“I think we should see other people.”
“You seem great on paper, but it’s just not working out.”
“Sure, my mom thinks you’re really great, but she doesn’t have to take her pants off with you.”
Ending a relationship is daunting. People have a hard enough time breaking up with a hairdresser they don’t love. Changing care-providers in pregnancy can feel like just too big a thing. But you know what’s a bigger thing? A baby’s head coming out of your vagina! Let’s face it, pushing out a baby is a lot harder than growing out your bangs. I know because I have done both.
You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or be a “bad patient”, and those impulses are hard to overcome in the name of having the best care FOR YOU. But choosing a care-provider (a doctor or midwife) and a place to give birth are huge decisions. HUGE.
What’s that? You don’t like confrontation? Neither do I! Worry not, fair preggos. When you hook up with a new doctor or midwife, there’s no “let them down gently” talk necessary. You don’t have to do the break-up call at all! In fact, your new care provider’s office will handle all that awkwardness for you – it’s their job! You just show up at your new appointments and act like nothing happened.
Imagine this: Your best friend loves this one restaurant, and when you’re finally ready to eat out, you go there because “it’s the BESSST,” but then the service ends up being lousy and the food is blah. So now what? Do you go there every future date night anyway even if your experience sucked? Do you keep going to that one restaurant because at least you didn’t get food poisoning? Do you keep going because it has the nicest bathrooms? No! At least, I really hope not.
So why apply that logic to choices around your birth? Is the idea of wanting comfort, or at least satisfaction in giving birth, somehow selfish? Of course not! You want to be safe. You want the baby to be safe. That is why you’re working with a doctor or midwife and not a dog-walker. But the reality is that that good outcomes are available in more than one setting and with more than one care-provider. Just like there is no one ideal partner, ideal restaurant, or ideal hairdresser for every single unique person out there, there is no one right doctor or midwife to follow your pregnancy and attend your birth.
Generally I prefer to make my BIG decisions based on facts and positive gut feelings (your guts have a lot to say, fyi) and not out of fear. Allowing peer pressure, fear of hassle, fear of disappointing/being judged by the care-provider you have but don’t really like, or fear of having to explain yourself to over-protective, maybe overbearing, maybe overly-involved but well-meaning and full of love, (maybe my mom) kind of family members, is costing too damn much! Making your own voice the loudest among all the voices in your head is an important step. If you don’t routinely experience the in-the-head voices of all the people in your life that’s okay. Maybe we will just agree to not lock me up.
Sometimes you have to go on a few bad dates or get more than one unfortunate haircut before trusting yourself enough to get out and meet someone new. And sometimes you meet the love of your life right out of college and never know the meaning of a bad hair day. But if you’re unhappy in love, unhappy in hair, or unhappy with your prenatal care, don’t settle! Trust me, it’s easier and less painful than you think.
All throughout your parenting life (which is where this baby thing goes, by the way), you will learn make your OWN decisions and filter the input from everyone around you into streams of “yasssss!” and “nope nope nope” until you have a cobbled-together approach to life that you can actually live with. It’s not elegant and pintresty-looking. At least not for me. It is a Franken-philosophy made of trial-and-error, survival, tears of joy and frustration, and occasionally friends for whom you don’t have to clean your house, and who will probably bring wine. Or cake. Or both.
I’ll leave you with this last thought. Birth is an intimate act. So really, the person who is clinically responsible for your body while it gestates away, and who along with you, will be in charge of catching the baby it when it’s ready to come out, should be someone you feel good with. Like good in the “I want to take my pants off and maybe poop” way. That special connection can take some time to find. Listen to your guts on this one. Trust me.