Just nod and smile.

Jokes aside, one of the other cool benefits is that she knows a Obstetrician & Gynaecologist who gave us a very significant discount for conducting one of our scanning sessions. We decided to go to a private hospital to get a 3D scan during the 7th month of pregnancy just to see what our son looks like.

A typical checkup costs close to RM300, depending on the hospital. We got to do our checkup for a steal. We could not believe the bill when we saw it.

Another great example is that my wife's ex-boss is also a Obstetrician & Gynaecologist. A very good one at that. Because of this, we knew exactly where to go to deliver our son. We did not have to shop around at different hospitals to find the most suitable and affordable option. We went straight to her ex-boss at a government hospital and we got excellent service there. More on this later.

4. Willingness to save others first

This is definitely one benefit that cannot be oversold, especially once you become a parent. For the first few days, your entire world (and sometimes more) revolves around the needs of this "can't-be-reasoned-with" dictator. 

WARNING: DO NOT stand or look too closely when you change a baby's diaper.

With the arrival of a child, if not managed well, the needs of the child can often turn into a major source of conflict for both parents. Whose turn is it to change the diapers? Whose turn is it to pick up the kid from soccer practice? This kind of behavior can often lead to unsustainable marriage practices as discussed in my previous article.

The Wall Street Journal quotes a research paper:

About two-thirds of couples see the quality of their relationship drop within three years of the birth of a child, according to data from the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, a nonprofit organization focused on strengthening families. 
Sorry for all that negative publicity for having children. What I am trying to say is that while we share in the joy of having children, very often, couples forget to appreciate one another, and start to revert to their instinct of self-preservation. They start placing their own desires ahead of the family's. 

However, it is my belief (stereotypical as it may seem) that doctors somehow are less susceptible to selfish tendencies. This belief is founded on the basis that doctors generally have to fork out about half a million Ringgit to pursue what is considered to be one of the most difficult programs in university. To top it off, for the investment in being a doctor to be financially sound, one has to complete his/her specialization and sometimes sub-specialization before he/she can earn the big bucks. By this virtue, I choose to believe that doctors inherently have some gene in their body to want to help others first. 

And that is why I feel reassured that my wife and I will be able to raise our child in a wholesome and happy family. 

5. Special privileges at government hospitals

Last and perhaps the most important is that we really do get special benefits/treatment at government hospitals. 

Anyone who has been to a government hospital in Malaysia will most likely experience the expected dread that is the bureaucracy of the Malaysian public sector. I am actually quite pleased to say that we had quite the opposite experience at the government hospital that Michael was delivered in.

During our final check-up before deliver, I was admittedly dreading having to do it at the government hospital. Even though our appointment was at 12.30 pm, my wife insisted that we had to be at the hospital by 10.30 am and wait there for 2 hours. This would have been completely unacceptable in most other circumstances, but this is what we have come to expect from the Malaysian public sector. 

However, during our registration, the administrative assistant at the counter told us that we could just come at 12.30 pm and we were definitely too early for our appointment. We would be the first in line in any case. The multiple steps required by the bureaucracy still existed, and we had to do a bunch of silly administrative chores. Ordinarily, we would have been served by nurses and medical assistants that had sour faces (perhaps due to overwork). 

The biggest difference I noticed was that every time they looked at our files, they immediately took notice of the fact that my wife was a doctor, and their sour faces turned into smiles (that exude rainbows and unicorns). They became extremely courteous and polite, serving us to the best of their ability. I noticed the same thing happening again during the day of Baby Michael's delivery. All the nurses kept referring to my wife as "The Doctor" like she was the Don of some Italian Mafia. I was pleasantly amused. 

On top of that, only a few days ago, we had to take Baby Michael for his jaundice check-up. We were concerned that his jaundice had spread to his legs and decided to go straight to the Trauma and Emergency Unit. The medical assistant at the gate had initially tried to turn us to the clinic before allowing us to seek consultation with the doctors at the emergency unit. However, upon finding out that my wife is a doctor, he quite promptly ushered us in without any further argument. Thankfully Baby Michael is just fine and we were informed that it was safe to go home.

There were many other small examples of how a government doctor really does have special privileges, but the above is just simply a clear exhibition of the "good fortune" that I have experienced just because my wife is a doctor.

It goes without saying, but I really must say that I am truly grateful and blessed with a loving wife (not just because she is a doctor) and I look forward to raising a very cute and intelligent son with her. 

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