I love my obstetrician

When I found out I was pregnant, I was completely healthy, had no family history of anything scary, and I was in my early 30s.  I am a white middle-class woman.  I am the poster child for a midwifery patient.

I chose an obstetrician.

My family doctor’s practice is full of young mothers and babies because she loves providing maternity care.  But I didn’t choose her to look after my pregnancy and delivery.

I chose an obstetrician.

I didn’t want a C-section but I chose the obstetrician who performs the largest number of C-sections in the city.

I chose an obstetrician.

A white, male, middle-aged obstetrician.

See, when it really comes down to it, there aren’t really many obstetrical complications that don’t have a surgical solution.  I knew that if my baby was in trouble, Dr A could have him out of my body in three minutes, tops.  I knew that, because I had been in the OR with him as a resident and I’d seen him do just that.  I saw him save a baby by getting it out in less than three minutes.

I knew that if I bled, and I mean bled badly – the kind of bleeding that empties out the hospital blood bank…well, if I bled like that I knew he’d be able to perform a hysterectomy to save my life.  I knew he wouldn’t panic.

I knew that if I had an amniotic fluid embolism or a hemorrhagic stroke or an aortic dissection or a cardiac arrest, he’d do everything he could to save the baby and everything possible to save me.

I knew I could trust him, not only with my life, but with my unborn child’s life.

My unborn child.  The one that I’d spent six months trying to conceive and nine months “cooking”.  15 months where I cut out caffeine, alcohol, mercury-laden fish, sushi and carpaccio.   The child that was wanted and loved before he was conceived and so precious to myself and my husband before he was born.

I didn’t consider my “low-risk” status a good enough guarantee of a happy outcome.  Risk, by itself, should never, ever be considered without a simultaneous assessment of the consequences.  When it came to delivering my child, I felt that a dead or damaged baby was an unthinkable consequence.  Many of my colleagues chose this obstetrician too.  Some would say that because we see too many high risk women we have a skewed view of the dangers of childbirth.  I’d say that bad outcomes just feel more real to us.  Once you’ve seen the sobbing face of someone who thought she was about to become a mom, once you see the anguish in the face of an almost-dad that is trying to hold it together for the woman he loves while he’s obviously struggling with a broken heart, you can’t be so cavalier about how “low” the risks are anymore.

I love my obstetrician.  Not in an I’m-going-to-leave-my-husband-for-him kind of way but in an I’m-so-glad-he-was-there-to-rescue-us-when-we-really-needed-it-and-the-fetal-heart-was-60-beats-per-minute kind of way.

I was low risk.

I chose an obstetrician.

My baby’s heart rate was 60.

I chose an obstetrician.

I have a healthy son.

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5 comments

  1. Sanveann · · Reply

    Thank you for this awesome post!

    I started out pretty crunchy with my first baby (though he was born in a hospital) and really bought into the whole “trust birth” thing. But we don’t “trust eyesight” (thank goodness, in my case!) or “trust” any other body part or process to work perfectly, so why should we think birth will?

    Thankfully, my first two births were utterly uneventful. But when my third came out covered in thick green mec, I was damn glad we were at a hospital with a NICU. (She hadn’t aspirated it, thank goodness! But waiting while the nurses listened to her lungs was the longest five minutes of my life.)

  2. Rebecca · · Reply

    I think I am developing a girl-crush on you.

    1. Love your blog – it’s a great read that is ‘balanced’…refreshing.

  3. Terri C · · Reply

    So glad you and your son are OK, and yes, goose bumps when I think of how it could have been. Thank heavens for your wonderful OB.

  4. I would’ve been a perfect candidate for home birth. It was my second child. My first pregnancy, labor, and delivery were textbook perfect. No complications during post partum either. 10hrs labor, 20min pushing. I considered home birth with my second, but wound up opting for a CNM at my local hospital. I had another textbook perfect, complication free pregnancy. Then my 9lb 4oz baby got stuck on his way out. The shoulder dystocia was resolved quickly and efficiently. At the hospital it was barely a blip. At home, it could have been a fatal catastrophe. Would a cpm have recognized shoulder dystocia? Would she have had extra hands available to help resolve it? I gave birth just over an hour after arriving at the hospital. Would a cpm even have arrived in time, or would it have just been me and my husband? We live 30 minutes from the nearest hospital. It’s so very far away from real help.

    What are the odds I’m going to get into a fatal car accident on my way to the store? But my children are still in their car seats, and I still wear my seatbelt.

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