We're half-way there! Over half-way now, since I'm a week late in writing this post, though the pictures were taken last week. ;) It's crazy in two ways... one, it feels like I've been pregnant forever, so it feels like I should be way more than half-way there! On the other hand, time has flown so quickly, and I know that it will fly so much more, so now at 21 weeks pregnant, the thought of only having 19 more weeks (give or take!) before welcoming our little one and having TWO tiny ones around is both exciting and a wee bit terrifying. Mostly exciting - I can't wait to meet this precious baby!
An umbrella seemed fitting for this month's picture, given all the recent rain! The umbrella definitely has it's own story, too... I bought it 3 years ago for our engagement pictures, never dreaming that I'd be using it in pictures for my 2nd pregnancy, living in China! It's battered and on it's last legs now, but I couldn't help but get it in a picture one last time.
Baby seems to be doing great, being quite active with little kicks and rolls, even making my belly move a little sometimes. He/she likes to kick especially when big sister is sitting on my lap, leaning back. Trying to interpret it as little love taps and not indication of some future sibling rivalry. ;)
I definitely have a bump now, and have almost fully made the switch to maternity clothes. They're just so much more comfortable, as most of my normal things are getting short and/or tight! It makes me feel and look more pregnant, and I like that, instead of feeling like I just looked like I gained tummy weight. The other day a friendly lady that guards our apartment gate even asked if I was pregnant (thankfully I understood - though I didn't understand all of her Chinese words, if you point to a belly and say "baby" it's pretty understandable!), and she beamed when I confirmed that I was indeed. People here definitely love babies.
With baby the size of a carrot now, as the body lengthens and the features develop even more, it's pretty exciting to think about! He/she can also likely hear us, which is fun. There have definitely been times he/she seems to respond to Daddy's voice especially.
As the title implies, we are also changing doctors. While Peace Maternity is professional and took care of things, it was increasingly frustrating the lack of English on forms and in being able to ask questions of the people running most things, since you only saw the doctor for the last few minutes. We were going to stick it out, though, since it was the only "VIP" (foreigner) place our insurance did direct billing for, and the least expensive option.
But, then my parents unexpectedly offered to cover the cost insurance didn't cover for us to go another place that we would be more comfortable at, as there are many good, English speaking options available in Shanghai. My mom gave birth to 7 children in 7 different places (5 in a hospital, the last two - including me! - at home), and is a big advocate for how wonderful a birth in a place you feel comfortable can be. She also had an international birthing experience, where she gave birth "in French" as she puts in, with the doctor completely disregarding her wishes when she was in labor (after agreeing with everything before hand), breaking her water and using a suction when things didn't proceed quickly enough for him, and then my sister being put in the NICU because she was "so big" until my mom literally got out of bed and walked down the hall to find her. Not saying my experience at the hospital we were at would be like that, but it is definitely harder when you have barriers in communication. So, although we feel kind of weird having them pay so much for us, we are taking them up on the offer. And such a relief I've felt...
We did some research and talked to friends, and got good, personal recommendations for American-Sino OBGYN. Looking online at the bios of the doctors, I found one that had "natural birth" listed as her expertise. When a friend said she'd met the doctor and that she seemed kind and warm (though she had been assigned and used another doctor), that confirmed it for me. Thankfully, even though I'm later than most booking their first appointment at this place, this doctor still had an opening. So, this Tuesday morning we'll be going for our first appointment there. Everything both of our friends who have birthed there multiple times have said has been positive, with one saying they pretty much let her do whatever she wanted during labor. They also reported that all the nurses speak English, at least well enough, and all of the doctors do. I am looking forward to our first visit! As Ryan reminds me, we're still in China so they still will do things differently, and we're still going to a hospital instead of midwives at home like we did with Hadassah, but I am much more encouraged and excited at the thought of this place.
Thankfully, this place should be covered 60% if we file for reimbursement with our insurance, and since we were co-paying 20% anyway at the other place, and this place costs a bit less than other, larger, more popular Western hospitals, the extra cost shouldn't be too big.
AND, both friends have confirmed that they tell you the gender of the baby without problem. Since I canceled my 20 week appointment at the other place, they said they'll be doing an ultrasound this visit. So, providing baby cooperates to give us a peek, we may have a gender announcement coming up! I'm trying to not get my hopes too high, as often things don't turn out as planned, but I am hopeful and excited. Preparing for this one's birth will be so much easier and have more peace of mind for me if I know whether I'm preparing for a boy or a girl. :)
So, I am thankful. For the little life continuing to grow and make him/herself more known and visible, for good health for me, and for the blessing of being a mother. I am definitely feeling the heat more, though... realizing being pregnant during the summer in Iowa and being pregnant during the summer in Shanghai where I have to walk everywhere is two very different things! But, I am thankful for pretty good A/C corner units and lots of water, and the occasional real-fruit strawberry popsicles I found at a local convenience store for just 50 cents each!