You see 2 lines on the HPT (Home Pregnancy Test) and the first thing you want to do is to see the doctor, just to confirm that your eyes are not playing tricks on you, and that you are still pretty much a sane and logical human being. Oh, and of course to find out if the foetus is fine, how far you are along etc.
Which is what I did. I went to my MIL (Mother-in-Law’s polyclinic) just so that the husband could hear it from the doctor that we are pregnant. Prior to the doctor’s visit, he was excited, happy, yet a little bit skeptical about the HPT results so he needed the doctor’s medical opinion and confirmation. *roll eyes*
Unfortunately, the clinic didn’t have ultrasound facilities so other than giving my some folic acid, iron pills, and prenatal vitamins, we couldn’t find out how along I was. But since I was at the clinic, I asked the doctor for a referral’s letter to KKH (KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital) which is a government hospital, so that I could get subsidised rates for my checkups. After which, my lovely MIL helped me to book an appointment at KKH on 20th June 2015.
In the meantime, some of my closer friends who knew about the pregnancy asked if we had found a gynae, or if we had any gynaes in mind, and started introducing us their own gynaes. In my head, I was wondering if getting my own gynae was really necessary, because it sure seems like a conventional and popular trend amongst most preggers. So I did some research, and realised the following:
KKH Subsidised Rates:
- Long waiting time (even for scheduled appointments)
- Assigned different gynaes each visit
- You don’t do get to do the routine ultrasounds each visit
- More expensive
- Dedicated gynae who will be with you throughout your pregnancy and delivery
- Packages that work out to be quite economical for consultation and ultrasound scan each visit
Since it’s my first pregnancy, I definitely wanted a dedicated gynae who is pleasant, patient, jovial, skilful, and delivers at Mount Alvernia. I also preferred a male gynae because I heard woman gynaes practice tough love (and will probably snap at you if you whine about how painful childbirth is, just because most of them went through the same thing) and somehow, I have this thing with women; it’s as if I exude negative vibes around them which makes them stay away from me. And this is why I grow up having more guy friends than girl friends. #truestory
So after going through several Motherhood forums, I found Dr K, made an appointment with him and cancelled my original appointment at KKH.
4th June 2015: We arrived at Dr K’s clinic punctually and was surprised to see how crowded it was. After a 45 minute wait, it was finally our turn. Dr K introduced himself, and proceeded to give me my first ultrasound. I was actually hoping to see a little bean in a sac so you can imagine my disappointment when I just saw a small sac. Dr K explained to us that due to my long cycle, I might have ovulated much later than expected so instead of me being at 8weeks+ (according the First Day of Last Menstrual Period theory), I was only 6weeks+. Pfft!
Regardless, I was happy to find out that even though it’s a small sac, at least I have something growing inside of me now. Dr K also mentioned that for the next visit 2 weeks later, we should see something inside the sac, which indicates that the foetus is growing. If we only saw a bigger but empty sac, or just the sac at the same size, it means that ‘it is not good’. That, honestly made me stressed and I walked out of his consultation room saying a quick prayer. Soon after, my name was called so I went to get the bill and medication. $314.58! I felt a lurch in my gut. How did it turn out to be so expensive?! The nurse explained that there is one time charge for new patients, plus the medication, plus gst, hence the amount. She then gave me a piece of paper which stated the package and other miscellaneous charges should I wish to sign up when I hit Week 12. I thanked her for the information and told her that we will consider it. After which, we left the clinic with a small hole in my wallet.
25th June 2015: Here we are back at Dr K’s clinic. This time, I was a little more worried than before. What if the sac is empty? I felt my stomach wrench. As usual, we waited for about 30 to 45 minutes before my name was called. I exhaled a loud sigh before entering Dr K’s consultation room. However, all anxiety turned into joy when we saw the little bean inside the sac. YAY! A BEAN! Hello baby! While were so happy to see progress, I was exceptionally relieved that my prayers were answered and that my little bean is happily floating in the sac. As for the consultation cost, it was slightly cheaper than the previous appointment, but I wondered if there was another gynae who was more affordable and delivers at Mount Alvernia.
So I scrolled through the Motherhood forums again and found another male gynae – Dr P – whose clinic is in Hougang. This time round, I contacted his clinic to find out the consultation and ultrasound costs before making an appointment.
09th July 2015: We arrived at Dr P’s clinic punctually but was disappointed when the receptionists informed us that Dr P had to deliver a baby in the morning, hence he hasn’t come into the clinic yet. They were also unable to advise what time he would arrive. Since we had time on our hands, we decided to just stick to the plan and wait. Fortunately, Dr P stepped in shortly but since there were a few ladies in line before me, I only managed to see Dr P at about 12:45pm – 1 hr 45 mins later.
Unlike Dr K who was loud, gregarious and outgoing, Dr P was soft spoken, gentle and the fatherly sort. He asked me a few routine questions about my health background before the routine ultrasound.
Because of a few episodes of spotting 2 days prior to Dr P’s appointment, I was damn relieved and glad to see Baby Chew so active and growing well. Listening to his/her heartbeat was also a joy because it was proof of life; that my little one was growing strong. But other than our relief, we were actually quite cheesed off because firstly, the younger nurse didn’t allow my husband to be with me at the ultrasound area. He however, could still watch the video of the ultrasound from where he sat. In addition, she didn’t allow the husband to take a video of the ultrasound initially! Only with Dr P’s permission did she reluctantly let the husband take a video. Seriously?! Lastly, I couldn’t stand her cold and unfriendly tone when she asked me to strip down in preparation for a vaginal swap. Tsk!
All in all, Dr P’s clinic didn’t leave a good impression on us because of he was late, his rude younger nurse, and how the bill added up to just slightly lesser than Dr K – which wasn’t much cheaper. Ok I understand that Dr P had a reason to be late. But at least Dr K had another gynae working in his clinic so if he really needed to deliver a baby, his other partner could take on his appointments and not turn them away or leave them waiting indefinitely. Furthermore, Dr K’s clinic seemed more polished and professional, with more friendly receptionists and nurses who smile and talk to you nicely.
Now you would think that Dr K was the definite answer and there shouldn’t be any more dilemma right? Well oddly, I started thinking if I should go back to KKH under their subsidy rate. That’s because with my pregnancy, I wouldn’t be able to continue my job as a flight attendant and I’m quite sure no employer would want to hire a pregger. Which means I’m pretty much unemployed, which equates to no money which equals digging into my savings. Hence, I had to be frugal and stretch my savings to tide through the pregnancy, and possibly 1 year after I’ve given birth. Based on an economic standpoint, it would make financial sense to seek the most affordable option which was the KKH subsidised route. However, this is after all my first pregnancy and every procedure, blood test, scan, symptom is a scary and foreign experience. Most importantly, I was really uncomfortable seeing a different gynae / doctor at KKH each time. That said, I decided to go back to Dr K. If I’m expecting number 2, maybe I could try KKH because by then, I would have gained enough experience to know what I should do, which appointments I should go for etc.
20th July 2015: We arrived at Dr K’s clinic and was greeted by a crowd of preggers, new mothers and their spouses. Because I was already 12 weeks, I asked the receptionist if I could sign up for Dr K’s package before my appointment. She was a darling to oblige.
Though Baby Chew wasn’t as active as before, we were stoked to hear the little one’s heartbeat and even see a 3D image of him/her!
All in all, though it has been tough in deciding between a gynae and a government hospital, I’m glad I made my decision and am at peace with it. For those of you who are new mom-to-bes who are facing the same dilemma, here’s a cost comparison table which I came up with. I hope it helps in your decision making process. All the best!