Thursday, December 20, 2012

Diary of an Incubator: Being a Country Woman

Yesterday, Duncan had to rush me down to Albany (one and a half hours away) for an ultrasound.  I've had aching legs for a while, but on Tuesday afternoon, I developed quite agonising pain in my right calf.  I could hardly walk.  Duncan tried to massage it and one spot was particularly sore.  He was concerned so he called the hospital where we plan to have the baby and spoke to a midwife.  She was worried that it might be a blood clot, so the next morning the obstetrician called me and told me he had got me an ultrasound appointment in Albany.  We were hoping to go to either Katanning or Narrogin which were closer, but their sonographers were either on leave or only work certain days.

In the end it all turned out fine.  I don't have a clot, but I do have to spend more time resting with my feet elevated.  This isn't as good as it sounds.  I have to keep fighting the urge to 'nest'.  However, since the pain is horrible, it is a pretty good deterrent.  I have been confined to the couch with my feet propped up on a chair and two cushions for most of today.

During my pregnancy, I have realised two things.  We are blessed to have such a good health care system in Australia, and being a pregnant woman in the country is a lot harder than it would be if I was in the city.

Here are some of the disadvantages of being in the country:
  • The lack of maternity services.  Our local hospital has no maternity services and that's pretty normal for country towns.  Country women need to either go to Perth or their nearest regional centre.  Sometimes you can see your local GP for check-ups, but otherwise it means a lot of travelling - particularly if you haven't had an easy pregnancy.
  • Distance (which kind of ties in with my last point).  Being on a farm, it can be hard to find someone available (and close by) to help if you need a lift somewhere.  Out here, most women have small kids at home which means they can't always drop everything if you need help.  Mobile reception isn't great which means it can be hard to contact Duncan.  Farms are very busy at certain times of the year which also means it can be hard to get hold of someone.  Country women usually go away to do their 'countdown' about two weeks before their due date in case the baby comes early (or sooner if they have complications).  This can be annoying.  My due date is the 18th January, but I have to go to Perth on the 4th January and stay there.  I really don't want to go.  Perth summers aren't pleasant.  I have to stay with other people which will probably end up being a burden on them and on me.  I deliberately didn't ask to stay with anyone who I suspected might be thinking I'll be their live-in nanny or cook for two weeks (especially since it's school holidays).
  • You have to be tough.  I've lost count of the times people have told me to rest.  But sometimes you can't rest.  Things need to be done.  By that, I don't mean that I wish to start crazy projects like DIY house renovations, but I do have to feed myself, my husband, and my animals.  I have to go to town to get my shopping (there's no home delivery for groceries out here and no takeaway).  It's all very well people telling me to sit around with my feet up all day, but unless they're going to move in with me and do heavy lifting etc, they're just empty words.  Neighbours aren't right next-door like they are in suburbia.  There's no public transport or taxis.  You just have to soldier on sometimes.
  • Less options for pregnancy exercises.  Last month, Duncan and I did an all-day antenatal class for first-time parents in Perth.  All of the women kept talking about the special pregnancy exercise classes in pilates or water aerobics they were attending.  There's nothing like that out here.  To exercise, I either have to go for a walk or go to the local pool (which is only open for six months of the year because it is outdoors).
  • Less birthing options.  If you want a homebirth, it's discouraged out here because of the isolation if something goes wrong.  I don't want a homebirth so it isn't an issue for me, but it might be for some other women.
Despite all of these disadvantages, I am still blessed.  Many country towns don't even have a GP at all.  I take my hat off to women on stations up north, or those who live overseas with less access to quality health care.


Iris Flavia said...

January 4th is probably there in no time!
Hope you have some good books to read so far...
And, oh, yes, I can understand it´s nothing to look forward to to be so close to strangers - especially when expecting and first time. Boy, I´d be nervous!
I wish you luck, maybe you make good friends there :-)

Sarah said...

Yep, I've got plenty of good books. :)

Oh I'm not staying with strangers - I'm staying with two lots of friends (both for a week each). It's very nice of them to have me; it's just going to be hard staying with anyone and feeling like I have to be social when I'm hot and tired.

Wendy said...

If they're good friends, Sarah, they'll probably understand. Especially if you don't look your best :-)