14 May 2014

The Question

Yesterday was my final follow-up appointment with the OBGYN after the miscarriage and its complications. I went into it not in the best frame of mind, ready to be calm and polite and diplomatic, because the car practically died in the middle of the expressway several times in the ten minutes it took to get from dropping Matt at work over to the health center on the other side of town. Multiple cylinders were misfiring, the check engine light was blinking rapidly, the car was shuddering, and twice it seemed to lose power significantly and started lurching. Is it really safe to be driving? Will it even start when I come out of the appointment? How will Little Bear and I get home? I was, I think, pardonably stressed.

Then the OBGYN came in, confirmed that my physical recovery was progressing the way they wanted to see, and asked what our plans were now. He agreed with my hesitance to become pregnant again right away, explaining that there was an increased risk of miscarriage if I became pregnant within the first three months after miscarrying. Then came the question: "So what kind of birth control will you be using?"

"We're Catholic," I explained. "We aren't open to using contraceptives." (Thank you to Jen Fulwiler and Something Other Than God! As soon as I read her response to her doctor this past weekend, I tucked it away in my head: a polite, accurate, succinct response to the question I'm going to be asked on Tuesday!)

He didn't roll his eyes, and here I'm entering willful-believing-he-wasn't-making-fun-of-me mode: "So you, what, use the rhythm method?" he asked. "Or just get pregnant whenever you get pregnant?"

Which I expected, of course, but the question still rankled. And I could have, and maybe should have, just said something polite and vague. "It's a little more complicated than that," or maybe "We use a modern form of NFP." But he had an impressionable young med student with him, certainly younger than me, and I had to wonder if the kid had ever even heard about non-rhythm-method NFP. "Actually," I said, "every day we chart..." and went into a detailed explanation.

They both blinked at me a moment, but then the OB actually picked up where I'd finished with basal temperature. "So you know that your temperature drops right before it spikes with ovulation? But that's too late of a 'tell;' you could become pregnant from as early as five days before ovulation. I don't know what Catholics believe about condoms...?"

I briefly explained how particular signs indicate the beginning of a period of abstinence, and he said, "Well, it sounds like you have things under control. Very good. We will see you again once you become pregnant again, or in a year for your annual!" And we left on a positive note.

I am, I freely admit, heavily prejudiced against OBGYNs after several very negative past experiences. I automatically expect to be looked down on for not using artificial birth control, and so I feel very defensive whenever I have to see an OB. But I am trying, trying so hard, to choose to believe that he did believe that I understood what I was talking about, and that he didn't think I was a crazy lady trusting her fertility to the whims of lunar cycles and wild guesswork. And so far it's working.

I know that if I was choosing to believe ill of him, it would be very easy to take his comment about seeing me when next I'm pregnant as commentary on NFP not working, but on the flip side, he's an OB: yes, the next time he sees me, it'll more than likely be because I'm pregnant. And I definitely got the impression from his office that he loves babies and sees them as a good thing, and given why I've been seeing him lately, it does make sense to choose to take that comment as being hopeful encouragement that before too long we will be able to have another.

So I'm feeling an odd mix of a little bit smug for daring to explain NFP to a doctor, a little bit ashamed of feeling smug since he didn't treat me like I was ignorant for using NFP, a little bit confused because it's always been a "fact" in my head that I don't like OBs, a little bit confused and amazed that this doctor who doesn't seem to have any other NFP-using patients was willing to talk about temperatures on a technical level which indicated that he believed that I understood... I've never said "I'd like to work with that OB again" after any of the other OBs I've seen before, but I think I would like working with him the next time I'm pregnant.


Don't worry about us getting stranded on the roadside in the middle of nowhere; my dad, my brother, and a good friend of the family checked the jeep out for me--I'd diagnosed the problem myself correctly!--and were able to get it fixed yesterday afternoon before Matt finished work. My dad showed us how they'd fixed it, since it's the same problem that's sent us in to the shop at least three other times in the past three years, and now we can fix it ourselves next time!


  1. You know, not all doctors believe the rest of the world is ignorant, although some could use a refresher course on active listening. (That's why they have nurses.) I'm glad you found a good one. Maybe he was interested enough to go look up NFP. Who knows?

  2. Big positive: you made the world a more knowledgeable place.

  3. "So you know that your temperature drops right before it spikes with ovulation?"

    That's not even necessarily true. In my 8 ovulatory cycles I've had three with no dip at all and the other five had a dip an average of 3 days before the spike (2, 2, 4, 3, and 4). Granted, I've only ovulated 8 times in the last two years, so my data is hardly scientific.

    The only time I discussed charting with an OB was in the context of "Why I know my due date better than your Cardboard Circle of Destiny." It was a short discussion; he and his wife had dealt with infertility so he was personally familiar with how charting works and totally believed me. (We didn't bother changing my due date because it was only a 3-day difference, though.) I'm not sure of his religious affiliation, but I can take a good guess based on the fact that halfway through my pregnancy he moved back to Utah to be closer to his parents and 10 siblings...

    (Fortunately the other OB in the practice was just as awesome.)

    1. Oh, I know; I don't always get that dip either, and some cycles it's like I'm drawing a topographical map of the Himalayas the entire time, but from what I understand the thermal dip is pretty common for women with "normal" cycles.

      Those cardboard circles of destiny! I need someone to explain to me how in the world those things *don't* count as the "rhythm method"?