Monday, February 25, 2013

Bedside manner

Awhile back, I wrote this post about the importance of a good partner. Now, after talking with a few friends about their horrendous experiences with doctors, I want to talk a little bit about the importance of a good provider.

This kind of goes for any doctor, but particularly with a women’s health care provider or fertility specialist, it’s imperative to search for someone with a good bedside manner. And by “good bedside manner, ” I mean that she talks directly to you instead of your husband, is honest with you if she makes a mistake, and doesn’t say “uh oh” when you’re in the stirrups getting an exam (all true examples from my friends).

We forgive a lot of little quirks in our care providers because we depend on them so much. We overlook an insensitive comment or long wait for an appointment because we’ve chosen them to manager what is sometimes a very emotional process for us. We place our trust in them and then put ourselves in what we hope are their competent hands. Don’t kid yourself – it’s a relationship as important as any other. You have to like and respect and trust the person with whom you’re partnering.

When it comes to fertility, many people focus on just getting into the clinic with the best results. They are willing to put their comfort and mental health aside for the privilege of working with the doctor who has the highest success rate in the state. Trust me, I get it. But making that compromise may not be best in the long run. I cannot stress enough how important it is to feel that you – and your body – are respected throughout this process. I’ve written before about how, after months and months of failure, I began to see myself as “broken.” Going to a doctor whose attitude was “this is a totally fixable problem and you are going to be fine” gave me renewed hope. I was treated with respect, optimism and encouragement from the very start. 

When I came in with a long list of questions, my doctor was patient and answered every one. When I called with questions about my medications or billing, the staff promptly returned my calls and talked me through it. Even when I was on the table during a difficult part of the IVF process and cried out “I don’t think I can do it,” the nurse I’d come to know  and trust held my hand and said, “yes, you can.”

I’m lucky to be able to write about how it should be. I’ve heard too many stories about how it absolutely shouldn’t be. If you find yourself admitting that you may be in this situation, I encourage you to get out now. Your self-esteem, your relationship, and your future pregnancy will be the better for it.   

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