Monday, 10 October 2011

Getting sorted

written July 5, 2011

Today was a major accomplishment.  After living in the UK for the past year and a half, I finally got signed up at a doctor.  I've had the paper work for the past 10 months, but it's been pinned to the cork board in our kitchen, silently rebuking me.  But there was no real reason to follow through as I'm a healthy girl.  Well now that I'm pregnant (eeeeee! I've only said it a handful of times and the novelty hasn't worn off.)  I needed to get on the ball.

I kept meaning to call for the past few days, but forgot the phone number at home for the first couple.  Then yesterday, I was all resolved to call when Ross remembered that Monday are their open clinic day when they are flooded by walk in appointments.  So, we decided to just drop in this morning on the way to the warehouse. We drove up to the St. Gabriel's Medical Centre (Ross' GP practice) and nervously walked in.  I had my paper work, as well as the requested utility bill (to prove my address) and passport.  I was pleasantly surprised by the centre.  It was in the middle of a neighbourhood and not the sterile NHS-run facility I was expecting.  We walked up to the counter and explained to the woman at the desk that I needed to get set up as a patient.  I handed over my papers and she was very cheerful and friendly.  She explained that I'd need to schedule a "pre-registration" appointment.  At this point, I said (out loud... for the first time to any one other than Ross)  "I've just found out I'm pregnant."

"Aaah!" she quietly and knowingly exclaimed.  She asked if I'd seen the midwife yet.  I told her coming to her was the first step and that I didn't really know what I was supposed to do, being unfamiliar with British pregnancy healthcare standard operating procedures.  She quietly and discretely wrote down the number for the midwife which is conveniently next door to them.  She said that I should call them and let them know that I was a new patient at St. Gabriel's and to set up an appointment.  She was so cute whenever she mentioned anything to do with pregnancy- very quiet as if there were spies in the waiting room who shouldn't know!  It didn't matter which order I did the appointments in, so she said whenever the midwife could schedule me was fine.  Then we scheduled my "pre-reg" appointment for next Tuesday.  Then she did something that blew my mind.  She handed me this:

Unfilled.  You're welcome.

and said to bring it back with a sample for my appointment.  I've never in my life not peed IN the doctor's office.  Ross says it's pretty standard here.  Apparently, last time he was at St. Gabriel's an elderly woman was at the desk at the same time he was and said, "My husband needs to see someone immediately."  The nurse was trying to dissuade her when the woman pulled out a little container like the one above, filled with a greenish only semi-liquid substance and reiterated that he needed to come in immediately.  The nurse changed her tune with a "Yes! He does!"

So I've got a little plastic container in my purse.  I hope I don't lose it between now and then!

Later, I called the midwife and made my appointment for next Wednesday.
I'm a little nervous and not entirely sure about how all of this works.  I hope you'll join in as I document prenatal (or antenatal, as they call it here) care in the UK.  Here we go!

Was there anything about your medical care that surprised you?
Have you ever carried a jar of pee around in your purse?


  1. I had my son in London and thought it was so gross they wanted me to carry my pee with me to my m/w appointments. They had cups there so I always said I forgot mine and did it there :)

    I really liked the midwifery led model of care in the UK, and sought it out when we returned to the US for my daughter's birth. I was not so crazy about the NHS, but it was nice that there were no bills at the end!

    Good luck, and congrats!