October 1, 2016 Saturday
Basically the whole point of this post is to brag on the staff at my kids' pediatric clinic. Because I generally hate medical personnel with a passion and feel a need to point out when I find decent people. And these folks have certainly earned some of my respect!
I think we're building a good repuation with them too. For a while it played out where the same nurse practitioner had been the one to handle all of Little Mischief's visits. She came to know us well enough that during a past problem with Little Mischief she said she was comfortable making an antibiotic just-in-case prescription for us because she felt we wouldn't use it unless his symptoms matched the ones she described when an antibiotic would be necessary. Indeed, we didn't, because he never got severe enough for them. It's one of those things I don't like to over use any more than she did. Encouragrin' super bugs and all.
Little Sweetpea decided she wanted to come along early Saturday morning. Which, as most of you know, is not during normal business hours. First thing that following Monday morning, we set up an appointment with Little Mischief's pediatrician since they had already given us the thumbs up to see them when Sweetpea arrived. Now, despite some well-earned trust issues, I am not unconditionally against check-ups, vaccines, or anything like that. My primary philosophy is that people do their research and pick the options that carry risks they can live with, because nothing is without risk and sometimes the greatest risk is an uneducated decision. I am comfortable with the potential side-effects from getting shots and not comfortable with the potential diseases if I don't, and I support anybody who is the reverse so long as they return the favor and don't lecture me for not living life their way. Live and let live, ya know?
My biggest concern up front was getting a nasty backlash when they found out she was born at home, despite them being pretty open to the whole midwife thing when we first discussed Sweetpea's first visit. I've got nurses on both sides of the family and some of them have gotten fairly condescending when I told them I didn't want to go to a hospital, even after explaining some of the hell we were put through with Little Mischief.
Imagine my surprise by turning into a mini-celebrity at the pediatrician's office! Shocked me to no end. As soon as Sweetpea went back, we got mobbed by a couple of nurses that couldn't believe that not only had she been born at home with only her parents present, but there the mother was moving about just as fine and dandy as if she'd never had a kid at all, much less had a baby two and a half days ago. Not only did we not get nagged about a (mostly) planned home birth, one woman told me I was her hero. Still baffles me. Child birth is a natural biological function, and so long as you don't have anything nasty that requires a doctor's touch, what's the big deal having one naturally or even at home? Yeah, it isn't exactly the most comfortable thing in the world, it truly is the worst natural pain a person can be put through (unlike disease, injury, and other abnormalities like kidney stones that all result from something gone wrong), and nothing in life is without its risks, but it really isn't that bad or dangerous if you're a good candidate for it. Again, educated decisions make a huge difference.
During the standard questionaire with the nurse while waiting for the doctor was the question where it must be stated if the baby was born naturally or surgically. She paused, grinned, and asked how the baby was born. I couldn't resist. "Wanna see my c-section scar?" She giggled and checked off the right one.
One of the older nurses told us that she thinks things are going to go back to more women staying at home, using midwives, and doing what's now considered alternative when it used to be considered normal. Which really is very likely. The USA already ranks low worldwide in maternal care and Alabama has some of the worst rankings in the USA on top of that. As such, lots of people are starting to feel that the hospital is just going overboard with a lot of things and is now doing more harm than good. I told her that what I wish could be was that every hospital had a birthing center built in to it, so that way normal births could occur there without a hassle but there was the medical safety net next door for the unfortunate handful that have to use it or for those simply wanting to legally use prescription-grade painkillers to cope with labor pains. Then we both grumbled about how Medicaid and other insurance woes had brought that to a screeching halt a few decades back in Alabama, which included midwives becoming illegal because of it.
I also told them a bit about some of the nonsense we went through with Little Mischief, such as joking that if I had wanted to recreate a proper hospital experience at home then I should have called the police to have my husband escorted out of the house for diapering a baby at 3AM again. They chuckled and thought I was being silly until I told them the proper story of how my husband had indeed been threatened with security because he was changing a diaper. The nurse walked in as he was pinning it on and had demanded he give her our son immediately so she could "do her rounds" (which were going to be rather short with us being the only "patients" in the entire wing), and when my husband told her to wait just a second so he could finish pinning the diaper, she ran out and immediately returned with security to escort him away for being "rude and uncooperative", followed by me getting jumped by a social worker the next day about how me and my husband were high on the suspect list for being child abusers. The sad part is that after they asked what hospital we had used and we told them, they made a certain face that verified just how bad that hospital was. Two hours away and it elicits that strong of a negative response out here! Then they mentioned another local hospital that was just as bad and told us to avoid it too if we could because they weren't any better. Yikes.
Then in comes the doctor to do his job with the stethoscope for the heart, lungs, gut check, and whatnot. Naturally, he asks questions to make sure it wasn't a negligent oopsie. We tell him how we had planned on a midwife, but then Sweetpea decided thirty minutes was long enough and obviously not enough time to get the midwife there (much less make the ninety-minute drive to the birthing center in Tennessee where the midwife could work legally), and how we had already made plans and asked questions to come to this specific clinic to get Sweetpea's shots and all. He was a mellow dude but seemed to relax further and said he'd double check some stuff since it is quite uncommon to have non-hospital babies come to the clinic.
In the meantime, the office manager (or whatever she was) was very helpful. Once it had sunk in that we were an oddball case and she had gotten her curiosity sated about that, we asked her if perhaps there was an easy way to get the birth certificate applications, like perhaps grab one from the hospital since they were going to have to go there anyway to pick up a vial of vitamin K. I compared research notes with her about what I had learned about getting the kit, the various forms we had both found, and in the end she ended up saving me a huge hassle by doing that phone call to the state capital. She got hugged for it. I knew that part of the kit would require a doctor confirmation the baby was alive (thank you, blasted fraudsters) and asked if the invoice thingie from the check-up would count, and she said it would. Yay!
One of the nurses told us that the vitamin K shot was $500+ if they had tried to order a vial of it for us to come back later and that it would indeed be a lot easier on everybody if they just made a quick trip to grab one from the hospital. Then she really piqued my curiosity and said vitamin K was good for more than just coagulation and had other health benefits. She also was not one of those who do the "obey me or the child dies" kinds of nurses, so I'm inclined to trust her and research it. You know me and random factoids! It's my Pokémon: gotta catch 'em all! And a very difficult internet search to find some of these intriguing bonuses because it's buried under a ton of propganda both for and against it. The most level-headed results I could find were by this blogger overviewing infant hemorrhaging, ingredients, and cancer myths, and by this blogger who had a beautiful array of links, numbers, and factoids to go along with their arguments. (I honestly hold the same sentiments in regards to a vitamin shot perhaps not being necessary since babies are probably born with low levels for a reason, but it's not important enough for me to argue about.) So the only extra bonus I've found so far is some tooth decay prevention, which may be kinda pointless to know until she actually has teeth.
Why didn't they send us to go get the vitamin shot? One of the things that made me want to say "hallelujah!" The doctor had told the nurses that Sweetpea was a picture of health and all of us showed no signs of needing medical attention, and that he wouldn't have given doctor's orders for a hospital visit even if pressured to. It is so hard finding somebody that doesn't over-react to oddballs! I could have hugged him too. Which might be an over-reaction on my part, but I was quite grateful of it. 'Cause, really, if we'd felt there was something wrong that needed addressed, we would have gone to the ER immediately instead of waiting a couple of days for a standard non-emergency trip. It's a relief he understood that. He may not understand the depth to which I plot, plan, and scheme, but he understood we had our ducks in a row. It was quite a surprise to me just how willing they were to help us keep us away from the hospital too. I didn't want to ask if they simply believed that a hospital is no place to be when you don't have a medical problem of if they've seen so many bad incidents from a crappy system that has made them just as cautious as we've become.
They didn't have the equipment for the state mandatory hearing test, but they'll give us a call when they can tell us where it'll be.
As we were leaving, one nurse was asking me if I liked natural home birth better since I had experienced both ways. I told her I did and explained some of the trouble we had with the hospital staff, and she told me she remembered quite vividly some of the same things done to her with her baby and that did not enjoy it one bit. There was kind of a collective shudder through all the mothers at the desk. Sometimes I wonder how many fewer cases we'd have of post partum depression if so many families weren't treated the way they are.
It is very reassuring to find I'm not the only one wishing the medical and insurance system could be fixed. There is just so much ignorance and dogma among both doctors and patients that it makes it very awkward and difficult on both sides to get anything done. Maybe someday though, eh?
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