My Second Pregnancy (Outside America!)

Pregnancy- I've been through it twice now and am even more amazed this time around at the miracle it is.  Sounds cliche but seriously, by God's grace, my body grew and nurtured a new life and then brought him into the world.  Is there anything more incredible?!

I never really got around to filling you in on how the pregnancy was going while I was in it, but at 6 weeks postpartum the whole thing is still very fresh on my mind.  These days I look at Cam with his jerky newborn kicks and arm flails and think fondly of all those weeks and months that action was taking place inside me.  Though while I was going through it, there were also aspects of the pregnancy that were both trying and faith-building.  Keep reading for all the deets!

I didn't think about being pregnant 24/7.
The biggest difference being pregnant the second time for me was that I was not constantly consumed with thoughts about the pregnancy and new baby.  I definitely thought about and prayed for Cameron a significant amount, but I just wasn't able to spend as much time dreaming and imagining the future when the present beckoned me to chase my toddler around the house, feed him peanut butter sandwiches for lunch and make sure he got dressed every day most days.  Veteran mamas warned me of this, so I was kind of expecting it to happen and sure enough, the nine months went by in a flash compared to the first time when it seemed like an eternity until our baby would arrive.  I also spent far less time preparing for a baby in terms of researching/buying baby things and 'nesting' since I was already pretty much set in that department.

I was a lot more uncomfortable.
This pregnancy was all around a lot harder on my body than the first time.  When I was pregnant with James I somehow managed to escape many of the classic pregnancy maladies, but this time I wasn't so fortunate.  Or maybe I was fortunate to be humbled so now I better understand and empathize with all the uncomfortable pregnant women out there!  I experienced some mild morning sickness this time (none at all with James), got a lot bigger (gained about 10 more lbs this time and I'm no longer stretch mark free), had more aches and pains with the extra weight gain, and had very swollen feet by the end (also had escaped that the first time).  That said, nothing was outrageously bad or problematic by any means, and I am incredibly thankful for that.  Just some basic discomforts that typically come with the territory that I hadn't experienced before.

33 weeks along in my first and second pregnancy- I got quite a bit bigger this time!

(Left photo credit: Everlasting Love Photography, sorry the watermark got cut off!)
I was much less afraid.
I experienced significantly less fear during this pregnancy.  When I was pregnant with James, I struggled a lot with fear of something going wrong- miscarriage, the baby having developmental or other health problems, stillbirth, etc.  It was scary to love my baby so much and want the best for him but also have so little control over or knowledge of his well being throughout the pregnancy.  I prayed often for his health and development and prayed against fear, choosing to put my hope and faith in God that he would protect this child whom he cared for even more than I did.  Still, it was a continual battle to trust God and not fear.  This time I think it was the combination of having gone through it once and seeing everything turn out okay and simply having more faith in God's goodness as I've grown in relationship with him that it was much less of a struggle.

During this pregnancy I even (rationally) had more reason to fear: at my routine ultrasound at 18 weeks the doctors discovered a subchorionic hematoma, which is a blood clot on or next to the placenta.  Depending on the size and severity of the clot it can put mothers at risk for miscarriage, preterm labor and placental abruption.  The size of my clot was small-moderate according to the doctors and the hope was that it would dissolve with time and not cause any problems.  I had frequent ultrasounds to monitor the size of the clot and the growth of the baby and the clot never dissolved and stayed pretty consistent in size.  But Cam continued to grow normally and look healthy and I never really feared that the clot would cause any problems or complications.  And it didn't, praise God!

Pregnancy in a foreign country wasn't too foreign.
Being pregnant outside America wasn't as different as I imagined it would be.  Within this culture, it seems like the norm for pregnant women to be cautious and take it easy.  Until my 18 week ultrasound I was doing CrossFit, but when the doctors found the subchorionic hematoma they advised me not to do any strenuous exercise since it could dislodge the clot and cause more bleeding and resulting complications.  So I stopped going to the box for the remainder of the pregnancy (I still continued doing some light prenatal yoga videos at home just to keep my body moving a little).   Even if I wouldn't have had the bloodclot I still probably would have stopped CrossFit at some point during the pregnancy because many of our friends at the box seemed pretty concerned and uncomfortable with the idea of me continuing while pregnant.

There are two hospitals here that you can choose to go to: one public (run and funded by the government) and one private.  The private hospital tends to have nicer facilities and is more expensive, the public hospital has worse facilities but generally the more qualified, specialist doctors work at the public hospital.  When I got pregnant we decided that I would do my prenatal care (they call it 'antenatal' here) through the public clinics/hospital and I was undecided as to whether I would deliver at the public hospital or transfer to the private one.  (I made a huge pro's and con's list for each option which I will not go into in this post, but we ended up deciding to stick with the public hospital for delivery.)

I started at a local public clinic for my first prenatal appointment, but when they found out I have hypothyroidism (chronic condition where my thyroid doesn't produce enough hormone on its own so I have to take a synthetic version of the hormone in pill form everyday) they transferred me to the hospital for the rest of my prenatal care.  Hypothyroidism is not a serious or dangerous condition really, but it must have been enough out of the ordinary that they felt it warranted being under the care of the the specialists at the hospital.  In the end, I felt fortunate to have received all my prenatal care with the specialists since I ended up having the blood clot that needed extra monitoring.

The main differences I noticed from the prenatal care I received in America were:
  • I was seen by doctors, not midwives for prenatal visits (though I ended up with a midwife for delivery since I didn't have any complications).  There was one doctor who initially was assigned to be sort of in charge of my case, though I don't even really know who it was!  Every visit I was seen by a different doctor, so it was hard to keep track of them all.  When I was around 30 weeks along when the blood clot was still intact, the first doctor in charge of my case decided to transfer my case to a different doctor whom I was told was the "highest" specialist, so basically all the most complicated cases go to her and she is the best they have.  From that point on, I was always seen by her for the rest of my visits.  Except for when she went on holiday to England when I was 37 weeks along and didn't return until my due date.  And I delivered a day before my due date so she wasn't around.  But thankfully I never needed her because everything went great!
  • Summary of above bullet point: once submitted to the public clinic/hospital's system, I didn't get much choice as to whom I received care from.  It was decided for me.
  • Each pregnant lady was responsible to do the urine test for protein and glucose herself every time.  In America you pee in a cup and the nurse or lab performs the test for you.  Here you do all the dirty work yourself. 
  • THE WAIT.  Oh the wait.  There is no such thing as a quick prenatal visit at the public hospital here.  In America, usually I'd be seen within 10-15 minutes of arrival and the midwife would be in and out quickly so I could easily be home within 45 minutes to an hour.  Here it was always an all morning affair.  The typical wait to be seen by the doctor once I arrived was 2+ hours so with the drive, parking at a satellite lot and riding a shuttle bus to the hospital, long wait, and shuttle and drive back home I would easily be gone 4 hours every time.  Thankfully Justin's work schedule allows him to be home in the mornings so I never had to go through it with James in tow.  But there were plenty of women at the clinic who did survive bringing their kids along...thank goodness for iPads!
  • THE COST (FREE!!!!!)  Yep you read that right.  Every time I'd start to get impatient with how long each visit was taking, I'd remind myself of the sweet sweet fact that my prenatal care cost $0.  His Majesty the Sultan is very generous.

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