After much contemplation with my husband, I had decided only to interview the doctors at St. Joe's Maternal Fetal Medicine department so as to begin prenatal care as soon as possible. We have met with Dr. Bryant, one of their doctors in the past and were pretty confident that we would transfer our care there anyway, but in light of having toured both U of M and St. Joe's NICUs and OB units, we felt strongly that we wanted to deliver at St. Joe's unless they were not equipped to handle the specific situation we may encounter. Shaun was adamantly against using U of M as the memories of living in that hospital for 5 days in 2006 would be too daunting for him to bear at this time. We also read and reviewed each of your comments and private messages about your experiences with various MFM departments and we weighed your thoughts carefully as well.
So, on Monday I had my appointment at IHA MFM with Dr. Williams at 10:20am. Shaun was unable to come due to having to attend class, but I was unwilling to reschedule as I needed peace of mind about how this pregnancy was progressing. I arrived after a long one hour drive and the receptionist was overwhelmingly friendly and smiley! I waited in the waiting room with several other moms-to-be and tried to calm my nerves. The office was very busy as moms walked in and out every few minutes. I eavesdropped, listening through the glass window as a nurse was talking to the receptionist that was so friendly to me.
"Really? You use glue? Like Superglue?" The middle-aged blonde nurse asked the receptionist. And then a chuckle erupted from all 4 office workers.
"No, not superglue," the young black woman said while stifling her giggles. "You know the glue that you use to glue on eyelashes? Well, the same glue is used for the weave. It sticks real good for about 2 weeks and then it starts to come apart. So I gotta get my hair glued again."
I smiled, looking away, so that the workers didn't know I was listening. It was kinda funny, but I am not sure if they know that they could be heard in the lobby. About 20 minutes later, I was summoned to the ultrasound room. Ironically, the ultrasound tech's name was Francie. Not the same young sweet Francie from U of M, but a woman who attempted to get an ultrasound of my fetus via abdominal scan. We saw the gestational sac and baby this way, but it was hard to tell anything as it was so small. She said my bladder was too full and she would need to do a vaginal scan. So, I emptied my bladder and assumed the position on the table.
An 8 week, 4 day old fetus showed on the monitor. A definitely flickering heart was visible to me and then she scanned over the heart to measure it's beats. And I could hear it...185 beats per minute. Amazing. Thank you Jesus! The baby measured 1.89 cm and they showed me the umbilical cord and how it goes from baby to placenta. My blood pressure was 108/63 and My weight was unmentionable. Perhaps I will feel comfortable posting that here, but for now, no way!! The tech was planning on putting me in a room, but there were none open and available at the time, so they sat me back out into the waiting room.
Once in the waiting room a woman in a blue jumpsuit with orange stripes and bulging silver bracelets connecting her hands in front of her baby bump entered the office escorted by a male and a female correction officer. The officers were cordial and cracked jokes to each other as they waited for the receptionist to check the lady in. "They usually let us sit in a room back there to wait," the female officer tried to whisper to the front desk.
"I know, ma'am, but there are no rooms available as we are super-busy this morning."
"Can we wait in the hallway back there at least?" The female officer continued her plea. I watched the inmate and saw no expression on her face. She was facing one of the most wonderful things, pregnancy, not escorted by her husband or mother, but by the people she would form relationships with because she was forced to. I sensed her sadness and fear as having been a juvenile detention officer for 9 years, I have consoled a couple of young ladies who found herself pregnant and behind bars. The receptionist acquiesced to the request and away behind the doors the entourage left. The buzz in the lobby was astir moments later when families chatted about why there wasn't doctors in prisons and how come she had to come there and a 4 year old girl asking her mom about the silver bracelets she saw on that lady's hands. I was sad to hear what the gossip was, as no one is certain to know what the reason for the lady's current condition. Maybe I have worked in this field too long and have identified with criminals too much to feel a sense of judgment toward the women. I felt sad. We all have done wrong things in our lives and sometimes it is just random on who is caught. I can't say for certain that the woman sitting next to me never stole a package of gum or the man who came in with his girlfriend never used illegal drugs, but because we knew that this woman must have committed a crime for being in prison, then these people felt okay to talk about her. I quietly observed and silently prayed for the people in the room. That helped keep my mind off the fact that it was 11:30, one hour and 10 minutes after my scheduled appointment time and I was still in the waiting room.
And then the nurse called me back to the room. She apologized that it had taken so long as they were so busy this morning. I smiled and asked if I still had time to use the rest room as my bladder was once again full. She said it shouldn't be too long now, but that I did in fact have time for another rest room break.
About 10 minutes later, Dr. Jennifer Williams arrived in the room and apologized to me for running late. She said, "I have to be honest that I usually am late, but never this late. There have been several unexpected circumstances this morning and I am sorry." She went on to say that neither my OB or fertility clinic had sent records so she was hoping that I would fill her in on why I was here.
I was upset, but quickly went through the pregnancy with Ethan and the traumatic delivery and then discussed my infertility and miscarriages journey from the last two years and then said I was here to identify if you will take me on as my doctor or if you would recommend someone else. As I was sharing I had a notebook and folder and papers on the couch next to me. On top of that was Ethan's picture. I had deliberately set this picture here as a test.
Once I was done with my story, a nurse knocked on the door and told the doctor that another doctor was on the phone. Dr. Williams quietly excused herself as she said that this would be a quick call and was an emergent one for one of her patients.
She returned within minutes and then asked to see the picture of my son. I gladly handed it to her and introduced Ethan. She stroked her finger over his pic and said quietly to herself, "what a pumpkin." We talked about many of the details of everything and she said, "I probably won't need to get the documents as you are a wonderful historian."
I asked her if she would recommend her practice over U of M as I knew that she had trained there. She praised Dr. Van de ven at U of M, stating that he had delivered all three of her children and he was her mentor and he would do wonderfully if I decided to go with him. What she did mention was that U of M did some things decidedly better than St. Joe's and St. Joe's did some things remarkably better than U of M, so she felt comfortable saying that as long as I didn't have a twin to twin transference or a cardiac emergency or the baby didn't have a cardiac emergency, then I would have great care here. She also mentioned that the NICUs at U of M and St. Joe's were essentially the same quality except that there was no cool cap at St. Joe's, but of course we should not need that. This practice does not believe in bed rest or pelvic rest as it has not been shown to help the outcomes and instead works against the marriage in intimacy and financial and domestic areas. Mentioning that 90% of their patients were referrals and/or consultations, she felt that with 10% of their patients being lower risk primary patients, they were better able to service us with personalized care.
I continued to ask questions about preemptive antibiotics or tests to check the weak spots of the placenta and Dr. Williams smiled and related that I knew the answers to these questions, that really placental abruptions are very unpredictable, there is no real cause for this and as much as we want to control the outcome, we simply are too limited to do so. Odds are that we will have a very healthy baby in October. If I want to do a trial of labor, I could, and if I wanted to schedule a c-section at 39 weeks, I could. And if there is anything that is alarming or emergent, then we will take care of that. I asked several more questions and then she said, "if you wish to go talk to the U and then decide what you want to do, then let us know."
I told her that I was ready to begin treatment here as I was almost 9 weeks. She scheduled a nursing visit for me next Monday for education (and I can have a scan if I want). She also scheduled a establishing patient appointment for me on April 15. I will be 12 weeks and I will have the newest 1st trimester screening ultrasound for down's symdrome and Trisomy 18. When I asked about how this clinic was as far as being able to provide emotional support, she said, "I don't think you will have to wonder about that. Everyone here, the nursing staff, the office staff and the doctors are compassionate. You won't have to worry about that." She started to tear as I did talking about how scared I was. "Oh, you are gonna make me cry," she said, "this is gonna be a long road for you and we are gonna get you through it."
I am worried, though. I loved the fertility clinic. I guess I will have to just begin to develop relationships with the staff here. I already miss Miss Francie, Dr. Marsh, Dr. Randolph, the MAs, the other staff members. Everyone knew my name and was so patient with me. I feel like starting over. I never even got to go over everything I wanted to because I to spend the time going through my pregnancy history. I forgot about some of my medical history. I left the office with a bottle of glucola for my 1 hour diabetes test and a prescription for my prenatal lab work.
Father, thank you again for keeping my little one alive. I pray that she/he grows up to honor you and live out your purpose for his/her life. I thank you that you continue to provide for me and my child and give us peace about the outcome for the pregnancy. I thank you again for allowing me to miraculously bear a child and to miraculously care for it from the inside of my belly. I love you and praise you for all that you are. You are amazing. I ask that you continue to show faithful by showing a healthy baby growing right on track at each successive visit and I ask that you give my doctors your wisdom in how to treat this pregnancy. I thank you so much and ask you to bless me and my friends who are currently on this journey and I ask you to bless all my readers in their current situations. Only you know what they are and you know how best to navigate this. I pray all these things in Jesus' name, AMEN!