April: Open Letter

Dear Associates in Women’s Health,

I’m writing to sincerely thank you for getting out of obstetrics.  The last few weeks have showcased your gross incompetence for my wife and I, and it’s comforting to know that you won’t be putting any other couples through the hell we experienced.

I’ll be honest, we were actually disappointed when you told us you weren’t accepting new obstetric patients.  You’re the only OB/GYN that Jen has ever had, and we’d told you we were trying to get pregnant, so it was confusing why you didn’t plan to accommodate us or at least give us a heads up before the last minute so we could find someone else.  That should have been a huge red flag for us, but like any bad relationship we clung to what was familiar and actually fought to have you accept us as your final patient.

Then came the gestational diabetes test.  Jen is in fantastic shape, and has no family history of diabetes, so it was a huge surprise when the initial screening came back positive.  The problem is that you seemed as caught off guard as we were.  I know now (no thanks to you) that 1 in every 10 women has gestational diabetes, so this SHOULD have been familiar territory for you.  Instead, you acted like it was the first case you’d ever seen.  You weren’t able to give a clear description of what GD was or how it might affect us, and while you knew there should a followup test, you couldn’t remember anything about what it entailed.  We stupidly didn’t push you on it at the time, assuming it must be extremely low probability if the doctor didn’t know about it, and that the followup test would likely show the initial screening to be a false positive.

Either way, we were fast approaching a California vacation that we’d been planning for months, and wanted to put the issue to bed before we left.  Jen quickly took the followup test, and we emphasized multiple times to multiple people that we needed the results and any necessary guidance before our vacation started.  What we got was radio silence.  In fact, WE had to call YOU one day before our vacation, and it turned out that you’d gotten the results back the same day Jen took the test!  MAYBE this is understandable if the results came back negative, but they didn’t.  They were positive.  Jen really did have gestational diabetes.

Jen then had the audacity, nay, the GALL, to ask what exactly GD was.  Your response? “There’s a class you take that explains all that.” Jen reminded you for the umpteenth time that we were going to be out of town on vacation, and asked again for some high-level guidance as a stopgap before we got back to take the class.  You remembered our thousand previous conversations, apologized for forgetting, and gave us several helpful tips.

Oh wait, that’s not what happened at all.

Instead, you tried to prove that Jen was lying about vacation (again, something we’d had multiple conversations about) to get out of taking the class!  When Jen insisted it was a real conflict, you grumpily informed her that you would call her back.  This is where disbelief started to overwhelm any other emotions we might've been feeling.  What kind of Ocean’s 11 style long con did you think we were working that we would invent a vacation before even taking the first GD test just in case we needed to get out of the class???  When you finally called back with a nurse AND and a doctor on the line, things got even more surreal.  This is the conversation as Jen relayed it to me:

Associates in Women’s Health: “So gestational diabetes means that you can’t have any carbs.”

Jen: “Ok, can you give me more specifics?”

AIWH: “um…” *whispered conferring between nurse and doctor*

Jen: “I’m guessing no pancake breakfasts.”

AIWH: “Right, no pancakes… no ice cream… basically, if it tastes good don’t eat it, or your child might be stillborn.”

Jen: “Wait, WHAT???  You’ve got to give me more information than that!”

AIWH: “Well, you really need to take the class.”

THAT’S YOUR ADVICE???  DON’T EAT ANYTHING THAT TASTES GOOD OR YOUR KID MIGHT DIE???  Do you realize how unhelpful and terrorizing that is to a pregnant couple? The entirety of this ordeal was ridiculously negligent is so many ways!

  • If this is something that could kill our kid, why the HELL did you sit on the results for so long?
  • Even if this was the first case of GD you’d ever seen, how could you not find time between the first and second test to at least brush up on it?
  • In what reality is it okay to threaten someone with stillbirth over the phone, ESPECIALLY when you’re unprepared to give useful guidance on how to prevent it?

Jen was beyond distraught.  She told me what had happened and we immediately started calling to find a new OB.  The secretary at our new place was mortified when she heard what you had told us, and quickly corrected several of the things you’d gotten wrong.  That’s right, THE SECRETARY at our new OB knew more about gestational diabetes than you did!  She told us that GD doesn’t require a no-carb diet, it just means spacing out your carbs and sugars throughout the day.  She told us that Jen would have to be drinking multiple 2-liters of pop a day and completely ignoring any preventative measures before GD became a risk to baby’s health.  She told us that most women with GD actually have a bowl of ice cream before bed to regulate blood sugar overnight.  Literally EVERYTHING you’d told us about GD was wrong in some way.

Our new OBs have been fantastic.  They’re informative without being alarmist.  They listen to our questions and give thoughtful answers.  Their heads are not up their asses.  Through them we’ve kept GD  in check, and we’re confident that both mom and baby are in the best health possible.  So thank you, Associates in Women’s Health, for getting out of obstetrics.  I’m confident that pregnant couples will find better care literally anywhere else.

I only wish you had done it sooner.