NHS Part 3

In light of the recent Court of Appeal ruling for the MM -v- Secretary of State; there is every likelihood that there will not be a part 4 or 5 to this series. But all the same, the hope is that someone will be able to make use of it (if only so that they know what’s going to happen).

I have had two appointments thus far in relation to my pregnancy, the first was the booking appointment with the Midwife, the second was for the dating scan (the ultrasound done at around 12-13 weeks).

Midwife Booking Appointment: It was more or less exactly what I expected it to be, though arguably not what my mother expected but I’ll get to that in a little bit.

We arrived a little early and announced ourselves to the receptionist when we came in so that they knew that we were there. The Midwife had not arrived yet, that was hour early we were – though perhaps that might be misleading as they can have multiple clinics/surgeries (as they call them in the UK) to visit in a day.

The appointment itself, once we were called in was about a half-hour longer than my husband expected it would be (to be fair, had they actually sent us the welcome packet before hand the information inside implied that they should have, we would have been much better informed going in… grumble, grumble) so he was late to work but as we had let his boss know what was going on it wasn’t as big of a problem as it could have been, but anyway:

What all was accomplished? Well, they took my height, weight, blood pressure and urine sample again PLUS they drew some blood for tests, had me do a breathing test and took down as much medical history information I could recall from the top of my head/glean from the notes I had made from speaking with my mother about family history ahead of time.

Things that I found interesting:
~They didn’t swab my arm down with an alcohol pad or any other form of sanitiser before taking my blood. Kind of a standard procedure thing that I remember in the states, so when they didn’t do it, I was surprised. My Grandma A, who was a Nurse Oncologist, did say after the fact that there is some debate on whether or not there is any benefit to cleaning the area first, so people might not want to get too much in a lather over it…

~The welcome packet’s information was written as though it should have been given to us days ahead of time. It wasn’t. Likely an oversight somehow, as there’s always going to be kinks in any system, but slightly irritating since knowing the information in there ahead of time would have been VERY USEFUL. Just saying…

~I get that there are different minority groups mixing in the UK, but you would have thought that they would have had at least the ethnicities in all of Europe. Sadly, they don’t; and don’t even ask about ones from the rest of the world. Listing my ethnic origins (and yes, they asked me to go as far back as I could remember) reads like a book of ancestry and a lot of the ones I listed were either classed as “caucasian/white” or “other.” Which, I’m sure (note: sarcasm) is very useful to them in distinguishing risk factors.

~My mother said that I should be prepared for a certain amount of them feeling my uterus/poking and prodding in my nether regions. There was none of that: literally an hour of questions, routine blood/urine sampling and the breath test (apparently also routine even if you are a non-smoker like me in the UK).

The midwife we saw said we would likely be working with someone else who is supposed to service our area (amusingly, bearing the same uncommon forename of my Grandma A). She also said she would be scheduling our dating scan (first ultrasound) for us, which I found to be rather weird, because you would think that they would want you to get one that worked with your schedule… Anyway, she did say, after that, we’ll have to schedule the appointments ourselves, so that will be much easier.

Ultrasound (dating scan) Appointment: Having nothing to go off of, since I decided to throw out the American rule book on how things were expected to go at the Midwife appointment, I was kind of on edge waiting for the notification for the appointment itself. We opted out of taking some of the tests that could be done at the scan, but that was a personal preference on our parts more than anything since we knew, regardless of what the results would be, we weren’t about to change our minds or anything (for some, it’s a concern and there is no reason to judge one way or another).

This time, the appointment was at the hospital itself, and it’s a good job we arrived early, because we got a little confused despite everything inside the building being well signed every direction you went.

In retrospect, it occurs to me that the signs indicating where the exit was not as I expected them to be: in the states, one expects to see brightly lit “exit” signs over the doorways and hallways leading to the nearest exit. I’m sure I saw signs for emergency exits somewhere (probably on the door leading to the stairs), but otherwise the signs we followed when leaving were arrows mixed along with the rest saying “Way out.”

Anyway, my husband and I are both directionally challenged, so we got turned around a couple of times, but we did make it to the right place at last with time to spare.

The reception desk that we were queuing up for had two separate stations. The first one (marked with something “reception” on it that I can’t remember) and the second labeled “Ultrasound Appointments Only” or something to that effect. Either way, as it turns out, because it was our first scan, we needed the one labeled with Reception. Okay….

Now, going in, they say you should come with a full bladder because that will help make the ultrasound work more effectively. I spent the whole day hydrating myself like a monster and my eyeballs were floating by the time we got there. I’m not sure entirely how, but I managed to hold it while we waited and even through the ultrasound.

I think, we were really lucky; we got a technician who had a sense of humour. It turned what could have just as easily been an awkwardly silent adventure into something that was rather entertaining for all of us. I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details, but to summarise: he put some gel on the ultrasound wand (is that the correct term? I’ll google it later… I swear…), pressed it firmly into my abdomen (which I’ll admit was rather uncomfortable at first because – yay – full bladder), and moved it around for a bit…

Blah, blah, new estimated due date (it was the 14th of January, the tech has put his money on it being more like the 12th), papers filled out, my husband goes to pay for the scan pictures (apparently in the UK it’s £4 a picture), I go to pee a lake and we go back to the waiting room to wait for our folder to be returned to us. We tentatively scheduled for the 20 week Ultrasound (which will be on the 27th of August, but given how things are with immigration… yeah, we may need to cancel that) and that was that.

Next business day, I called the clinic (because the next Midwife appointment needed to be scheduled as close to 16 weeks as possible, which was the purpose of the dating scan for us) and scheduled an appointment with them… which we also might have to cancel… sigh…

But that’s how it is when you don’t know if you’re coming or going, I guess.

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