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Note to Paul: Warm the speculum.

I have spent some time considering the question of selecting an obstetrician — more time than the situation strictly warrants, given how few choices I truly have. Here are my options:

  • OB/GYN practice affiliated with local hospital. I have something of a history with this practice, since it was they who initially referred me for fertility treatment. They have performed upon me a grand total of two Pap smears, one excruciatingly painful IUI, and one excruciatingly painfuller HSG.

    My doctor of record at this practice is, well, a prick. My last encounter with him was before this last cycle, when I needed some cervical cultures done. He asked a few questions about my treatment thus far; apparently my answers annoyed him because he finally sighed dismissively, rolled his eyes, and said, "You know what? I'm just going to shut up and do the swabs." Do, thought I, bracing myself for the onslaught.

    I object to being treated by him. There are other doctors in the practice and a whole mess of midwives, so I probably shouldn't rule out the entire practice, but since my every encounter with the office staff has been, oh, infuriating, I am not inclined to give them further consideration. They have lost my test results, then failed to send them to other doctors when asked, then refused to give them to me without an immense amount of static. ("No, in fact, the doctor does not have to give his consent for me to have them. They are my property, so go eat a bag of dicks and get me my records.")

    I have, uh, problems with this practice.

    Unfortunately, they seem to be the only game in town. The hospital itself, with which they are affiliated, is approximately ten minutes away from my house. This is an enormous advantage when we consider that I'll be delivering in February in New England. So I mastered my revulsion and called for an appointment.

    They can see me in three weeks. "I wish you'd called earlier," the receptionist said in a regretful but censorious tone as I politely (no, really) marveled about the wait. "I couldn't," I told her calmly (I swear). "I had to make sure another baby hadn't died on me before being released by my RE, you callous whore." (Okay, I exaggerate, but only a little.)

  • OB/GYN practice affiliated with hospital 40 miles away. This practice is the home of a doctor who comes highly recommended and who is, I have been given to believe, downright promiscuous with the ultrasound wand. The distance is a concern. Although I am sure Paul is perfectly capable of driving safely at 3 AM in the middle of a blizzard when the road is sheathed in black ice and I am keening hideously next to him —


    However, given the unsatisfying exchange with the local practice, I called for an appointment anyway. "How about tomorrow?" the receptionist asked brightly. "That'll be great," I said happily (no, really).

  • Prenatal care and homebirth presided over by Paul. "Maybe you could hurry up and go to med school," I suggested. "No need," he answered enthusiastically. "For prenatal care, how's this? Take your vitamin and put down the vodka bottle." He paused. "And how hard could amnio really be?"

I've been dreading the start of obstetrical care. I am not ready to ask many of the questions that a patient customarily asks — delivery policies, C-section rate, position on inducing labor, et cetera — because I'm still not convinced I'll get that far. It feels like daring the universe, a prideful challenge it won't be able to resist.

Nevertheless, I'll go. I'll pee in a cup, I'll allow myself to be weighed, and, if I'm lucky, I'll see a heartbeat. For all his good intentions, Paul has not yet been able to engineer a homemade ultrasound machine that satisfies my exacting requirements, so I'll have to make do with a board-certified physician.