Rotating Doctors, Rotating Perspectives

The maternity clinic I attend actually houses four different clinics in one building. The one I am in has nine physicians, and you see whomever is working when you come in for your appointment. Three of the clinics share on-call (delivery) duties, so any one of about 14 physicians could be the one who delivers your baby. Meaning, there is a chance you will have never met the person who delivers your baby. This is okay with me…I feel like it won’t really matter who is there that day because they’re all equally qualified and that experience is pretty much going to suck anyways (until it’s over, of course).

What is interesting about this set-up is that you meet a variety of physicians in your prenatal visits. In three visits I’ve seen three different doctors, plus a couple of residents as well. I have to admit, I am a bit of a creature of habit, so I’m surprised this doesn’t unsettle/annoy me more than it does. So far the first one was my favourite, so I’m going to kindly request that the universe sends her to the hospital on the Big Day.

Anyways, they have all been fine/good, but they have also all been quite different in personality and style of care. Some are more laid-back, some are more directive, some more communicative or information-heavy, some more blunt etc., etc. For that reason, I’m actually kind of glad that I’m exposed to different perspectives instead of being stuck with one personality, and having to take just one doctor’s word as gospel truth. If I had been thinking about this more at the outset, I would have made an effort to ask each doctor the exact same question on some random topic so I could have compared their responses. I don’t necessarily think I would have gotten different answers per se, but I know the question would have been addressed in significantly different ways, if that makes sense.

On Monday, I had the pleasure of waiting for 40 minutes (alone in the exam room, of course) for the doctor-on-duty to see me (for 10 minutes, of course). With no entertainment, I was practically forced to eavesdrop  overhear the doctor’s visit with the patient in the room beside me. The 40-year-old woman was in for her first appointment, and they set her due date for July 2 (seriously, this is how clearly I could hear every single word spoken behind full walls and two closed doors – the need for whisper-mode was duly noted for the next time I have a sensitive/embarrassing topic to discuss in there).

Anyways, this doctor was really hammering home the point of eating lots of protein, lots of veggies, limiting starches, increasing your calcium/dairy “but without increasing your fat intake!!!” and that “sugar is enemy number one in pregnancy!!”. She then asked the patient what she does for exercise (“uhhhh…..yoga?” was the tentative reply) and told her she had to work up to 150 minutes of “dedicated exercise” per week and that yoga was “okay for stretching” but you also need cardio and strength training, yada yada yada. Then she went on to talk very matter-of-factly about the heightened miscarriage and genetic risks of pregnancy at 40. Her tone the whole time was very friendly and even-toned, but the messaging was unmistakably all-business.

Sure, it was all perfectly good advice and accurate information, but I couldn’t help but feel a little bad for the patient. A patient I don’t know a thing about, mind you, for all I know she is diabetic or has weight or other issues that necessitated this hard-line stance on prenatal fitness…but if I had been dealt that kind of doctor at my first prenatal appointment I would have been overwhelmed and feeling pretty bad about myself. At 11 or so weeks pregnant, it’s quite likely you’re still feeling like a bag of shit and having a hard time keeping any food down or dragging your ass home at the end of the work day, let alone whipping up a salad and blasting out a few sets of squats when you get home.

The upshot was that by the time the doctor made it to my room, I had 40 minutes of warning on how opinionated and direct she was apt to be. Small wonder baby’s heart rate was a record 158? Luckily, I was spared the scary warnings and exercise lecture. In reviewing the results of my last ultrasound though, she asked if I had found out the sex of the baby. When I said that we had, and it was a girl, she told me, “I don’t recommend that. They are occasionally wrong and it has been shown that it’s very hard on you psychologically when that happens.”

Well okay then. I mean, valid food for thought and all, but too late for that now, no? Why voice that opinion (and it is just an opinion) after the fact? I gave her a confused cocker-spaniel head-tilt and glanced at the resident in the room who was also giving her the side-eye and glancing back at me.

After being shocked a week or so before by a friend who told me gender ultrasounds are wrong about 30% of the time (!!!) I had already scoured for statistics and found that they are generally considered at least 90-95% accurate – with the experience of the technician and timing of the ultrasound (i.e. not too early in your pregnancy) being the major factors, and that in many cases (right view, right tech, right timing) they can tell with near 100% accuracy. As far as my own experience went, I asked how confident technicians are in their predictions and mine said, “we don’t make guesses: I either know or I don’t know.” I believed her.

So while I am sure that finding out she is actually a boy after expecting a girl would be quite the shock, this physician seemed to be making a strong recommendation for my “psychological health” based on something that maybe – at worst – happens once or twice out of 20 times.

As I laughed the comment off with a, “well, I guess it’s too late for me now!” she went on to urge me not to imagine scenarios or “create a persona” for a girl, and to try really hard to keep thinking of it as an “it” — exact words! Okay lady, now you’re just talking crazy. Good fucking luck with that one.

Isn’t it at least possible that there could be psychological benefits to finding out early? Benefits that could apply 90-95% of the time? Bonding maybe? I’m no expert, but it feels like encouraging me to objectify and distance myself from the baby isn’t the most psychologically sound recommendation either.

Whatever. I left the clinic that day, took my shetus directly to the mall and bought her the most adorable pair of size 1 baby Chuck T’s. She’s a good girl, she deserves it 😉

The unexpected.

Seeing as I’m only halfway through this pregnancy, this post will probably end up being a two-parter since I’m sure there are plenty of delightful (ha) revelations in store. For now, these are just a few of the things about pregnancy that have surprised me.

Boobs. I went up a cup size practically overnight very early in my pregnancy and they are still slowly inflating.  Although having smallish boobs never bothered me, I’m still kind of surprised by how much I don’t enjoy having bigger ones. In a nutshell: not all they’re cracked up to be. For one thing, they kind of just make you look fatter than you are, especially if you’re already sort of chunking out, as you are when you’re in the baby manufacturing biz. They’re always in the way and they’re just generally a bit of a pain in the ass. Er, chest. As a novelty item (like a goofy hat) they’re kind of fun, but I won’t be the least bit upset when they go.

Alcohol. If you enjoy an adult beverage (or 6) it might surprise you how much you don’t actually miss it. At first it’s super easy to abstain because you feel so nauseous and sleepy, you don’t even feel like it. After that, it’s just somehow not really on your radar. I still like hanging out in a bar/pub or meeting up for “a drink”. I’ve actually enjoyed drinking things like Shirley Temples and weird restaurant mocktails. Because I’m not 100% abstaining, it’s probably been easier on me. I would probably be very, very jealous if I wasn’t letting myself have the odd drink, but I’m usually totally happy with that one occasional treat and never feel unhappy that I can’t have another one. Plus, it’s awesome never feeling hungover, dehydrated or headachey…if you drink regularly you probably don’t even realize how sorta, kinda, vaguely shitty it’s making you feel until you totally cut it out for a while. I think everyone would seriously be surprised by how much booze affects your body, even if you’re not drinking enough to feel drunk or get a true hangover from it.

Doctor’s visits. For some reason I thought that doctor’s visits would entail more than they actually do. Specifically, and this might sound incredibly stupid, I thought I’d end up undressing a heck of a lot more than I have. Which is…not at all. I don’t know why I thought I’d have to?…the baby is inside you, so I figured they’d have to check things out in there somehow?! I don’t know. But I certainly thought I’d wind up in a drafty paper gown and stirrups at least some of the time. And perhaps I will later on? Surely they must check your cervix etc. as you get closer?  But so far, the only time I actually had to gown up was when I went for a really early ultrasound and it was kind of pointless because it ended up not even being a transvaginal (yup, that’s a wand up your hooha) ultrasound. Other than that, I’ve had to unbutton my jeans once or twice to hear baby’s heartbeat when she was still situated really low in my abdomen, but that’s it. Basically you go in, weigh yourself, have your blood pressure taken, answer a bunch of questions (and ask any that you may have), they feel your belly for where the uterus is and then you listen to baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler and go on your way. Easy peasy.

Food aversions. Everyone talks about the cravings, but it’s the aversions that took me by surprise. It’s almost impossible to remember or understand how much I hated so many foods during the first trimester. I developed the palate of a picky 5 year old. Things like hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and mac ‘n’ cheese were all good. Almost all cooked vegetables were totally off the table, even my usual favourite ones, in addition to lettuce or any leafy green, garlic and parmesan. All I really wanted was protein, bland carbs, apples and coffee . It sucked because not eating made me nauseous, but eating was such a chore.

How fast it goes. This has been a pleasant surprise. So far, time has absolutely flown. I have a feeling that the second half may drag (like the last couple  hours of a workday) but I can hardly believe I’m 21 weeks in.

How long it takes for anything to happen. Probably because this is my first pregnancy, it took ages to start to be able to see a bump or feel the baby. I’ve still avoided buying maternity clothes and while that bugged me for a while, I’m pretty much over it. I know I will get huge eventually, so fuck it,  I’m happy to just slum  it in leggings and hoodies and accept my freshman 15-ish figure.

How happy I am to have found out the sex. I always knew that I wanted to know, but man, did I need that. It has made a world of difference in how I think/feel about the baby. It’s about a thousand times more real now and I’m so much more excited being able to connect to her as a person–as a she, not an it. I was in a sort of emotional slump at the time, feeling dumpy and bored and anxious between appointments. It was a huge boost that I really needed at that point and we’ve been having so much fun talking about “her” and trying out names.