I just came back from an appointment for a routine gynecological procedure, which I set up with our HMO instead of having my midwife do it because our insurance only covered the procedure if done through the HMO. The whole experience reminded me of why I chose a midwife, and made me feel bad for those who are stuck with a bad doctor and can’t choose a good doctor or a midwife, or aren’t aware of the alternatives. (Disclaimer: If you chose your doctor and you’re happy with him/her, that’s great! All women should be given choices, but this is a clear example of what can happen when they’re not.)
First the male nurse takes me to the examining room and I tell him I’m 6 months pregnant, so he asks: “Any weight gain?” Duh, what do you think? I’m 6 months pregnant!!!
Then he takes my blood pressure with a cuff linked to a computer (instead of with the cuff and stethoscope) and it comes out 156/84, which is RIDICULOUSLY high, especially for me since I have low blood pressure. He seems surprised, and then when I tell him I’m there for the gynecological procedure he looks up in shock: “But… you’re PREGNANT!! I’m not sure that can be done!” Um, because of course you’re a specialist in gynecology… *sigh* (For the record, the procedure is perfectly safe and was suggested by my midwife and approved by an OB/GYN as a standard routine test. So thanks for trying to scare me, Mr. Nurse.)
Then he leaves and the doctor comes in (she’s about 20 years old) and tells me that my blood pressure is insanely high and that I probably have pre-eclampsia, and that she will have to send me down to labor and delivery for a full work-up if my blood pressure doesn’t come down when she checks it again after the procedure. She goes into a five-minute discourse about the dangers of pre-eclampsia and how it can harm my unborn child and looks positively giddy that she found something wrong with me. (Thanks for trying to scare me, Ms. Doctor. You’re really helping the blood pressure issue by saying words like “miscarriage” several times in one sentence.)
I decide to tell her that if the machine is right, the only reason I have high blood pressure is because I’m stressed out at being at the doctor’s office (and what I don’t tell her is that I am stressed about being around doctors who scare pregnant women and who believe pregnancy and birth are always medical emergencies). I tell her that I had just seen my midwife three days earlier and my blood pressure was fine then, but she doesn’t listen.
She asks if I know the sex of the baby, and I consider telling her we’ve chosen not to have any ultrasounds, but then I figure she would have a heart attack and I would have to walk out in my little paper gown with my butt showing, to give the nurse the heads-up. So I decide to skip my educational speech.
She does the two-minute procedure (asking me to lay down and then scoot myself to the edge of the examining table, which is almost impossible for a pregnant person to accomplish without pulling a ligament) and then checks my blood pressure the old-fashioned way. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s 120/70, which is perfectly fine considering she just spent 10 minutes trying to scare me into believing I had pre-eclampsia and my child was in grave danger. She seems bummed that she won’t be able to whisk me off to L & D.
She asks: “Who’s your midwife?” I tell her: “She’s a lay midwife, we’re planning a home birth.”
hahaha, you should’ve seen the look on her face! Absolutely priceless! Her eyes get HUGE!! She pauses for a second, and then utters the most judgmentally-loaded “Ohhhhh…” I’ve ever heard in my life, one of those “Ohhh”s that speak volumes. She wishes me luck and thankfully leaves.
I am so grateful for what happened, because it’s a reminder of how lucky I am to have a husband who is able and willing to finance the services of a midwife (because insurance will only re-imburse… That’s a whole other story!) and to have found a midwife who truly cares about my health and would never think about scaring me with baseless hypotheses. It totally reminded me of this “BirthsMart” video my lovely sister-in-law sent me…
More power to home birthers and natural mamas!!