• Meghan Bartok

Pregnancy in Vietnam: Trimesters 1 & 2

Updated: Aug 3

Since finding out about Baby B at the beginning of August, life has been nothing short of crazy. We've moved four times (which is much easier than it sounds given that we don't have too many belongings here - yet!), started jobs teaching, and tried to wrap our heads around the crazy fact that we'll have a mini us here in a couple of months. Despite all the stress, we're both so excited, and can't wait for the baby to get here!


Trimester 1 flew by, partly because we found out when I was about 6 weeks along, so we only had to focus on the last 6 weeks when we actually knew about the baby. We moved to Saigon from a smaller town in the countryside when we found out so we would have access to international hospitals with English speaking staff. Especially with it being our first baby, it seemed like the better option for us. We chose FV Hospital, which is a French hospital here that caters to a lot of foreigners. So far we've been super pleased with our choice and have had a lovely experience there. It is a bit more expensive than some of the other hospitals in the city, but I'd heard tons of good things, so we were willing to pay a little more for quality service.


8 week ultrasound

I went for my first appointment there at week 8, where I had the first ultrasound and we got to listen to the baby's heartbeat, which was a crazy experience. I went again at week 13 which is when they did all the blood tests to check for issues with me and the baby, and luckily those all came back normal. We also got our first major ultrasound - Baby went from being a little peanut to actually looking somewhat like a baby; a crazy change in five short weeks!


13 week ultrasound

Other than that, trimester 1 was definitely pretty hard. I napped all the time, and I had really bad morning sickness from weeks 6 - 15, and pretty much completely lost my appetite. I also started craving a lot of western food that's either impossible or near impossible to find here, which was not fun. During that time, I lived on pretzels, lemon iced tea, and Oreo blizzards from Dairy Queen. I was definitely not the picture of health, but those were the only foods I could ever really keep down. Other than that, I haven't had any weird cravings, which has been good!


Trimester 2 started at the end of September, and after a couple weeks, I started feeling a bunch better. It was so nice to have an appetite back, and now I eat so much. Overall, the nausea is pretty much gone - down to maybe once a week! Although my sister jinxed me the other day - 20 minutes after she asked me how often I was feeling sick these days and I told her not often, I had to put the phone down to run to the bathroom because suddenly my body didn't want the banana I had for breakfast. Other than having to run to the bathroom all the time, I've gotten lucky and haven't experienced many of the typical pregnancy symptoms.


First baby bump picture at 21 weeks!

Around week 18 I started to feel the baby move for the first time, which was such a surreal experience. Now she wiggles around in there all the time, and I keep joking that we'll need to put her straight into gymnastics. It's super cool and also reassuring to feel her move around all the time, although I know in a couple of weeks I'll get to the point where she'll be keeping me up at night with the kicking. I waited and waited for my baby bump to show up - my mom kept asking for pictures, and I had to keep telling her I looked about the same as normal. Finally, around week 23, I started to notice a real difference. Now she's finally decided to make an appearance, and I'm taking advantage of the next couple of weeks of being small-ish still before I really start to gain weight.


Baby B is not so little anymore!

In trimester 2 we had two additional baby appointments. The first was at week 17 and was just a routine check-up, then at week 22, we had another big ultrasound where they were able to confirm that Baby B is a girl. Super exciting - I started crying in the ultrasound room when we found out. It also took until week 22 for me to gain any weight, and it's only been 1 kg so far. The doctor reassured me that was perfectly fine and healthy, especially for a first pregnancy. The baby is growing well and she's nice and healthy in there, which was so good to hear.


When Mom and Dad have too much fun baby shopping!

This past weekend we went to the mall to make our first baby purchases, and I can already tell that resisting the urge to buy a bunch of baby clothes is going to be super hard - they're

just all so cute! It was exciting to go out and finally look at things. We'd been waiting until we moved into a bigger place, and now we have a room for a nursery to start decorating and storing stuff in. My family has bought a ton of baby stuff that they've mailed over, so we're waiting for those packages to arrive!


Don't get me wrong, it hasn't all been as easy as it sounds. There have been countless nights of tears and stress. It's hard thinking about the logistics of everything - in Vietnam, you don't get a birth certificate when the baby is born. Instead, you have to apply for it and fill out loads of paperwork, which of course is all in Vietnamese, and just thinking about it is enough to give me a migraine. What's even harder is knowing my family won't be here for the whole thing, and even worse, not knowing when they'll actually get to meet the baby in person. At home, I could just go one-stop shopping at Walmart or Target, but here, shopping requires visits to several different stores to pick up everything. They are all adjustments that I'm slowly getting used to.


Despite all that, words can't describe how excited we are for her to get here - I know life is going to change dramatically, but it's a new chapter that's going to be so exciting. Sometimes it's so crazy to me - I always wanted a family that I could take traveling around the world, and to be able to expose my kids to other cultures from a young age, and now that's going to happen. Only 14 more weeks until we get to introduce the little one to the world, and I know it's going to fly by!


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