Amber’s Story: The Prequel

As I’d described in a previous post, our little girl was born on December 15th unexpectedly and with a bit of flair; her mother was a trooper to literally push through with grace and temerity. Despite arriving early, the process progressed with a great degree of fluidity–thanks to our doctor, Phillip Pinell, and the staff and nurses at the Women’s Hospital of Texas–located in Houston’s Medical Center. We entered the hospital that morning with reservations and trepidation based on the reviews we had received concerning the reputation of the hospital and the birth-process-outcomes. We had heard that this hospital led the area in C-Sections–something Tati was vehemently opposed to undergoing unless truly necessary. You see, we changed doctors midstream, in the 7th month, because the previous doctor didn’t seem to want Tatiana to have a natural birth. When our previous doctor noted that the Women’s Hospital had the highest percentage of c-sections in the city, we weren’t very hopeful when our new doctor insisted that we go with the Women’s Hospital as a condition of using his services. We were very surprised, and pleased, to have our negative expectations eradicated; it was a wonderful experience.

We weren’t expecting to have a baby in the first place–not so quickly at least. Tati started feeling a bit under-the-weather back in March; we were approaching the weekend as she began feeling some cramping. Not knowing what the source might be, she reverted to her normal “cure all” to deal with it…she decided to run. The Forrest Gump approach I say. We have treadmill for fall and winter running; Friday evening, she did 3 miles. Saturday, she put up another 6. Then Sunday, 3 more. The irritating pain didn’t subside. I’d suggested we get some Midol for cramping, so we stopped by Kroger to get a box. While there, she said, “I’m going to get a pregnancy test while we are here.” I thought why not. Once home, she said she was going to take a hot shower, to help with the cramps. Next thing I’d heard was, “BABY, please come up here.” She was reading the PG test…and it was positive. You know the look on our faces. WHAT? It has only been three weeks; it was supposed to take a year or two based on ALL the advice we received from everyone under the sun. 


Next morning, we headed to Tatiana’s gynecologist, who is also from Colombia. “Yes, you are PG. We took the liberty of setting up an appointment with the OBGYN who is in the same building; he is from Venezuela.” That was supposed to be comforting since he also speaks Spanish. Latinos tend to stick together. First meeting with the guy…and I didn’t like him at all. But, my wife seem comfortable since she could communicate in her native language and he was a referral from HER doctor. 4 month pass with “macho” tension between the doctor and I, but again, Tati seemed to be ok with him. Until. Until we asked to have a natural birth. He cut her off and said we have the lowest c-section rate in the city, at 18%. We weren’t talking about c-sections; she wanted to have a natural birth without an epidural and without inducement drugs. His version of a natural birth meant beginning with an epidural and Pitocin. We said no, that isn’t what we’d like to do. It wasn’t a very positive experience. 


So, I contacted a few doctor friends and clients, with the description below, asking for their feedback on hospitals and a new OBGYN’s in the city–who would they recommend?

“We are having a baby in late December; a girl. we are in the 7th month and we had a check up with our doctor this past Thursday  it didn’t go well from our point of view. things have progressed relatively well up to this point (well, loosely speaking, besides the fact the dr. is an arrogant prick) but during this latest dr. visit, the bad side of our dr./patient relationship started to rear its ugly head. 

tatiana would like to have a natural, drug free birth…initially…or as natural as she can physically tolerate and the pregnancy will allow. but our OB-GYN questioned why she would want to do that and made a strong, somewhat rude and insensitive effort to sell us on the standard system rather than consider tatiana’s wishes. we realize that inducing labor and using an epidural is becoming standard procedure across the land and we know we may be fighting against the machine here but we simply requested or wanted to discuss with him Tati’s preference to have a natural birth. as soon as we noted our intentions he tried to talk her out of it. it comes down to “how we begin”; it seems we are on different sides concerning the use of an epidural and labor-inducing-drugs (Pitocin i believe) as the starting point. we are not ruling “modern medicine” out…for we WILL be IN a hospital WITH a Dr.,…but she would rather try it wholly natural first and then progress into medications, etc.–NOT begin with drugs as standard procedure. he was very condescending in his tone–how he addressed me and cut me off specifically–and he made a strong effort to sell Tati on his method and abandon her wishes. at one point, when i was trying to politely advocate for her–saying that her mother had 4 children naturally and her two grand mothers had 14 each naturally–he said, well, we used to ride horses and buggies too but we don’t do that any more. he thinks we should embrace technology and follow the standard system that he endorses.

we have decided to look for another doctor, someone who is willing respect our wishes to postpone the use of medications until it becomes apparently necessary to use them, or if tatiana asks to do so. additionally, we want someone who welcomes the presence of a doula during the delivery. i am hoping you know of some open minded OB-GYN’s that we could communicate with, someone that both Tati and i would feel comfortable with. someone who realizes that babies are still born all over the world naturally and that in the presence of a dr. within a medical facility, it isn’t a bad thing to do SOME things the old fashioned way. 

We did a little screening of the suggestions we received; we chose Dr. Pinell, as was recommended by Dr. Laura Benjamins. Dr. Pinell eventually insisted on birthing at the Women’s Hospital, which we reluctantly agreed to (as I mentioned, we had received mixed messages about the Women’s Hospital). Anticipating a conflict, we entered the hospital at roughly 6:40am on Saturday, December 15th. From the beginning, they asked us repeatedly what were our plans for the birth and how did we want to proceed. They suggested options but did exactly as we had requested, without pressure or bullying of any sort. In fact they gave Tati much encouragement throughout, giving her support as she continue toward a natural birth. Baby Amber was born in less than 4 hours, at 10:24am. When she had expressed a little disappointment in herself that she could have made it a little easier on the main nurse, the nurse replied that she did wonderful and not to worry.  Tati viewed it to be mostly lip service to which the nurse replied not at all; she’d said that Tati is a brave, strong woman and that the nurse couldn’t compete with that at all. The nurse has two children herself…and she went to the epidural pretty quickly. Tatiana did great.
So proud of my girls. 

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