Pregnant in Vietnam … Again
I’ve had a few weeks to process this information so I’m probably slightly less surprised than you.
But there it is. I’m pregnant. And it seems I was one of those annoying women who didn’t know about it for ages. Thank goodness I didn’t become one of those went-to-hospital-with-indegestion-came-home-with-a-baby type of women. That would have been super-embarrassing.
As it is, I have six months to prepare for this latest unexpected twist.
We had an early scare with the Down Syndrome risk analysis scan so I’ve decided to go back to Australia to give birth … just in case. My dishy French obstetrician suggested that having the baby in a developed country is a more sensible option if there’s any chance of a difficult birth or a possibility that the baby could require surgery.
The possibility of surgery arose at the same time as the possibility of Down Syndrome … because Down Syndrome babies often have heart and/or stomach defects.
Part of the pre-natal care in Vietnam (and in Australia) is a first trimester two-part test involving an ultrasound and blood tests. The tests are designed to analyse the risk the baby has Down Syndrome.
Miss M came along for the scan because I wanted her to see her little brother or sister. She is only three-and-a-half and she thinks I am going to produce an age-appropriate playmate for her. I am trying to prepare her for a newborn. (I can clearly recall my horror, aged five, when I first met the ugly scrunch-faced red screaming thing my parents insisted was my new sister, the baby that was supposed to replace my annoying three-year-old sister as my best friend.)
So Miss M was beside me in the ultrasound room taking many many photographs of the viewing screen, me, her shoes, the wall and her finger when the sonographer first mentioned the words “high risk”.
She punched all the measurements into the expensive-looking beige sonograph machine and told me the result was a 1 in 21 chance the baby would have Down Syndrome. I, of course, completely freaked out. Internally, of course, because Miss M was with me.
I had to wait a week for the second part of the test to come back. Then, a day before the week was up, the clinic called me to say the doctor wanted to see me that day. In Binh Duong Province, which is 25 minutes outside of Ho Chi Minh City. He wanted to see me before 1pm, the clinic said, because he was flying to France that afternoon for a three-week holiday with his family.
Darling Man and I jumped on our motorbike and headed out to Binh Duong Province, where the new Singapore-standard Hanh Phuc Hospital is located. There, on 70s-style chunky brown lounge chairs on the other side of a low coffee table, the doctor explained how the updated risk factor of 1 in 110 was calculated.
He said the baby was considered high risk because under international standards any number higher than 1 in 350 was deemed high risk. But when he ran through the calculation, it seemed to me that if you took my age out of the equation, everything was fine. So I decided not to worry too much. Only late at night when I was lying awake worrying about other things anyway. Like how we were going to afford school fees for two kids and how four of us would fit on a motorbike.
So here we are preparing to be a family of four. I don’t feel grown-up enough to be a mother of two. And once again I’m wondering whether Dropoutdom is an appropriate state for a supposedly grown-up mother-of-two.
We are moving house next week to reduce our expenses and we are looking at ways to increase our income. And we are taking turns to panic. Darling Man’s reaction to stress is to sleep. Mine is to stay awake and worry. Thank goodness we’ve found a balance.
If you’ve found this post by searching “pregnant in Vietnam”, first of all welcome. Second, don’t panic. If you’re in Ho Chi Minh City, I highly recommend Dr Robert Riche at Hanh Phuc Hospital. Three days a week Dr Riche is available at the hospital’s clinic in district one. Just call to make an appointment, you don’t even need a referral. He an obstetrician and a gynaecologist, so he can deal with non-pregnancy related issues as well.
Dr Riche was my doctor when I was pregnant with Miss M (when he worked for Family Medical Practice) and he was great, especially when I contracted dengue fever at five months and ended up in an isolation ward because my red blood cell count dropped dramatically. He was just as calm and reasonable when I was freaking out about dengue four years ago as he was when he took me through the Down Syndrome risk calculation this time around.
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