At the end of my first week in India, I was somewhat settled so decided it is time to move forward with accessing healthcare. I had already researched and been recommended a doctor to support me with my pregnancy so that was taken care of. Back home, the norm is to access your family doctor. Here, you can go straight to an OB GYN. I think this is good in some ways but can be bad if you just see a specialist for issues all the time as they may not connect all the dots if you have multiple issues. Anyway, probably not an issue in my case.
The first step here was to make an appointment. This was easily done through an online appointment request in which you punch in what day you would like to see the doctor and your phone number. The doctor I wanted operated out of a hospital.
A short while later I received a call and was told I could come in the next week. I agreed and then received email confirmation. The day of my appointment came and off I went to the hospital. Since it was my first visit I had to check in at reception and fill out a registration card. I let them know I had an appointment with the doctor and they asked me to pay for it. In my case it was 2000 rupees and a 150 rupee registration fee. I paid and was given the receipt.
I then moved over to the waiting room area. I waited some time…much later than the appointment I made which was a bit annoying but not the end of the world…and soon was called in to see the doctor. She had a large room and sat at one end at a desk with an assistant or perhaps junior doctor. She said, “What can I do for you, dear?” I explained I am from abroad and in Delhi for work and also 15 weeks pregnant so needed follow up care. I forgot my previous medical records from home but let her know all seemed normal, I had one previous early miscarriage that required an operation, I was taking pre-natal vitamins, and had one ultrasound to rule out ectopic pregnancy back in April. Since then, not much had happened.
She asked me some more background questions about myself and my family and was writing them down in a file/card thing. This file would later come to me as they do not seem to keep records of anything in India at the hospital and it is up to you to lug around your own file. She then told me the next steps are to do an ultrasound to confirm due date and that all is generally well and do a blood test to rule out some abnormalities. She said there were two options for this last one and it would be up to me to choose which I wanted as one may not be covered by my insurance. One just tells you if you are high or low risk for issues. The other actually tells you if there are abnormalities or not. She said to think about this for next time. I confirmed both are non-invasive.
I asked her how often I needed to come in-she said monthly for now, then each fortnight (which is 2 weeks), and then near the end (the last month I guess), weekly. I asked if I could fly back home for a vacation in August around 30 weeks and she said yes. Then, she had me lie on the table and looked at my stomach. She felt around and said it seemed I was 14-16 weeks pregnant. It just happened to be my exact 15th week of pregnancy according to the doctors back home and the last ultrasound I did.
She then told me to bring my records from home next time, keep taking vitamins, go do the ultrasound today, and next time let them know which blood test I want. I agreed and then checked back in with the admin assistant who took me over to the ultrasound department. There was another waiting room. I had to sign a form saying I do not wish to know the sex of the baby as it is illegal in India. I said I DO wish to know but understand I am not allowed (the form should be changed to be more accurate) but signed anyway. It then seemed to take forever but my turn finally came. Just as I got into the room, the gov’t inspectors arrived to check the machines. I had to wait a bit while they confirmed the machine serial and model numbers etc.
Soon they left and the ultrasound doctor came in. She was very nice and conducted the ultrasound. I heard the heartbeat. It was so strange-like a chugging sound. She said it was normal. She took measurements and showed me the screen. I saw the head, the heartbeat, spine, arms, and legs. The baby seemed to be jumping around. After a time she said she could not see one leg being extended and had to check this before she could let me go but the baby was not cooperating. She sent me off for a walk and a break and helped others. After half an hour I was back with her and, after some time, she finally saw the leg being extended. She was then satisfied and released me. She also let me know the baby is 14 weeks and 5 days-not the 15 weeks I thought.
I was told to go to billing and pay for this. It was about 4200 rupees. Then I came back and waited. A short time later I was given my report and told I could go. I opened up the report-it was in English-and read it (all normal!) and the baby’s due date has been moved yet again-to two days later. There were also ultrasound pictures in the envelope. I was kind of hoping the due date would be moved to earlier and not later but what can you do?
I left feeling very happy and well looked after. The hospital seemed clean, everyone spoke English, and the equipment seemed up to date. I did not expect to spend hours and hours there but did get the ultrasound done the same day which was nice. Next time I will budget more time and bring my previous records from back home. Now, I just need to figure out how to submit insurance claims etc which will be a whole other story! I also need to find out if the insurance company will cover the more expensive blood test.
Afterwards I went to work. Once I was there I snapped a photo of the ultrasound and sent it over to my husband who joked the baby looks like him. I told him about the whole experience and he was happy all went well and said it all seemed so real now. This is how I feel too! Something about actually seeing that human outline on the screen has made it much more real than it has been so far. Am very excited now-but still a very long way to go!