Thursday, October 11, 2007

Was This Baby Planned?

I don't know why, but for some reason this evening I was remembering a conversation with the doctor I went to to find out if I was pregnant the first time, back in 1978. We lived in a college town, Ithaca, NY, at the time.

I went to the doctor and did the pregnancy test. He told me it was positive. Then he asked me, "Was this a planned pregnancy?" I just said, "Yes," but thought that it was kind of a strange question, since it was actually none of his business whether this baby was planned or not. But when I got home I realized he was asking me if I wanted an abortion.

I didn't go back to him for prenatal care.

I also remember going to an expatriate doctor in the Solomon Islands when I was first pregnant with child #3. She started scolding me for having too many children too close together. That really made me mad, since that child too was planned, and it was none of her business even if it weren't. I didn't go back to her for prenatal care either.

Hmm, like I said, I don't know why I was thinking of this ancient history tonight.


Sarah said...

This was an interesting blog to me, especially : ) I agree with your feelings regarding the doctor in the solomon islands "scolding" you for having your babies too close together. Professionally, this is inappropriate. While, there are increased risks of preterm labor and post-partum hemorrhage in these pregnancies, it is completely up to each patient to decide whether these risks are worth it. I imagine his/her condescending nature is largely cultural, but I don't know.

Regarding the doctor who asked if this pregnancy was planned or not, I disagree with your possibly premature assumption. As someone who deals with people confirming their pregnancies everyday, this is not a question that is an attempt to pry into something that is "none of our business," nor is it an offer for elective abortion. Rather, it is a way to assess how sensitive I must be and how much counseling, support, and potential extra resources she may need to adjust to a very big and unexpected life change. Some of these patients end up suffering from serious depression during their pregnancies or in the post-partum period and this is something I would need to assess for each visit. I have particularly extra compassion on these ones : )

Thainamu said...

Hey, Sarah, thanks for your comment. In the case in the Solomons, the expatriate doctor was an Asian, and she was giving this lecture to each and every patient in the clinic. (In this situation, there was no such thing as patient privacy--either with knowledge about the case or physical privacy--so I heard what she was saying to every Solomon Islander.) I was just resentful that she was treating me like an idiot when I had specifically gotten pregnant exactly when I wanted to (minus one month). And, as you know, that particular baby turned out to be fat and happy and thrived. :-)

In the case of the doctor in Ithaca, I confess to being young and inexperienced at that point, having never been pregnant before, so maybe I didn't interpret his comment correctly. But on the other hand, maybe instead of asking "Was this baby planned?" it would be better to say something like, "So how do you feel about this pregnancy?" or some other more gentle way to ask. To ask if the baby was planned seems to imply that if the baby were a surprise that would be a bad thing.