Thursday, March 11, 2010

Babies and Doctors...

I had a prenatal check-up at the OB/GYN the other morning. Made me remember why I loved using a midwife with the last two babies.

At my last appointment, I declined the first trimester prenatal screening. Through some miscommunication, I ended up being scheduled for an ultrasound soon after that was part of the first trimester prenatal screening. I didn't realize this until I was already having the ultrasound. Oh well -- free ultrasound! But we didn't end up making it to the lab in time to get the blood work done that was supposed to go with the screening. Probably because I, uh, dropped the lab work in the trashcan once we got home.

That was weeks ago. This morning when I went in for my appointment, the nurse started to give me the lab work for the *second* trimester screening.

"What are you looking for this time?" I asked. Turns out they're looking for the same stuff as they were last time --- mainly, Down's Syndrome.

"I'll pass on the test, thank you."

"You don't want it?" she asked, seemingly perplexed.

"Nope. I wouldn't abort my baby."

She argued for a second or two about the other advantages to the test (she could think of one -- mental preparedness), then happily wrote, "Patient declines screening" on my chart. Easy enough!

Then, I met my doctor's new partner. He was a friendly, respectful sort of chap. Asked me if I had any questions or problems; I didn't. Then he saw the chart. "You're declining the second trimester prenatal screening?"


"Oh. [Long pause] Can I ask why?"

"Sure! I really don't see much use in it. I wouldn't abort my baby either way, and there would be nothing I could do about it to benefit the baby ahead of time."

"Well," he said, adding additional long pauses between his words as if he had never had anyone that wasn't an imbecile decline the screening before, "I'd like to say that it's not just about whether or not one aborts. Some parents like to know ahead of time so they can prepare for it."

"I can understand that. But at least as I see it, it just gives parents time to worry and be anxious over the next several months, which adds no benefit to the baby and pregnancy. And then the baby ends of being just fine, after all." These screenings are definitely not known for their accuracy!

"Well... I can see that if you're going to be the type that gets all worried and anxious about it, maybe the screening is not the right option for you..." Uh, would not be typical for someone that is told that they have a trazillion times greater chance of having a child with Down's Syndrome than the lady in the next room to have some anxiety about this news, huh?

"Let's put it this way, " I said. "If God chooses to bless us with a child with Down's Syndrome, He'll also provide us with the grace that we need to handle that situation. And we'll deal with it if that time comes instead of worrying about it ahead of time."

He cocked his head to the side, looked at me, half nodded, looked down at my chart and asked me how old our oldest child was. He then asked me about my birth control plans for after this baby is born.

Here it is. I was not asking this doctor to cut my head off to cure me of a headache. I wasn't even asking him for his advice in this area. I was just simply declining a service that he is supposed to offer, but isn't medically necessary or beneficial. And he's a doctor. So why does it bug him so much that I don't want that service? And if *this* bugs him, how is he going to respond when I don't want to be induced, or have my membranes stripped or broken, or have an epidural, or an episiotomy, or a c-section?

In my experience, this doctor's views are not atypical of the medical community. Why do my decisions that do not endanger my baby (and might actually benefit him or her!) have to be debated?

Don't get me wrong: I am very thankful for modern medicine. And I don't want to be cynical about doctors -- people who build their lives around helping others. But it would be much easier to trust a doctor in the rare emergency if I knew they were supportive and looking out for my and my children's best interests in the simple mundane choices of pregnancy.


Sharon said...

oh my, yes. yes. yes. yes.

Nora said...

Love the (new?) picture of Heart. And am praying that the Lord uses your direct and clear words to change the doctor's heart, break his pride and bring him to repentence.

Love you so much!