Top Two—Make that Three—Tips for a New Pregnancy

One of my closet friends is a case manager for a non-profit organization that, in part, helps to resettle refugees in the United States (yes, it is an awesome job, and yes, you do need to be as smart, compassionate, and hardworking as she is to be good at it).  In her position, she works closely with families and she’s been a part of a number of pregnancies and births.  Heck, there are even a couple of babies she’s either named or have been named after her.

Seeing as she had more experience with pregnancy than I did when I first told her the good news, I asked for her top advice for a new pregnancy.  Here’s what she told me:

  1. Make sure you have health insurance.
  2. Take a prenatal vitamin every day.

Thankfully, I could say check and check to both of her prescriptions.  Plus her advice was a welcome reminder to be grateful for the access to healthcare—and vitamins!—that I have.

Over the past few months, I’ve learned that lots more could be added to this list: eat well, get enough rest, have an outlet for the emotional and spiritual changes you’ll experience, etc.  Only one, however, tops them all, and only one do I deem worthy to amend the list above.

  1. Make sure that the hospital with which your doctor is affiliated is not likely to close before your due date.

When I needed an OB in NYC, I started my search the way I always do—I googled.  I quickly found a fantastic new Catholic healthcare center for women, affiliated with St. Vincent’s Hospital.  I checked to see that care there was covered by my insurance, and emailed right away for an appointment.

Now I know that no doctor would force us to do anything we didn’t want to do, and only some would be judgmental about things like not doing a screening for Down syndrome, so having a Catholic, or at least a prolife doctor is not an absolute necessity.  But over the duration of this experience and in making decisions about our family later, I liked the idea that our beliefs would be encouraged, rather than simply tolerated.

So we met the doctor, we met the staff, I had a number of check ups.  Everything was going well, and I was thrilled that I could support this new organization by being a patient.

Then my doctor told me that there was some question as to whether St. Vincent’s would be able to stay open, and in turn, whether he would be able to continue practicing OB.  I could choose to wait and see how things would fare for him and the center or I could find another doctor; he’d even recommend someone. I took the other doctor’s name to research, but continued to hope for the best, that is, staying with my doctor.

Eventually word came that St. Vincent’s was closing its doors.  There was still a possibility of staying with my doctor, but I started asking for more recommendations where I could.  Unfortunately, other doctors or midwives were either totally booked, not highly recommended, or not on my insurance plan.

My doctor gave me a few more names, and I chose an OB whom he knows personally and who has a good deal of experience.  I met with her and toured a new hospital, but John and I didn’t feel comfortable at the end of the day.  The doctor was kind, and probably would have been fine, but the hospital itself—poor guidance inside, some rude staff, and a late start to the tour—left us skeptical, to say the least.

That afternoon I made another appointment, this time with the first doctor that had been recommended.  I’d hesitated to contact him because I’d read some questionable reviews online, but I figured at this point, the best thing to do would be to ask him about it face-to-face.

Once I did get in touch with him and we met for a kind of interview, John and I learned a bunch of things we liked about this new guy.  For example:

–       He delivers at and only at Lenox Hill, which we’d toured a few weeks earlier and really liked for its location, its facilities, and its nurses.  His office is only a few blocks from the hospital, and his home is in between, so he’s pretty much always around.

–       As to what I’d read online, it must have referred to a very old report.  In the past twenty-two years (read: roughly my entire life), he’s only had three malpractice suits filed against him, the last of which was in 1999, if I remember correctly.  Plus, he delivers almost all his babies himself—last year, all but one!

–       I also liked that he said he tells his patients if their pushes during labor are wimpy.  I know not everyone would, but I appreciate this.  I expect his honesty and frankness will be welcome when it’s time.  When I hear him say I’m doing something right, I’ll know it’s sincere, and that should be a comfort.

–       And of course, both his practice and his hospital affiliation are in good order from now until my due date and beyond.  I was sure to ask this time!

My first real appointment is next week.  I’m happy to have this unexpectedly stressful aspect of my pregnancy sorted out. I take it as another preemptive lesson on parenthood—there will be all kinds of things we can’t anticipate, but if John and I work together and trust in God, things will always turn out all right in the end.

So now we just have to pick a stroller, find a new apartment, and endure the third trimester.  Piece of cake, right?

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