Finding out that I was pregnant was exciting, terrifying and confusing all at once. Everything was completely new to me but I felt as though I should know what to do.
The fact was, I didn’t.
I didn’t want to tell friends and family the news yet because I was still processing it, and between you and me, I didn’t really believe it was real until my early scan confirmed that there was definitely something in there.
So in the meantime, I was left to Google my way through the first few weeks trying to figure out what I needed to do first.
And so I Googled.
The first (and second) antenatal appointment
The NHS website states that: “You can book an appointment with your GP or directly with your midwife as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.”
So that is exactly what I did. I called my GP surgery as soon as I found out I was pregnant and was given a date for two weeks time with a doctor who, when I sat opposite him, simply congratulated me and said that I needed to book an appointment with the midwife at reception.
Another two week wait.
This was a pretty big deal right? Being pregnant? I felt as though I had two heads when I asked to be seen ‘as soon as possible’. This was all really new to me. Someone help?
At last, my appointment with the community midwife arrived. This appointment consisted of her checking that I was taking folic acid, working out my due date (which I’d already figured out using the Pregnancy+ app) and asking me which hospital I’d like to book my 12 week scan with. I was given leaflets about screening options and sent on my way to wait for a letter in the post.
The experience was slightly disappointing as I was at least expecting to come away with an appointment for the necessary blood tests.
Booking bloods are routine antenatal tests offered to all women which tell you your blood type, check for antibodies, determine your Rhesus factor and generally serve as a bit of a health MOT.
I had mentioned to the midwife at the appointment that I was due to go away for 10 days and asked if I needed to get these bloods booked in asap – I was 8 weeks pregnant by this point – and she assured me that there was not.
Unfortunately, around 8 days later I received a letter from hospital with my scan dates that stated that I MUST have had all booking bloods completed and results back in time for my scan, otherwise they could not carry out any antenatal screening.
By this point, I was pretty frustrated. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get an appointment for the blood test before my scheduled trip (2 days away) and I knew it would play on my mind whilst I was away. The timeframes were impossible – I would need to arrange for my blood tests to be done at the surgery and have the results back in time for the scan date.
Not gonna happen…
I called the GP Surgery and was advised to collect forms from reception and go to a local walk in centre to get my bloods done quicker. So far, not the magical journey to motherhood that I’d expected.
Accepting that I’d need to travel to a walk in clinic when I returned, I decided to go on holiday and think about my next move. By this point, I was quite fearful of how the next nine months would pan out. Did I have to rely on my own ‘Googled’ knowledge to make sure that I was receiving the right antenatal care at the right time?
I’m a bit of a planner, you see, and I felt completely out of control and slightly distrustful of the ‘support’ I’d been given so far.
So the trip couldn’t have come at a better time. Hubby and I talked through my concerns and discussed possible options from the airport onwards.
The confinement of an airbourne aircraft presented an ideal opportunity for me to introduce hubby to a blogger I love – Rosie from The Londoner – who had not too long ago written a beautiful post about her birth story. You can read the post here (prepare to cry). To my surprise, he loved the post as much as I did.
In her story, Rosie shares details of how she decided on a home birth (thanks in large to The Positive Birth Book I mentioned in an earlier post) and through a friend, she discovered Private Midwives.
I’d previously dismissed the idea of hiring a private midwife because I thought the cost would be too high and because (prior to reading The Positive Birth Book) I hadn’t considered a home birth and didn’t think that a private midwife would be necessary for a hospital birth.
But things were different now.
I felt let down by my antenatal experience so far, so the thought of having one midwife throughout my entire pregnancy to support me, answer my questions and help me navigate my way through any upcoming appointments seemed like an absolute dream.
There was just that little issue of cost, then…
Call the private midwives
As soon as hubby and I reached our apartment in Taormina, Sicily, we splayed out on the sofa in front of terracotta rooftops and called the midwife.
Linda, from Private Midwives, answered.
We didn’t really know what to ask… we just knew that we wanted to find out more.
Linda was fantastic. She emailed us a detailed breakdown of the different levels of midwifery care on offer and corresponding costs, and then happily talked us through each option in more detail.
After hanging up the phone, hubby and I excitedly discussed all the different options and benefits, and soon realised we had a library of questions to ask.
So we called Linda again… fully expecting her to roll her eyes behind the receiver at these overexcited first timers.
But she was so willing to help and gave us her full attention – something I hadn’t yet had from anyone – and I felt a huge wave of relief. I’d learned more in the past hour about pregnancy, midwifery care and my individual rights than I had expected to learn throughout my entire pregnancy.
I was elated.
Hubby and I discussed the costs over the next couple of days and rationalised that before I’d fallen pregnant, we had wanted to plan a trip to South Africa in January.
Now that the trip wasn’t an option (more on babymoon recommendations here), it seemed ludicrous that we wouldn’t put that holiday fund to good use and spend it on one of the most important experiences of our life – the preparation for, and birth of, our child.
We gave Linda the green light and she immediately came back to us on email with a proposed plan with dates for all bloods, scans and ‘meet your midwife’ appointments.
Bliss. We had guidance… a plan… and we knew that someone had our backs. These guys were going to seriously reduce the likelihood of me going grey over the next nine months.
We both spent the rest of our trip walking on air; safe in the knowledge that we’d just made one of the best investments of our lives so far.