The first trimester flew past just like that. I tested positive at 4 weeks, on my FIL’s birthday, 6th January actually. Apart from cramps for a week or two since New Year’s Eve and sore boobs, I didn’t feel much discomfort. Perhaps I was tired more easily and pee-ed more frequently, but other than that, pregnancy has been very good to me and I almost did not feel nausea with the exception of a few rare occasions. Some days I forget that I was pregnant, and life went on normally.
First Appointment (6.5 weeks)
Went for the first appointment with Paul Tseng on 21st January at 6 weeks 2 days. The husband almost didn’t make it back from his work trip, and I was pretty upset that he might not be with me on the first appointment. He made it back anyway, thankfully! We went to Dr Tseng because, well he's pro-natural and quite well-known, and he's also my uncle's cousin. I went to him for pre-natal checkup 3 years back actually, though I also did a pre-natal checkup with Irene Chua the following year because the husband preferred a female gynae (I prefer a male). I didn't like her though, she's also really expensive and there was recently a huge incident that was shared on forums.
My appointment with Paul Tseng was at 10.10am. The parking situation at TMC was bad and we had to pay $5 for valet parking. The clinic was overflowing on a Saturday morning, the weekend before Chinese New Year. By the time they took my weight and blood pressure, I have drank 4 cups or water to fill my bladder.
We went in at about 10.45am. He asked if I was pregnant – ‘I think so?’. =_=""
He asked for my last menstrual period and estimated my EDD to be on 14th September, a day before the husband’s birthday. He then proceed to the scan. He confirmed the pregnancy and that it’s implanted in the correct place, size looks normal. He also asked if I was taking any supplements,
and that I should stop taking my prenatal vitamins at this stage to avoid upset tummy/constipation. Baby was too small at this stage and could get all the nutrients from me, I only needed folic acid.
That was it.
He told me to come back in 3 weeks. Here's the first picture of our baby.
I asked him about baby's heartbeat since I read that it could be detected by ultrasound around 6-7 weeks (but he didn’t even try nor zoomed in!). He said baby is too small now and I might be able to detect it through vaginal ultrasound, but there’s no point in trying. He asked if I had any bleeding or nausea, and since everything was fine, I can come back in 3 weeks to hear the heartbeat although I should also be able to hear it in 2 weeks’ time.
We were in and out in like 10 minutes, he’s really quick and didn’t ask much nor say much at all. He didn't even ask if it was my first pregnancy nor offered any advice! The husband seem fascinated to see that white little hole on the screen and we reckon that if the size was right, it probably means that the baby was growing normally.
Not sure what we expected, perhaps just, a little more from a much raved about gynae?
Seeing Red - Walk-in Appointment
All was well till the 7th week, I was working from home the day before Chinese New Year eve and there was suddenly a lot of fresh red blood when I went to the toilet. The whole toilet bowl was red and I was in shock. There was no cramps, no symptoms, no nothing. My instinct was to rush to a gynae ASAP, and the nearest one I knew was at Clementi Ave 2, the one which many of my neighbors went to. TMC was way too far and it was past 4pm, there’s no way I can make it there. I called and the nurse was nice enough to get the doctor to wait for me, since they were about to close.
I was at the clinic in 15minutes, and there was more blood when I reached. I was dismayed and was partially prepared for the worst. The doctor was very nice and calm, he told me that he will check if the baby is okay and we can see what is happening. He first checked my cervix, there was more blood and clots, the nurse had to rush and bring a dish to contain the avalanche. My heart sank. He was calm and went ahead to do an ultrasound scan. The baby was there and it was blinking.
The next thing I know, I heard the heartbeat.
It sounded foreign, really fast, like someone is beating on a drum? It disappeared in an instant before I registered, and the doctor asked me to control my breathing to hear the heartbeat again. Then there it was, loud and clear as I practically held my breath and tried to breathe very slowly. Then the relief washed over me. The baby was doing well inside.
The doctor then showed me a shadow or white patch on the screen, supposedly between the placenta and uterus where the bleeding was from. He told me the baby was fine, but he’s going to give me a jab and give me hospitalization leave for bed rest just in case. He sat me down after the jab and tried to explain what was happening. He gave the analogy, like trying to stick something with superglue - you have to hold it there and wait for it to dry before it is secure. So basically, the uterus is trying to attach itself but it might not be totally secure yet. Whenever we move, the bond may move too. The only way to secure it was to not move and have bed rest, basically waiting for the glue to set. He also said that it might not be necessarily what’s happening, but the best thing I could do is to rest and let the body do its job.
Miscarriages almost always happen because the embryo is not healthy in the first place, and our body’s natural reaction is to purge it out, resulting in a miscarriage. So, basically, just don’t worry and rest well was the take-home message.
He was really nice, and I told him that I was due for a vacation to Japan in few days. He advised against it and said that if anything happens there, I’ll be looking at a 10k hospital bill since insurance does not cover pregnancy. He also wrote a letter to help with my trip cancellation and issued a week of hospitalization leave for me to bed rest. The worst case scenario was for the uterus to be detached from the placenta, resulting in miscarriage. So if anything happens during the Chinese New Year holiday, I will need to go to A&E and ask for him (he will come). Otherwise, if I’m alright, I can come and see him in 3 weeks, that is if I choose to continue seeing him.
I was very touched by the kindness and patience he showed me when I was in distress. I was considering changing gynae since Paul Tseng felt very impersonal and the traffic/parking at TMC is a nightmare. Clementi was so much more convenient and cheaper! I only held back because the clinic was really, somewhat strange and old. It looks like a Chinese restaurant with very old traditional décor and a huge round table at the entrance. The consultation room had this olden days Chinese robe hung on the wall! The nurses are also auntie kind, the whole environment is less comfortable as compared to TLC. Even the ultrasound scan is printed on an A4 paper instead of those photo paper.
The jab made me really tired and I rested that day and Chinese New Year's Eve (except for reunion dinner). Thankfully, the bleeding stopped the same day, with some spotting left. We still went visiting on Chinese New Year, rested the second day and flew out to Japan at night. The husband seem to think it's ok since I've already stopped bleeding, and canceling the trip with the in-laws was really a hassle and we didn't really want to let the whole world know yet. I'm thankful that we're always on the same frequency, and we truly believe that if something is yours, nobody can take it away. If it's taken away, it means that it's not yours to begin with. So we spent the week in Kyushu and walked quite abit everyday. Thankfully, it was a road trip and wasn't too tiring.
Anyway, the bleeding was called Subchorionic hemorrhage (subchorionic hematoma) and it's mostly quite harmless based on what we read.
Second Appointment (9.5 Weeks)
The second appointment at 9.5 weeks went well, the husband heard the heartbeat for the first time. Dr Chan did not ask nor realized that I went to Japan anyway. I was feeling good and baby was growing very well. Before Dr Chan on the speakers for the heartbeat, he told the husband to bring his phone to record it. He also scanned for a long time, showing us different parts of the baby (we really couldn't tell). Since all was good, he scheduled us for the next appointment 3 weeks later for the Oscar/Harmony scan. He said that we could choose either one, but he will do a scan first that could estimate the risk of down syndrome before we decide on which test to take. Actually, I have already done my research and decided to do Harmony anyway, since it's more accurate and less chances of 'false positives'. Moreover, I can claim for most of my medical expenses.
After the second appointment, we went on a Hong Kong trip that was booked eons ago. We planned a hike, and we decided to go ahead anyway despite my pregnant state. We did the 8.5km Dragon Trail that ended up to be 10km long as we wandered away from the trail; and we walked like 20km everyday. It was really tiring, and I think that the husband seem to think that his pregnant wife can do as much as before.
Third Appointment (12.5 Weeks)
We realized that the Saturday we went was Dr Chan's last day of consultation before he goes on a 3 week holiday. The clinic was packed, but we were the first patient. He did a thorough scan, but unfortunately, after much probing and getting up to pee, the baby was in a very strange position and Dr Chan couldn't take the measurements he needed. We had to go take a 20min walk and come back again. After the scan, Dr Chan said that the risk is low, he's at least 70% sure based on scan. He took my blood and we left. I assumed we were doing the harmony, since we did mention to him and the nurse the previous appointment.
We only realized that we did the Oscar scan instead at the reception, because it was not recorded on my card that I wanted Harmony. The nurse was quite apologetic about it and said that it's too late to do Harmony the same day as the lab collection for Harmony was over. I can choose to come back next week to draw blood for Harmony though. I suppose it's partially because the scan was low risk too, and the clinic was busy, and we did not confirm! I didn't really want to draw blood again, as more was required for Harmony.
Alas, we were somewhat disappointed since we were expecting to find out the gender through the test in a week! Now, we will need to wait till around Week 20 instead. I was also given calcium and DHA this appointment.
Here's how the baby looks like at 12.5 weeks. It's amazing that you can already see the fingers so clearly!
It was also at this point when we finally told our parents about the pregnancy. The husband almost wanted to wait till the results were out. We waited this long because I don't think I can deal with my mum blaming me for everything that I might have done wrong if anything happened to my pregnancy. I don't think we could handle the disappointment from our families either. We told my parents over dinner that there's an additional person joining us for dinner, while he told his parent through 'wadsapp' with a 'Coming Soon' and the ultrasound. His parents had no reaction till he called them. They said that they had no idea what was that, thinking it's a movie poster since it said 'Coming Soon' - unbelievable for people who have had children since they must have seen an ultrasound right?!
The clinic finally called me after a week (although most people get the results in 2-3 days as it's done in local lab), and told me that blood test results were low risk. She wasn't able to give me the exact ratio but said that it's 'below the line' and low risk, I can go through the report with Dr Chan next appointment.
I quite like Dr Chan, but I've to say that his nurses are not the most professional. They're mostly aunties, not very customer-oriented and could complain about the patients loudly (after they left) when there are so many other patients around! They're nice to you if you're nice to them, but if you expect service and appear impatient, they could be quite rude. But since the doctor matters more than nurses, and he's really quite nice, plus the convenience, I guess we'll be sticking to him.
By this time, first trimester has already ended and I entered my 2nd trimester just like that. My tummy barely showed, and nobody noticed that I'm pregnant!