I finally did it. I made an appointment with a midwife. It made me so happy to do this, and it’s making the pregnancy feel more real. I still have a hard time owning words like “pregnant,” but hopefully I’ll get over that. I’m lucky to live in a city that has a lot of childbirth options, but that made the research process a little more overwhelming. I first joined a local mother’s online board (crazy that I can do that) to research others’ experiences at the local hospitals. I also found the names of some doulas that were recommended highly. I talked to one on the phone, and she was so eager to help and answer my questions, even though I haven’t committed to her or anything. She strongly recommended the hospital and midwife practice I was already leaning towards, but gave me really specific information about the policies at all the hospitals. I felt like I was pretty well informed about what a birth experience would be like at the different places. At my final RE appointment, I asked the doctor what he thought of my choice, too. He said it’d be a great place to go, assuming I was in good overall health. I almost said (but didn’t) that I was in fine health other than having dud eggs. It felt good having the recommendation of a doctor at a big, conservative hospital, too – someone who’s not exactly a card-carrying member of a natural childbirth advocacy group. I want to do what feels right for me, but it helps to have outside validation that what I’m doing is smart and sound.
This decision about where to deliver involved quite a bit of tumult. Not as much internally, but with my (mentioned in earlier posts) so-called therapist, Dr. HamandCheese. She’s the doctor who prescribed the Zoloft for me when I was having a tough time after IVF #3 failed. I would see her occasionally to check in, but never felt that the sessions with her were particularly helpful. Now, I knew early on that Dr. HamandCheese and I weren’t on the same page about everything (she was very much for my staying on Zoloft during pregnancy while I was against it). And I was aware that she strongly voiced her opinions in sessions in a way that I thought was incredibly inappropriate for a therapist. But she’s not really a therapist. She’s a psychiatrist who’s interested in helping women cope with IF. The problem is that she’s clueless about pretty essential boundaries and forms of etiquette that should be part of a therapy session. I’ve been aware of this for awhile, and I don’t really know why I didn’t break up with her earlier. I guess breaking up with a therapist (or even an almost therapist) isn’t an easy thing to do.
So, last week was a pretty hectic week. I was getting used to this whole being pregnant thing, and trying hard to believe that the embie wouldn’t get dislodged every time I coughed or sneezed. I had been told by my RE to investigate where I wanted to continue care and deliver. I was a little overwhelmed by all the research, and then on top of all that, my grandmother died. It wasn’t a surprise, and the woman I knew as my grandmother had really been gone for many years already. But this kind of event brings out all the neurosis in a family, you know?
So, I was coping with all that. That’s where I was when I went to Dr. Hamandcheese last week. I sit down in her office and mention that I’m a little overwhelmed with all the prenatal care/delivery research (not even getting to mention my grandmother yet), and she totally starts in on me! Immediately she starts to question my leanings towards a hospital that is known for supporting natural childbirth, and that’s supposed to have an amazing team of midwives. She even says, “I don’t understand how, after what you’ve gone through, you wouldn’t want to have all the medical support possible to keep the baby safe.” Dude! You’d think I had said I wanted to give birth in a PASTURE! IT’S A FUCKING HOSPITAL, A HARVARD TEACHING HOSPITAL, WITH OBs, NOT GOATS, ON THE FLOOR, IF NEEDED. I was shocked and completely blind-sided. Clearly, (and in keeping with her feelings about Zoloft), Dr. Ham is in the more-medicalization-is-better camp, and I’m just not. I understand that these are heated, devisive issues. I believe that a woman should be able to choose the options that make her feel safest. But it’s a personal decision, and any educated person must understand that thinking people can be on either side of the camp.
Dr. Ham just wouldn’t let it go. She would tell me my research and information was anecdotal, and that I had to be aware of the source and then she’d tell me two anecdotal incidents that happened with her patients and midwives (like there aren’t anecdotal negative stories out there involving OBs). She got specific and argued in favor of episiotomies after I told her that even her big, fancy, high-risk hospital did a study showing that the rate of c-section and episiotomies goes down in midwife-attended births. She even shared how she argued her daughter-in-law out of her original non-intervention tendencies (poor woman, to have such a bullying mother-in-law). At one point, I literally had to say (exhausted), “I really don’t want to be arguing about this with you right now!”
What’s crazy is that my desire to try for a natural childbirth (as long as it’s safe for me and the baby) is part of my effort to have faith that this can and will be a normal, healthy pregnancy, even though I struggled to get here. I believed in natural childbirth before IF, so why shouldn’t I now? The important question is, why should this pregnancy be driven by fear??? And there I was, with this woman (who’s role should have been to laud my attempt to stave off needless anxiety) saying I should try to pile as much medicine on as possible, because I must, as a IF-surviver, be fearful for my baby. It just seems insane and wrong-headed, don’t you think?
I left that session feeling WAY more stressed than I did going in. Stopping at the restroom on the way out, I noticed that my cheeks were bright red from arguing with her. I was WORN OUT. Needless to say, I’ve broken up with Dr. Hamandcheese.
Frankly, I think I’m in a better, more balanced place regarding medicalization than I was before coping with IF. As I’ve mentioned previously, I originally had a really antagonistic, fearful, non-trusting attitude towards anything medical. Now, I think I’ll be able to go with the flow more. I’d like to have as much support as possible, to try to make a natural childbirth easier to have, but if it’s necessary, I don’t think I’ll view a medical intervention as my enemy. I’m happy about that, because I know you can’t control how your childbirth (or much else) will go.