Yay, Dr. Wu! Boo, Hemotechnologist!

When Al and I moved to Philadelphia, one of the draws was that it was close to our families—meaning we'd have a built-in support system if we decided to take the plunge and have children (or, I should say, a child). I, for one, couldn't imagine having kids without having help, and the fact that my sister is in Baltimore and Al's brother is in New York means that any kid we had would have cousins nearby (key if we only had one, which is all I could agree to up front). The other bonus was that my gynecologist, a fabulous woman whom I've been seeing for 12 years—despite moves from Virginia to Connecticut and California—would be a 2 1/2 hour drive away rather than a 5 hour flight. What I didn't consider was that (a) my gynecologist is not also an obstetrician (she's a surgeon), and (b) in any case, 2 1/2 hours is too far away for regular obstetrical care.

the belly on september 9, 2004Unfortunately, my doctor didn't have any recommendations for obstetricians in Philadelphia, but one of her nurses had an idea: She suggested I pick the hospital at which I'd like to deliver, and then call the labor and delivery floor at the hospital and ask the nurses on duty which doctors they liked. I looked at a bunch of local hospital websites before making a choice based mostly on the availability of whirlpool baths in every room, the lack of emphasis on frilly decor, and a description of the hospital and obstetrical services that was informative without being patronizing. I then called the labor and delivery nurses and was told that the practice associated with the hospital was very good. Me: "But do you have a favorite doctor, one that you particularly like working with?" Nurse: "That would be all of them." So I called the practice and scheduled an appointment.

After my first visit, with a doctor who seemed nice enough but only scored a 4 on my puts-me-at-ease-and-makes-me-want-him/her-in-the-delivery-room scale (of 1 to 10), I started to worry. I reminded myself that I'd have at least 9 more visits at which to bond with someone (and then to hope that that person was on call—or willing to come in—when I went into labor). The next two visits were with a nurse practitioner who rated a 6.5, which made us hopeful—until we learned that she doesn't do deliveries. Next we saw the midwife, whom we'd heard good things about—and who seemed very nice and down-to-earth—but since our visit only lasted about 5 minutes, neither of us formed a firm impression. For that reason, she rates a 5, though if at some point we get to know her better, we reserve the right to revise our rating.

At this point, I did start to panic a little. Four visits down, and still no strong bond with anyone. The front desk staff (which, I must say, do nothing to make me feel good about the practice; a little professionalism, maturity, and diction would go a long way) tried to set up my next appointment with the nurse practitioner again, but I asked to see someone new, since the NP didn't do deliveries. Luckily, I only had to move the appointment date out one day to get Dr. Wu.

AND THANK GOD FOR DR. WU. I now have hope! She rated an 8 at least, which was a huge relief. She gave me her full attention as I went through my issues and questions (now that I think of it, she never even approached the computer); she was the first to confirm my suspicions that my weight gain was a little on the high side (everyone else kept telling me it was "fine"); she had recommendations for the heartburn (it's OK to take Prilosec again, no need to wait until October) and hemorrhoids (try a cream with cortisone); and she put my mind at ease about the spate of Braxton-Hicks contractions I've been having.

She told me that my uterus is measuring about 1cm larger than normal for my date (not a huge deal, but nevertheless, larger—to which Al responded when I told him, "well, you've been about a week or two ahead in symptoms all along, and the baby measured about a week ahead of schedule on the ultrasound"), and she suspects, as I do, that the baby's currently in transverse position. (This was my guess based on where the kicks and hiccups are centered.) She said he's still got plenty of time to get into birthing position before we'd need to "discuss options." I'm sure the visit wasn't significantly longer than most of my others, but it *felt* longer because I had enough time to bond. The eye contact was key, I now realize; everyone else had her attention focused on the computer, her notes (the day the computer was down), or a resident. Dr. Wu focused on *me*. She looked at me, she talked to me—by god, she even shook my hand when she walked in. Yay, Dr. Wu! Now, how do you feel about episiotomies and a "no shouting" rule in the delivery room?

This was also the visit where I had to do the glucose screening, which turned out to be both not as bad and worse than I imagined it would be. The not as bad part had to do with the Glucola I had to drink; it wasn't cola flavored, as the name implied (and as I'd feared—I'm so un-American as to strongly dislike Coke), but rather more like extra-sweet Sprite. It took about six gulps, but I got it down. I could feel my teeth rotting within seconds, but I wasn't allowed to eat, drink, smoke, or chew *anything* until I had my blood drawn exactly one hour later. That's where the "worse" part comes in: the blood draw. Instead of going for the vein on the outside of my arm, as most nurses and lab technicians do, this technician steadfastly focused on the more traditional inside vein, despite the fact that it didn't pop up when she smacked it to attention. Consequently, she wasn't able to pierce it on the first try... or the second, or the third. And after the first miss, I was in SERIOUS pain. I could see (and feel) her fishing around with the needle, trying to stick that sucker with all her might. I was wincing and gasping by the time she finally hit the vein, and I glanced over at the collection tube long enough to see the blood dribbling in at a snail's pace. Yep, definitely should have mentioned the outside vein—and possibly choosing a butterfly setup over a straight needle. I'm now (still) sore, and my poor arm is a bit black & blue. "Next time, just tell us about the other vein, hon," my technician said after fetching me some water. Don't worry, I will.

Posted by Lori in pregnancy at 8:41 PM on September 10, 2004


It's so good to find a doctor that you have a good feeling about. After sitting for hours in a waiting room on several occasions I ditched my doctor for my wife's.

I liked her right away and still do, even though she ordered a colonscopy after my physical.

Everything was fine in the end. Sorry I couldn't resist.

Posted by: Stephen at September 13, 2004 11:00 AM

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