Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to choosing a doctor -- some prefer fancy credentials, some go on referrals alone, and some just want a soothing bedside manner. Your first pregnancy though is an emotional, exciting, nerve-racking time, filled with various tests, multiple appointments, and, inevitably, several "Is this normal?!" moments. And in the end, this man or woman will be the one bringing your child into the world, so you may be even more discerning about the OB that's right for you.
Without a doubt, age often comes into play. Many might want a doctor who's been-there, done-that and knows his way around an L&D room. Others might want a younger doc who's up on the latest technologies, still has that youthful exuberance, and may even be having a new baby themselves. As for me, I've always chosen doctors who are somewhere in the middle -- they still seem to get joy out of what they do, but they've done this many, many times before.
I picked my early-50s-age OB because he came highly recommended, delivers at one of the best hospitals in the country, has a ton of experience, and has been doing this for a while ... but not too long. He's easy-going, warm, puts me at ease, but also seems to really know his stuff. Then, a couple of days ago, I got a call from his office, explaining that his flight home after the long weekend had been cancelled, he wouldn't be back for a couple more days, and I would need to see another doctor for my weekly appointment. Another doctor?! I'm 35 weeks pregnant with twins -- they could come at any time! Who is this hack you're passing me off on?! Does the airline know he has patients about to give birth? A friend of mine who used the same OB once joked that when he went out of town during her pregnancy, she almost had a What About Bob moment and followed him on vacation. Good thing for the doctor that she wasn't cleared to fly.
Anyway, I wasn't sure how I felt about having a substitute doctor, so I did some research. She had really good credentials, but she was clearly just a few years older than me. Plus, she was gorgeous, and while I shouldn't hold that against her, she didn't seem to have that comforting dork authority that I've come to expect in my doctors. That's okay, I reassured myself, I just won't go into labor in the next 24 hours and all will be good.
Well, let me just say, Miss OB America was freakin' awesome! I'd gone in there all nervous, but she immediately put me at ease with her laid-back demeanor and her enthusiasm. She was kind of like a Grey's Anatomy doctor, and I was digging it. After looking at my chart, she had a, "Oh fun, twins!" response, which made me feel like this was as fun for her as it was for me. Next, she sat down and really talked to me about how I was feeling (which seemed genuine, and not just part of some obligatory routine). Then, she went, "Alright, let's get a look at those babies!" I almost wanted to shout back, "Woohoo! Yeah, let's do this!"
As soon as she put her hands on my tummy, she pointed out that I was having a "practice contraction" right then and there. I was shocked! I have been waiting weeks for these Braxton Hicks that everyone keeps talking about, and assumed that I just wasn't getting them. In that first hands-on-tummy minute though, she was able to show me what it felt like, explain what it was and why it was happening, and even guess as to why I might have been mistaking them for the synchronized stretching of twins. Anyway, I got so excited that I reached out and grabbed her hand, something I never would have done with my regular OB.
She was so eager to share all of this new information that I started hitting her up for more answers. It's not that I don't ask my regular OB questions, but this woman was just so into the science of baby-growing, and gave me really interesting, detailed responses to questions that I wouldn't even have thought to ask. In 10 minutes with her, I got more insight than I think I have in seven months, on everything from the complications with twin deliveries, why my babies are actually in the best position for vaginal delivery (but also why c-section might still be a better option for identical twins), and what I can expect when I go into labor. I even discussed the details of my birth plan with her, just to get her opinion, which she responded to with either a high-five or a thumbs-up! I felt so, so ... understood. And, thanks to her enthusiasm, I felt better informed too. As busy as she was, she clearly loved talking about this stuff.
But, I did have a couple of reminders that she was still a bit new at this. When I asked about this very rare pregnancy condition, she knew about it, but ended up having to Google it to find out more. Also, when we were talking about twin deliveries, she made reference to "This one patient I had who delivered twins ..." Now, I'm sure she probably has delivered more than one set of twins, but from the way she was retelling the story, it made it seem like a twin delivery was an anecdote to her, not par for the course. If she delivered my babies, would her next story go something like, "Then, the second time I delivered twins, they were identical and ..."
As I was walking out though, we acknowledged that while we both hoped that I didn't go into labor in the next 24 hours, it was great that we got to know each other in case I did. To be honest, I kind of wanted to exchange digits and invite her on a girl-date for coffee, but I restrained myself. Ultimately, I walked away feeling happy that I'd had the chance to talk with her, grateful that my original OB would be back in time to deliver my babies, and sure that, in five years, I'd want Miss OB America to be my doctor.
Do you prefer a younger OB, an older one, or someone in between?
Image via clevercupcakes/Flickr