Navigating Pregnancy Abroad

Navigating Pregnancy Abroad

The hospitals in America are better, they might be. However, more babies are born in China than in the USA so I am sure they are also experts in giving birth and that the baby and I will turn out fine. It might not be the experience I imagined for myself, but if the baby and I are both healthy that is all that matters.

There have been a few hiccups for me as I navigate being pregnant in a country where I barely speak the language. I am going to a public hospital in Chengdu, which is known to be very good, but very crowded. A few of the doctors speak some English, but they aren’t always that friendly towards me because of my lack of Chinese. For example, yesterday I asked a question ‘ Is my child good?’ In Chinese and I received no reply, which really irked me as I tried and asked twice. Instead I was just given two sheets and told to get tests done.

Pregnancy makes me feel like a fucking test rabbit. Go get this test, get this test, but no one asks, do you want to take this test? Genetic testing is not required back home, but I can’t help but feel it is forced here in China, though some have said they didn’t get it done. No one asked if I got a choice, so I don’t know if I had one, but I got the genetic testing done due to the tune of roughly $370. I was not impressed as I wasn’t given a choice, to me it doesn’t matter, I don’t want to know. Waiting for those results sucked, but at least I know enough to know that my child is fine based on the results.

This time the doctor wants me to get a heart test , I got one at 13 weeks, my heart is fine. The baby’s heart was seen on the doppler and the ultrasound and it was fine. The last time I tried to get the heart test nobody was around for me to ask where to go and where to get a number, so it was beyond frustrating. She handed me another test I haven’t paid for, but based on the reading I know it is most likely the glucose test for gestational diabetes, which is also only a suggestion back home, it is not required. I feel like I’m required to take everything, even though there isn’t much you can do, and I have to pay before it can move forward.

Dondrup said don’t bother with the tests. His mom had five kids at home and they all turned out fine. His cousin’s wife didn’t get any of the testing done, but only came to the hospital to give birth and her baby was fine. Part of me is struggling with the truth that for thousands of years we have given birth without interference and lots of tests for baby and mother. Of course there are benefits, but what are the costs of it long term to us? Why are pregnant women being treated like an illness, when our bodies know what to do? The side of me that knows we normally always follow the doctor’s orders back home if they think it is necessary versus my husband’s philosophy of we have done a lot of the tests you and baby are healthy, why continue to subject the baby to more? We can come back to give birth and everything will be fine. I don’t know what side I am on. Part of me just wants to go in for a check up once a month just to hear the heartbeat, but I don’t want the other shit. I actually wonder if all these tests add more stress and anxiety to mothers as they worry about results and the like, whereas if they just didn’t know would they be healthier after birth?

I’m struggling and I haven’t told anyone that, because no one would understand. They haven’t been in the same position as me before stuck between cultures and childbearing logic and beliefs. Upholding the medical field’s recommendations versus upholding traditional wisdom and listening to your body. Which is right? Which is more important to listen to? Or at the end of the day is it best to listen to ourselves and our bodies?

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