A Change of Plans

Scott had felt unsure of things long before I did.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

I felt unsure, too, but I’m not one to make waves – really – and I guess I was convinced that with Scott, our doula and my sheer will, we would be heard. At least. Here’s the thing about working with an OB-GYN who isn’t comfortable with an unmedicated birth: it really won’t matter how many times you try and talk with her that you’re not looking for perfection, that you’re a rational person who understands the unpredictability of labor, that you would never get in any doctor’s way should an emergency creep up, that you simply don’t want any unnecessary interventions, that you just want to be explained why things are or should happen the way that they do or may happen, your words won’t really matter if she doesn’t want to work with you to accomplish this.

None of this will matter.

I’ve been with my OB-GYN for almost 11 years, and she’s always been delightful. It’s not the most personal service in recent years, sure. Her practice became pretty huge, and much fancier, but this never bothered me much since I’ve not needed much in the way of care. My friends felt comfortable with her, and so did I. Until now.

I won’t go into excruciating detail, but we had an awful appointment this week. She used phrases such as, “You’ll end up with a dead baby,” to “You’re going to hemorrhage,” without being able to explain why this would happen or what evidence she had to support these really dramatic replies to when I told her that I’d rather not be immediately hooked up with an IV port. By all accounts, emergency situations happen every day, and people are outfitted with IV ports, and so any surgeon worth his salt should be able to do this. Plus? We’ve done too much research, talked to at least two labor and delivery nurses, all of which points to women being given IV drugs because a “just-in-case” IV port made that easier, because that’s what happens. And I don’t want that to happen unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Don’t get me wrong – if you had an IV port put in as soon as you walked into the hospital, I could care less. Honest to God. I am glad you were given that option, and I don’t think you did anything wrong. I do not have a dog in your fight. I do, however, have a dog in mine. I really want to have an unmedicated birth, and a goodly number of hospitals and OB-GYNs don’t make that an easy task. To be fair? That’s their right. Absolutely. And I’m grateful for the work they do, and the help they provide to the women for whom that way of giving birth is right for them and their families. But it’s not right for me or my family.

So when my doctor said “We laugh at people in labor and delivery who have a birth plan. They always end up with a c-section,” and my husband asked why that happened and her answer was only, “Oh I don’t know. It just does,” we knew it was time to take our leave. Instead of having a discussion with us, she resorted to scare tactics and condescension, and what I hoped could have been a productive conversation about what we hoped for, and what was important to us, and the hope that she’d help educate us so that we’d all meet in the middle, turned out to be so upsetting and depressing that there was only choice:

Leave her service.

She’s within her right to practice medicine how she does, and I’m not going to spend the next 10 weeks trying to convince her to think otherwise. I’m not going to try to convince her that I’m not riddled with unreasonable expectations about labor and delivery, but that I’d simply like to be able to labor without intervention if everything is safe and going well. It doesn’t make her a bad doctor, or me a bad patient. It just makes us a bad fit.

I guess I knew that what I should have done, from the beginning, was seek out the service of midwives. For the past several years now, my own personal philosophies about health and women and medicine and care and nutrition have steered somewhat away from a more mainstreamed approach. This isn’t to say I’m not still all for Western medicine, far from it. But I’ve become more comfortable with medical professionals who embrace alternative approaches as well, and don’t care for their patients using a one-size-fits-all approach.

We emailed our doula, who helped us explore some immediate options. I put a call into a group of midwives who attend births through an area hospital, which means we’ll be able to have the comfort of being in an hospital but with a team of professionals who will respect us and our wishes, and best yet, support us in our efforts to have an unmedicated birth. The birthing center at the hospital is an unmedicated birther’s dream:  birthing tub, birthing ball, queen-sized bed and support such as music, being able to eat during labor, the option of dimmed lights and the ability to move during labor and give birth in the position that is optimal and easier for the mother. Oh, and wireless Internet, though that seems to be a given these days.

It means I won’t be able to labor at home as long as I’d like, but I’ll be able to labor in a place where I’m not fighting off students or eager anesthesiologists.

I told Scott that I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of justifying our choice. I’m tired of having to explain myself to people who just want me to understand how much I need to give birth the way they think I should. I’m tired of being told this shouldn’t be important to me when it is. I’m exhausted by the misogyny that seems so prevalent with women care, especially when it comes to birth. I’m over trying to convince people that I’m not a lunatic.

Choosing this route, to leave my OB-GYN’s care with 10 weeks to go, and give birth in the suburbs, seems like the best way to find some relief from all of that pressure.

Things happen. Honestly, if you’d like to leave me a well-intentioned comment telling me how I need to be prepared for something to happen that derails our plans, please save it. I know that. If you’d like to tell me that being concerned about all of this is useless, or pales in comparison to what happens after, please save it. I know that, too, but it’s still important to us. I’m very, very aware that I could end up on an operating table, with Pitocin, and all other manner of interventions. And honestly? If it’s what me and my daughter need? Bring it.

Let me repeat: BRING IT.

All I ask is that until any or all of that is deemed necessary that the people I work with and, ahem, spend my money with, respect our choices, all of which are safe and perfectly legal.


If you can’t? No hard feelings. I’m just going to take my big pregnant ass elsewhere.

So that’s what we’re doing. We could not be more excited about this choice.

I’ll leave you with this:


It’s me! Belly and all! Notice the belly button: still there, still cavernous. I was not kidding!

Jessie took this today. She took a whole huge slew of pictures, actually, including some of me and Scott and the puppy, which I can’t wait to see. This is as exposed as I got, and the more we took, as she predicted, the more comfortable I became. After almost 31 weeks of not wanting to look at myself in a mirror, or let anyone take a picture of me, I’m really, really glad that we took these. And I’m ridiculously grateful to have a friend who is a professional photographer and offered to take them in the first place.

Plus? She introduced me to non-alcoholic wine that is not just grape juice in a fancy bottle. I almost cried when I tasted it. God I miss drinking so much.