Next Time Around…

My OB is very nice, intelligent, and competent. It’s entirely obvious that he knows what he’s doing and is committed to having a strong professional practice. And judging from my own experience last winter, and from other peoples’ comments, I know he is very good at what he does: obstetric surgery. I was very happy to be in his hands when I needed obstetric surgery, and when we became pregnant again I knew I could trust him to take good care of me and my baby.

His is a very popular, successful, two-doctor office.

Translation: his office is BUSY.

Next time, I want a doctor (or midwife….) who has a little bit more time for me. I know that many of the prenatal checkups are intended to be quite brief, but sometimes mine seem almost ridiculously quick-paced. I often have little unimportant questions that never get asked (things I’m just curious about, because I’m the sort of person who likes to learn about things), because there’s a very clear sense that I’m using up valuable seconds on his schedule. He’s never rude, never checks his watch or anything… but there’s always this sense of nervous energy, as if he’s already got one foot out the door as soon as he walks in.

And I know what’s going on, of course. It’s just like the pro-midwifery books and blogs say: He’s a surgeon. My pregnancy is blessedly uncomplicated at this point, and as a result, I’m a boring case. He isn’t intellectually stimulated by my pregnancy (thank God). It’s like at parent-teacher conferences, when you’ve got a line of parents and the family with the A+ kid walks in. You’re perfectly happy to talk to them, and very glad that things are going so well for them and their child… but seriously, there’s a line out the door of parents whose kids aren’t gonna graduate. (And frankly, just as the perfectly normal pregnancy doesn’t necessarily need a surgeon, the A+ student doesn’t necessarily need school in order to learn….)

Next time around, I also want a doctor’s office (or whatever) that has more time for me. The receptionists and billing people, in particular, are awfully nice and I like them a lot. But when I call in with a question or concern, I never get transferred directly to a nurse (and the receptionists can’t or won’t answer even the simplest of questions). They take a message and say the nurse will call me back as soon as she’s available… and then the waiting game begins. Today, I wanted almost three hours (after calling in at the VERY beginning of their day, before any patients showed up) for my nurse to call me back and tell me that she didn’t want me to take an Advil for my arm.

That’s one thing; I mean, as painful as this is, it isn’t scary or anything. But early on, when I had a little bit of bleeding? I left an obviously-frightened message at about 10:30 in the morning, called back at 3, had to leave another message, called back at 5, still didn’t get an answer, and was two-thirds of the way to the office to ask in PERSON before someone finally called me back. It’s not because they’re being unprofessional (although, one could argue that not making time to call back a bleeding, panicky post-miscarriage first-trimester mom isn’t the most professional thing ever) — they’re just completely slammed.

There have been some pretty awesome perks with having this OB. For one thing, he really likes trotting out his ultrasound machine, so we’ve had more peeks at Kermie than we’d anticipated (or had to pay for). And I’ve felt very secure in knowing that if something were to go wrong, we’d have someone very capable to handle it.

But next time, assuming that things go as smoothly as they have this time? I want a more personal experience. A slower-paced experience. An experience where I can take a few moments to figure out if I have any questions before the caregiver has already moved on to the next patient, where I can learn about the process from an expert, where I feel like I’m important and even special even though I’m unexciting. Next time, I want a female practitioner who has had babies — someone who doesn’t try to hide a smirk as he says things like “Being uncomfortable or exhausted at work is not a medical condition” when I ask what I should do if it becomes too hard to continue working before the baby arrives.

It’s not that I’m unhappy; I’m not. I’m just not as happy as I could be, and now I know.

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2 thoughts on “Next Time Around…

  1. I’m so sorry you’ve had such a hard time with the pace of your OB’s office. That’s one thing I lament about healthcare in this country. I know that I may have made my own patients feel this way at one point or another simply because there’s not enough time…or because there’s only one of me and fifty billion tasks to be completed. There are doctors out there, though, who know what you’re going through and are willing to spend extra time with you. Don’t compromise your happiness, and know that you SHOULD be able to ask the “unimportant questions” without anticipating a smirk or sarcasm. The latter is completely unacceptable, but I know of people who have experienced it. You are special, and the fact that your pregnancy is uncomplicated is a blessing. Don’t let the doctors/those who see all people as puzzles to be solved make you feel like you’re anything less than special.

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