Kristof at the hospital

Kristof, just three hours old
Kristof Richard Roesing is our first child, born late Thursday night, April 6, 2000, at 11:55 p.m. in Sofia, Bulgaria. He weighed 3.750 kilograms (8 pounds, 4 ounces) and measured 53 centimeters (about 20 inches).

We had been nervous about having a child here in Bulgaria, since we'd heard various unpleasant anecdotes from people who'd given birth in public hospitals. We checked around for private birth clinics, until we saw Sveti Lazar...then we knew we could stop worrying. Sveti Lazar is a new clinic located near the entrance to the Sofia Zoo. It's in a modern building: clean and attractive inside and out. The furnishings and equipment are all new and well-maintained, and the staff is polite and well-trained. All of the staff obstetricians speak pretty good English too, a bonus for me.

Kristof's first photo, just two hours old
On the evening of April 6, I came home from work to find Rali concerned that the fetus hadn't moved in her belly all day. No big deal, we thought, but she called her doctor at the clinic anyway, who told her to come in for an exam.

So we headed off to Sveti Lazar. After a brief exam, the doctors broke the news: this was the night. I wasn't quite prepared for this--his due date was April 11. But Rali was ready. She was dealing with this much better than I was.

After about four hours of labor, Kristof was born, just before midnight. I was there in the delivery room for the birth, so I was able to witness the whole thing. [Standard procedure in Bulgaria is for the fathers not only to be outside the delivery room, but also to be outside the hospital...fathers meet their babies for the first time when they pick up the mothers as they're discharged from the hospital days later.]

I called Rali's parents to tell them the news a little while later. Although I woke them with the call, they didn't mind! I called my parents too, and they didn't mind that my call interrupted dinner. Both my parents and Rali's are first-time grandparents.

Rali and Kristof on April 7
Kristof was perfectly healthy, but Rali endured some complications. The medical staff continued to work on Rali, for which I was asked to leave the delivery room. After a half-hour or so, a midwife brought Kristof to me, and we spent a few hours getting to know each other. In the photo above, Kristof was just two hours old.

Eventually Rali's condition stabilized, and she was brought to her room. At about 4:30 a.m., I went home to e-mail the news to family and friends.

Maika i sin na 7 April
In these photos (above and left), Kristof is less than a day old. The clinic has very liberal rules for visiting, so I was able to spend many hours every day with Rali and Kristof.

The room was very comfortable, and we were able to use the clinic phone anytime. Meals came from a nearby restaurant, served by the clinic staff. Rali saw her doctor several times a day. We were both very happy with the care and attention she received.

After five days, however, it was time to go home. Kristof had grown quite accustomed to the attention of the staff, so he wasn't happy to dress in his own clothes for the first time and climb into his car seat.

Before we left, we were treated to a small ceremony, where the whole staff joined us in a champagne toast. Kristof passed on the champagne this time. We went home on April 11, very happy with our experience at Sveti Lazar.

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