Third appointment: “a wrong pregnancy”
This one was in December. I was just out of the first trimester and the appointment went as usual: a bit of chit chat, get weighed, take off your pants and sit on the table, exam, then get dressed again and get the new “prescriptions” for bloodwork. This time there were two: one for the normal monthly test, and another that she explained had to be done at the lab at the hospital. It is a blood test for Down syndrome.

Let me pause here to explain that this test is voluntary in the US. Many insurance companies don’t even cover it because of its unreliable results. And, it doesn’t actually test for Down syndrome, just your specific risk level. So if we were in the States there is no way I would even think about having this test. God gave THIS baby to me and my husband, so boy or girl, Down syndrome or no, THIS is the child He, in all His wisdom, knew our family needed and I am therefore uninterested in the results of some stupid blood test, particularly one that isn’t reliable but has been used anyway to justify the deaths of thousands of perfectly healthy children. Anyway.

So, I ask the doctor if I HAVE to have this test, if it is required, if it is obligatory, etc. and she keeps telling me I MUST have it and furthermore I need to do it SOON. Do you know why, she asks? No, I say. I am frustrated that I am basically being forced to do something I don’t want to. Because, she says, the earlier we find out the easier it is to remove a wrong pregnancy. And I just froze, torn between crying and punching her in the face because HOW DARE SHE REFER TO MY CHILD LIKE THAT. She finally gets around to asking me if I have prenatal vitamins and mentioning that fruits & vegetables here can have toxoplasmosis so they must be washed really well and I just nod dully, thankful I have already been warned of this particular danger by people who actually care about my baby’s health. I leave the office, miserable that I feel trapped seeing an OB/GYN who, as far as I can tell, doesn’t even like babies because she has already talked to me twice, for no apparent reason, about aborting my child, and that I feel trapped because she actually speaks English and as far as I can tell she is the only doctor in the whole freaking city who does.

Fourth appointment: “oh! I don’t deliver babies.”
My next appointment was in January. I took in my normal bloodwork results but the Down syndrome ones were sent directly to the doctor, supposedly because mere mortals cannot understand them but I think in actuality to “protect” moms from this delicate information because even I, with an extremely basic mastery of French, can understand the paper. Beaming, my doctor shared my risk results with me: here is the average risk level for a 27-year-old woman, and here is YOUR risk level – look, it is the risk level of a 16-year-old! She acted very pleased and proud, as if this was something I had control over, and I wanted to say something like IN YOUR FACE but I don’t think her English was that good so I didn’t.

Then I asked her if she will be delivering my baby or if it will be whichever doctor is at the hospital when I go. “Oh!” she said. “I don’t deliver babies any more. I used to, but at the hospital all the doctors are on teams. It is seamless. There is always someone there for every specialty. So I am on a team for a different specialty and I do not deliver babies. All my patients start seeing a hospital doctor after the fifth month.”

Let us lay aside my shock for a moment to explore two important reasons this is completely illogical. 1. If your particular doctor is unlikely to deliver your baby anyway, what difference does it make if you are seeing a doctor who doesn’t deliver babies at the hospital as long as they are a qualified obstetrician? 2. The doctors can go on strike here. And they WERE on strike at this time, and as far as I know they still are. They agreed to still cover their on-call schedule but they do not work at the hospital other than that. And apparently they think they deserve some kind of award for doing the on-call thing, graciously reducing the efficacy of their strike to ensure nobody dies on the emergency room floor (which, by the way, is what some French people think happens in America ALL THE TIME because we don’t have socialized medicine, so if someone doesn’t have adequate insurance all the doctors and nurses stand around and just watch poor people die on the floor. And they don’t believe you, as an actual American, when you say that is not only inhumane but also ILLEGAL). So my point is, what the heck difference does it make what doctor I go to if they can be on strike anyway?

Even though I technically still had one month left with this doctor, I asked if I could just start seeing a new doctor the next month so I would have as much time as possible to get used to him/her. She said certainly, but I don’t think you can get an appointment. But I will write your notes for the new doctor just in case. I was vaguely happy to be rid of this doctor but also apprehensive about trying to find a new one…probably with more of a language barrier.

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