Procreating is supposed to be a wonderful experience. After the morning sickness, excessive digestive issues, bloating, labor pains and hormonal disruptions that makes a teen age girl look sane you get this little bundle of joy to caress until they billow out that first scream.
Seriously, though, despite the challenges and tribulations that occur physically and emotionally through the gestation and birthing process it is considered one of life’s little joyous miracles by a great many parents.
So, then, why does the medical services community make it so goddamned difficult?
I’m not just talking about the complete extortion in the cost of prenatal care and birthing in which the US easily outpaces every other country according the IFHS study, Thomson Healthcare study for March of Dimes and the Utilization Project for the U.S. Agency for Healthcare and yet many of the benchmark rates for what constitutes a successful birth are really very average according to the CDC, WHO and a recent BBC study of public records.
Nor am I talking about the US cultural nonsense that happens when dealing with to-be or new parents that is at least in part predicated by the medical service industry’s own practices on how it treats parents in everything from visit scheduling to hospital stays, from
No, this is more both more generic and more specific in the circumstances that we are experiencing as parents to be.
Everyone has one, or probably one hundred, of these kinds of doctor’s office stories so in reality this is nothing new. You could substitute pre-natal visits with any routine office visit and you could almost definitely write this same post. The real difference here is when you’re dealing with a pregnant woman and their nervous husband everything is more magnified.
If childbirth is supposedly an adventure, this certainly qualifies, but not for the kind of happy excitement you’d expect. Our OB/GYN’s office staff has already had my wife in tears several time. So much for that joyous occasion.
If it were any other business treating us like this or we were dealing with these kinds of problems from, we, along with most of the patients, would be gone and they’d probably wouldn’t be in business in the first place.
But, when it comes to health services you’re kind of limited on choices. Things like is the practitioner’s office and their preferred facilities (ie: sonograms, bloodwork processing, hospital, etc. in the case of pregnancy) included in your Insurance Network; how convenient is it to be able to get to their offices and if necessary their preferred facilities; are they taking new patients; do you like the doctor themselves; do you like the physical office and the support staff for the doctor; etc, all begin to play a role into where one can actually end up for medical services. There’s a bit of compromise that inevitably ends up happening in the initial selection even for something as important as childbirth.
Furthermore, there are switching costs to move from one doctor to another both emotionally and due to the system which actually discourages it occurring and this is even more complex if it happens mid-pregnancy.
So, what you’re left with is being stuck with a limited number of options where you have to tolerate less than ideal circumstances throughout the pregnancy.
In dealing with everything from offices visits that run hours late to last minute cancelled appointments, from confused receptionists to questionable inter-practice doctor communication … to, of course, billing issues we learned a few things.
The first of which is always call ahead. And then, call again, just to be sure.
I can’t say our diligence quantifiably paid off, yet. But, I can say to some degree it feels like it might have saved us just a little bit of hassle along the way. There is totally the possibility that had we not found out in advance that some of the appointments were going to be different than what they were when we originally made them there would have been more tears to fall. Had we not called about questions in billing and waited it could have been much more irritating and stressful.
Maybe, in some strange and twisted way, the doctor’s office is trying to prepare us for the chaotic apparent randomness that will be life with kids by doing this all to us now.
Perhaps, the tears now will make us emotionally stronger and intellectually more secure in dealing — that waiting for appointments and waiting for stubborn kids somehow the same.
It might even be possible there’s an underlying lesson for ourselves in general in all of this about patience and rolling with the punches so to speak.
Yeah, or it could just be we selected yet another crappy doctor’s office out of the limited choices of doctors we could end up with. I’m sure they don’t mean to have customer service boardering on the level of Comcast intentionally. But, for what is always talked up as being one of the greatest times in a person’s life, the pre-natal run up is tarnished by the medical service industry in no uncertain terms.
There’s still months to go. It could still get better. Here’s to hoping the next tears are ones of joy. Till, then, just gonna keep calling ahead.