I remember looking forward to my prenatal appointments when I was pregnant with Robby. Each visit was an opportunity to listen to his heartbeat, to gain insight into how he was growing, and to gain information. I was hoping to have a similar experience with this baby. Unfortunately, I now find myself dreading the appointments.
Don't get me wrong; listening to the baby's heartbeat is the highlight of any day. During my visit yesterday I felt my eyes swell with tears when I heard the quick little Doppler pitter-patter of our baby's healthy heart. Moments like that I cherish because, although I'm trying to be joyful, this pregnancy has been extremely stressful.
Much of the stress I can attribute squarely to one individual. The nurse practitioner, whom I met on my first appointment, spent the entire hour systematically sucking the joy out of me. By the time I left the office I felt like an over-the-hill woman who was selfish for daring to have a baby at such an advanced age. Since that date I have tried my best to put her doomsday predictions out of my mind and concentrate on the happiness of this event. Unfortunately, that is much easier said than done.
I understand the need to provide statistics, but this lady was in overkill mode. Papers were piled in front of me, each declaring seemingly daunting odds. When I asked about the most concerning, 1 in 32 pregnancies in a woman of my "advanced age" results in child with chromosomal abnormalities, I felt my heart race and sink simultaneously. Sensing my panic (the only time during the appointment this individual demonstrated any compassion) she asked me if I was okay. I muttered something about being concerned about the 1 in 32. Before I could finish my sentence, she chimed in. "Don't worry about that statistic. Those abnormalities aren't compatible with life."
In that moment I felt as if my mind had imploded. I was floored by her matter-of-fact, callous sounding response. I'm sure that dealing with this information on a daily basis, one would run the risk of becoming jaded. But in my eyes, not being compatible with life ranks pretty high on the worry list! After that point I went numb and don't remember much else that transpired. I was given prescriptions for further tests because of my "advanced maternal age" (can you tell that diagnosis is sticking in my craw) and left the office.
All of the doctors I have seen since the first appointment have been extremely compassionate, but I can't seem to shake the anxiety that was introduced during my pregnancy debriefing. Rationally, I know that she was just doing her job by providing me with information, but as somebody who interacts with vulnerable individuals on a daily basis, I know first hand that she needs to work on her delivery. I'm going to voice my concerns and experiences with this interaction, but I'm going to wait until after the baby is born. (I suppose part of me is worried about alienating those who will eventually yield the pain relieving drugs during labor.)