Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Fired My Doctor...

...at 6 months pregnant.  That's right, you read correctly.  So, a lot has happened since I last updated the blog...9 months ago!
     Sean and I moved to Philly, Sean settled-in at his new position, I interviewed with publisher after publisher...and then some, to no avail.  Then, I got pregnant.  Not a real shocker, as we were trying, but a real game-changer in our newlywed and newly-moved life.  When the test came out positive, we looked at each other in wonderment, excitement, and a great sense of bafflement.  I had spent so many years trying not to get pregnant, that I had no idea what to do when I actually did get pregnant.  Having found out on a Friday afternoon, I had a couple of days to let the information sink in before I placed a call to my OB/GYN on Monday.
     I did what the majority of American women do - I sought prenatal care through my OB, I assumed that that was just what women did.  Knowing that I had a bicornuate uterus, I was given a 'high risk' designation and referred to see a specialist in addition to seeing my regular doctor.  From day one, I was unhappy with the care I received from both offices, despite the fact that I was having appointments up to three times a month.  When I had a question during the 3 minutes of my OB appointment, they cheerily referred me elsewhere, as I was seeing a specialist.  Well no, I only saw the specialist for my first appointment and consultation, but regularly saw the technician for the three ultrasounds I had per month.  My specialist's office did not even take direct calls if an emergency question did arise -- I would need to leave that as a voicemail, with the message happily telling me that my call would be returned within 48 hours (one time I did need to leave a message to change an appointment time, my call was returned 3 business days later).  The one time I did ask a question at my specialist's office, the technician referred me back to my OB.  And so on, and so forth.
     Fast forward to the 4 1/2 month mark - a beautiful time in my pregnancy here (insert heavy sarcasm).  I had followed my doctor's advice and consented to have sequential screening done.  Why?  Because my due date falls two weeks into my 35th year, I am considered to be in the first block of advanced maternal age (the second, more 'serious' one occurring in your 40th year and after), and thus being at a greater risk of having a child with Down Syndrome.
     While at work on a Friday afternoon, I get a message from my doctor, informing me that she has my test results and that I should call back to speak with her.  The warning bells went off - typically, negative test results would just be left on my voicemail.  So, I call back and the doctor (whom I can't even place because I've seen 4 of the 10 different doctors in the practice) informs me that she is very sorry, but the baby has tested positive for the neural tube defect known as Spina Bifida.  She tells me that I need to call the specialist's office and tell them that she wants an ultrasound scheduled immediately.  I'm in shock and in tears, at work, and she tells me again that she is 'very sorry' and leaves me to try to get an appointment on a Friday afternoon.
     I frantically call the specialist's office, on the 'special' line my doctor has given me, in hopes that I would actually reach a human.  I leave a message and cross my fingers for a call back.  When the office calls me back, there is mass confusion as to why my doctor is ordering this ultrasound, none of which I can explain because I'm just following the doctor's instructions.  They decide to compromise, scheduling an appointment with a genetic counselor on Monday.  We go to the genetic counselor, who explains what we've been able to research over the weekend, tries to 'sell' us on different testing, and basically orders the ultrasound my OB had asked for because of things being 'inconclusive'.  We go in for the ultrasound...and everything is clear - no  sign of any abnormalities in the spine or stomach.  The u/s gave us a look with 90% accuracy, and the risks associated with amniocentesis were not, in our opinions, worth the additional 5% it would give us.  Thus, a week and a half of hell with no explanation at all of why the test came back with a 1 in 4 chance of our baby having Spina Bifida.  That's 1 in 4, not to be mixed up with 1 in 40, or even 1 in 400.  At 6 months pregnant, we have an active baby boy, growing right on target and no explanation for the test results.  (I had asked about the possibility of retesting, but the genetic counselor declined that because with results as high as mine, she saw no possibility for a mistake).
     Around this time, I began researching childbirth methods in preparation for the big day.  I instantly connected with the Bradley Method and began reading a book about it.  The more I read, the more I realized that I had way more choices than I had imagined, in regards to all aspects of my pregnancy and childbirth.  The more I read, the more I realized that I did not want a doctor overseeing my pregnancy and childbirth.  I asked a few girlfriends about their childbirth experiences and whether they had delivered naturally.  It wasn't until I met an old friend for coffee, and heard about her experiences delivering two of her children naturally, that I became convinced that a.) it was possible to deliver without medication, and b.) this was the route that I wanted to pursue.  (Thanks, Karen!)
     After discussing with my husband, reading more, and watching two documentaries, I was sold.  I was going to try to find a midwife to take over my prenatal care and help me deliver my child.
      Today, I had my first appointment with a midwife at Valley Birthcenter.  As soon as I walked in the door, I could feel the difference.  This was a warm, inviting, and peaceful place.  I met with one of the two midwives at the practice for 30 minutes.  Read 30 minutes, not 3 minutes!  We talked about my pregnancy, my diet and exercise regimes, and most importantly, she bonded with me and my unborn baby.  Not only did she treat me like a human, she acknowledged the baby growing in my body (which was hard not to, as he insisted on kicking her repeatedly while she was trying to listen to his heartbeat!).  I can actually say that I'm looking forward to my glucose test in a few weeks, as I am truly looking forward to going back.  With any luck, we'll even be able to deliver our baby there -- in the quiet of the house, without being hurried or having medication foisted on me, without an IV or hospital gown, and possibly in the jacuzzi.  I'm so glad that I fired my doctor, and I can't wait to continue to build a relationship with the midwives who will be assisting my husband and I to bring our little one into this world.