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.
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) .
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.
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!