I’m excited to announce that we’re expecting a baby mid August! Though it adds some extra challenges to life here, we’re thrilled to welcome a new member to our family. I had about six weeks of morning sickness. Now I’m into my second trimester, and am feeling much better and ready to get back to normal life, or keep trying to figure out what normal life is here.
We waited to announce the pregnancy until we could get to see a doctor and hear a heartbeat. Normally, this is simple, right? Schedule your appointment with your choice of doctor or midwife, and then show up on that day. Well, in our town the medical care is sketchy at best. So, we choose to go across the border to Thailand for any medical needs. And while I’ve had some great experiences with medical care in Bangkok, I’ve never done anything in Chiang Rai, a much smaller city in the north. There is no easy way to book an appointment, as far as I’m aware, so we just showed up. I’m a research junkie and so read a few online forums to figure out which hospital to go to. A couple people said that the public hospital had the best equipment and prices, so since we speak Thai, we felt that was a good choice.
Boy, was I wrong! I wish I could have taken some pictures to capture the chaos in that place. I did find the above picture online that shows some of it. There were hundreds… probably thousands of people sitting in waiting rooms, waiting for their turn, waiting to pay bills, waiting for family members. The hospital itself was a bit of a maze and the hallways and free spaces were lined with patients in wheelchairs or lying unattended on gurneys who looked like they might be on their last breath. It was a bit disturbing, but we pressed on, anxious to find the news we had come for.
After finding the appropriate department and room, we were then faced with the challenge of getting the information we had come for. First, they wanted me to take a urine test to prove I was pregnant. I finally talked them into listening for the heartbeat and they found it loud and clear. However, they still didn’t seem convinced, and wanted me to follow their protocol to have a blood test done to really prove I was pregnant. I was not comfortable having any needles poked into me in this hospital, so tried to convince them to do a quick ultrasound to check on the baby. After much discussion among themselves and waiting for nearly 45 minutes, I was finally approached by a technician to ask why I wanted an ultrasound. He then tried to convince me that I was too early at 13 weeks to see much or get an accurate measurement. I assured him that I’ve done this before, and asked if we could just try and see.
After having a bit of trouble, he did finally locate the baby. He began trying to take a measurement, but he was zoomed in so far I think he was measuring a cross section of the baby’s big toe. At this point, we started wondering what kind of training this guy had even had. He finally called in another person who showed him how to zoom out and take a measurement from head to toe. With her help, he was able to get an accurate measurement. Later we wondered if this guy was even an ultrasound tech, or if they volunteered him for the job since he spoke a few words of English. The nurse even ended up having to show him the button to print a picture of the ultrasound. In the end, we were thrilled with the good news we obtained there and that we got out of there without contracting any major disease (unless the incubation period is more than two weeks!) Two lessons learned: don’t trust forums and good equipment doesn’t necessarily mean competent staff.
Once that was done, we had a few days to enjoy the pool…
and eat some delicious meals, which certainly contributed to the sudden growth of the baby bump!
We plan to go back and try a private hospital for another checkup in a couple months. Then, we plan go back to the US for the birth this summer. Medical care isn’t great here, and I’m not really up for an unassisted home birth, even though Ryan thinks he can pull it off. Thailand has good options for medical, but that would mean being there for at least two months while we had the baby and did his or her paperwork, or we could just go home and be with friends and family and also go to a couple family weddings. Win win!
Have you had any crazy hospital experiences? I’d love to hear about it.