When an OB Visit Goes Wrong
Long before I ever thought about having a baby, my annual gynecological exams were performed by one of the kindest and most popular OBGYNs in the Florida Panhandle. When you entered his office, there was a fork in the lobby. One door for regular gynecology patients. The other for obstetrics.
All my appointments took place on the gynecology side, obviously, until one day, a scheduling error accidentally placed me in a room on the OB side.
It was an entirely new world. The white walls of the GYN side were replaced by pale shades of sunshine. The exam tables were like plush sofas. The nurses spewed cheer. And I was even offered bottled water. The fancy kind.
I was fascinated.
So imagine my surprise when years later, I found myself pregnant in New York City and forced to learn not all OB offices mirrored my magical experience in Florida.
As I’ve done many times before, I selected a physician at random from the list provided by my insurance company. How much research did I need to do? The woman I selected chose a career in assisting women having babies, so she had to be a saint! Obviously!
My first visit couldn’t come soon enough. I dressed well. Wore cute panties. And prepped my list of questions in advance.
When I arrived, I waited for over an hour in a stuffy waiting room with what seemed like every other pregnant woman in the New York City. The receptionists were rude, the nurses unkempt, and the files disheveled. But when I finally met the OB, I realized those minor details were the LEAST of my problems.
She sprinted in the room, making the eye contact of a two year old, and spouting “like” every other word. Our first encounter was chilly at best, but I resolved to stick it out with her because I’m loyal and… like pain, I guess?
I experienced bleeding early in the pregnancy, and desperate for help, I went back to her office for another slap in the face. She was dismissive, scattered, wishy washy, and kept saying, “Like short of skydiving, like, you can’t do anything to like, prevent a miscarriage.”
I knew my pregnancy was too immature for much medical intervention; however, it took every bit of restraint not to shake her senseless. She referenced skydiving about twenty times in our visit, looked at me like I was lost cause, and did nothing to educate, reassure, or assist me.
I asked about bed rest. She shrugged. I asked about progesterone supplements. She shrugged. I asked for any shred of advice she could possibly give. And she shrugged. I left harnessing blind fury and vowing to never step foot in her office again. I knew she saw pregnant women every day, but this was my first time, and I wanted to be treated like I mattered. I wanted my pregnancy to have value with her, and not be handled like it was over before it even began.
I miscarried three weeks later.
And amidst my heartbreak, I irrationally cursed the skydiving doctor as if her lack of concern caused it. I knew it didn’t, but I hated her anyway. When I found myself pregnant this time, I performed deep research. I made my selection, held my breath, and attended my first appointment. I dressed well. Wore cute panties. And prepped my list of questions in advance.
And this time, even though I wasn’t’ offered fancy bottled water, it clicked.
I felt valued from the start. I wasn’t rushed. My questions were valid. I was educated. I was reassured. I found an entire office full of advocates for me and my baby. And the best part? Not one person ever spoke of skydiving.
When selecting your OB, it is important to remember the following:
1. You aren’t limited. If your first visit doesn’t feel right, try again. And try again and again until it clicks. After all, you’ve got nearly 10 months to make a love connection.
2. Do your homework. Ask your friends about their experiences. Call reputable pediatricians and/or fertility clinics and ask for referrals. Don’t settle for the first name on your insurance provider list.
3. Interview the OB. Do you have expectations about your birthing experience. Does the provider’s care plan coincide with your beliefs?
4. Examine your medical history. Chances are, if you struggled to conceive, or if you’ve struggled to sustain a pregnancy, you may have difficulty relaxing during your pregnancy. Make sure the attitude of the OB suits your emotional needs as well as your physical ones.
5. Ask questions. If your OB is dismissive or vague, move on. Pregnancy can be a scary time, and even with all the online resources for pregnant women, it’s best to get the final word from your healthcare provider.
Trust your gut, and remember, you should save skydiving for after the baby is born.
Have you had a similar experience with an OB? What did you learn from that?