The Prenatal Trade Deadline
August 3rd, 2011

This is a busy time of year for baseball fans.  The mid-season trade deadline passed on July 31st, although with some finagling teams can continue to execute trades until the end of this month.  It’s unnerving if your team loses a good player (as mine did…).  It’s exciting if your team picks one up.  Either way, at this time of year when the weather is hot and miserable, the season is feeling sluggish, and the postseason lineup is still debatable, the mid-season trade deadline injects a bit of excitement into the game.  And, in a strange episode of life imitating sports, I just made a swap of my own.

Yesterday, at 26 weeks and change into my second pregnancy, I switched to a new OB.

That single sentence represents a complex web of emotions for me.  It represents the frustration and anger I felt with my old OB.  It represents my disappointment at having to reconcile myself to the fact that I was in the wrong hands.  It represents the triumph of knowing that I took control of the situation and made the right decision for me and my baby.  And it represents the warmth and comfort of a friend who talked through my situation with me, recommended her OB without hesitation, and called her doctor’s office on my behalf to help ensure that I could get an appointment.

Being an adult is not always easy.  Actually, more times than not, it’s really difficult – especially if we want to do it well.  Confrontation, both of people and of situations, takes courage that can be hard to muster.  After the deal-breaker appointment with my old OB I sat with a pit in my stomach for five days without telling a soul as I came to grips with the change I needed to make.  I wrestled with myself, working hard to determine if my convictions were rooted in reason or prenatal hormones.  And eventually I knew that I had to do something very hard.

The act of leaving my old OB (whom I’d been with for 10 years and 1.5 pregnancies) was easy.  I didn’t even have to tell him my reasons if I didn’t want to.  All I had to do was sign a piece of paper releasing my records to my new doctor and be on my way.  But I didn’t want to do it that way.

My last appointment in his office was with another doctor in his practice (scheduled as such before I’d made the decision to leave).  Since my new doctor couldn’t get me in right away, I had to keep that last appointment, knowing that when I went in I likely wouldn’t see my own doctor unless it was in passing.  Aware that I might not have the opportunity for a verbal explanation, and fearing that I might dilute my feelings in a face-to-face encounter, I wrote a letter.  I hoped to give it to him myself, but he was out of the office and I had to leave it with his receptionist.

In it I told him the reasons for my transition to a new doctor – namely the fact that specific aspects of his treatment of my pregnancy made me question the quality of the care I was getting.  I told him in detail what he had done to make me doubt him.  And I told him that his actions were entirely preventable.  I told him that while I defended him after IEP’s fraught delivery, I didn’t intend to let something go wrong again just because I didn’t have the nerve to abandon a doctor who wasn’t giving me his full attention.

He hasn’t contacted me, and I’m not surprised.  Frankly, I don’t need him to.  What I need him to do is take my words to heart and consider whether he’s being the kind of doctor his patients deserve.  If my departure can solicit that kind of self-evaluation, then it’s worth it to me.

I’ve only had one appointment with her, but so far I like my new OB.  She had read my transferred records before seeing me.  She listened as I explained the circumstances behind my 26-week switch.  She asked pointed and astute questions about IEP’s delivery, and tried to assess (as best she could without having been there) why it was so problematic, and what we might do to prevent similar problems with my next delivery.  She was warm.  She was kind.  She seemed genuinely concerned about what I’d been through to this point.  And she seemed committed to giving me a better birth experience with my second delivery than I had with my first.

Being an adult is sometimes hard.  Doing it well is frequently hard.  But I’ve found in my life that I have more regrets about skirting confrontation than I do about facing it.  I have a son to raise.  And before too long I’ll have two.  I want them to see me be honest and forthright.  I want them to see me do things that are hard because they are right.  I want them to learn by example what it means not only to be a good adult, but to be a good human being.

No one wants to admit that a doctor they’ve been with for 10 years is asleep at the switch.  But I have a family to take care of.  And in this case, taking care of my son meant doing something hard even before he is born.  I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate it now.  But it represents a trend I hope to continue throughout my kids’ lives; a trend that I hope they will appreciate one day, provided I continue to do it right.

8 Responses to “The Prenatal Trade Deadline”

  1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    As you know, I think you made the right decision here. And being a responsible adult, a good parent? Hard work. xoxo

  2. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    I, too, changed OB’s, and I was so glad. When I had Miss M. and had crazy complications (HELLP syndrome) I looked around the delivery room and saw the faces of three doctors. Three women, there for me.

  3. Anna Says:

    Wow, I’m so impressed with this.
    I read that line, “Yesterday, at 26 weeks and change into my second pregnancy, I switched to a new OB” and I felt how nervous and unsure I would have been.
    Good for you for working through it and feeling better on the back end!

  4. Laura H. Says:

    Good for you! Women should feel comfortable, informed and in the driver’s seat during pregnancy. You shouldn’t feel any hesitations about making a change away from a doctor who couldn’t do this for you. Which is why I made a change after my first pregnancy to a new OBGYN.

    If you ever need a second opinion don’t forget that your pledge sister from your hometown is in your current town and is an OBGYN! I would never have found my awesome OBGYN if I hadn’t had her opinion plus the opinion of a highschool friend who is a L&D nurse.

    My husband and I have many friends who are physicians who have proved to be absolutely invaluable during some of my husband’s medical problems the last several years. We are so grateful for them for getting us to the right specialists and getting us in fast. However, it is unnerving the kind of care people get who don’t have a connection, an insider ensuring quality care with quality doctors. But that’s for another blog, another day! :)

  5. Lori Says:

    I totally agree. Women have the right to choose their doctor and change at any point to ensure the best for themselves and their baby. Go Gale!!!

    I have been been incredibly lucky with my two pregnancies and births, but I will say this. I changed to the midwife with my group of doctors (an offering that is not too common for area OB groups) for my second son. I appreciated her approach to the whole experience (MUCH more personal) and I would highly recommend a midwife to anyone who has had a less than perfect experience the first time around.

    My issues were not with the actual labor and delivery. It was what happened with the baby after I met him. My midwife reminded me numerous times that I was the one in control. Doctors were there to support me and what I wanted and hoped for. She told me, “the nurses will tell you they cannot get the babies footprints while he warms on your tummy, but they can. You just have to tell them that.” Or “They like to weigh the baby almost immediately, but if you want to hold him for a while, or two hours, then they can wait.” There were several other examples she gave me and even though she was out of town when I had my second son (so disappointed) the confidence and knowledge she gave me supported me when I had to have some “slightly strained” conversations with the nurses about those very things.

    I guess my point is yes, good for you for standing up for what you believe is best for you and that little guy (and your bigger little guy anxiously awaiting you to get home to him too!). I hope that your new OB is as tuned into your needs as I found with my midwife. So many doctors these days pressure women to do it their (and I am referring to the doctors) ways; whatever they are more comfortable with, including inducing just because the woman is “tired” of being pregnant. Healthy and happy is the goal no doubt, but just because they are doctors, doesn’t entitle them to make decisions for you. YOU get to make decisions for YOU.

  6. Kristen @ Motherese Says:

    Good for you, Gale! I am someone who shies away from conflict – often to my own detriment – so I am always impressed to hear about other women taking charge and making decisions that make sense for them and their families.

    On a separate note, we moved here when I was five months pregnant with my oldest so I found myself with a new OB at the same point in my pregnancy that you find yourself at. It’s never simple to make a big change, but – even though my reasons were different than yours – I found it very easy to pick up with a new doctor mid-pregnancy and was very lucky to find one who always seemed to have my best interests in her mind and heart.

    I wish you and your growing baby nothing but great health and easy times with your new OB!

  7. BigLittleWolf Says:

    That took a lot of guts – and I think writing that letter was a tremendous thing to do – empowering, and maybe an example to others of us who continue to put our health – and the health of our children – in the hands of doctors who have not lived up to basic standards of attentiveness and caring.

    Bravo. And I hope the rest of your pregnancy is smooth sailing. I suspect your decision will help.

  8. Cathy Says:

    Am I the only one that doesn’t feel irked that your previous OB of 10 years hasn’t written you back? In this day and age of lawsuits, OB/GYNs get hit the hardest of all physicians so it doesn’t surprise me, but definitely bums me out.

    Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy.