Challenges of a new parent
It’s been over a month now, since I blogged about the non-Korean expecting mothers concerns. It seemed only fair that in continuation of that blog, I must share a new parent’s concerns as well. But I was completely unable to take time out for writing a new post, as my child was going through a major growth spurt.
However, I hereby sit in front of my laptop screen…in middle of the night…placing my little one next to me…and hoping that I am able to complete this post, successfully.
Well… where shall I start from???
The moment your child is born, you enter a world where life throws new and unknown challenges at you… LITERALLY every day, every moment. My baby is a little over six months old now, and it already feels like a long journey. I won’t talk about the new parent’s challenges in general, but the challenges that are specifically faced by expats in Korea. I honestly feel that they are worth getting pointed out, so that others might not make the mistakes we did and at least they have a reference point.
First of all, after your child birth, try to take time out to go to your home country’s embassy…as soon as you can. It won’t be easy. There will be so much to look after that you won’t know where your days and nights are going. It took us 3 whole months just for taking some time out, so that we may apply for our child’s passport. Till the time your child doesn’t have your country’s passport, you cannot apply for his/ her residence at Korean Immigration center. So basically, our child wasn’t a citizen of any country for round about 4 months. And this thought haunted me day and night, till the time we finally got her passport.
Once you get the passport, the next step is to apply for Korean residence at your nearest Immigration Center. The whole process (applying for the passport, followed by applying for residence and finally getting everything in hand) will easily take a whole month.
After getting all the documents in hand, register your child at the National Health Insurance Program without any further delays.
Till the time you haven’t got your child’s health insurance, the medical bills may petrify you. You have to rush to the hospital at every single alarming tone, as you can’t take chances with a little life. Usually it won’t turn out to be anything serious, but the medical costs can most definitely disturb your budget.
The most important pointer in this regard: The child needs multiple vaccinations almost every month (during year one). All the basic vaccinations are given free of cost by Korean government (no matter from where you get them done). But for that, your child needs to be a Korean resident.
We literally had to allocate hundreds of dollars on our child’s vaccinations before receiving her residence card, until we came to know that we can get them done for free at Bugan-Su (Public health care center)…even if she is a non-Korean resident. So if your child is a non-Korean resident, or his/her residence card hasn’t been issued yet, it’s better to get the vaccinations done from Bugan-Su…instead of the hospital.
Please note, Medical costs differ from hospital to hospital. And that, only basic/primary vaccinations are provided free of cost.
Secondly, as you are living far away from your people, in a country which has its own set of norms and procedures…the most challenging aspect is to adjust in an environment you are not accustomed to. Being a newborn, your child is bound to face health issues of one sort or the other. Knowing those issues, you will get advices from nearly everyone you’ll encounter, personally or virtually. And being a parent, bound by your baby’s love and being in a situation where you have to handle everything by yourself; you will be compelled to try anything that can provide relief to your baby. We, ourselves went through a phase where we listened to what people advised us (in all goodwill though). But eventually, it turned out that pediatrician was always right. Though her advice took a while to show its outcome, but slowly and steadily things did get on track.
And to be very honest, if you take a chance on your child’s health by neglecting the specialist’s advice…and (GOD forbid) it doesn’t turn out to be in your favor, they are the only people you have to rush to. So it’s better to follow their instructions…even if it means bearing up with the small little bumps along the way.
Lastly, the same old issue of communication barrier. As I mentioned in my last blog also, there are times when it’s too hard to make the doctor understand your point of view or what you and your child are going through. There may be times, where you feel like venting it all out, and you can clearly see that the other person is unable to understand intensity of the situation.
There came a time, when our daughter went through severe tummy troubles. She would throw up after every feed, and that too…multiple number of times. She was unable to sleep on a flat surface. The moment we tried to lay her straight (on her back), she would throw up. It was extremely inconvenient, for us and for her. And this continued for 3-4 months. But the doctors were unable to translate our worries, while interpreting what we told them. As long as the baby was gaining weight appropriately, and the vital signs were ok…everything was perfectly normal in their opinion. But only we know, what we went through. Thankfully, that phase is over now.
To be on the safe side, if you feel yourself trapped in such a situation…try taking help of a friend (who can speak and understand both languages, Yours and Korean).
To all the new parents, and those who are about to hit parenthood: DO REMEMBER, Nothing worth having comes easy. And what can be worth more than the sight of a happy and healthy life you created.
I sincerely and genuinely hope, that I am able to be of help through this post of mine…even if it’s in a small little way.
Stay happy, stay blessed :).