Susanna on #FlashbackFriday: When we first found out

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Deric and I back in the days when we were parents-to-be.

#FlashbackFriday is a series where both Susanna and Hosanna offer parallel reflections on what they’ve been through in their motherhood journey in the not-so-distant past.

This time around, they revisit the experience of discovering for the first time that they are pregnant. This post details Susanna’s account.

To read Hosanna’s story, click here.

*    *     *

Every story has a beginning, and Jamie’s began back in August 2014.

At that point in time, Deric and I had already agreed that we were okay with the idea of having a child, but were not trying to hard to conceive either. I had felt that I might have skipped my period for that month, and that there might be a possibility of a pregnancy, but I didn’t want to presume anything until time had gone by and it was really more than a month since the arrival of my last period.

So I had waited it out, but meanwhile, we had visited a pharmacy to purchase a pregnancy test kit to confirm our suspicions at home when the time came.

The day we chose to use the kit was 31 August 2014, which coincidentally is a public holiday, aka Malaysia’s Merdeka Day. I suggested such a day because it would be give us a more leisurely day to take out the pregnancy kit and deal with whatever eventualities that occurred afterwards.

So, that morning back in 2014, I pulled out a white colour stick and dunk it in a paper cup containing my pee (instead of just peeing directly on it, because me being the paranoid person I sometimes am, I was worried I’d miss altogether). We then waited to see if a purple lines would appear to tell me if a little being was in fact growing in the recesses of my belly.

It didn’t take long, of course, for the results to appear, as I’m sure any of you readers out there who have tried such kits can attest to. And so, within seconds, we found out that there was a possible existence of a tiny embryo in my womb. (Small side note: I kept that stick afterwards, and still have it stashed somewhere in the home up till today).

Yay, we were expecting a baby… or were we?

Me being the cautious person that I am, I didn’t want to take that as 100% confirmed though. I said that we should still visit a doctor just to make sure.

We went first of all to our usual neighbourhood clinic, and the doctor just told us pretty matter-of-factly that home pregnancy test kits are usually very accurate.

“I used to do a scan in the past to see what’s in there, but at such an early stage, you can hardly see anything,” he said. His advice was to wait a bit longer before going off to seek the services of a gynaecologist.

But with such uncertainty hanging in the air, I could barely wait!

Thus began a somewhat scary process of hunting down a suitable hospital and gynae to consult. The decision was a difficult one because we had no idea where to start. It was terribly unsettling. We asked a couple of friends and turned to Google to see which doctors had good or bad reviews.

Let me tell you now that both methods are both useful and yet pointless at the same time. Here’s why…

It’s useful to ask friends and family for their gynae recommendations since it would be a choice arrived at based on the real life experiences of others. At the same time, it’s not enough information for you to base your own decision because, quite frankly, most people will tell you that they are relatively happy with the gynae they consulted. Also, very few would have gone through the trouble of trying out a few gynaes for the same pregnancy, so it’s hard to do any comparisons between one or another, based on their account. Not to mention, of course, the fact that such judgments on the competitiveness of a particular gynae is wholly subjective in nature as it is.

Only in some rare cases would you have a personal contact telling you to avoid a certain gynae due to a really bad experience. So… all in all, it isn’t really helpful to seek their advice after all.

Meanwhile, Googling to find out the names of gynaes that are nearby and in which hospitals isn’t too bad an idea. Most hospital’s websites would feature a section which discloses the obstetricians that are available for consultation on their facilities.

But, unlike other things in life, it’s hard to find an online space that provides accurate and honest reviews about doctors. Even if you do manage to read someone’s account about a particular doctor, you’d likely have to take it with a pinch of salt.

So, as I said earlier, both methods have their insights to offer, but they don’t help at all in getting you closer to an actual decision.

I recall a particular Saturday where we both sat on our queen sized bed at home, utterly exhausted and still pretty much clueless on where to go to see a obstetrician/gynae.

We visited at least two medical centres before deciding. Then mulled on end about whether they were any good and still had no idea which of the doctors that were there were worth seeing.

Well, anyway, just so you know, the gynae that we finally decided on was based on the following reasons:

  1. We had had good experiences in the past at the hospital that this doctor was based in.
  2. The doctor came highly recommended by a neighbour/friend of my mother’s who had gone to see him twice for one past pregnancy and was still seeing him for a current one.
  3. He was, coincidentally, the son of the gynae who delivered me as a baby at the same said hospital.

And he did confirm for us on that first visit that I was indeed pregnant. It was great to know for sure finally. He actually did an ultrasound on that first day, and handed us the first of our many printouts showing Jamie’s growth in my belly.

I was glad that we decided not to wait too long to see the gynae, actually, because we found out that I had some bleeding in my uterus which needed medication in order to prevent us losing the embryo.

In those early days when we hadn’t yet given Jamie his name, I decided on referring to him as my Little Dot since that’s about how big he was at that time. If I recalled correctly, I think I started talking to him relatively early while he was developing in my tummy. It felt odd doing so, but over time, it came more naturally.

On the whole, it was an exciting time, and Deric and I took to the news well. We had only been so-called actively on trial-for-pregnancy mode for a few months, so it didn’t feel like it had been too tiring or too much effort. It was surprising to me how easily I’d gotten pregnant though. Maybe I’d been used to hearing tales of people having trouble conceiving, and thought to myself that it would take a whole lot more trying than it did to actually conceive myself.

Looking back, I’m grateful that pregnancy came my way relatively easily. One thing I should have done in preparation before it all came to be should have been to read up about pregnancy and delivery though. And to start taking vitamin supplements to help the embryo develop during its early days.

Some additional words of advice to anyone out there who’s reading this and is thinking of having a child but has yet to conceive:

  1. Watch your diet if you’re actively trying to conceive. The more balanced your diet, the better it is. Generally, I adopt the Don’t-Worry-Too-Much-But-Take-Precautions-Nevertheless approach to things, so in this case, I’d say be aware of what you take in, but not become obsessed with counting calories and being picky about whatever you pop into your mouth having to be nutritious all the time. In my own case, I didn’t do this because I didn’t want to be overly stressed about conceiving, but perhaps if I were to do it all over again, I might want to do this as it would give me greater confidence that my baby would have a head start to good development (we were blessed enough to have healthy, active fetus like Jamie though so we didn’t have anything to worry about).
  2. About the diet bit, avoiding raw foods is one of the instructions the gynae will give you in the first trimester of pregnancy. So if you’re consciously wanting to conceive, perhaps it’s good to keep this in mind and abstain from foods like this to avoid killing off the embryo or giving it an unwanted disease so early in its formation.
  3. Get your hands on some folic acid supplements. I didn’t know until later that it’s good to take these even before you conceive. But now I do. So for my next pregnancy, I would definitely want to be already consuming these before the baby appears.
  4. The less stressed you are about conceiving, the better. I think it comes easier in general when you aren’t trying so hard. So whatever it takes to get you to be in this state when you are planning for a child, I’d suggest doing it. For us, it meant not counting dates or tracking my period religiously. We just took things in our stride, discarded the use of condoms and I told myself I’d only worry or consider taking further action when I didn’t get my period after more than a month had passed.
  5. If you suspect you’re pregnant, don’t wait to long to see a specialist about it. Like me, there may be medical conditions you would want to know about and to treat as early as possible.

Deric and I have come so far since those early days of discovering Jamie’s existence. I look back on those moments fondly, and am thankful for what God blessed us with.

It’s really another milestone in your marriage to take on childbearing. What helps is to be ready and to be determined to face it together, and help each other along the way with whatever challenges arise.

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