Daddy diaries: A humbling experience taught me to judge less and empathise more

A man kneeling in front of his pregnant woman.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • On the seventh month, my wife fell sick. She had low blood pressure and had to be admitted.
  • I knew we had a medical cover and was sure it would take care of her expenses.
  • So you can imagine my shock when I was summoned to that little office at the hospital and "requested" to top up Sh12,000 to settle the bill.

Years ago, before I became a father, I never understood how an expectant couple would get stuck at hospital due to pending delivery fee. Babies are not born overnight, people have at least nine whole months to be prepared. Right?

Fast forward to March, 2014. We discovered my wife was expectant. I was elated. We were going to be parents!

After the celebration, I got down to planning for the baby's arrival.

I wasn’t going to be one of those reckless dads who wasted a whole nine months and became dumbfounded when it was time to cough up money.

"Let me show them how it's done," I thought to myself with the palpable enthusiasm of a first time dad.

First, I ensured we had a comprehensive medical cover. Inpatient and outpatient care, normal delivery, caesarian section, check.

Next we channeled our monies to other odds and ends like baby clothes, the crib, and everything it took to ensure our baby landed in style.

The pregnancy was a smooth sail save for the occasional weird crave for the smell of diesel, one time it was deep fried omena from marikiti and pure loathe for a certain picture that graced one of our walls. Nothing major.

On the seventh month, my wife fell sick. She had low blood pressure and had to be admitted.

I knew we had a medical cover and was sure it would take care of her expenses. So you can imagine my shock when I was summoned to that little office at the hospital and "requested" to top up Sh12,000 to settle the bill. Ha!

I was confused. What happened to my very comprehensive medical bill? How did it become exhausted a whole two months before our due date?

A keener look at the invoice I held in my limp hand revealed the admission had been logged as a maternity case. 

The insurance had consequently charged it against the cover.

Pregnancy complications

Of course I complained. Vehemently. I was patiently helped to understand that all pregnancy complications are handled as maternity cases.

Why?

Oftentimes, gynaecologists and OBS specialists are involved.

Huh?

What you consider a small issue like the seasonal flu is treated differently because we have to mind the baby first.

Oh, I see

The insurance company had forgotten to mention these "small" details. It wasn’t until the cover had been exhausted by a single hospital visit that I learnt medically, maternity is defined as the period from conception up to 90 days after delivery.

So, two months to the delivery date, we were back to square one having exhausted the cover in four measly days.

Suppose it had happened on the ninth month? Or after delivery? Suddenly the unpreparedness of reckless fathers was no longer baffling.

Ah-ah it became as clear as day. Crystal clear. I finally understood how it happens. I could have quite easily been one of those dads caught unprepared.

Humbled, I took time to weigh my options which landed me to a payment package offered by most maternity hospitals. I opened an account and made deposits towards the delivery fee In advance.

Although I started out late, I managed to deposit way more than was required at the time of discharge. I got a refund two weeks later.

Learn from my folly, don’t think you have it sorted regardless of what that medical cover promises. It may look great on paper but in reality turns out to be a drop in the ocean. Yet you thought you owned the ocean

Life is so unpredictable and if you don’t accept that, you will surely get disappointed.

What are your maternity and childbirth experiences? Share through [email protected]

The writer has raised his son alone since he was six months.