Pregnancy complications

Late yesterday afternoon I was in my office having a meeting with our HR manager when my mobile rang. The caller was Gary’s assistant telling me that something was wrong with my wife and that I had to come over immediately. My office is just 10 minutes from Tudou, so I rushed over. Upon arrival I found my wife laying on a camping bed on the ground, surrounded by colleagues. Turns out that she had bad stomach pains, suddenly got dizzy and then sort of passed out. When I was there she was conscious but still had pain. She told me that she was quite sure that the stomach cramps were contractions. Because she is only in her 4th month of pregnancy that was not a good thing at all.

The Tudou colleagues had already talked to a doctor and an ambulance was on its way. We could hear the siren already in the distance and a few minutes later the ambulance staff were there. They did an immediate check and found that my wife’s blood pressure was extremely low, so she had to go to hospital right away. I went with her in the ambulance, which was an interesting experience in itself. Never realized how high-tech these vehicles are. Also the ride itself during rush hour on a Friday was quite an experience: going through red lights, over bike lanes and against traffic at certain stretches. We made it from Tudou to Xintiandi in less than 10 minutes, quite an achievement.

During the ride over I called the hospital, but at the OB department all doctors had already left for the weekend (it was after 6 PM), but they would send someone over right away. Upon arrival my wife was put into a nice hospital room and she was checked up completely. The first thing they checked was the fetal heart rate, which was luckily there and beating fast enough. But my wife was not doing very well. Her blood pressure was way too low and she was so dehydrated that her blood had become too thick to take a sample (I did not even know that was possible). She was put on an IV and soon started feeling a bit better. Also the contractions started to get less while she was laying down.

We ordered some food (ceasar salad and sandwiches) while watching TV in her room and around 10 PM after several tests the hospital staff told my wife it would be OK for her to go home. They just wanted to measure the fetal heartbeat once more before we left. And that was when the trouble really started: they could not find a heartbeat anymore… It can always take a few minutes to find the fetus, so at first I did not worry too much. But after 10 minutes I realized something may be wrong. The staff changed to a new heart rate monitor but also that did not help, we heard all sorts of sounds but not a fast fetal heart beat. You can imagine we were very scared at that point, and after 30 minutes of fruitless listening I demanded that the OB doctor should come right away (she had not shown up so far, but left the tests to a mid-wife). When the staff was unwilling to call her I went outside to put a bit of pressure on the nurses, and they finally called the doctor.

She was there about 25 minutes later and she immediately took us to the ultrasound room. The machine had to be started first and because it runs on Windows (I closely followed the start-up procedure because I was so anxious for the ultrasound result) that took quite some time. Finally the machine was ready and the doctor could start doing the ultrasound. Within a few seconds we saw the fetus and it seemed to be moving, and a few seconds later we saw the heartbeat on the monitor. We were so relieved! Then I realized that the doctor was using the ultrasound device at a different position than the mid-wife had done. Because the fetus is only around the beginning of the 15th week, he or she is still much lower than fetuses that are older. The mid-wife did not realize this…. (it was another mid-wife than the one who had measured the heartbeat when we just arrived at the hospital). We were too happy to be angry, but thinking back about this it was a HUGE mistake from the hospital.

While looking at the ultrasound the doctor noticed that my wife still had contractions, even though the staff had not realized this earlier (they said there were no contractions anymore because my wife’s tummy was not hard. Mistake number 2!). When looking at the ultrasound the doctor noticed some shades around the placenta, which could mean that there was bleeding or that the placenta was not attached well anymore. This was a reason for concern and she told my wife that she would have to stay in the hospital overnight for observation. Hmm, so first they almost sent us home and now it turns out that would have been dangerous. I decided not to say anything, but I did not feel very happy with the care we had gotten so far.

Anyway, I decided to stay with my wife overnight in the hospital and made a quick trip home around midnight to pick up some clothes. We had a nice room in the hospital (with jacuzzi, plasma TV, DVD player etc.), but the bed I got was pretty crappy (too small and very hard), so I did not get much sleep. During the night my wife luckily got a good sleep and in the morning the ultrasound revealed that things looked a lot better than the night before. Around 10:30 we were allowed to leave after paying almost USD 1800 for the room and tests. In comparison, the ambulance that belonged to a local hospital was only about USD 20!

My wife slept most of the day today and is feeling OK. She will need to rest a lot over the next days and make sure she drinks lots of fluids. We had a scary experience, but I am glad both my wife and the fetus seem to be OK so far.

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  1. Sorry to hear about this scare and glad it turned out well. I wish you and your wife the best for the rest of the pregnancy Marc.

  2. oh my, I really hope she will recover 100% to a normal herself

    btw, I wanted to ask you, I was googling for lights between amsterdam and shanghai with klm, and found your blog (which is known to me earlier) but i have a question, I think it’s a bit annoying that they don’t tell me which planes are going to Shanghai from Amsterdam, if it’s airbus or boeing, and which model. It is important to me because i want to find out if they got personal TV screens even if I fly economy class.

    ANyway, what are you thoughts about KLM economy class when flying to Shanghai, I have flown with them before, but that was like 5 years ago. Im sure much have changed now 🙂
    thanks for an answer!

  3. @shopgirl Interesting to see with what keywords my blog pops up in Google 🙂

    KLM flies the Shanghai-Amsterdam route with Boeing 747-400’s that do not have personal TV screens in economy class. Better book a different airline if that’s important for you (or bring a PSP or iPod fully loaded with video’s!).

    Generally I am not too impressed with KLM’s economy class, almost every other airline that I fly has better service and better in-flight entertainment. But they are the only ones flying directly between Shanghai and Amsterdam, so I don’t have much of a choice.

  4. Hi Marc,

    I hope all is fine now!
    Give my regards to Grace.
    Drinking water is sooo important during pregnancy.
    Scary experience!
    All the best and have a merry christmas


  5. Marc,

    Sorry to hear about this and only just read it so glad things are back to normal now. I assume you are talking about the Worldlink hospital in xintiandi, we used both there and Shanghai United in the past but have found that whilst they are very comfortable (like hotels) and there are lots of nurses and ayi to attend to you, the actual quality of doctors and medical advice is sadly lacking, and they simply are not set up to handle an emergency of any type. I strongly recommend you check out Fudan Children’s Hospital. Most expats shy away from it and granted the old campus at Fenglin Lu had the air of an Indian Train Station at rush hour but the new campus in Minhang is extremely impressive and the doctors there are absolutely first class. Our twin boys were moved there when born prematurely (United had neglected to tell us they couldn’t handle emergencies of this type and only had one intensive care bed!!!). Unfortunately we lost one of our boys but the other is doing great and the medical care, advice and general love we got from all the doctors and nurses there was on a totally different level to Worldlink or United whose first instinct is to ask for your credit card! They have a dedicated foreingers ward now which has all the home comforts of the international hospitals and we only take Tomas there now. Drop me an email if you want to know more and I hope things are smooth from now on!


  6. Thanks Scott, will show my wife your comment tonight. We indeed went to Worldlink (new name: ParkWay Health) in Xintiandi, but did not want to name them in the main article because they might end up high in Google for that. We also had our first baby there, and we were quite satisfied. But I agree that if things go wrong it may indeed not be the best place to be. They also like to charge, even last year’s normal delivery was thousands of US dollars. I needed two credit cards to pay it (and I don’t have a particularly low limit!).