Monday, June 2, 2014

My Pre-Birth Story: Dealing with a Bad Doctor

My most recent blog posts never really shared everything that was happening with my pregnancy. Nothing really serious, or scary, happened throughout my pregnancy. I felt mostly healthy, and I took prenatal yoga classes throughout most of my pregnancy and up to 40 weeks. My husband and I wanted to educate ourselves as much as possible about birth, so we took an assortment of classes from learning about pregnancy and infant care to breastfeeding. The more we learned about the birth process, the more my thoughts on how I wanted to deliver a baby changed.

our little peanut

We were fairly new to the Orlando metro area when I became pregnant, so I had little direction when it came to choosing a doctor. My husband's coworkers wife had two little girls, so we asked for a reference. We attempted to interview the OB, but he skirted around quite a few of my questions. One of my biggest fears was ending in a c-section, so I wanted a good doctor who was less likely to intervene with surgery. The doctor's avoidance of my questions should have been the hugest red flags, but I wasn't sure where else to turn.

After my husband and I took a pregnancy preparation class, I leaned more towards having a natural birth. Week after week, the doctor tried telling us how important our baby was to him. However, my gut always told me this man didn't really have our best interests in mind. I noticed a huge change in my doctor's demeanor when I mentioned to him that I was interested in a natural birth. It was like a switch inside him went off, and he became less supportive and very negative. He never failed to plant seeds of fear in my mind that pregnancy could be a dangerous thing with dire consequences for me and the baby. No kidding! He mentioned cerebral palsy at least three times. I understood that anything can happen during labor, but good things can happen too. For me, the positives of a natural birth far outweighed the negatives. I didn't want to be scared to give birth.

24 weeks and can't wait to meet baby

My doctor classified me as high risk for some crazy reason. Early ultrasounds had discovered an ovarian cyst, but those can be fairly common during pregnancy. Mine was monitored throughout pregnancy to make sure it wasn't growing. It never really did grow. Thank goodness. However, my doctor never failed to mention all of the terrible things that could go wrong with that cyst. It could rupture. It could grow so big that it twists my fallopian tube causing great pain. The cyst could block the birth canal or uterus during labor. I wanted to rip my hair out after each monthly doctor visit. He was causing me more stress than I needed during pregnancy, and I desperately wanted a doctor who would be encouraging and supportive.

I continued going to prenatal yoga classes, and one day I decided to ask my instructor if she knew of a good doula in the area. Again, my gut instinct told me that I needed some help with my doctor/stressful situation. Imagine my reaction when my yoga instructor said that she's in fact a doula. Hallelujah! My husband was on board with hiring her, so we put down a retainer fee and began meeting with her in preparation of the birth of our baby.

Our doula, and my yoga instructor, Alyssa was very encouraging and helpful when it came to worries or concerns. I mentioned the problems with my doctor, and she suggested possibly switching doctors. At almost 30 weeks pregnant it seemed a little crazy, and I figured I could stick it out. Oh how I wish I had listened to her, and my gut, at that point.

Things only got worse with my doctor as the weeks progressed. I was getting closer to my due date, and the appointments were weekly instead of monthly. With each exam my doctor never failed to tell me that my "cervix is still thick and closed" and baby's "head was still high". Our doula, Alyssa, served as a great source of comfort and encouragement that things were progressing fine. She reminded me that plenty of mom's go into labor without many signs of impending labor. It was incredibly discouraging that week after week my cervix was thick and closed, and I showed no effacement or dilation. I did my best to relax and let go, but I was letting my doctor's words get into my head.

only a week or two left...

Seeing how my doctor reminded me weekly that baby's head was still high, I had asked him if going to the chiropractor would be good for hip alignment and allowing baby to drop. I didn't realize there was a great divide between medical doctors and chiropractors, because I figure the two really work together. Well, my doctor, for lack of better words, freaked out on me. He told me that going to see a chiropractor could be dangerous and put me on bed rest, hurt my hips, etc. Upon leaving the room, he mentioned that he hoped I didn't bring a witch doctor the next week. That comment was like the straw that broke the camels back for me. At first I was shocked he said that, and then I was just downright pissed that he was so disrespectful. Making a patient feel like a crazy person isn't good business. I fumed out of the office.

I lost all respect for my doctor with the way he decided to handle me after I decided to have a natural birth. It was almost as if he treated me like I was wasting his time. He kept trying to tell me that he only performed c-sections if there was a real emergency, and he wanted to make sure I knew he didn't make any more money off of a c-section (although a financial contract they had me sign stated otherwise). It was as if my doctor felt the need to prove that he wouldn't do anything shady. Guilty conscience maybe? It took everything in me not to yell at him, but I wanted to keep things fairly respectful from my end.

My mom arrived from Michigan to be there for our baby's birth. I told her about my doctor, and she said she could play the role of witch doctor at my 40 week appointment. She actually had some other choice words when I told her everything my doctor had been saying. I warned her to behave herself at my appointment, but I secretly wish she had told my doctor where to go.

my mom and I swimming at 40 weeks pregnant... come on baby!

During my 40 week appointment, my doctor mentioned wanting to induce at 41 weeks. I told him that I'd like to go until 42 weeks and that I understood the risks of going past my due date. I really didn't want to be induced. I asked if there was a possibility of being induced at 41 and a half weeks if I wasn't confident about going to 42 weeks, and he said that he could induce on 41 weeks or 42 weeks but not in between. It didn't "fit into his schedule". I almost lost it with that comment! He also mentioned that he would induce me using a drug, Misoprostol (or Cytotec), that isn't even FDA-approved for inducing labor. There are safer ways of being induced (like Cervadil for example), but they are slower working. I no longer wanted to work with a doctor that wanted to put me and our baby at risk of complications so that he could work at his convenience. That was when I decided to switch doctors.

At 40 weeks pregnant I went home from my doctor appointment and started calling obstetricians who might take me. I heard good things about one who was local, so I called them and sent in my medical records. They called back saying sorry it was too risky taking a new patient at 40 weeks. I cried. Again I tried a midwife who my doula suggested. Same story; too risky. Tears were shed, but I remembered I could always use the hospital's doctor on call.

40 weeks and ready to pop

My husband and I discussed our limited options. Stick with my doctor or have the hospital's doctor on call deliver our baby. I wasn't going to let my doctor near me or our baby, but my husband was nervous about working with a new doctor. I had made up my mind, and I just had to convince my husband to roll the dice with the doctor on call. It couldn't get much worse than my doctor.

We worked with our doula doing everything possible to induce labor naturally. I saw the chiropractor, got a massage, bounced on a stability ball, talking to our baby, took evening primrose oil capsules, drank red raspberry leaf tea, and I walked miles with my husband daily. I was desperate to go into labor naturally and never see my doctor again.

the nursery was just waiting for a baby...

Lo and behold, just a few days after that 40 week appointment (40 weeks + 4 days to be exact) I began seeing early signs of labor. It was incredibly encouraging to think my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to without medical interventions. I felt a new sense of hope that I could give birth naturally and I wouldn't have to deal with my doctor again.

I continued doing everything I could to induce labor naturally. My husband and I walked a ton, and during a walk I started feeling what I thought might be "real" contractions. They kept coming later in the day, so I wanted to keep walking for fear they might go away. My husband and I walked around the local mall, and I distracted myself by window shopping for baby clothes and eating macarons.

The contractions kept coming, and by the evening they were coming regularly and lasting for a minute. Needless to say, it was hard to get sleep that night. We did our best to get a little sleep before labor started getting more intense. I called our doula, and she suggested relaxing as much as possible before labor progressed much. We were going to have a baby!

It was so exciting to finally be in labor after all of the drama with my doctor. I could hardly believe we'd be meeting our baby soon after all the months of being pregnant. Part of me was really excited, and the other part was nervous that labor was happening!

{ to be continued.... }


  1. Oh my gosh, I can't imagine how stressful that must have been dealing with that doctor! So frustrating when it feels like someone isn't listening to you and completely belittles more natural methods...but completely understandable why you didn't switch doctors right away because it's kind of tough when you've already started down the path with one person. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your story! :)

  2. Wow, that is crazy. It sounds like a Lifetime movie. It is weird to me how different areas are so different when it comes to having an OB. Here, we have 5 doctors in the same office that rotate on-call and you can rotate your appointments or you can choose to see the same doctor the whole time. If you see the same doctor, you still may have someone different deliver you. If you don't like any of them, you have no other choice :( I thought that I would rather have one doctor see me throughout and know that doctor was going to deliver me but in your case I would have been wanting other options too! So if you would have decided to stay with your doctor (if he wasn't crazy) were you suppose to call him when you went into labor? Instead of using the on-call doctor? It also blows my mind how your doctor acted when you said you wanted a natural birth. It seems to me that doctors would push a natural birth over drugs. I'm glad you got rid of your doctor because it sounds like you would have had a traumatic experience otherwise!

  3. I'm so sorry that you had a negative experience with that doctor. I also can't wait to read the rest of your story! :)

  4. Wow. I think I would've punched that doctor, multiple times. Can't wait to read the rest of the story!