Lots of things about being pregnant are super-weird – the waddling, the only being able to sleep on your left side, the constant freaking out… but one thing I didn’t see coming is that, if you have otherwise been a healthy person, it’s going to be the densest stretch of medical crap in your life so far.
Part of the reason I previously never went to the doctor is that, you know, I didn’t have health insurance. But mostly it was because there was never anything wrong with me and I tend to take a devil-may-care “Bah! Your immune system will probably clear it. Probably.” approach to health concerns.
But when you’re pregnant, you have to go to the doctor ALL THE TIME. We’re talking more doctor’s visits than the previous ten years of my life taken together.
Most pregnant women, of course, are totally healthy and fine and are going to have a totally healthy and fine birth and a totally healthy and fine baby with the right numbers of fingers and toes.
But even so, in pregnancy, whenever you go to the doctor, everything is geared toward constant monitoring of edge cases. Like you MIGHT have gestational diabetes, or you MIGHT have some kind of weird blood thing that makes your blood and your baby’s blood get in a fight or whatever. So they’re on the lookout for that all the time.
(This annoys me in the exact same way I get annoyed when you take your car to the mechanic for an oil change and they’re all “You also need your engine flushed” and I suspect that they’re lying to me and I get all surly… I think we all know by now that I am NOT GOING TO BE A VERY GOOD MOTHER.)
The obsessing over edge cases mostly seems to take two forms:
a) Doctors are extremely nervous people who think you’re irresponsible if you question a state law declaring that all babies must get antibiotic ointment in their eyes right after birth in case the mom has gonorrhea, even though the state also mandates a gonorrhea test just before birth, and even though this particular pregnant person has a clean gonorrhea test from like a month ago*.
b) They take your blood and urine and run tests on it ALL THE TIME.
When we went to the new doctor here for our first visit with them, they:
(1) took my blood pressure
(2) took my blood pressure again a little while later, on account of it being high the first time. (People call this “white-coat hypertension”, but I think in me it should be called “annoyance-related hypertension”)
(3) weighed me. Good news, everyone! I continue to get fatter.
(4) felt my ankles for signs of puffiness. And said “Hmmm, they’re a little puffy.” Even though I had just said “well, my feet are definitely a little puffy, but we’re not talking “ankles overflowing the shoes” or anything.” and then I said “Yes. That’s exactly what I just said.” and Seth cringed at the MEANNESS OF MY TONE.
(5) were very concerned that I hadn’t had a test run to see if I had decent immunity to chickenpox, even though I HAVE HAD CHICKENPOX, I can show you the actual scars.
(6) made me give urine.
(7) listened to the Lentil’s heartbeat. The doctor said “I bet this is what you’ve been waiting for!” and Seth and I looked at each other for an awkward beat, because it NEVER OCCURS TO US THAT WE SHOULD HAVE EAGERLY BEEN ANTICIPATING THESE MILESTONES UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE.
(8) made me drink horrible orange drink and go away for an hour.
(9) finally, made me give four vials of blood.
The weird thing is that whenever doctors do tests like these, they seem to be really vague about the outcome. Like they say things like “No news is good news! If you don’t hear from us, you can just assume that everything is fine.” – which is not actually something I am okay with if you are testing me for scary things like CERVICAL CANCER or GESTATIONAL DIABETES or… who the hell knows what else.
Because! They tend to also be very vague on what exactly they’re testing you for. I do try to ask questions, but the technician always seems befuddled by my interest. I promise I am polite and non-snippy about this, but still I am left with the distinct impression that they think I’m kind of a jerk for asking why they’re taking my blood for, or what the results were. Like at the previous doctor I called to ask what the results of the pap smear were, and the woman was totally non-plussed. “…they’re fine.” “Fine?” “Yes, fine.” “I mean… is there more information? Can I ask what specifically you had labs run for? Is “fine” some kind of medical jargon?” “No. I HAVE ANOTHER CALL.”
So when I called for the results of the gestational diabetes test, I was of course pleased that I, apparently, do not actually have gestational diabetes, but a little perplexed that they just REFUSE TO GIVE YOU MORE INFORMATION. Finally the tech grouchily flipped through some paperwork and said “It was a 97 at one hour.”, which Google seems to think is a passing grade, but… I mean, is that on the verge of badness? Squarely in the middle? WHY WON’T THEY TELL ME THESE THINGS?
And when I asked her what they had tested my urine for and what the other vials of blood were for, she did the baffled incomprehension thing again. There was a very long pause and then she said “I’m sure the doctor would call you if something was wrong.”
But anyway, apparently I don’t have gestational diabetes, and if I heard the blood-draw lady correctly, I may also not have anemia… but it’s hard to say, she pretty much hustled me out of her office like I was trying to leave behind copies of The Watchtower.
*It has been totally amazing to me how much of pregnancy involves getting STD tests. I mean, you guys. I’m married and I’m pregnant and I’ve started to waddle. COULD I BE ANY DULLER AT THIS POINT, I THINK NOT.