Receptionist: Hello, this is [Big City University] Med OB/GYN department, how may I help you?
Me: Hi, I’m pregnant and I’d like to schedule a consult appointment with Dr. [Good Reputation]. When can he see me, and how do consult appointments work?
Receptionist: Ok, you’ll come in and see the nurse first, you’ll do a pregnancy test and ultrasound, do some paperwork, and then see one of our doctors.
Me: I’m not sure whether I want to sign up with your practice yet. I’d like to interview Dr. [Good Reputation] to find out how the practice works first.
Receptionist: What do you need to know? The nurse will tell you all about how it works when you come in.
Me: Well, I have some special requests for my care and if your hospital cannot accommodate me, I would have to go elsewhere.
Receptionist: What kind of requests?
Me: I’m a rape survivor and don’t want anyone touching me without permission.
Receptionist: Hmm… I don’t know if they do that here. You know we’re a teaching hospital, right?
Me: Are you telling me that you believe anyone will be able to touch me anywhere, without my consent?
Receptionist: You are going to have a baby, after all. Is this your first baby?
Me: No, it’s my second. Can you please give me an appointment with Dr. [Good Reputation]?
Receptionist: I don’t know if that’s possible.
Me: You’ve never had anyone call just to interview the practice, to see if they wanted to choose that practice or a different one?
Receptionist: Let me ask the nursing manager. Can you hold? ….[10 minutes later] Ok, I spoke with the nursing manager, we can schedule a consult with the doctor. I could give you an appointment next week with Dr. [Unknown Quantity].
Me: No, I said I wanted to see Dr. [Good Reputation].
Receptionist: Let me see… His first appointment is 10 weeks from now.
Me: Please book it.
Me: …I have some specific questions.
Midwife: Please, ask away!
Me: This is a difficult question – I want to know how it would go if you recommended a particular course of action and I wanted to do something different. Say, for example, I went into labor at 36 weeks but thought I wanted to stay at home.
Midwife: Well, you wouldn’t have to worry at all. I’ve got great collaborative relationships with hospitals here, and we would work really hard to get everything in place for a good hospital scenario. We would have our backup plan all set up.
Me: But if I decided I wanted to stay home?
Midwife: You would really have nothing to worry about. We would talk about your fears, and we would get everything out in the open, and you’d realize that this time wouldn’t be like last time, and the hospital would be a good experience for you. I and my assistant have lots of experience accompanying clients in the hospital.
[For the record, that wasn’t the point of the question. I will make a hospital plan with whoever I hire, but the decision on whether or not to go there is a critical point in and of itself. I am in no way decided on what I’d do in that particular situation – I chose it deliberately because it’s a huge decision in a grey area. I would hope that a midwife would answer that we would have discussed it beforehand, with all the risks and benefits and alternatives, and we’d hopefully have enough information by that time to have a productive discussion on the risks and possibilities to help me make my OWN decision. My body, my choices. I actually felt unsafe for a moment, as though I were in the room with someone who disregarded that fact.]