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This Nearly Was Me

When I was pregnant with my oldest, I sat down during an early visit with my OB and brought out my carefully crafted List of Questions I’d mostly copied from some pregnancy book. She tolerated a few of them, until I got to this one: “Are there any books you recommend I read to get ready for the birth?”

My doctor rolled her eyes, took a breath that was clearly designed to help her Count To Three, and then said, “I don’t really keep up on books parents should read about the birth process. But let me tell you this: if expectant parents read nearly as many books on actually raising a child as they do on pregnancy, we’d have a lot less messed up kids in this city. So why don’t you take some time reading books on parenting, which you’ll be dong FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, and let me read the books on delivering a baby? It’s kind of what you’re paying me for.”

O-kay then.

I absolutely love my doctor – she was kind and funny and willing to put up with a lot from me. But one of the things I loved most about her was her authority, and her absolute knowledge of when it’s time to put her foot down. She let me putter around pretending to make lots of decisions, but when push came to, well, push harder, it was her show. She recommended Lamaze teachers and prenatal yoga studios and whatever else I’d like, but when it was Go Time, it was No, You Can’t Hold Your Baby Until She’s Been Examined Because She Was A C-Section And We Need To Make Sure She’s Breathing First, Lady. Plus, Your Guts Are All Over The Table And There’s Really No Way For You To Hold Her Without Dropping Her, You’re So High. But Thanks For Asking.

So you can imagine how she reacted to the next question on my list in that early meeting, which I asked hesitantly: “Will you need to look over my birth plan before I hand it to the hospital staff?”

My doctor rolled her little rollie chair to the corner, turned her back on me, and sat silently for a moment, her shoulders shaking. Either laughter or crying, I’m not sure which, but neither one was particularly ego-building. Then she rolled back, smiled at me, and said, “Sure make out a birth plan. Plan every second of it. See how well you can stick to that. I think that’s real cute.”

And that was the end of my birth plan. I mean, sure, we talked over what we wanted – hold the baby before she’s weighed and cleaned (although as I pointed out, that didn’t so much happen with the need for a c-section and all), no drugs if possible, baby rooms with us, yadda yadda yadda, but in essence our birth plan ended up looking like this: “1. Do whatever our doctor says. 2. See number 1.”

And after having assisted as a coach at several friends’ births over the year, I can only thank my doctor for sparing me the humiliation of seeing the thinly veiled scorn on the hospital staffs’ faces as they read through what would, I am sure, have read something embarrassingly close to this one.

Enjoy. And know that this nearly was me.


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