Living on an island with no fully-equipped hospital is just one challenge for a foreign father when preparing for childbirth. There is another bigger obstacle: The Father Test
Dads-to-be gifts – Birth education classes
As with much in the Communist world, the concept may be rooted in some initial logic – preparing a father for the exhilarating but potentially terrifying experience of watching your wife deliver a child – but there the logic ends. This correspondent openly admits to not having had the pleasure of attending the course (while still managing to witness the birth of his two daughters), due to a practical difficulty; the course offered in Split was two hours a week, twice a week, for four weeks, ample time to prepare the would-be father for any eventuality. The only problem was the timing -–the course started after the last evening ferry left to the island from where this is being penned.
Croatian language learning required
The experience of a linguistically challenged expat in Split, is more illuminating. Armed with little more than a smattering of pub Croatian and his local wife, the couple diligently attended the course from start to finish, obtaining an impressive certificate on completion – the key to the delivery room! What made the experience slightly less than satisfactory was not the fact that the entire course was understandably in Croatian (his wife was able to translate), but that the course was on such a high level of technical medical detail that he would have struggled to understand more than every fourth word had it been in English. It appears that attendance was the only requirement, which puts the whole requirement on a par with renewable birth certificates.
There is another way
This being the Balkans, there is usually another way. A kindly nurse hit it off with my wife and said that she would she what she could do to get me into the delivery room. As she went into labour, I was told to report to reception with 300 kuna (approximately €40) and hand it to the receptionist. It was not a bribe in the traditional sense, Croatia is too bureaucratic for that, but it bought me a receipt for that amount, something akin to The Father Test Waiver Form and, armed with this uplatnica, I knocked at the required door at the delivery room, handed over my theatre ticket to the attendant, put on my medical outfit, and proffered my left arm to my wife, so that she could (and did) inflinct the most horrible pain with her nails. The noisy arrival of a baby girl just after midnight was the culmination of an intense day in all levels – the best 300 kuna ever spent!