SOS Testimonials

Being pregnant on Saba, testimonial from one of our spouses

We had our birth control talk just a little too late.  When we found out that we were pregnant on Saba, I have to admit there were a few emotions going through our heads.  We were thrilled to be pregnant again, for sure but we had a few questions.  How were we going to do it?  Where would we get the care we needed?  How will we obtain all of the baby ‘things’ we thought we needed?  This is what our experience was like.

First off, I would strongly suggest not planning on having a baby during your time on Saba and going on some sort of birth control.  Birth control pills and other contraceptives are readily available on Saba.  I was not taking birth control because I was still breastfeeding our six month-old when we arrived.  I found out that I was pregnant at the beginning of June 2011.  I was able to get a home pregnancy test at the dispensary (pharmacy) in the Bottom.  I originally had the dates wrong so when we went for our first check up in the middle of August, the baby was already 17 weeks along.   We were both in shock that baby was already 17 weeks and my first trimester was already done!

I was nervous and excited about the news as I was very unsure how I was going to take care of two small children while my husband was going to medical school.  I also was concerned about what we were going to need for baby.  On Saba there are no real convenient stores that you can just go out and buy all the things you think you need.  We ended up doing a lot of ordering on line through Amazon.com and having things sent to our ICS mailbox in Miami.  We also had several care packages sent from family.  I talked to another SOS member and figured out how to order diapers.  I ordered a massive amount of diapers through Prime distributors in St. Maarten, as I knew I was going to need a lot.

For prenatal appointments, you go to the AM Edwards Medical Center in The Bottom.  I went every four weeks until I was 30 weeks and then went once every two weeks until my water broke. The hospital has an ultrasound machine so they are able to look at the baby whenever they want. Dr Koot is very experienced with the ultrasound.  I ended up having a scan almost every visit.  Due to the fact we didn’t have our dates correct, they kept measuring baby to see how big it was.

Everything was paid for out of pocket and all the receipts were kept to submit for income tax purposes.  The cost was $30 US for regular check up.  I paid $104 when the “OB-GYN” visited Saba.  The lab fee’s were separate and they were anywhere from $12-$75 depending on what needed to be done at the appointment.

We were originally planning on having our baby on Saba as we had a home birth with our first child back in Saskatoon.  Most women on Saba have their babies in St. Maarten because they have a large hospital with experienced obstetricians and midwives.  If you are considered low-risk and it is not your first pregnancy, the doctors on Saba are comfortable delivering the baby at the AM Edwards Medical Center.  We felt confident in Dr Koot and Dr Blaauboer to be able to deliver our baby.

At my 34-week appointment, Dr. Koot had noticed and I could feel that baby had already dropped and was sitting very low in my pelvis.  His instructions were for me to limit my walking for the next few weeks and let my husband do more so baby would stay put.  I was hoping this was going to be the case but we were wrong.  Just shy of 35 weeks, my amniotic sac partially tore. This happened during Christmas break, so thank goodness my husband was not busy studying all day, everyday.  This also meant that we had no SUSOM friends left on the island who could have helped us out by taking care of our one year-old daughter.  She had to come with us, of course, through all of the next part of our adventure.   My husband got a suitcase packed for the family and then we called our landlord who drove us to the hospital.  At the hospital they did a test and determined that I had indeed broke my water.  We waited to hear what the doctors wanted to do.  We were hoping we would still be able to have our baby on Saba.  But since baby would be over a month early, the doctors on Saba didn’t feel comfortable delivering it there.  This was due to the lack of emergency equipment and experience with premature births.

We had about 30 minutes to get our stuff and get the last flight off of Saba. My husband ran home and packed a few more things then raced back to the hospital. We then were transported to the airport to take a private flight to St Maarten.  This was a major expense, and we were not very happy about it.  We had to take a taxi to the St Maarten Medical Center where the doctors met us.

We originally thought the reason for me being transported was because my water had broke and they were going to induce labor to have the baby that night. This was one of many miscommunications during our awful stay at SMMC.  We ended up being told I was going to be on bed rest until 37 or 38 weeks, which meant I was going to be there for at least a month.  Again, we were not very happy about hearing this news.  We were also not having a great experience with the nurses at the hospital. My husband and them butted heads many times about visitations and medical needs.  They had all these strict rules that we were not accustomed to.  Let’s just say that the nursing care we received there was not up to the standards we would have expected back home.

Our very nice midwife and obstetrician were the ones who actually listened to what we wanted.  After two days in the hospital, it was clear that the leak had stopped and the baby was doing well.  We talked it over with the doctor and she gave us the option of staying in St Maarten and then coming daily for monitoring and blood work.  We would have had to all stay at some hotel until baby came on it’s own.  We asked if going back home and having the baby there was an option.  She said normally not, because there was still a risk of infection or going into labour, but she would let us decide.  After talking and many phone calls we decided that what was going to be best for us to get the medical care we wanted was to go back home.  That meant that we would also have family to help take care of our one year-old, while we waited for baby.  We got a clearance letter from the midwife and had flights booked for the next evening.

The stress was totally lifted after we landed in Saskatoon, five days after my water broke.  Family met us to take our daughter so that my husband and I could make our way to the hospital.  A plan was made and we decided to be induced a few days later.

We ended up having a completely healthy baby girl on December 24th!  My husband got to be with our second daughter for only a week before making his way back to Saba for third semester.  I stayed behind an extra month with family because we needed to get a passport for our new baby girl so she could travel.  I headed back to Saba on January 26th with my two girls… and Grandma, of course, for extra help!

Julia Keil

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