Pregnancy Update: 37 Weeks/ The Doctor’s Final Say

This is Part 2 of our Doctor Debacle. You can read part 1 here.

So when last we spoke, I told you our doctor requested a second meeting to talk about our birth plan. You know, after he actually took a look at the thing. I was not optimistic, but it went even worse than I thought it would.

Here’s an assortment of gems from our discussion:

“Natural birth includes dead mother, dead baby.”

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“‘Informed consent’ is a legal term – that’s a very combative term to use.”

In response to us saying “We welcome your advice.” – “What I’m giving is not advice. I’m telling you what I’m going to do.”

“No one uses the shower while in labor.” – Then why does every labor room have one…?

“It makes no sense not to use continuous fetal monitoring. You wouldn’t put your newborn in the other room with no monitors right? So how can you want me to not monitor it?” – 1. We never said no monitoring. We said we’d like intermittent monitoring, which in most hospitals means 15 min every hour. That’s a lot of monitoring and we’ve done our research on it. 2. Ok, by your logic no one’s monitoring the baby at all for the full nine months, how is that ok? Is it because I’M monitoring them? We trust my monitoring skills for nine months but not one day of labor?

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“Go to a birth center for your second baby, but if you go there with your first they’ll die or worse, they’ll end up in a wheelchair all their life!” – so far my research on if the first baby is somehow riskier than subsequent babies has turned up literally nothing.

“IUI babies are high risk. We have to induce on your due date.” – this one almost makes sense. Research does show a slight increase in risks associated with IUI babies – but that’s because IUI increases the odds of twins or more (which I don’t have) and IUI babies are usually born to older mothers (and I’m 25). So…no. Not so much.

“Walking does not induce labor. Sex does not induce labor. Don’t you think if these things worked, we’d tell all moms to do them? Pitocin is the only thing that works.”

“I’m going to break your water. Don’t tie my hands here.”

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“Letting the epidural wear off before pushing was what we did in the 80’s, there’s no reason to do it anymore.” – except when I’ve said that I’d only get an epidural to rest in the event of a long labor, and when it’s time to push I want to be able to feel and move again so I can use different positions.

“You say you want to avoid a c-section – of course. We always try to avoid a c-section. It’s condescending to even say that.”

“You can’t ask me to not do an episiotomy.” Actually that is completely within my legal rights and most doctors don’t even do them anymore. Could he explain to me why he still did routine episiotomies? See next quote…

“Just trust me.”

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“Almost every mom has hemorrhaging after labor, so we give routine pitocin to everyone after the baby’s born.” – I’m kind of concerned that all your patients hemorrhage. That does not seem to be the norm elsewhere.

“As far as not giving you a catheter after delivery…” – he then proceeds to show me graphic photos of catheters in hugely swollen vaginas – to the point where I’m not even sure what I’m looking at. Now, I’m glad to look at pictures and learn more about what’s going to be happening. But upon doing my own image searches of post-delivery swelling, the photos I found looked nothing like that. Clearly what he was showing me was some kind of complication – but he didn’t say that. He was using these photos as scare tactics with no information on what I was looking at or under what circumstances this could happen. I agree – if my vagina looked like the photo he showed me, I’d need a catheter. But I have no idea what would cause that, how common it is, or what the treatment options for it are. It would still be uninformed consent – sorry, I know I’m not supposed to mention legal terms or my legal rights. I’m so bad at ignoring those.

So my doctor was suddenly being the evil, fear-mongering doctor that natural birth documentaries paint pictures of and I never believed really existed. Normally, I could just be kind of pissed off and move on. But this was sad because I like this guy. He’s been my doctor for almost 10 years. Through my surgeries he’s had a great bedside manner, and I’ve trusted him with my life basically. He’s always taken good care of my endometriosis. But this time I’m not sick, and rather than being a passive object while being repaired, I want to be involved in this exciting physical event. That is simply not how he’s looking at it.

An active patient that wants options is seen as a threat.

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It’s just really hard to do the right thing and walk away from a friend. In the end, I have to put me and baby first. Will having a medicalized birth somehow ruin my child? No. But it would be sad to miss an opportunity to have birth be a good memory, to grow closer to my husband and child, and to experience a healthy body doing normal things for once. It’s climbing a mountain because it’s there.

And really, no matter what’s going on, you have choices. A doctor can’t tell you that you don’t have choices. Now I wish I had done more research and been more active about endometriosis and PCOS – who knows what choices I had? I hate to look back on those costly, painful surgeries and think that maybe my doctor kept other options from me. I wish I just hated him. It would be much easier to self advocate for my inalienable right to know my options for care if I was up against an out-and-out villain.

But I’ve spent almost 10 years believing he was a really good doctor.

At 37 weeks, I’ve gone through the arduous process of transferring care to a birth center and midwife. I’ll write a whole post about that process later. But it’s just really lucky that I didn’t go into labor during all that mess. I’ve felt guilty and sad every step of the way – and my doctor definitely helped those feelings along with more gems like “You really should have brought this up at like, 20 weeks.” Well, at like 10 weeks I told you I wanted a natural birth and you said “Ok. Most moms say that now. We’ll talk more later because most first time moms change their mind at some point. No second time moms come in here asking for a natural birth. You’ll change your mind.”

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Shoulda been a red flag I guess. But at the time, I was 10 weeks pregnant and still just beginning to learn my options. I also would have never thought my doctor would flat out refuse my wishes as long as they were reasonable. From the sound of the comments I’ve received, you all seem to agree that nothing I’ve asked for was insane.

But my legal rights and reasonableness don’t make me feel any better about the situation. I know I did the right thing, but it was hard and felt terrible and has left me with no one to care for me if endo comes back post-partum. I have no primary care doctor– really, I have no doctor period. Now what?

Focus on the baby. Only 19 days left now. After that, I’ll figure out my medical future.

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12 thoughts on “Pregnancy Update: 37 Weeks/ The Doctor’s Final Say

  1. I agree – focus on the baby. You’ve followed your instincts for 37 weeks, they’re not going to fail you now. My personal opinion is your doctor had become routine, and this is your first baby – nothing is routine. Being comfortable (and I don’t mean fluffy pillows) will give you an easier birth than being stressed out and is better than all the meds in the world. (And I say this not as a natural birth proponent but as a women’s advocate – you should not be shut down in something so important.)

    Best wishes. I will keep you and your family in my prayers and will wait less than patiently to see your first pictures. Hugs.

    1. Thank you! That’s exactly it. I think all doctors should really think about the patient experience – whether it’s birth or surgery or medication, what you’ve done a million times is brand new to them! Meet people where they are!

      Thanks for your encouragement during that difficult time of doubt for me. All these comments helped me stand up for myself and have the best birth possible

  2. My heart swells for you (and hates that doctor for you!). There are a million things I could say but you are smart enough to know it all already. You are awesome and you’ve done the right thing. All the best for a wonderful natural birth. They do exist xxx

  3. On his behalf, perhaps he was just being over-aggressive out of fear. But it was definitely over-aggressive. What he said has truth, but most all doctors deliver it differently and are aware that, although there is truth in what we say, things don’t always go bad and most patients do fine with showers or intermittent monitoring, and don’t need episiotomies. But I feel bad for OBs, but luckily none I had were ever so blatantly against so many things I wanted. Everybody wants things to go well, and when it doesn’t, BAM, they’re the ones that the families and the law goes after. HOWEVER, it is your body, your birth, your baby, and it is VERY, VERY important to make sure you are in a place and with a qualified healthcare individual that makes you feel at ease and confident, because those fear hormones really set things back in labor. So, when those contractions start, you do all your breathing, you visualize positive thoughts and pictures, you focus, go where you’re supposed to go, and do not panic, and be strong, and utilize your help, and trust in your healthcare provider who is hopefully working with you yet doing what is medically right—and you “relax” and you push that baby out. Go in with expectations, yet be willing to change the plan when the situation requires. I know you will. Sorry this is so long. I’ve had good deliveries, and I’m grateful. My little sister ended up getting very scared in her labor, and I feel like I let her down because I didn’t prepare her and I wasn’t there with her. She ended up with a C-sexn. All is fine and well, but I wonder if her fear simply overwhelmed her; it was reportedly very frantic panic. So, I’m giving you the pep talk I’d have given her. Even when it hurts, you reach deep for that inner calm. And there is no, no, no, no shame at all in an epidural. And if one has to convert to an emergency C-sexn, it makes it easier. Sorry for the thousand word essay. I wish you the best. Go in with confidence, flexibility, breathing, and strength.

    1. Thank you for the essay! Sorry I’m only just now writing back. I did end up with an epidural after being out at a New Years party all night – not a great set up for labor! I really didn’t want one but when I reached a point where I couldn’t follow directions anymore I thought of what you said and tried very hard not to be ashamed of asking for medicine. It’s hard to feel so prepared and then realize you need help. But Lord I needed to sleep!

      I still like my doctor though I’m glad I didn’t deliver with him. He’s a smart guy and a wonderful surgeon, but his bedside manner needs work to say the least! 😉 Having a doctor that did insist on some medical intervention (but nothing routine, only whatever popped up) but that also respectfully talked me through each step and pros and cons really helped me stay as calm as one can be in a harrowing situation like that. 😉

      In short, thank you for the pep talk! You’re right on all counts. ❤

      1. I hope you’re doing great with your little rock star! Parenthood is a whole new ride! I’m behind in my reading. I’ll catch up and find out how things are for you there! Give me a month! My toddler (so cute) takes up lots of time–and grabs for the computer if I’m on it! LOL! Be well!

  4. It sounds like he might be overprotective of you because you aren’t just a one time delivery to him. And he has seen the very worst in labor and delivery which probably overshadows his multitude of easy breezy successes.
    Make sure all your lab tests are checked and double checked.
    I’ve has enough friends tell me were surprised how easy the birth was compared to what they were prepared for by thier doctors.
    You’ll both do great.

    1. Birth was definitely not the horror story he painted. I suppose there is merit to expecting the worst and being pleasantly surprised but there is a line. You’d never take this approach in say, surgery. For surgery with this same doctor it was like there are risks but they’re rare. Anyway! It pushed me away but different strokes for different folks. He’s still my surgeon and OB, but birth wise he was just making me too nervous

  5. You’re probably smart to move on. That doctor sounds like he has a god-complex which is not a good thing. My first job after graduating from nursing school was on maternity. We had few complications and fetal deaths, and that was back in the late 60’s. Catheters were used for C-sections and otherwise rarely needed.
    Episiotomies were the norm then, but not really an issue. It was better to have a controlled cut as opposed to a jagged tear. Walking does promote labor. My mother wanted to go shopping the day before Thanksgiving. I had to take her and was 8 months with my first baby. He was born on Thanksgiving day after only a four hour labor! Two years later, I had my second son. He came after a mere two-hour labor if you count the one pain I had before getting into the shower. There was an hour gap until the next pain hit, but then they came fast and furious. Except it wasn’t intermittent like with the first one. It was a constant big ache. A few blocks from the hospital I needed to push. My father-in-law was driving and he was shaking like a leaf! They put me in a labor room long enough for the nurse to peek under the sheet. She hollered, “She’s crowning!” We made it back to the delivery room before my 2nd son arrived. My 3rd son was induced because the doctor didn’t want me going into labor at home again. Two days before the due date I was admitted and given Pitocin IV. The pain was harder and took over 4 hours. Luckily, labor pain is classed as an amnesiac pain which means you forget how bad it was. I guess that’s some sort of survival technique for the human race.
    I’ll keep you in my prayers that all goes well and your labor will be easy.

    1. Amnesiac pain, that is fascinating! I might do a whole post on that!

      I know labor has risks but even in the 60s mankind had been doing it for decades and not dying out, so clearly we have some handle on it. 😉

      My labor turned out to be fast and furious as well! Much more chaotic than the “textbook” version.

      My favorite part of your story was that your father in law wound up driving you! How sweet and funny! I don’t have a father in law but I imagine that’s an interesting relationship to be in a labor situation. ❤️ I love it.

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