Thursday 14 July 2011

Baby Blues and then some

The other day Vergenia was making lunch for the two of us. She was cooking chicken in stock, of the "Chicken and ham" variety that is so popular here. Knorr I think. Anyway, I was working in the morning, but when I got home, the smell of that stock totally slapped me in the face. We were feeding the boys, and I felt increasingly nauseated, dizzy and hot. I had to go to my room for a while to recover, and as I sat there I pondered what on earth was going on. I am a fainty sort of person on occasion, but there's always a trigger....then I realised that the smell of that stock had incredible power over me because it vividly took me back to the Queen Mary Hospital, where I had the twins 14 months ago. The food was largely inedible, but I will never forget that smell.

It got me thinking about the whole Queen Mary / Tsan Yuk Clinic experience, and whether it contributed to my post-natal depression. Quite a few of my friends are pregnant again, so all the discussions about who's the best doctor and the relative comfort of different hospitals are top topics again.  In retrospect, part of me wonders why I made the choices I did. Or more to the point, why I didn't make the choices I could have made.

I would like to point out that all the time I was pregnant until the last few days, I have found my circumstances normal. I didn't want to spend a fortune on doctors and hospitals, and I was proud of myself for "roughing it" on the public system. I was proud of paying the $450 for two nights in hospital, Felix's one night on the neo natal unit and two babies with an Octopus card. But now I wonder whether I was of sound mind....

Being at QMH was miserable - I didn't really feel it at the time because I had a lot on my mind, but perhaps that miserableness came out little by little after a few months? Hence the Prozac....

Most people here have a private OBGYN who will look after them throughout their pregnancy. From what I understand, each of these doctors is "attached" to one or more private hospitals, such a the Matilda, Canossa or Adventist. I never had an OBGYN - I just went along to my appointments at the Tsan Yuk, and later the Queen Mary, and just saw whoever was on duty. Same goes for the birth, I don't even know who delivered the babies, it was certainly no one I'd seen before. I didn't have a mini-fridge in my room, and I certainly didn't have a nurse on call 24 hours a day. Nor was I on the Peak. But I did have a view of the container ships, which look deceptively slow as they glide towards the Kwai Tsing container terminal.

Here are the things that weren't great:

  1. Complete lack of bedside manner from almost all the staff
  2. Not knowing who anyone was
  3. The (surely unnecessary) severity of the pinching involved to get breastfeeding started
  4. Lack of communication - I didn't even know that there was a nursery, let alone that I could leave the boys there overnight and they would be brought to me for feeding. Also at the Tsan Yuk during my ultrasounds, it really freaked me out when the technician went all quiet for several minutes, then went off and spoke quietly in Canto to her supervisor.
  5. The nursery (when I found it) was not nice - that many babies crying all at once is truly harrowing for anyone, let alone someone who just pushed a baby (or two) out. Their schedule is very rigid, so if your baby is crying before it's had its bath, tough, it'll have to wait to see Mummy.
  6. You can't go into the delivery room until you're 3cm dilated (sorry that's a bit graphic) and your husband is only allowed to be with you once you are in the delivery room
  7. Visiting hours are 6-8pm.
  8. Nasty pink PJs
  9. 1 TV per ward, in Canto only. Ok, that's a minor thing.
Here are the good things:
  1. There were a few very sweet student nurses
  2. It was super cheap! which meant we had money to buy the boys what they needed.
  3. The meanness of the nurses gave me immense motivation to get out of there asap (by the way, did you know that Felix was born at 5.59pm? that's because if you give birth before 6pm, you only have to stay 2 nights, otherwise it's 3 nights. Man, was I pushing hard by 5.58!)
  4. Lack of communication was possibly a very good thing during labour. It helped me stay calm and in control I think, because they only spoke in English if there was something important that I needed to know / do 
  5. A rigid schedule is actually pretty good preparation for life with twins! 
  6. If you are expecting twins, you get loads of extra tests and ultrasounds during the pregnancy - not much fun, but reassuring. 
  7. My superb husband managed to find lots of little tricks to stay with me for longer, or at a non-permitted time...I wonder if a gweilo privilege was accorded?
  8. Nasty pink pjs meant that I didn't wear anything of my own in hospital. Actually in retrospect, I am glad of that. It means that somehow it's a very detached episode in my life that is over and strangely impersonal.
  9. The lack of TV gave me a few minutes now and again to read The Poisonwood Bible, my favourite book. 

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