Abigail's Story

The Doctor Hunt

“Welcome Home.”

The homemade crayon-colored sign was hanging on the front door of my parents house, our new temporary home, and was a welcome token of love after a long 700-mile car ride.

We brought in our suitcases and spent the next several days organizing our new little space, the 2 spare bedrooms my parents had prepared for us. Although I couldn’t spend too much time nesting just yet. There was something important that needed to be done.

I needed a doctor.

I’d attempted to secure a doctor out here before leaving Albuquerque, but they insisted I needed to be currently living in our new town, before making an appointment.

But now we were here. Surely it wouldn’t be too hard.

I looked up local well-respected OBGYN’s online, and called one.

The secretary sounded sweet enough, but her words were not comforting. “You’re how far along? I can ask the doctor, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a no… ” I was put on hold while she verified. “Hello, miss? Yeah, I’m sorry, the doctor said it’s too much of a risk.”

I called another, and was told the same.

Two rejections was all I could handle that day.

The next day, my husband and I decided we’d try visiting some doctor’s offices in person. Maybe if they could see my belly, pleading eyes, and my envelope of records, they’d have pity on me and take me.

We stopped at the first, but got much of the same. So, we went to another. They all kept saying the same thing. It’s too risky. Um, no, we don’t take women that far along. Then they’d just stare at me with condemning eyes that asked “Why on earth would you move this close to delivery?”

We didn’t even get far enough into the conversation to bring up the fact that we didn’t have usable insurance for the time being. While my husband’s new job was going to come with a great benefits package, it unfortunately wasn’t going to kick in until AFTER the baby would be born.  We still had our New Mexico insurance, but it apparently wasn’t of any value in California.

We had applied for me to be covered privately until my husband’s insurance kicked in. But, it was going to take several days for it to take effect.

By this point, we’d been in California nearly a week. I was 38 weeks. I NEEDED a doctor. I needed to make sure everything was still okay. This last month of the pregnancy, I was supposed to be monitored more than before. Had I been in Albuquerque still, I’d be getting seen twice a week.

We passed one more office on our drive back to my parents house, and nodded in agreement we’d try that one too. I waddled into the office, my husband holding the door for me. The receptionist at the desk was less than sympathetic as we explained our situation. We were told to take a seat, so I found an empty row against the wall and parked my aching legs and feet there. When she announced that they wouldn’t be able to take me either, my kind and gentle husband wasn’t going to have it. He kept his cool, but with his wife being rejected everywhere she turned, and the baby getting nearer and nearer to making her debut, he was going to make sure that his family was taken care of. As he stood there, pleading on my behalf, and proving by my papers that I wasn’t a risk and that I actually had had phenomenal care up to that point, he insisted that we were willing to pay out-of-pocket if the insurance thing was an issue. His wife needed to be seen.

They told him to take a seat.

Meanwhile, another lady walked in, clearly there for her 6-week follow up appointment, a newborn in tow in her carseat. I watched that little baby, cozy in her blanky. Upon seeing her, the receptionist face lit up with a smile as she welcomed this woman, a friendly, warm tone gracing her lips.

It was more than I could bear, and as I watched the baby yawn, obviously well taken care of by the mother and the clinic, I lost it. I rubbed my kicking baby, nestled inside and ready to come. But no one was willing to deliver her.

I bit my lip, willing myself to not fall apart here. Don’t look pathetic. Don’t look so desperate. 

But I was desperate.

My cries quickly became audible, and I had to excuse myself to the car.

I was out there for ten more minutes before my husband climbed into the drivers seat.

“What did they say?”

The look on his face told me that I didn’t really need to ask. And perhaps I shouldn’t have.

“Nineteen hundred and fifty dollars… just to see you. That doesn’t even include any tests. That’s just to talk to the doctor.”

I felt like throwing up.

“Seriously? What did you say?”

“I asked her if that’s just a random number the doctor pulled out of a hat to get me to just leave them alone.”

Apparently, it was.

We drove home.

***

After relaying what had happened to my mom, she got on the phone on my behalf, with a doctor that had performed minor surgery on her several years prior. He’d had a great reputation, and though some complained of his bedside manner, he was known for being a  highly skilled surgeon. I thought about my endometriosis, and thought that maybe after the baby, he’d be the right doctor to “fix” me and clear out the disease. But of course I wasn’t going to need a surgical delivery. My plan was to go natural.

She explained the situation (the move, my records, that she’d been a previous patient of his) and they agreed to see me.

She came into my room and handed me a small slip of paper with a date and time on it.

An appointment. I finally found someone to take me.

I threw my arms around her, beyond relieved.

***

Appointment day

After dropping Sweet Pea off with a family friend, my mother escorted me to the appointment. She knew I needed emotional support, and someone to be my backbone if anybody tried to give me more grief.

We waited a short while, before being called back into the doctor’s private office. There were soft fabric chairs, a heavy desk, and built-in bookshelves lining the walls. His certifications were clearly hung, and pictures of his children were smiling in quality frames.

I sat down, and twiddled my thumbs, nervously waiting for him to come in. My mother spoke quiet reassurances to me.

Finally, he came and closed the door behind himself.

After introductions, he got down to business, verifying the stats.

“So, you are 38 and a half weeks?”

“Correct.” I handed him the envelope with my records. He took them out and read them quietly to himself before continuing.

“That doesn’t give us much time.”

He glanced up at me, and I nodded in acknowledgement.

“Your due date is when?”

“August 17th.”

“That’s a Monday. I don’t like to let babies go past their due date, because that’s when the issues arrive. I suggest we induce the Thursday before.”

I looked at my mom to see her reaction, and hesitated before responding.

“I’d rather wait to see if she will come out on her own.”

This response prompted him to list his reasons for suggesting the induction. And while his tone was kind, and he was obviously knowledgable, it was clear that his “suggestion” was more along the lines of a command.

I didn’t want to be induced.

But this was the only doctor that would take me. The only one that agreed to even see me. He was willing to help me. But it was going to be under his terms.

I wasn’t about to argue.

Then he insisted my “labor plan” include an epidural, something that I did not want because I’d heard that epidural’s slow the progress. I couldn’t quite understand his reasoning for doing things, but again, I didn’t feel I could argue.

After agreeing to the induction, the appointments were all set.

The following day, I’d have an ultrasound. The next day, fetal heartbeat monitoring. One more check-up the following Tuesday. Then Thursday, induction.

The ball was now rolling.

 

Continue reading the story here.

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