Where I Get Sent to Queen Mary Hospital
And so the birth story continues…if you missed Part I, where I describe a typical check-up at the public clinic, you can catch up here. If you’re up to date, here’s the next installment where I – you guessed it – go to the hospital!
Last May when we shared our Baby on the Way news, I explained that we had decided to have our baby in the public hospital system. This made sense for us financially and also with me having an uncomplicated pregnancy. I attended regular check-ups at the public hospital nearby and also supplemented those visits with more attentive and personalize check-ups, Annerley a midwifery clinic in Hong Kong. Having never given birth before, let alone in Hong Kong, this provided a huge amount of relief to both Braden and I. What a diversion from the tedious public system. As you likely gathered from my previous post, it seems there is nothing straightforward about going to the hospital in Hong Kong. Let me give you another example of why.
Context: Braden and I both have A- blood. Only 6% of people in the world have that blood type, so it’s pretty amazing that we both do. Interestingly in China, Rhesus negative blood is incredibly rare – approximately 1:370. Being pregnant with negative blood isn’t a big deal unless the fetus has positive blood and in rare instances this can cause complications.
Scene: I am at Queen Mary Hospital for a check-up during my pregnancy. Queen Mary is a teaching hospital, and I always allow students to attend and/or perform my examination. I sit in the enormous, full, waiting room until my name is finally called, then enter the exam room. The doctor performs the usual exam and then start asking questions; several students look on.
Doctor: “And so because you have negative blood we would like to administer the Rh Immunoglobulin shot.”
Me: “But if I understand correctly, this is only necessary if the baby has positive blood.”
Doctor #1: “Correct.”
Me: “But my husband is a negative blood type as well.”
Doctor #1: “Okay.”
Me: “And that means the baby will have negative blood also, right?
Doctor: “True. But do you have proof?”
Me: “No, I don’t carry proof of my husband’s blood type with me.”
Doctor #1: “Then how do you know?”
Me: “Because he has donated blood many times and I know he’s A-.”
Doctor #1: “Where has he donated blood?
Doctor #1: “Canada? What about Hong Kong?”
Me: [gritting my teeth] Does geography change his blood type? “Yes, in Hong Kong too.”
All of the students in the room crane to look at my chart, and glance back and forth during the Doctor’s and my exchange. I can tell they are uncomfortable.
Doctor #1: “Alright, if you are sure then it’s your decision.”
From this exam I need to carry on to see another doctor because no visit to the hospital in Hong Kong is complete without multiple steps, exams, forms and reviews. I leave the exam room and sit in a plastic chair in the hallway until my name is called again. I enter a new exam room, this one also filled with a different doctor and several different students.
Doctor #2: “I see you refused the Rh Immunoglobulin shot.”
Doctor #2: “Why?”
I know this conversation needs to be had, despite everything I’d already said being recorded in my chart.
Me: “Because I know I have A- blood and so does my husband.”
Doctor #2: What’s your husband’s blood type?”
Doctor #2: “You’re absolutely sure?”
Doctor #2: “So he has negative blood?”
Doctor #2: “You’re sure?”
There is a sharp collective intake of breath in the room. The students glance at each other with concern; the doctor visibly pales. Immediately I realize the weight of my word. People in Hong Kong follow directions impeccably. They take most things literally. By uttering ‘positive’, no matter the context, it’s all they need to hear to be alarmed.
I spend the next few minutes backtracking and trying to take that one word back until they’re comfortable enough to let me leave, my chart stamped with warnings and releases given my refusal. I leave the hospital.
By the end of August my due-date was fast approaching and I had one day of work left. I heaved myself up the hill for my last check-up at Annerley feeling sweaty, puffy and enormous. I’m sure it was the hottest day of the year. Braden was away in China (several hours away by plane) for work, two days into the trip with four more to go, and I desperately hoped everything was fine with baby. As soon as he got on the plane so close to my due date I felt like we jinxed ourselves and all shit was about to go down. I promised him that I would send him an update as soon as I was finished at the appointment.
Scene: I leave Annerley and walk down D’Aguilar Street, clinging to the sides of buildings trying to find shade. It’s so bright I can barely see my phone screen. Braden and I exchange a flurry of WhatsApp messages.
Me: You know how my blood pressure has been trending SLIGHTLY on the high side for the last several weeks?
Me: Well today it was just high enough again to warrant a bit of concern.
Him: How much concern?
Me: Enough to go to the hospital.
Him: Okaaayyyy! How serious is this.
Me: Serious enough that if my BP remains high, I may need to be induced.
I head home to grab a few things after realizing there was next to no chance of me going home quickly if I was admitted to the hospital. Sure enough, as soon as I arrive at Queen Mary they tell me I will be there at least 24 hours for monitoring. I arrived at the hospital around 5pm and they admit me in the pre-labour ward, then proceeded to monitored my blood pressure every three hours. I stayed over night and by morning every reading was normal and I had no other signs of preeclampsia (the big concern). I convinced them to let return home early, with a follow-up appointment in my calendar in one weeks time. Braden breathed a HUGE sigh of relief in China and finished his business trip as scheduled. I returned to the office for my final day at work, set my out-of-office response, and said “see you in December”.
Check back soon for the last installment (Part III of this story) for more hospital tales and Campbell’s arrival.