Today I found myself waiting for an hour and a half in the aptly named waiting room of a doctor. I'm not sure what I expected given that I had been waiting four months for my appointment in the first place, but the doctor got good ratings on the websites I checked, her office is close to my home, and her receptionist told me she could fit me for a diaphragm, so I told myself that it was worth the wait.
When my name was finally called, everyone was friendly, and I didn't mind that it turned out I was seeing a nurse practitioner instead of the doctor I had researched and spent 4 months waiting to see. After stripping down and putting on a cloth hospital gown, the nurse practitioner came in and talked to me about birth control options. She recommended an IUD with progesterone or a new surgical procedure that is permanent. I told her that I was really there to get fitted with a diaphragm, and she said that I would need to schedule a separate appointment for that. I told her that I was confused because that is the kind of appointment I had scheduled 4 months ago. I explained that since I have never had an abnormal pap and I am monogamous, I understood that I only needed them every 3 years, and I had one last year, so...
She told me that they still like to do a pelvic exam annually and that sometimes they catch things with pap smears, so until the insurance forces them to go to every 3 years, they are going to do them annually. I told her that was fine, but I had just spent an hour and a half in the waiting room, so I'd still really like to be fitted for a diaphragm today. She said that the diaphragm fitting kit might be in storage across the hall, but she'd go ask. She was gone for about 5 minutes, and when she came back, she said that she'd looked everywhere, and it turned out they borrow their fitting kit from the doctor across the hall, and he was using it (OK...). In her embarrassment over not being able to give me what I'd come for, she suggested that I try withdrawal since it is as effective as a diaphragm. Then (and to her credit, she didn't ask what I do, so she didn't know that I actually understand statistics) she said that the odds of getting pregnant using withdrawal are 80%, so if we use it for 5 years we'll only get pregnant once!
OK, so I didn't get what I went for, but surely I got something from the visit, right? Well, there were two things I learned. First, she congratulated me on breastfeeding for so long and told me that she breastfed her second until 18 months. Then she told me that a good way to wean is to pretend to go to the doctors office, and come home with bandaids on your nipples. When your child asks to nurse, show him the bandaids and tell him you can't because you have owies. Second, she told me that a lot of women have vitamin D deficiencies, and that I should get checked, so after I was all dressed and ready to go, I went and waited in line for the phlebotomist. When I finally got called into her little room, she asked for my insurance card and proof of address. That seemed strange, so I asked her to clarify how this blood test would be billed, and she said that it's billed separately from the doctor's visit. I don't know how other insurance is, but for mine, blood work within an appointment is covered by the copay, but blood work outside the appointment is only covered 80%. I declined to have my vitamin D levels tested under those circumstances and left. Behind me I heard the phlebotomist tell the nurse practitioner that I had declined (I've become such a difficult patient).
While I was waiting for the appointment I had time to read (and reread) my Mothering magazine for the month which was all about unassisted home births. I would personally never do it unassisted, but I would be equally hesitant to have another baby with a doctor unless there was a really good reason to. I kept feeling like the women in that waiting room didn't know what they were missing.
After the appointment, I went home and told dh what had happened. He suggested that I call my general practitioner for OB recommendations, but I realized it made more sense to call the Birth Center. I was surprised to find myself crying while I told one of the midwives who was present at ds2's birth what had happened. Talking with her helped me to put into words what is wrong with the medical system these days: there's just no replacement for being treated like an equal (because you are at a very basic level), for being a client instead of a patient, and for having people really care about what you need. That's why once you've gone to a midwife, it's hard to imagine ever going back.
Bed sharing, baby wearing, breastfeeding mama of Vonn (dob 12/9/07) and Reuben (dob 7/17/09).