1.18.2012

Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor, Midwife, Mother, Sister, Husband, Childbirth Care Provider,
These letters are a compilation of letters that have been shared with me from some of my clients' journals. I ask many of the women I work with to start writing... forgiveness letters, truth letters, anger letters, secret letters... healing letters that allow them to be honest about what they are holding in their hearts.

Some of these letters make it into the hands of their intended recipients... sometimes not... 

Dear Doctor,

I came into your office today. 9:30 am, just like the little card that was mailed to me a month ago said. I was ecstatic when I came in - I have wanted and hoped for this baby since I was a little girl dreaming of being a mommy someday.

The card said 'arrive 5 minutes early for your paperwork'. I got there 10 minutes early. I was so excited, I felt like my face was going to split from excitement. The woman at the desk, perhaps she was having a bad day, but she really didn't need to ignore me like that, or glare at me like that when I couldn't find my insurance card right away... or make me feel chided just because I wanted to share why I was there.

I filled out my paperwork, returned it to the counter, and waited... and waited... and waited. I finally got back to the room 45 minutes after my appointment time. The nurse was nice, but didn't look me in the eyes. She gave me a paper towel and told me to put it on. 'Put it on'? How can you put a paper towel on? Why would I be sitting around in a paper towel anyway? I asked why and she just smiled like she pitied my naivete and said, 'the doctor will be in to see you in a moment'.

I waited, and waited, and waited some more... 20 minutes after that, I finally put my coat on because I was cold, and then you walked in. You chided me for keeping my bra on under the paper towel and made me feel silly before we even got introduced. I have to tell you, it is more than a little intimidating that, on a first meeting, I meet you disrobed and in a paper towel and you meet me in business attire.

Talk about defining expected roles.

Then you gave me your name, opened my file, and read out of it for the rest of the prenatal. Yes, I was pregnant. Yes, I was young. Yes, I wanted 'it'. You recommended considering my options, like me being pregnant and young made me more apt to not want... 'it'.

I said I had questions. You said to make an appointment to talk with the nurse about them. I said I wanted to know your feelings about some pregnancy and birth options. You told me to stop reading my books and, instead, to read your office's packet of information my nurse would give me on my way out.

I was stirruped, felt up, felt around, made greasy, given another paper towel to wipe off with, and out the door you went before I had even put my feet back down out of the stirrups.

I dressed, slower and less enthusiastic this time, and put my purse in my lap. I felt shell-shocked. I waited over an hour for 10 minutes of groping, beratement, and belittlement. I was so excited about this first step toward becoming a parent... and now I just felt like a naked child with their legs spread wide and a goopy bottom who was scolded to be seen and not heard.

I left with my 5 pages of information, which included information on pregnancy control, when I should expect to come back throughout my pregnancy, what constitutes a pregnancy emergency, and a prescription. Nothing about me. Nothing about my wonder, my joy, my baby! Just your expectations of me.

I understand that this is your livelihood, your business, and that you see many women just like me every day.

But this is my life-lihood, this is my future, and I am an individual, not an appointment.
Sincerely, 
Recommended to Another Practice of Mother-centered Provider

8 comments:

Kathi Valeii said...

Nicole, thank you for sharing this letter. Those are some seriously honest, gut-punching words. I love the idea of suggesting journaling to the pregnant mom. The last birth I attended, the mom and I worked through a lot of previous birth trauma. She was still releasing it throughout her labor.

I am going to link to your blog from my website. I appreciate so much your dedication to birth work and empowering women! The things you share not only provide thought-provoking information for pregnant mamas, but fellow birth workers, as well.

Kathi Valeii said...

Nicole, thank you for sharing this letter. Those are some seriously honest, gut-punching words. I love the idea of suggesting journaling to the pregnant mom. The last birth I attended, the mom and I worked through a lot of previous birth trauma. She was still releasing it throughout her labor.

I am going to link to your blog from my website. I appreciate so much your dedication to birth work and empowering women! The things you share not only provide thought-provoking information for pregnant mamas, but fellow birth workers, as well.

Nancy said...

Thank you for sharing, its as if some of the medical field (I say some because there are a few good ones out there in regards to MDs) are taking the emotion out of birth. Its a joyous, beautiful experience...something that needs to be celebrated, not industrialized like a conveyor belt...I mean serioulsy, we celebrate the BIRTH-DAY of everyone on the planet, yet we dont take the time to celebrate the mother and her experience while she is caring this human being!??!?!? Makes no sense to me. I am in the process of becoming a Doula, and I think this is one of the reasons I am so passionate about the birth experience...because these women need to be celebrated! They are overflowing with emotions and wanting to express them, and an experience like the one written above...the individual didn't get to share ANY of her feelings.

Its no wonder we as a culture have communication issues, we don't commun-icate with passion and emotion anymore.

Rachael Heiner said...

I have heard SO many stories about women being treated terribly by OB/GYNs. Waiting for hours past their appointment time, etc. I am lucky that I had a great doc with my 1st and a great midwife with my 2nd. Thanks for sharing this.

Myndie said...

Thank you for sharing this. I should probably do the same with my ectopic experience 5 years ago. It was traumatic to say the least and my trust in OB/GYN's is pretty much non-existent.

Thanks again.

Kim said...

Wow. That makes me feel so ... sad. I can't believe that was actually someone's experience. How shaming, awful, belittling, embarassing :(

tara said...

I'm so glad my OB was NOT like this at all. He has been delivering babies for 25 years and he never once made me feel like my questions weren't valid or that my excitement was silly. I admit that sometimes the waiting was a bit long, but since I know he took the time to answer all my questions (and I came armed with lots of them) I could respect that my waiting meant he was taking time with other women too.
I know there are bad OBs out there, but there are also GOOD ones and I hope more women seek out the good ones and recommend them often.

sarahlynnstern said...

This was such an interesting post and I think it is so important that women share these experiences with each other so that we never feel alone or at fault, or like we have to put up with being treated improperly.
I just wanted to add my wonderful experience with my ob/gyn so far, because not all doctors' offices are like that. My ob/gyn meets with you in his office to have a long, open, conversation about pregnancy and childbirth before ever examining you. The nurses in his office learn your name and treat you like a friend. The doctor is considerate of both my emotions and my physical feelings while I'm getting examined. I feel lucky to have a doctor like this when there are others who are not, but people should know that there are some good ones out there.

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