Thursday, January 03, 2008

Mutual respect

Yesterday I had my first of the weekly doctor's visits. Saw my least favorite doctor. Declined the cervix check (dude, it is closed tight, and Bird is hanging way up there, I don't need your jelly fingers to tell me that). Had only one question for him.

After he palpated my tummy and told me that Bird was head down and would most likely stay that way I asked, "Can you tell which direction he is facing?"

His reply?

"That's not important right now."

This is the same guy who when I asked a couple of months ago about eating and drinking during early labor and wearing my own clothes instead of a hospital gown replied,

"You aren't going to want to do that."

Um. I know you're a doctor and all, and that's great. But could you please answer my stinking questions? I can respect you and your knowledge a whole lot easier if you stop acting like a pompous ass.

You see, it is this attitude that annoys me most at the doctor's office. My OB, the one that I normally see, doesn't do this. She answers the question. I appreciate that.

The doctor I saw last week was in a huge hurry, which considering it was the day after Christmas and she was most likely the only one there, is understandable. We took in our birth plan that day and showed it to her. Asked if there was anything that she saw that sent up a red flag where the hospital policy was concerned. The only thing was the IV. Even though the birth plan passed out by the OB's office says that IV's will be given on an individual basis and that not everyone will need one, she said that I at least need to have an access point.

That's fine. I understand. I mean the whole reason for going to the hospital is for the "what if something happens" idea. And if something happens, they are going to want to have IV access ready and waiting. I get it, and I'll budge on that one.

When she got down to the infant care section though, she said that they would need to take the baby and put him under the warmer instead of leaving him with me and letting the nurses do the APGAR right on my chest.

I explained to her that I was incredibly keen on immediate skin-to-skin contact and immediate breast feeding. Before any of the other was to happen.

Then she told me that he had to go to the warmer. So I asked her why, thinking maybe there was some medical something I didn't know about that I needed more information on.

Not so much.

She told me, "You aren't warm enough. The baby needs the warmer."

I calmly (and hopefully respectfully) explained to her that I was plenty warm, and that babies were born and survived without warmers all over the world.

She disagreed, and I smiled and told her that I heard what she was saying, but that a mother's chest is absolutely warm enough for her newborn. We left it at that. Agreeing to disagree.

What gets my goat is that she couldn't just say, "Gee, it's so much easier for the nurses if you will just let him go to the warmer for 90 seconds, get weighed and measured, and then get him right back. They are used to that routine." I would be almost willing to budge just because they asked nicely.

But trying to give me some crap about babies having to be in a warmer for survival? Please.

And herein lies what I think is the final dilemma about the birthing process for me.

I respect the doctors and nurses. They have been through countless hours of school and training to do what they do. Their goal is to have a healthy mother and baby at the end of the day. I think they deserve the utmost of respect.

On the other hand, they will also be looking after countless other women that day. Countless other patients. And they will be on a schedule and in a routine. It is likely that they will want me to just behave and do everything like everyone else does. And there are some things I would like to do differently. Things that are important to me, but will not fit into their routine exactly.

The dilemma is then, how do you let them know that you aren't trying to disrespect them or second guess everything they are doing, but that for at least an hour after he is born, assuming that everything has gone smoothly and as planned, that I want him on me. On my skin. Before a full bath. Before anything. One hour. Our hour. I think it is that important.

I suppose a mountain of baked goods for the nurses station isn't out of the question. And there will be Guy and the doula.

Really though, if you get down to the heart of it, it is a mutual respect thing. I want to show respect to the doctors and nurses, but you know what?

It would be damn nice if they showed some respect to me as well. Straight answers. Respecting a decision that hasn't been made without lots of learning. Understanding that although I am a first time mom, I am not an idiot.

Our hospital boasts delivering 7,000 babies a year. Surely I can't be the only mother who has some definite opinions about certain things.

Post Script

This next paragraph is taken from the latest weekly email newsletter sent out by the hospital where we will be going:

If your birth is uncomplicated, plan to spend a quiet hour or more holding and getting to know your new baby skin-to-skin, on your chest, with a light blanket over both of you for warmth. Research suggests newborns allowed 70 to 80 minutes of undisturbed skin-to-skin contact with their mothers right after birth sleep more, cry less, and are less stressed than infants who are held briefly (for 15 to 20 minutes), then separated for washing and dressing. If you plan to breastfeed, nursing your baby during this time will help you to get the best start possible.

So as I was saying . . .