As we get closer and closer to our due date (just 5 days away now - see picture), I felt the need to write another post about my experience being pregnant here. (Note: If you missed the first post, you can go back and read it here.) I know once Caleb arrives on the scene, he's going to become the center of attention for a while and I know my time will be even more limited. So, I'm taking a bit of time now to write down things I want to remember as well as things I think you will enjoy hearing about. And don't worry - I have lots of pictures in this post as well! :) Of course, I have no experience of being pregnant in the States or New Zealand to compare my experiences here in Ukraine to, but I'm still very confident they do things really different here. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading about some more of those differences!
My Prenatal Clinic
Depending on the region you live in, you have a specific prenatal hospital you are required to go to. Thankfully, our prenatal hospital is just about 3-4 blocks down the road we live on. (See picture below.) I should have gone to this hospital as soon as I found out I was pregnant, but we didn't know that, so I started my "official" prenatal care late - at 31 weeks. Since then we've been doing a lot of catch up work and tests. Every woman is given a pregnancy passport (see picture to the left) that I take with me every time I go. In this "passport," they record the results from all tests, ultrasounds, and appointments. Medical information is not recorded on computers here, everything is written down, usually in a simple, lined or graphed notebook. In other words - I'd better not lose this passport or I'd be in a heap of trouble.
Every two weeks I walk down the street enter my hospital and wait in line at the elevator that can only hold 4 people. There are actually 3, but 2 have been broken the whole time... I think they might be permanently dead. It's an old elevator, so we have to watch the button until the light goes off (meaning it's not occupied) and push it, just hoping we've beat everyone else on the other floors. :) From there I go see the nurse who enters my new data (from urine tests or blood work, etc.) and writes out a bunch more "prescription papers" for me to do before my next appointment, then I see my prenatal doctor. I've been blessed and haven't had any complications with my pregnancy, so the visits usually go pretty quick. My doctor asks how I'm doing and if I have any questions, then she measures my belly, feels to see how the baby is positioned, then she gets out her little wooden funnel and listens to the baby's heartbeat (see picture).
Errands In Between
Real quick, I'll expand a little more about the "prescription papers." These are little papers (picture provided) I have to take to various other clinics/labs. They've become the things I dread most - having to go to many different places with specific hours to do little things. I have to go certain days between 7-10am to drop off my urine, other days to another place between 9-11am to give blood, another day between 8-11am for something else, etc. And yes, I've showed up several times past time (unknowingly) which means a wasted trip. I am usually given between 3-4 "prescription papers" every two weeks. When I go to give blood, I go to the pharmacy first to buy the syringe they'll use and sometimes gloves as well. Although Ukraine doesn't have the best health care, I have always felt pretty confident that they do their best to stay clean and sanitary. I took a picture of the room where I give blood - the pots just crack me up (some are for clean syringes, others for dirty, some for cotton balls, etc.). These poor nurses and doctors also do not have air conditioning, so this whole last month where the temperatures were over 100F (40-42C), it was HOT with no relief. I also took a picture of the place where I drop my urine off... it's the red bricked building and the picture of the stairs goes along with it. For some reason, the lighting and the condition of the stairs just makes me smile.
They also gave me a piece of paper with a list of places I have to go get a wellness stamp, places like the eye doctor, the dentist, the heart doctor, the lung doctor, the nose/ear/throat doctor, and a few others. In my last post I mentioned the fact that I have bad eyesight. Bad eyesight runs in my family, sadly, but it's "unusually bad" for Ukraine. Doctors look at my prescription or my glasses and their first determination is that I should not give birth naturally, I must have a cesarean. Thankfully, I found a great private clinic who would actually examine my eyes to see if I would have any problems giving birth, specifically with my retina. I've been given the "ok" for natural birth and here's the official paper that says just that. (Yes, we had much rejoicing over this!)
Finally, here are a couple photos we took this last week when I went in for my appointment. I wanted pictures of my doctors/nurses who have helped me at the prenatal clinic.
The first picture (to the right) is with Valeria. She is a really great friend of ours who has been a help to us from the beginning. She actually was the delivery doctor when my sister gave birth to Max, and has just become a good friend since then.
The next picture (to the left) is me with the nurse at my prenatal clinic (she's the one who records all my information for me in my passport).
The next picture (to the right) is with my prenatal doctor. Here in Ukraine, your prenatal doctor is different from your delivery doctor.
The last picture (to the right) is with my translator, Julia. She's been a great help to me as I really only understand about 50% of what they are saying on my own.
Hopefully the next time I'll be writing about doctors and my experiences here, I'll be writing about Caleb's delivery. :) Many of you are praying with us now and we're so thankful for your prayers and ask you continue to keep us in your prayers. We are excited and can't wait for him to arrive!!