Thursday, 31 October 2013

Giving birth in Oman: My Story

I wasn't sure whether to write this post or not, but a friend suggested it might be useful for mum-to-be's when it comes to what they can expect in Oman. It is quite a long post so be sure to grab a cup of tea before you begin!

The Grumpy Egyptian and I found out we were expecting a couple of days after my birthday in September 2012. Due to the fact I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome well over a decade ago, we'd been told we would struggle to conceive. The mini 1 is proof that doctors sometimes get it wrong! Despite using contraception, going quad biking in the desert, on a speedboat and having a few drinks on my birthday... We were set to be parents!

My ex-employer didn't cover maternity costs, but it was while visiting the company clinic (I thought I had a bug) that we discovered the truth behind my nausea. In order to keep costs down before the 12wk mark (when Muscat Private Hospital (MPH) - our preferred hospital - starts its antenatal packages) we tried to stick with Badr al Samaa (BAS). It didn't last long.

I developed hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme sickness) and truly have never felt so ill in my life. I was so violently ill that I feared for my baby and after numerous visits to an OB at BAS where my concerns were shrugged off or laughed at, we decided it was time to go to MPH and just pay up. It is also worth noting that my husband wasn't allowed in for scans at BAS to "protect my modesty". Uh... He's the one that got me pregnant!

In January 2012 I'd had surgery in MPH under Dr Vidya and because we had both had a good relationship with her we chose her as our OB. She was so friendly and despite being very much in demand, never rushed me or belittled any concern I had. She was also very good with The Grumpy Egyptian so that helped our decision.

We signed up for the antenatal package that ran from 12+ weeks to birth and included all our doctor visits, booking blood tests for the green card, ultrasound scans and a couple more things. This was a big saving on what paying each visit would have cost. I had spoke with Dr Vidya about my birth plan in that I planned to deliver the baby as quickly and painlessly as possible!

Things seemed to be going to plan until around the 36 week mark I noticed Bump (as she was then known) wasn't moving much and I'd had a bad headache for a couple of days. I went in to see Dr Vidya and we discovered that my blood pressure was dangerously high and Bump's heart rate was high. A quick ultrasound showed the cord seemed to be near Bump's neck and could have been distressing her. The woman that did my ultrasound was the only person at the clinic that I wasn't pleased with as while waiting for my doctor said they'd have to "rip the baby out immediately" and seemed annoyed when I started crying.

Dr Vidya came and assured me there would be no ripping out, but admitted me for observation. Things got worse overnight, before settling in the morning. We were allowed home over the weekend, but had to return on the Sunday (the weekend is Fri-Sat in Oman) for a check-up. On Sunday I woke with another headache. My blood pressure had shot up again.

The decision was made to induce me, but unfortunately it didn’t work. I have to say what an utter failure I felt. Yes, I know it is stupid, but for some reason I felt as though my body was just not willing to make this easy and I blamed myself. Bump was getting more distressed so we decided on an emergency c-sect. This terrified me, but the anaesthetist that was assigned to me was a lovely British guy who put me at ease about the operation and calmed my nerves - sadly I don't remember his name! He also gave me the best advice ever: Don't be a martyr. If it hurts tell someone and they will bring out the nice shiny drugs. That was great advice because boy was I not expecting standing/sitting to hurt quite so much post-surgery! I can only describe it as a searing pain that felt as though it would never go away. It does... in the end!

The Grumpy Egyptian was allowed in the operating theatre with me because it was a spinal, however if they'd of needed to do a general anaesthetic he wouldn't have been. In we went and less than 5 minutes after they began, Bump became the Mini Grumpy Egyptian when she screamed into our lives. The cord had been quite tight around her neck so the decision to have a c-sect was a good one. The doctors showed me the mini one before they took her for a check up and embarrassingly I threw up but I blame it on the anaesthesia not new-mum nerves!

The Grumpy Egyptian was allowed to stay with the mini one while they checked her over. I was stitched up and after a bit of time in recovery was wheeled back to my room and reunited with our daughter. We immediately started some skin-to-skin while the midwives and nurses helped me breastfeed her - ah those first weeks of breastfeeding... a story for another time perhaps. The midwives and nurses were fantastic and we made sure to leave them a big box of chocolate when we left.

The rooms at MPH are great and have their own en-suite. There is also a sofa bed in the room so hubby can stay with you and a fridge for snacks. You get a menu twice a day to choose your breakfast, lunch and dinner from and you can specify when you want it delivered. Meals for you and your partner are included in the delivery package rates that are split into normal delivery (+ extra for things like an epidural) and caeserean. We stayed 5 nights before being discharged. Two weeks later the mini one and I had checkups that were included in the delivery package.

I was really happy with my doctor and never felt that I wasn't in control because she always gave me options. When I was pregnant the hospital didn't offer antenatal classes, but I understand they were hoping to introduce them.

Anyway this wasn't meant to be such a long post, but even if it proves useful for 1 person, it will have been worth it. For the view of someone whose wife gave birth in a different hospital in Muscat, click here.

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