No riding on bumpy roads. No spicy food. No long walks. We can't have this baby quite yet.
Well, we could. I'd just rather not. There's nothing like being 35 weeks prego and re-starting the search for an obstetrician!
The very first doctor we went to see was not a good fit for us. The minute we sat down with her she started talking about when I could schedule my c-section and at the end of the appointment she instructed me to not eat - that I had plenty of extra weight on me as it was and I didn't need to gain anymore with pregnancy - so, naturally, I should stop eating. (Not uncommon advice apparently as my friend (who is quite active, in shape, and not at all overweight) down in Rio received a similar suggestion of meal skipping from her first doctor.)
So when we went to visit the second doctor, we went in with a nice long list of concerns and our preferences regarding labor and birth. From the very beginning, we've wanted a very natural,
drug-free, knife-free birth (so long as the pregnancy was healthy and all that, of course.) The first consultation we discussed our very specific wishes at length with the doctor and she assured us that she had no problem with any of it and even suggested her preferred hospital for our birth. It seemed quite perfect.
During our consultation with the doula we want to use, she encouraged us to really talk frankly with our doctor and make sure we're on the same page. We assured the doula that we had spoken with our doctor at length about our desires and she was on board. We were then warned that "she might say now that she won't do a routine episiotomy, but when it comes right down to it, the episiotomy rate for most doctors here is seriously like 99%."
So last Monday we took a copy of our birth preferences/birth plan to our doctor. I had worked really hard to get it all written out in proper Portuguese (given that our doctor doesn't speak English and probably none of the hospital staff will either.)
As she started reading, her eyes got big. Now please note that none of this should have been new. This was all stuff we had told her we wanted all along. And all along she would tell us there was no problem, she loved natural births.
And then she started in on why our wishes were impossible:
- Did you know that 99% of women require an episiotomy? That our bodies won't allow a baby to born unless we're cut? (Silly me, I thought that my body was designed for childbirth! And she just gave me a blank stare when I told her the things I've been doing to help avoid needing an episiotomy - I'm pretty sure she'd never even heard of such things.)
- The hospital she so emphatically suggested when we told her what we were looking for? Hmmm, now she says that me wanting to be free to move around during labor is impossible there - I'd have to stay in a bed. (But I can lie on my left side if I don't want to be on my back. Oh goody, now there's an exceptional set of options!)
- Not wanting an epidural? Oh, well, that's okay with her. She'll just give me a series of locals to numb me up real good. What?!? I don't want to be numb? But, that will hurt!
- I don't want my membranes to be artificially ruptured or Pitocin routinely given. Unless there is some medical reason to speed things up, I want things to progress on their own. But, but, but, you could be in labor over 10 hours! (Well, yes, this is my first child. I fully expect to be in labor much longer than that!)
- Eric with me at all times? Well, probably there won't be any room for him in the pre-birth area where I'd be laboring. But he can certainly come into the operating room to watch the birth. And oh, yeah, by the way, all births must happen in the operating room.
I swear, for a moment there I thought I was planning a birth in 1962. I knew before getting pregnant that Brasil has a really high elective c-section rate (as high as 90% in some private hospitals) and that "normal" births tend to be very medicalized and with tons of routine interventions. But, I was encouraged when I found a group in BH that is promoting and trying to educate women and doctors on more natural alternatives. And I really thought I'd found a doctor who was on the same page! (And it should be noted that I have no issues with epidurals, enemas, episiotomies, and the sort, if that's what you want or if it's medically necessary. But I also believe that my body was designed for birthing-babies and I personally don't want needles and scalpels unless a problem arises! Childbirth just really doesn't scare me. *I'll get back to you in April regarding whether or not I should have been afraid. hehehe)
Anyway, our doctor went on for at least 20 minutes explaining why she couldn't help us with the birth we wanted. Nevermind Eric and I had talked to her about each of these points specifically in the past and were always told that it was no problem at all! (I hate to generalize, but this has really been the typical experience for us in dealing with people here. No one will ever tell us that they can't do something. The answer is always "yes" until it comes right down to the wire or you really push for honesty. Just one example: after our crib hadn't been delivered within the 30 days we were promised, we called. Turns out they were expecting the shipment that day! (They said.) The next two times we called we were assured it would be delivered "tomorrow". A few weeks later, we had our crib.)
In the end, after seeing everything in writing (and I guess finally deciding that we were serious), our doctor told us if this is what we want, then we really should find a different doctor. Lovely.
So we got a referral to a couple doctors that our doula routinely works with, and we've got appointments to meet them. Over the weekend we went around visiting several different hospitals and the lone birth center in town. (The birth center is by far our first choice now, but they only have 5 rooms and they stay pretty full, so we're going to need a back-up plan.)
And so therein lies our current quandary.
Sort of related: I dreamed last night that I was giving birth squatting in the corner of a thatched-roof hut somewhere deep in the jungle with a medicine woman and surrounded by an array of monkeys, mosquitos, and malaria. It was kind of a nice dream. But then again, I've always really liked monkeys.