After the past few months and all of our experiences with doctors for my relatively uneventful pregnancy, I no longer find it so hard to understand why people choose midwives over doctors and home births over hospitals. I’ve always supported people’s ability to seek the sort of care they feel is right for them and respected their choices, but I’ve never really identified with the feeling that the medical establishment not only might not be the best place to get care if you are pregnant, but that it might actually be doing some of the wrong things for pregnant people and their babies. More and more lately, I’m starting to feel that the natural childbirth folks might be onto something.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love my clinic. I’ve liked every single nurse, doctor, or CNM I’ve worked with, found all of them to be knowledgeable professionals who are also friendly, enthusiastic, receptive and supportive. I’ve never gotten the feeling that they weren’t trying to do their absolute very best for me and my baby or that they weren’t trying to give us the best experience possible. I’ve never gotten the impression from anyone that they don’t genuinely care, which is impressive considering the number of people I’ve worked with there. I also still think that a hospital birth is right for me.
Even so. Starting at 20 weeks, when we found out about Isla’s CCAM and potential VSD, and about my placenta previa, I feel like my pregnancy has become sort of an ongoing medical circus. I have 2 doctors now, my regular OB and the high-risk perinatologist. I have had ultrasounds pretty much every 2 weeks since I was 16 weeks along. For the month of January, I have a doctor’s appointment every single week, and one of those weeks I also get to spend 3+ hours at the hospital getting blood work done, even though I’m 99% positive there is nothing wrong and it’s going to end up being a huge waste of my time.
I just hate how every time I go in, it seems like there’s one more issue flagged that needs additional tests, monitoring and worry.
When something that looked a little like VSD, but was inconclusive, showed up on my 20 week scan, the doctors immediately started talking about amnio and legal deadlines for terminating the pregnancy. Even though our risk factor was extremely low for Down’s, even figuring in the VSD, and as it turned out at my 24-week ultrasound, there was no VSD at all. I had to have a serious discussion with my husband about terminating our pregnancy at 22 weeks…even though in the end, there was absolutely no reason, at all, whatsoever for any concern about VSD or Down’s. That just seems extremely…unnecessary.
I had complete placenta previa at 20 weeks, and everyone started getting all riled up about scheduled c-sections…but by 28 weeks, I’d been downgraded to a low-lying placenta with the likelihood of needing a c-section rapidly disappearing, which is what happens to most people who are diagnosed with placenta previa so early in their pregnancy. If they’d just told me early on that the overwhelming majority of people who are diagnosed that early go on to have no issues at all and completely normal vaginal deliveries, that a scheduled c-section was a remote possibility and they just needed to monitor me to make sure it wouldn’t be an issue, it would have been fine. That’s not how it was handled, though, and instead, it had me completely upset for a very long time.
I’ve had doctors fuss over the fact that I’m not putting on as much weight as they would have expected and that I’m measuring sort of small…even though in the gajillion ultrasounds I’ve had, Isla has measured right where they want her to measure with just the right amount of amniotic fluid every single time, and I have been disgustingly healthy. It just so happens that I’m a very petite person and that because of my naturally smaller size, I’m not going to get as big as someone who is of closer to average size. It’s really not worth ordering a bunch of additional tests/procedures because I’m a few pounds and inches shy of where you expect me to be according to your charts!
I just hate how every little thing turns into a big deal that has to be accompanied by a ton of extra procedures, tests and visits and needing to be monitored. I feel like, on the whole, my pregnancy has been very easy, healthy and uneventful, and still somehow, I’ve managed to have half a dozen minor things turned into major medical concerns. I know they are just being thorough and trying to cover all their bases to make sure my baby and I both get the best care possible, and I really do appreciate that, BUT. I’m tired of every little tiny thing being blown up into some huge issue that involves more time sitting in a doctor’s office, more time getting poked, prodded and examined, more time worrying, and more time away from my normal life. I feel like my pregnancy has been one medical emergency after another…only every single emergency has turned out to be either very minor or a false alarm entirely.
In all likelihood, by the time this baby gets here, not a single one of the “emergencies” is going to be an issue at all. I’ll have had a healthy, normal–but completely over-monitored–pregnancy and a healthy, normal baby, and that will be that. Knowing that this is the most likely outcome–like a 99% chance that absolutely none of the issues will ever be serious issues–just makes all of the additional time, money and stress seem like such one big fat unnecessary hassle.
On the one hand, I’m grateful for all the tests and the thoroughness and the knowledge that if something does go wrong, I have the absolute best medical care available to me, that they’ll catch it quickly and respond swiftly, and that Isla and I both will probably be better off because of their diligence and expertise. It still irks me, though, that even though chances are very good that absolutely nothing will go wrong and nothing really has been seriously wrong so far, I’m still getting that red alert, all hands on deck, AH-OOO-GA! AH-OOO-GA! treatment.