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May 24, 2011

The Medical Bully and a Rubber Chicken

There are times in life when you look back on a past decision and then thank your lucky stars that you miraculously regained your sanity and changed your mind. Yesterday was one of those days.

After waking up and barely getting out the door in time, the hubs and I herded the toddler to our clinic to attend my prenatal checkup. This one, however, was different. Apparently, midwives are people too and since they need to take the occasional vacation, the lowly patients must then be shuffled around to see someone else. Since my midwife is probably soaking up the sun in a luxurious tropical locale right now, I saw an OB. And friends, I have never been more sure of my decision to switch to a midwife than I was yesterday.

As soon as the OB entered the room, it was clear she had reviewed my file and the one thing that stood out to her in SCREAMING! CAPITAL! LETTERS! was that I had delivered a 9 POUND 14 OUNCE BABY VAGINALLY! VAGINALLY, PEOPLE!!

Unfortunately, approximately thirty seconds into the appointment, it all went downhill. The conversation went something like this:

OB: Well, your first baby was SO BIG that you may want to seriously consider a c-section. We give women that option now, you know. Is that something you're interested in?

Me: No. I'm really not.

[I have to interject here that as soon as I said NO in a manner that did not leave any room for negotiation, the OB looked at me as though I had slapped her with a rubber chicken.]

OB: It's something you should think about. Many women deliver large babies and then look back and wish that they'd had a c-section.

Me: Okay, but I don't want an elective c-section.

OB: This is something you should consider carefully, you know. It's not only for your health, but also your child's because if the shoulders get stuck, it can cause acute injuries to the baby like a broken collarbone or arm injuries- things like that. And you might have to deal with a weak pelvic floor and many other serious complications for the long-term if you deliver a second baby that large.

Me: I'm really not interested in a c-section. I almost ended up with one with my first baby, but I was given Pitocin and an epidural instead. I've done the research and I want things to be different this time. I want to have the freedom to get up and walk around to get things going, instead of having interventions. In fact, I'd like to avoid any interventions unless absolutely necessary and for us, that means going completely natural.

OB: [Laughs]

After being bullied and laughed at by the OB, I was wishing that I had that rubber chicken. I was also wishing that our appointment was over, but it wasn't to be. Thanks to a bit of cervical pain in the past couple weeks (oh, the joys of growing life) I was given the privilege of throwing my ankles to heaven in those sexy metal stirrups as the doctor got a little too intimate for my feminine comfort.

As she was checking to see if the state of my cervix was worthy of her four years in medical school (it wasn't, everything is fine), the c-section conversation continued. I'll spare you all the gory details but it included what can only be described as overtly fake sympathy and the boldfaced threat that if the baby's shoulders get stuck during delivery, the medical staff will, in fact, be "jumping on my belly" to get the baby out.

Isn't THAT a serene picture for the mother-to-be.

Despite the blatant bullying, I held my ground. I made it known that my end goal was a healthy baby and if a c-section was needed, then fine, but I certainly am not too posh to push, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. And then the appointment was done, much to my relief and the relief of my husband who had been holding his breath to see exactly when I was going to lose my cool and whip out my Karate Kid moves on the agenda-pushing doctor.

I've said it before- I'm genuinely grateful that we live in a country where interventions, when needed, are readily available. I'm thankful that I live close to medical attention and if I need it, I can be to a hospital in less than ten minutes. But just over a year and a half ago, a 9 POUND 14 OUNCE BABY! came out of my vagina and while the experience wasn't altogether a pleasant one, it was powerful and life-changing. It was something that I want to experience again in all of it's painful, bloody, and empowering glory. And it's certainly not something I will allow to be dictated by a pushy medical staff with their own agenda.

Dear supportive and wonderful midwife, please hurry back.


  1. I loved both of my midwives. I would have gone to the first for number two, but we moved 500 miles away so it wasn't possible. But I think I loved my second one even more. And she too went on vacation for 6 weeks - 6 WEEKS - and I was forced to see OB's who were concerned with blood pressure, that wasn't high, but because I had preclampsia with the first. They talked of early hospitalization and other not so great stuff with out a need. And frankly, that made my blood pressure rise. Ultimately, the midwife recommended an induction, which went well and she was able to deliver my daughter. I'm so lucky and happy it went this way. I will always do a midwife, not that I'm planning on more babies.

  2. Ugh, this is exactly why I used a midwife with my first son and will use her again if we have any other children. What is it about doctors that they can't just respect our decisions? I had my son (8lbs 9oz) au naturale and the doctors in my practice thought I was crazy.

  3. That's an excellent question Kelly! In my years of seeing OBs, I've only found one that I felt really respected my wishes... and that was many, many years ago (and nowhere near where I'm living now). To be fair, I'm sure there are doctors who are wonderful and supportive, but in my experience so far, my midwife is much more on-board with my birthing plans than anyone else in the medical field that I've encountered!

  4. It's pretty appalling that a doctor would treat you like that. Thank heaven for midwives! At least there's options!

  5. I agree- I'm very grateful to have options!

  6. Good for you! I would have walked out of the appointment. I had to have a c-section, some people choose to do that, given the option I would never choose it again! Not that I had a choice in the first place

  7. YOU CAN DO IT!!! I admire your determination & I am convinced in mind over matter in this case. My first was an all-natural, vaginal delivery ( while my second baby was 10 lb. 9 oz., 24 inches long. ( I educated myself with my first like crazy, & luckily I was even more educated, more empowered & more determined to have a healthy birth with my second.
    My second (son) did have shoulder dystocia so got stuck pretty well coming out. Thanks to a great team, a thourough midwife & the power to know better, I delivered him with NO intervention. Your body is made to do it! It works best when you leave it in it's natural state so the work can be done without interruption.

    Looking forward to reading more. I will be sending postitive birth vibes your way for a happy & healthy delivery! If you haven't already, I would highly recommend Ina May Gaskin's books, she was a Godsend to us! Without sounding too "granola" or "crunchy", let things happen au naturale...


  8. Ugh, I'm so not surprised. I wish you could have slapped her with said rubber chicken. This is exactly why I'll be seeing a MW with any subsequent pregnancies. I DID end up with a C/S the first time. Necessary, but I shouldn't have been in that position in the first place.

    Also, one of my good friends is going in tomorrow morning for a scheduled C/S with her first baby. Because baby is "too big". He's measuring 9lbs, +/- AT LEAST a pound either way. Don't even get me started.

  9. Oh wow. That's really surprising that they're doing that with her first baby Stephanie! Two days before I went into labor with Nathaniel, he was measuring 9 pounds 11 ounces on an ultrasound (plus or minus a pound either way) and I still had the option of trying for a vaginal delivery. I hope it goes well for your friend, but wow, you couldn't pay me to go that route.

  10. Me either.

    This doctor is ridiculous. I tried to very gently warn her against him when she told me at 20 weeks he told her that there's "really no reason" to stay pregnant past 37 weeks and they could put a C/S on the books right then if she wanted to. She just thought that was great. I did not.

    He also told her right before they did schedule the C/S that she could try for a vaginal delivery, but he knows the baby will never fit because he's way too big. Nice encouragement, right? With an attitude like that I don't really know how people are expected to even attempt a vaginal delivery, but even if she did I doubt it would have worked out with her doctor being so obviously cut-happy. It's sad :(

    Anyway, she thinks this is all okay and it's her body, her baby and I what I really want is for everything to go well for her. I just hate to see everything I hate about medicine today play out with someone I care about.