12 week scan
Our first year in Qatar will be extremely memorable for many reasons, for not only were our eyes opened up to a whole new way of life during that time, but we also chose to expand our headcount and become a family of six! Baby number 4 would in fact never have been on my husband's radar if it hadn't been for my heart telling me that our family wasn't yet complete and my subsequent use of powers of persuasion on him over a great many months!

Two months after arriving in Qatar I was pregnant - it all happened a bit faster than we had anticipated and my initial reaction was one of fear. I was new to the country and still didn't have a clue about medical facilities and care in Doha. As a result I was over 10 weeks pregnant before I finally plucked up the courage to go and see someone about antenatal care. I need not have worried, however, as the care I received throughout the pregnancy was fantastic and was far superior to my previous  3 experiences in the UK. 

I was actually seen at the Qatargas Medical Centre on the grounds of Al Ahli Hospital (the most well known private hospital here in Qatar). This is where Qatargas and RasGas employees and their families can go for all their medical and dental care needs at no cost, with referrals to the hospital taking place for all tests, scans and specialist appointments etc, as required.

Throughout my pregnancy I was always seen by an Obstetrician at the Clinic, rather than a Midwife, as is the norm here. I was also seen far more regularly than I had ever been seen in the UK - every 4 weeks  until 28 weeks, and then fortnightly up to 36 weeks pregnant. If I had stayed in Qatar to give birth I would then have been referred to the obs and gynae department in the main hospital for weekly checks thereafter, but we decided that I would return home to the UK to give birth so that the family could enjoy the full Summer there while the children were off school. This was much more preferable to staying in the scorching heat of Doha awaiting the birth and then having the nightmare of organising all the necessary paperwork to enable us to fly with a newborn (my due date was 12th July).

During the pregnancy I had 4 scans - at 12 weeks, 20 weeks, 28 weeks and 34 weeks. 

Baby Bump - 23 weeks
These were all routine scans so double the number I had ever had before when pregnant with my other children in England. 

At the 20 week scan we were asked if we wanted to know the sex of the baby and the sonographer was most astonished when we said no - it would appear that pretty much everyone finds out whether they are carrying a blue or pink bundle beforehand here! 

By the 28 week scan, however, there was no mistaking the fact even to my untrained eye that we had another little boy waiting to make an appearance. So for the first time ever we knew the sex of the baby beforehand and the element of surprise was gone. Retrospectively, it was probably no bad thing as it gave both myself and our daughter, Rebecca, the opportunity to accept that she was never going to have the little sister she had always so badly wanted. At this scan, I was also lucky enough to see some 4D images of the baby, something I have never experienced before - unfortunately our little boy wouldn't cooperate and kept putting his hands up to his face so we were unable to have a still shot of his facial features to show everyone afterwards!

Other than horrendous morning sickness for about the first 18 weeks, my pregnancy progressed well and with few complications, until routine glucose tolerance testing results showed that I had gestational diabetes. I was thrown into a mad panic as I had never been diagnosed with this before (don't think I had ever even been tested for it in my previous pregnancies!) and remember getting upset (raging hormones obviously!) as the Obstetrician spoke to me about how I was going to have to eat a very careful diet for the rest of my pregnancy. The thought of potentially having to give birth to a whopping 10 pound baby though made me really listen to the advice I was given and I amended my diet appropriately for the rest of my pregnancy (and that included no more chocolate) . 

Baby Bump - 29 weeks
Retrospectively, I think I was very borderline for the condition, and was later told by Midwives in the UK, who saw all my test results, that they would not have diagnosed it there. The little niggling thought that I had already had that the medical staff in Doha are sometimes overly cautious, causing undue worry,  seemed to be true in this instance but at least it meant I was probably the healthiest I had ever been during pregnancy and only gained a total of 14 pounds by the time I gave birth (ok, so maybe I was a bit heavier than perhaps I should have been to start with, but this was pretty good going!). The fact that I had to stand on the scales at every antenatal appointment throughout the 40 weeks, with potential tutting noises coming from the Obstetrician, probably also acted as a huge incentive not to overindulge while my baby cooked inside me!

Once we had confirmation at 34 weeks that baby had finally turned out of the breech position and was head down where he belonged, and my blood pressure wasn't horrendously high, I was hugely relieved and could go about organising my 'fit to fly' note ready to return to the UK. My Obstetrician wasn't particularly in favour of me flying so late in my pregnancy, but still gave me the relevant paperwork and I flew home one day before the British Airways cut off date of 36 weeks, late night on 12th June 2012. 

Baby Bump - 35 weeks
Simon and the 3 children remained in Qatar for a further 3 and a half weeks to finish the school term. I was very emotional at the thought of leaving them all for so long as I had not been away from my children for longer than a couple of days at a time on a few occasions spanning a 12 year period. But thanks to some of the lovely friends we have here in Doha I was able to meticulously plan childcare arrangements for them in my absence while Simon continued to work, and I was able to enjoy some completely alien time to myself back at our home in the UK. It was actually the first time I had returned to the UK and to our home since we left to start our adventure overseas 10 months earlier!

The last few weeks of pregnancy were uneventful. The Midwife at my local GP surgery was amazing - I went there with my Mum hours after arriving back in the UK to make an appointment and expected to wait a week or more to be seen by someone, but the midwife saw me later that very same morning to go through all my notes, check me over and add me on to their system, which took almost an hour and a half. 

So all I had to do was keep my legs crossed and hope that our baby didn't put in an early appearance as Si and the kids were not due back in the UK until 7th July, which was just 5 days before my due date! All 3 of my previous babies had been born a few days early so I was very nervous that he would arrive before they returned. 

Our gorgeous little boy, Ethan Joseph, behaved impeccably however and stayed inside in the warm for an additional 3 days past his due date, eventually being born on the morning of 15th July at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey (same place that all his siblings were born at) and weighing in at a healthy 7lb 14oz! I had survived my pregnancy abroad and successfully given birth to our fourth, and final little beam of light!

Karen Waite
15/12/2013 06:59:32 am

Hi, I am currently 4 months pregnant and moving to Qatar early next year (maybe around March..yet to be confirmed) and it is likely that I will have the baby in Qatar. Absolutly terrified by all this change and being pregnant but my husband got a job offer and it seemed crazy to turn it down.Ideally I wanted to return home to have baby but as my husband will just be completing his probation period it won't be possible. I was just wondering if you knew about the polices or paperwork needed to take baby to UK, if there is an age limit and how long the process takes. I know you said the process was complicated, can you tell me more? Look foward to hearing from you, Karen


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