Having a baby in China: 16-week appointment

After a lovely Christmas holiday in the UK we were off to the hospital the morning after we had flown back. We were a bit jet lagged but as always excited to check on our little baby. What on paper looked to be a fairly boring appointment was far from it and it took a turn of events you would only experience in a country that was not your own.

The appointment consisted of blood tests (which I had been fasting for), urine test, fetal heart Doppler, physical examination and consult with the doctor.

Things got interesting whilst the doctor was looking to find the heart beat with the Doppler. It seemed to take quite awhile, I myself was feeling quite nervous and that didn’t even compare with how Mr T was feeling on the other side of the curtain. Heartbeat found and we all breathed a sigh of relief! Our translator then proceeded to tell me that the doctor was having trouble with the Doppler due to the amount of fat on my stomach. She continued to say that the doctor was surprised, as my face looks quite thin, she would not have expected so much fat on my mid-section!

WOW! This only partially explains how I felt and the expression on my face at the time. Luckily I was able to laugh it off for a few reasons: 1 – I have always carried extra weight in my middle, I have thanked my parents and grandmother many times for this. 2 – I have even experienced strangers and co-workers asking if I was pregnant years and years ago when I wasn’t even close. Finally 3 – I have been abroad and in China long enough to know that things do get lost in translation and sometimes different cultures do not always express the same sensitivity about things that they would back in the US or the UK.

To continue our amusement during the consultation time the doctor showed concern about my weight. Since the last appointment (4 weeks prior) I had gained 4 kg/ 8.8 lbs. In the moment I felt a bit defensive as I had just been on a three week holiday, in which I did spend a lot of time indulging in my favourite English treats as well as being off work which means a lot less time on my feet walking around and chasing five-year olds all day. Even though I knew this and expressed this to the doctor I did take the weight comment to heart and was already thinking about how I need to ramp up my physical activity and be a bit more conscious about what I was eating.

We asked how much weight I should gain over the whole pregnancy and the doctor said 9 kg/ 19.8 lbs. It wasn’t until after the appointment that we were able to calculate and realize that 9 kilos over 9 months is one kilo per month. At the 16-week appointment I was up four kilos from the very start, which is in line with one kilo per month. This did ease our minds a bit but I wouldn’t soon forget the weight and fat criticism from the doctor.

Four weeks until our next appointment…

-Mrs T

Having a baby in China: Prenatal vitamins

So far each visit to the Dr had included a prescription and purchase of prenatal vitamins. I had enough to get me through to our next appointment and thought I would take a look whilst in the UK and see if I could get them at a good price. I hadn’t remembered to look at what I was paying at AmCare but was quite certain that they would be cheaper in England.

I was pleasantly surprised when I visited Boots pharmacy and found their brand of vitamins at a great price.

Boots Pregnancy Support 30 tablets

I was able to stock up with enough through to this summer (12 boxes of 30-day supply) for £27.92 ($42.98/269 rmb). This amount was even more appealing when I arrived back in Tianjin and looked back at my receipts and found we had been paying 135.5 rmb (£14/$21) for each 30-day supply. In total we saved 1357 rmb (£140/$216) by stocking up.

The moral of the story here, stock up on prenatal vitamins, and any other medications, from home if you have the opportunity to do so!

-Mrs T

Having a baby in China: 12-week appointment

This was our first official appointment within our package and we couldn’t have been more excited. Due to our anticipation and the fact that I was required to fast we made a very early start with an eight o’clock appointment on a Saturday morning.

We were greeted with the usual cheery welcome, despite our translator not being in sight. We were checked in and I received my hospital issue wristband which they use to scan me into each area of the hospital. Vital signs were taken right away, as well as a urine sample and we were left to wait in the cafe area. We could sense a bit of worry amongst the staff members, and it looked as if they were typing away into their phone translators. I was impressed when someone came over with a preprinted form with Mandarin and English and pointed to the line that said, “May I take a blood sample?”

The nurse taking my blood worked quickly and steadily as they took more blood than I had imagined they could take at one time. I believe about seven different vials! Next to even out my blood sugar I was given a boiled egg, a piece of cake and some warm milk.

Our translator arrived just in time to join us for the ultra sound, this was the bit we were most excited for and it met our expectations fully. It was an amazing moment to see the actual shape of a baby on the big screen and to hear the heart beat for the first time. Any worries were washed away and I enjoyed watching Mr T’s excitement and our translator’s amazement of a husband so eager and interested.

We met with our Dr who examined me and took a pap smear for a few tests. She did have a go at using the doppler to hear the baby’s heart beat but she couldn’t get it. We didn’t worry much as we had just heard it in the ultra sound.

She gave a few instructions to eat healthily and take pre-natal vitamins and that was it! We scheduled our next appointment four weeks from then and left the hospital feeling so pleased and excited about the future.

-Mrs T