Counting the cost

People expect you to have children as soon as you get married. And as soon as you pop out one kid, they quip, “Where’s the next one?”

To all these people, I have prepared a series of responses:

  • “Oh, sure! You want to pay for the hormone treatment?”
  • “Okay! So what do you want to pledge? Prenatal vitamins? Diapers? Vaccinations?”
  • “We take checks, cash, PayPal, online bank transfers.”

Seriously, babies are not cheap.

Consider, for instance, an ultrasound. It’s one of those things you’re going to need throughout your pregnancy. I think I’ve had about five.

At St. Luke’s Medical Center-Global City, you can get an ultrasound at the Women’s Health department for Php 2,362.08. Across the street, you can get a 2D ultrasound at In My Womb, and that’s Php 1,750.

My last ultrasound required an additional screening of some sort, the biophysical profile, so it cost Php 2,200.

So just think: over the course of my pregnancy, five ultrasounds:
St. Luke’s x 2 ultrasounds – Php 4,724.16
In My Womb x 2 ultrasounds – Php 3,500.00
In My Womb x 1 ultrasounds with biophysical profile – Php 2,200.00

That’s already Php 10,424.16, for ultrasounds alone.

Then there were other tests I needed. In my first trimester, our OB ordered lab tests for Hepatitis B, syphilis, a CBC and a urine culture. We went to Healthway in Alabang Town Center, and everything cost about Php 2,980. In my second trimester, I needed the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) to see if I had gestational diabetes. We got that at a Hi-Precision branch that opened near our village just that month, and it cost only Php 585. In Healthway it cost more than Php 1,000! Luckily I was pretty healthy, and I had no other issues during the pregnancy, so I didn’t really need any other tests.

So that’s Php 3,565, just for lab tests.

Of course, it’s not enough to test for this or that. You need meds to make sure the baby is safe during the first trimester, and prenatal vitamins throughout. A rough computation of what I’ve spent on vitamins and meds (and I’m sure this is inaccurate) gives me a total figure of Php 12,336.75.

That’s just pregnancy-related expenses. I think the cost of stuff you need after the baby is born merits a whole other blog post!

If you total all the expenses I’ve listed in this post, it comes out to about Php 26,325.91, over the span of nine months. I’m very sure we’ve spent more than that on this pregnancy.

(Here’s a similar post, by my friend Ana Santos, on Rappler.com, from three years ago!)

If you got pregnant today, would you be ready to spend all of that, on top of all the other things on your budget?

Some people might read this post and think I’m bragging, that I can afford an ultrasound at St. Luke’s, that I can afford lab tests in Alabang, that I can afford the money to take care of my health. Some people might think, what right do I have to complain? Other pregnant women are not so lucky.

You know what? I know many pregnant women are not as lucky. And yes, I can afford to take care of myself and my baby. But even if I make a decent amount of money, all these expenses still make me wince. Why?

Because people don’t seem to realize how much it costs to get pregnant, to carry a child in your womb, to make sure you are healthy enough to carry that child, and to make sure the child you carry is healthy too. Pregnancy is a ginormous financial responsibility, and I really would not wish this on anyone who wasn’t ready or capable of making the investment.

I use the word ‘investment’ deliberately too. Every choice I make, every peso I spend on Lucas now, that’s going to affect his life when he’s born, when he learns to walk and talk, when he’s an adult. I could have looked for cheaper ultrasounds, cheaper medicines, other labs where I could do the tests. But do I really want to cut corners on my child’s life?

These are costs I’m willing to pay, and I realize I’m really lucky that I can afford to pay them. Honestly, if I were sixteen, or poor, or unemployed, I would be at a loss.

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