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Go Quickly

It’s the only appointment I need to go quickly, and it’s the only one that runs late.

The general practitioner runs — at most — fifteen minutes behind.  Last month, I was taken early for my mammogram.  I was out of the radiology department before my scheduled appointment time even began.

But the OB/GYN is always running a half hour behind.  An hour behind.  This week, two hours behind.

I sat down in the waiting room and noted, as always, that I am the only woman without a pregnant belly.  I am surrounded by women rubbing the soccer balls tenting their maternity shirts.  Five pregnant bellies, four bored men, and me.  And two toddlers climbing on and off the disappearing laps of the pregnant women.  A children’s show playing from an iPad.  A floor covered in dried Cheerios.  A television set playing medical infomercials near the ceiling: “Are you having trouble getting pregnant?  Are you over 35?  Talk to your doctor about your fertility.”

A half hour past when my appointment was set to begin, the nurse informed me that it would be another hour and a half.  Did I want to reschedule?

Reschedule?  So I could sit in the waiting room again with a new set of pregnant bellies and infomercials?  I had already been there for 45 minutes having shown up 15 minutes early for my appointment.  I asked them to get me in with anyone.  There are many doctors in the practice.  Surely someone could do my annual exam.

An hour later, they squeezed my appointment into a different doctor’s schedule.  They called me back.  She entered the room and spent three minutes servicing my internal organs.  She exited the room, and I cried while getting dressed.

I got to check the appointment off the list for another year.

Someone needs to create an gynecological practice for the infertile.  No obstetricians on staff — you’ll need to go elsewhere for pregnancies — and perhaps still with toddlers and Cheerios in the waiting room.  But a quiet practice where you will never have to listen to medical infomercials while you wait or sit in a sea of pregnant bellies.  Where the doctor will enter the room knowing that this is the appointment you dread more than the dentist, that you put off until last minute or even later.  She’ll walk in the room, let you know that she understands how hard it can be to be lying with your legs in the stirrups.  Maybe she’ll hand you a box of Kleenex.

You’ll never walk up to the desk to inquire why your appointment is running so late and be told that you need to be patient because the doctor needs to see all the pregnant women ahead of you.  The nurse won’t purse her lips while she says, “pregnant women” and give you a look that says, “how dare you insinuate that you should be taken at your appointment time when there are pregnant women here!”

I will give up my seat to pregnant women on the Metro.

I will give up my parking space.

I will let them go ahead of me in line at the grocery store, remembering how uncomfortable it can be to stand for long periods of time.

But I don’t think it’s asking too much to get to keep my appointment time.  Especially when I am wishing so hard every time I visit that office that it will go quickly and my doctor always runs so late.


1 nicoleandmaggie { 07.10.14 at 7:43 am }

I guess I had that just as soon as I was switched to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. They only saw pregnant ladies for the first few weeks of pregnancy while it’s still very dicey and nobody is showing. By the time one graduates back to an OB/GYN, one is pregnant and the baby has a heartbeat at least. (Though switching back to an OB/GYN was pretty awful, “date of last period”… it was a miscarriage… I don’t know and it won’t tell you anything… then the RE tech gave me a fake date I could give them.)

Though the RE doctor wasn’t anywhere near as sympathetic as the tech. But the tech was amazing and did most everything anyway. I only saw the doctor 3 times total in the year or so I went to the RE office, which is all my insurance would pay for anyway. (That’s probably at least part of why they were set up that way.) And they had plenty of kleenex on hand.

2 Serenity { 07.10.14 at 7:50 am }

For that reason alone I haven’t seen a Ob/Gyn since my last appointment when I was pregnant with Lucky. I have my primary care do my annual exams. She always tells me that if I have an unusual result she’s going to refer me to a gyn, but thus far I’ve not had an unusual result.

She also tested me for the HPV virus. Since I was negative, I don’t need to have an annual exam every year, just once every three years. Any chance you can get your primary care to test you for it so at least you don’t have to do it every year? Every three years is at least better than every year…


3 a { 07.10.14 at 8:50 am }

My OB/GYN is pretty good about having you wait in the exam room more than you wait in the waiting room. And, they rotate the days that they do deliveries, so they have never been that far behind. But my family physician is also willing to do the annual checkup. I just prefer my OB/GYN.

Sorry about the horrible experience. I remember having to do that with my last gynecologist- one of the many reasons I switched.

4 Megan { 07.10.14 at 9:02 am }

My naturopath does paps and pelvic exams, which I love cause I don’t have to go to the OBGYN. I almost never see pregnant people at the naturopath and it’s nice.

5 A. { 07.10.14 at 9:07 am }

My first Gyn had retired from OB. I think it’s stressful because it interrupts your life at all hours. Anyway, I think it’s not totally uncommon to find a Gyn who was formerly OB but retired for quality of life and might allow you to avoid this taxing experience.

6 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 07.10.14 at 10:17 am }

Hope your next appointment goes better.

7 nicoleandmaggie { 07.10.14 at 11:25 am }

Oh, and I just see a GP for my annual physical. She does the pap smear every 3 years or whatever they recommend now.

8 Karen Paul-Stern { 07.10.14 at 11:33 am }

Mel, after my second son died when he was 5 days old, all I wanted to do was to be pregnant again. I was fortunate to be able to get pregnant easily and quickly, but as you can imagine, being around other pregnant women was still very difficult for me before I got pregnant again and even after. It was very clear that I needed more hand holding than an OB-GYN would give, and I switched to a midwife practice. It was one of the most tender and wonderful parts of my third pregnancy. They took care of me every moment of the way, and even if there were other pregnant moms and small kids in the waiting room (and there were rarely more than one) it didn’t matter, because it was such personalized care. I was devastated when the Takoma Park midwives closed several years later, and I had to revert to an OB-GYN factory office again. I love the idea of having an OB-GYN for infertile women, or women who have experienced neo-natal loss – and that’s the role the midwives played for me.

9 knottedfingers { 07.10.14 at 12:10 pm }

*big hugs* I see a NP who only does Gynecology for this reason. I still 7 years later can’t stand to sit in the room with babies and pregnant women

10 Rachel Hoffman { 07.10.14 at 1:05 pm }

There are gynecologists who don’t do obstetrics and OBs who don’t do gynecology. Your comfort in the office is just as important as your comfort with the doctor. My gyno, before I went to an RE, was Caryn Selick (in NY – I don’t know where you are located). She didn’t do OB, so no pregnant ladies in the waiting room. I couldn’t have handled it. She was extremely helpful and frank about my fertility issues, and sent me to an outstanding RE when I was ready.

11 Esperanza { 07.10.14 at 1:07 pm }

Abiding with you Mel. That sucks. And you shouldn’t have to go through it. Pisses me off.

12 Sharon { 07.10.14 at 1:12 pm }

The separate gynecological practice you suggest would be useful not only for the infertile but also for the childless-by-choice, the post-menopausal or anyone else who does not want to be mixed in with the pregnant patients for whatever reason.

Really, it’s a brilliant idea for a number of reasons. Back in the days before I ever tried to conceive (and therefore had no idea I was infertile), I hated waiting because the doctor who was supposed to perform my annual exam had gone to deliver a baby–what poor planning! why was that doctor on call when they had appointments booked in the office?

I’m sorry you had to go through that, Mel.

13 April { 07.10.14 at 1:33 pm }

After a missed miscarriage (our fourth consecutive loss, and our sixth total), I sat in my OB’s waiting room watching the sea of pregnant bellies ebb and flow before me. I was supposed to come in for a follow up to ensure that the D&C disposed of all the very much wanted “products of conception” as my numbers weren’t falling appropriately and I was told “oh, well, he only sees his *maternity* patients on Wednesdays. I’m sorry but we won’t be able to fit you in until Thursday.” So, Thursday it was. And I sat in the waiting room, silently sobbing until they finally brought me back. I’m sorry. So sorry. And I agree, it should be available for infertiles and those suffering from loss.

14 Alexicographer { 07.10.14 at 1:51 pm }

Oof. I’m sorry. Count me among those who get my lady parts cared for by my GP. I guess this is yet another argument (not that I needed one) against ever having troubles with my lady parts, and needing specialist care, because of course there’s plenty my GP would (and should) refer me out for.

15 Northern Star { 07.10.14 at 8:06 pm }

I hear ya sista. Great post.

16 Lisa {Amateur Nester} { 07.10.14 at 9:09 pm }

Ugh. You are so right about having a practice that doesn’t involve pregnant women. And I can’t believe the infomercial. That would’ve put me over the edge.

17 Queenie { 07.10.14 at 9:28 pm }

My old OB quit delivering babies. She only does GYN. Insurance is less, and lifestyle is better. You should shop for a new doc!

18 Katherine A { 07.10.14 at 10:09 pm }

I’m so sorry you had to go through that. What an awful, awful experience.

I started at my ob/gyn office with Clomid/Femara. After one terrible wait where I somehow wound up sandwiched between a hugely pregnant woman and a woman with a newborn, one of the nurses quietly clued me in that there was another waiting area down the hall. It was decorated in mostly greens, more geared towards GYN, not OB, not so much baby stuff, and I almost never saw pregnant women in there. When I was there for appointments after my miscarriage and then with my ectopic, I’d just tell the front desk I would be waiting in the sunroom and they’d come get me when it was time for my appointment. It was what allowed me to go into that office and not feel completely overwhelmed during those times.

19 Brianna { 07.10.14 at 11:26 pm }

I’m so sorry that you had to be in that situation…and for so long. Before I knew I was infertile, I knew I wanted my primary doc to do my annual exams. I already had a lot of docs (primary, dentist, eye, diabetes). I didn’t need another one. So, ever since I graduated from college I’ve seen an Internal Medicine doc. They do everything I need from sinus infections to sprained ankles to pelvic exams. If anything alarming comes up, then they’ll refer me to a specialist.

20 Jamie { 07.11.14 at 12:38 am }

I’m sorry to hear about your experience today for your annual exam. I’ve had those visits at the OB/GYN office that I cried. It really stinks when it just feels like the little hurtful things keep adding up. ((Hugs))

21 Davidah { 07.11.14 at 12:57 am }

I found a great internal medicine doctor this year to be my primary care doctor, because I was fed up with family practice. She does routine gyno care as well (annual exams, etc.) and her practice is mostly geriatrics and women in their 40s/50s. She was great and I loved being in a grown-up office. Something to look into? I don’t have an OB/Gyn at this point and don’t see why I would need one unless I end up with a specific problem/need.

22 Dspence { 07.11.14 at 5:48 am }

My Gyn really is Gyn only; no obstetrics. I love her and that I never see a pregnant belly at her office!

23 Amel { 07.11.14 at 6:56 am }

Ouchie. I’m sorry for this, Mel. (((HUGS)))

24 Tiara { 07.11.14 at 1:04 pm }

Oh Mel, I’m so sorry. Big hugs. Makes me glad I can have my annual at my GP, rarely a pregnant belly to be seen. Children, yes…but thankfully no bellies

25 Ana { 07.11.14 at 2:59 pm }

There are practices like that, I’ve always gone, in two different cities—but 4 different practices—to a gynecologist office that ONLY does gynecology—they tend to run on time, too, because they aren’t called out for deliveries or other emergencies.
And like others have mentioned above, some primary care docs also do pelvics/PAPs, depends.

26 It Is What It Is { 07.14.14 at 7:07 pm }

Hey, 1-consider having your GP or Internist do your annual exams and 2-they revised the pap smear intervals and now they are every 3 yrs for women 30-65. At the very least you should get to wait as long as the rest of us.

27 Mrs T (missohkay) { 07.17.14 at 3:19 pm }

As a person who’s put off my annual exam for an extra year now because I find going to the ob/gyn so stressful, a resounding YES! I did find a practice in my new city that just does gynecology. I’m still nervous but hope it will be as pleasant as a pap smear can be.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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