Thursday, June 1, 2017

Prenatal Care : An Interlude

Since my first prenatal care appointment was pretty traumatic for me, I walked out of the place KNOWING I wasn't going back. I immediately got on the phone and started to call around, setting up, like ten appointments...until a friend pointed out that maybe insurance wouldn't actually pay for all those appointments if they weren't deemed necessary. This threw a kink in my plans because, how the fuck was I supposed to find a care provider who wasn't an asshole if I couldn't actually go see them and find out!?

It's a month between appointments in the beginning and the further along you get, the less likely someone is to take on your case. If I can't figure out the philosophies of the care providers before I go meet them, then how can I know if I'm going to go to an appointment that will actually work well and not be a traumatizing event? It's a problem.

Even in the calls to set up appointments, I encountered issues. An appointment setter made me talk to a nurse to see what kind of appointment they wanted to give me. This is because establishing care for a pregnant lady requires blood work at the start to make some determinations about that care and they had to figure out if I was a blood work appointment or not. I encountered this at every office I contacted for my second appointment, making it more uncomfortable for me on the phone, because I'm not a doctor and my first care provider didn't actually give me any information about anything she was doing, since she was just pissed off at me from the start. The nurse that was talking to me decided that over the phone was an appropriate time to give me a lecture about prenatal vitamins.

I set the appointment, but hung up and never entered it into my calendar. I sure as shit was not going to see a care provider whose nurses felt that lectures over the phone, lectures about medical decisions, were an appropriate response to a call about setting up an appointment. I was also learning that there are no repercussions for dealing with doctors who suck. You either go and have a shitty time and never go back or you put up with the shit. There is nowhere to call or least not that I was aware of at this time. So I was just setting up appointments blindly.

Meanwhile, I was setting up appointments to visit birthing centers in the area, including those in Akron and Cleveland. But I wasn't really enjoying that either. Most birthing centers have appointments once a month on a Saturday at, like, 1p. What about the rest of us who don't work 9-5 jobs and what about trying to see all the birthing centers as soon as possible to make decisions?

I was just annoyed with the whole process and still scared because I was still having elevated levels of anxiety due to all the hormone changes and because I still had TONS of questions I wanted answered. I was also running up against one of the many walls I'd find throughout my care; prenatal vitamins were a BIG DEAL...but no one could articulate why, just that I was supposed to shut up and take them. And NO ONE believed that I had researched what was in the vitamins and decided to eat real food instead.

It was a hot mess and all I wanted was not to have to have my baby in a big city hospital where baby birthing was an assembly line production, care providers didn't care about the individual, and everything was crowded and anonymous.

So I looked into having the baby at my place of birth...only to find out it was too small for the hospital conglomerates and they closed it down. This was the case with the smaller hospitals in Cleveland as well. If a hospital isn't doing several thousand births a year, University Hospitals, The Cleveland Clinic, and Summa Health would close down that maternity ward. (Oh yeah, and I learned that these huge hospitals had changed the name of the maternity wards to "birthing center" complete with clever marketing language on their websites, though practices have changed little over the years.)

I didn't want the baby factories, the indifference, the routine, and all the noise of everything being about making more money.

So I thought for a while and I started contemplating going to Canton, OH...but their website was the scariest of all! Aultman in Canton has terrifying practices as far as their website goes, so that was a no. I'm talking things like, forcing fathers to wait outside of any birth that is considered "high risk". Just, like, stone age thinking here.

But it turns out that Aultman Medical Group (or whatever) maintains a technically "rural" hospital in Orrville, OH, which is about 12 miles from where I was born. It lies in the heart of Amish country and the hospital recently built a horse and buggy garage for the Amish women who deliver there. Also, all you had to do was give them a call with about 30 minutes of notice in order to tour the birth center. No waiting for months and having to see it with large groups of people. NO reservations needed. The staff is ready and waiting to let you see the facility whenever they aren't inundated with babies...which would be rarely, since they do about 300-400 births per year vs. the 3000-4000 of the hospitals in Akron and Cleveland.

I drove down that day.

It was wonderful. It was everything I wanted. Nurses that didn't treat me like I was insane because I wanted what essentially amounts to a "home birth" but with the safety of a hospital setting. Nurses and staff who are used to Amish patients who want very little intervention. A lower c-section rate than the rest of the area. A nursery that is there only for emergencies, that they don't even staff because they want the baby to stay with you. Birthing suites with Murphy Beds so that your spouse or partner can stay with you and sleep with you after the baby is born. It was like heaven compared to what I had already experienced. Plus, they had a whole case of awards they had won for rural care and tons of articles in online newspapers about what a great hospital they are!

Now, I just had to find a doctor that delivered there...which is where this blog post ends and where my next one will begin.

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