Written on December 27, 2013, continued from Part 1.
I was truly excited about the midwife program at NUH, and loved what I heard at the class they held. However, it took me FOR-EV-ER to get back home to the hotel that night, and it looks like we will be living even further away when we get our apartment. It also took me hours to locate the class (I went early to make sure I knew where I was going) and the main office for OB/GYN appointments was so packed, no room to sit anywhere, people standing everywhere. Chaos. I don’t even know if I would be going there for my appointments, but the whole experience was just too much for me. So back to the drawing board.
My chiropractor out here recommended that I see Dr. Paul Tseng, whose name came up a lot on the expat blogs I read about delivering in Singapore. The hospital he is connected to, Thomson Medical Centre, has reasonable fees ($3,000 for vaginal birth), though I read an article that clocked the hospital at $7,000. Hoping their own website is more accurate. I *love* that Singapore posts all their prices for healthcare. It makes it so easy to compare and know what we could be dealing with since our healthcare deductible is $6,000.
So I caved and made an appointment with Dr. Tseng, though I am still a bit worried he will be too busy to be relied upon. He is reputed to be the most natural of OB’s in Singapore and the most willing to not use any interventions (unless needed). I was sad to find out that things out here are just as hyper-medicalized as at home, so Dr. Tseng is really one of my only options for the kind of birth I want to try for. Thomson Medical Centre was much smaller, and totally easy to navigate. Dr. Tseng’s office even had a real Christmas tree! This is very rare for Singapore, and the scent was amazing. But the waiting room? Yeah, packed. I waited for a long while, 30-45 min, to be called for my appointment. Maybe this is how all of Singapore is??? Who knows. The hubs later told me that appointments here are sort of a guideline for when to show up. That is going to be very annoying with a toddler in tow. But what can you do?
They had me fill out just a little paperwork (way less than the states), then weighed me and took my height, and had me pee on a stick (I have no idea why). Then I waited. When I made the appointment, I mentioned I had not had my 20-week ultrasound and was wondering when I could schedule that. They said it would happen at the appointment. But it didn’t. They did scan for the heartbeat with the ultrasound machine, so I guess it was a little misunderstanding as to the meaning of the word “scan.” It was good for the hubs to meet the doc anyway even if it wasn’t the BIG APPOINTMENT to see the baby.
I loved the doctor. He was really calm, easy-going, and answered all my questions in a way that made me feel confident about delivering in Singapore. Really, it sounds like it will be no different, except for the prevalence of inflatable pools to be able to do hydrotherapy to manage pain or deliver the baby in the water. I think this is something I want to try this time around to manage the pain, and to help me change labor positions easily, in light of my SI Joint Pain.
The doc’s office was different from home. It was half office and half exam room. There was a curtain he could pull around to separate the two areas. A nurse was present and she prepped me for the scan, which he administered. All was well! It somehow felt to me that after such a big move and all the stress and strangeness involved, the baby couldn’t possibly come through unscathed. But it was fine. :) They scheduled us for the big ultrasound appointment the next day.
The next morning, we showed up at 7:50am for an 8:00am appointment to the Fetal Assessment Area. There were already 7 couples waiting. Sigh… The office was closed; the sign on the door said it opened at 8:30am. Seriously annoyed. The kiddo woke up crabby that morning and had been a pill, so it was going to be a long wait, even with our Iphone for her entertainment. At 8:15, they opened the doors, and I was very thankful, until everyone who just walked up rushed through the doors and got in line first. We all had to register at a touch screen machine. When it was my turn, the machine told me it couldn’t find my info and put me in as a walk-in. Very annoyed now. After waiting for another 30 minutes, the hubs called his boss to let him know how long it was taking. His boss mentioned that unless you get a confirmed appointment, you are always just a walk-in. Ah. I will ask for that next time.
Learning, learning, learning…
At 9am, we finally got in for the ultrasound. Everything was just like it is at home, except the room was SO tiny, and they seemed to check more things than they do in the US. They even showed us the blood flow through all four ventricles of the heart, and it showed up in blue and red (the blood coming in versus out). Very cool. And the best moment of all of course…we found out we are having a boy! That was what the hubs had been hoping for, so I was immediately relieved and so happy for him. I would have preferred a girl, but I am happy to have a boy. Time to go shopping for some baby clothes… :)