Tuesday, April 01, 2008

My Appointment, Part 1

I don’t think I can give birth in a hospital. After meeting with the OB/GYN again yesterday, touring the labor and delivery area, and asking lots of questions, I was disappointed, discouraged, and even angry. A prenatal appointment at the hospital is so hurried, impersonal, and intimidating compared to a visit with my midwives.

When I went to the desk to check in, the receptionist was on the phone. Finally, she hung up, looked at me without a smile, and waited for me to say something. I told her my name, and she handed me a label. I must have looked puzzled, because she said, “For the bathroom.” I was still confused. “I’ve only been here once before….” I said. Then she explained that every time I come for an appointment, I am supposed to get a label, go to the bathroom, and leave a urine sample with the label affixed to it. So I did, but it bothered me to not know the results. At the birth center, the midwives trust their clients to test their own urine. You’re only supposed to show them the test stick if anything looks abnormal when you hold it up to the chart on the container that the sticks come in.

After waiting several minutes in the waiting room, a nurse came for Hubby and me, and took me to a scale. I stepped on and the scale registered my weight. I made some comment about “numbers that I don’t want to see,” and the nurse just looked at me. With my midwives, if I ever made a joke or comment about my pregnancy weight gain, they were quick to assure me that it’s normal and healthy to gain more than the doctor-recommended 20-30 pounds, that weight gain is necessary for a healthy baby, that I am gaining the right amount for my baby, etc.

Then the nurse led us to the (tiny) appointment room. There were only two places to sit—a wooden chair next to the door for Hubby, and the hospital bed with the roll of white paper on it for me. Compare this with the birth center, where we had our choice of seats—chairs, a cushy loveseat, a queen-sized bed with half-a-dozen pillows on it. Another indication of being a “patient” rather than a “client.” The nurse took my blood pressure. Then she made me lay down on my back on the bed (ouchouchouch! Where are my half-dozen pillows?) and listened to the baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler. She started to hand me a paper drape and told me I could undress from the waist down so the doctor could perform a Group B Strep test (which I had requested last time I was there, simply for the reason that I didn’t want anyone to look at my chart while I was in labor and say, “Oh, you never had a GBS test? We’ll have to pump you with antibiotics just in case”).

“Can I do the test myself?” I asked. When I was pregnant with D.L.F., I had done the test myself, and for the life of me, I couldn’t think of any good reason why the doctor was more qualified than I to stick a cotton swab in my private areas. The nurse looked a little surprised, but she agreed and handed me a tube with the swab in it. She said the doctor would be in shortly.

After a wait of fifteen or twenty minutes, the doctor arrived. I don’t remember him asking me how I was feeling. My midwives took time to find out how I was doing, both physically and emotionally. They would ask how various body parts were feeling and how various systems were functioning. They would ask me things like what I’d been doing lately, what I’d been eating, how I was doing with taking care of D.L.F., if I was dealing with anything stressful in my life. We would just chat for a while. Sometimes they would tell me stories about their own children or funny or interesting things about being a midwife. And they always gave me a back massage or foot rub with lotions or oils. The doctor, on the other hand, just asked if I’ve had any more bleeding (which I have not). Then he said he needed to get his schedule, left the room, and returned with a clipboard. He said something about it being convenient for him if I would go into labor on April 18, because he wouldn’t have much going on that day. I know he was joking, and I chuckled politely, but it rubbed me the wrong way. Then he said, “Well, if you haven’t gone into labor by 39 weeks, we’ll probably have you come in and induce you to get things started. If your placenta has moved any more, I might be okay with letting you go even a week after your due date—but probably none of my colleagues would do that.” It irritated me to hear him talk so casually about inducing, and a week before the baby is even due! Doesn’t he care that using pitocin almost always necessitates other interventions? And what if my baby isn’t ready to come out when it’s convenient for the doctor? He said himself that if my placenta gets two or more centimeters away from my cervix (it was 1.5 centimeters away when we had an ultrasound almost two weeks ago), then the risk of bleeding will be very minimal.

And to hear him say the words “I might let you…” really made me seethe, although outwardly I maintained a pleasant smile. I figured we’d better wait and see what the ultrasound shows this Thursday before I start getting assertive. The thing is, he and everyone in his office have the mentality that HE is in charge of getting this baby out of me, and I feel that it is MY responsibility. I don’t worship doctors. In fact, I don’t even trust them, as a group. I haven’t known this particular OB/GYN to long enough to find out if I trust him or not, but I’m leaning toward “not really.” I guess I would trust him to keep my baby and me alive in a dire emergency, but I don’t trust that he really cares about my long-term emotional and mental health or that how he treats me in this pregnancy (including whether or not he recommends a C-section) will affect any future pregnancies and births I may have.


lani said...

hi melissa!
thanks for looking me up! i've often wondered how you guys are doing ... your son is beautiful (he looks just like you!) and congratulations on your new daughter!

i'll definitely be keeping up with you guys - thank you so much for linking to your blog.

btw, you are gorgeous pregnant! :)

Stephanie said...

Oh Meeka, Red flags everywhere! Go back to the midwife! You CAN do this.
I just found out from my midwife yesterday that the chicken pox vaccine and many others have cells from aborted babies in them. I'm as mad as a hornet about that! They just don't tell you everything they should.

Anonymous said...

Dear Melissa,
I found myself agreeing with you very much in this post. I am a mother to 3 boys and had all of them at a hospital, no midwife just doctors. I always had many things I would of like done or even had the choice of doing. Sadly a hospital birth is so sterile and well almost like your just another number. For my last 2 births both were induced so I was hooked up to an i.v. the whole time and had to stay in a bed the whole time too. I feel you pain. Michelle