Friday, January 9, 2009

The 'big' meeting

So we had our meeting with the doctors today. When I first got to the Labour and Delivery floor, I said to the nurses, "Hi... I'm here to see Dr so and so, Dr. so and so, and Dr. so and so. Are they here?" One of the nurses said, "That's a lot of doctors, but no, they aren't here. What is your name?" And as soon as they heard my name, they knew who I was. When my GP showed up, they whispered to her behind the nursing station, something along the lines of "Is she in labour?" My doctor said that they knew my case and were a little nervous. She said it was just fear of the unknown. I didn't feel very good about that. What are they afraid of? My baby may have a defect but she is still beautiful.

Well, the meeting with the three doctors went pretty much as I expected. I wasn't given the option of a c-section unless Faith is positioned sideways or if there is "maternal indication" that they should (if my labour doesn't progress or if something goes wrong that puts me at risk). My OB said that if Faith is breached, I can still deliver vaginally because her head will not get stuck. She was nice today, though. She offered me a private room for after the delivery and said that it would be free of charge, which I'm very thankful for. It would be so awful to have to room with another mom and her healthy baby... I'm glad she understands that.

The neonatologist was... not so nice. He seemed very rigid in his beliefs that babies with anencephaly cannot see, hear, think, or feel. He kept saying "The definition of anencephaly IS...blablabla." He said that they never recuscitate babies with anencephaly. I asked him, "What do you mean by 'resuscitate'?" He said, "We won't take any measures to prolong the baby's life. The only thing we do is swaddle the baby in a blanket and give the baby to the mother." He said that they would not even suction out her airway if needed. I said "You wouldn't even suction her? Why not?" and he replied very sternly, "Why WOULD we?" I said, "Umm... because I would want you to?" But my OB spoke up and said that they would at least suction the mucous out of her nose and mouth. Well I should hope so... it's the least they could do. My GP asked the neonatologist what kind of care they would do for Faith's head. He said, "We would cover her head with the blanket." He explained that it would be like the way an Arab woman covers her head. I said, "Umm... I was kind of thinking more like a dressing?" Again my OB spoke up and said that yes, they would cover the opening of her head with a dressing, such as a gauze pad. I asked about what kind of comfort measures would be offered, such as painkillers or something to calm seizures if she has any. The neonatalogist said, "Babies with anencephaly do not have seisures." (I'm sure Lily's parents would have something to say about that...) I said "But... they do, though." He said, "No. They have 'movements,' not seizures. They cannot have seizures because the cerebral cortex is absent." He went on to explain the anatomy of the brain again. I told him, "But the brain of an anencephalic baby is not the same as if you took a normal human brain and removed the cerebrum. It's a malformed brain, but it is not the same thing as if you removed the cerebrum from a normal brain. " He did not seem to agree with me. My GP asked about painkillers to comfort her and he said, "It all comes down to futility. It is FUTILE to give a baby pain medication if the baby cannot benefit from it." And he went on again about how she only had a brain stem and could not feel (sigh...). I said to him, "Look... I know this is the current 'body of knowledge' and this is what's in your text books, but I do not believe it. I just don't buy it."

So yeah... the meeting went pretty much like I expected! I knew the neonatologist would probably try to impress me with his textbook knowledge and I knew he would probably offer Faith nothing, and I knew I probably wouldn't get the option of a c-section. Why is it that in almost every other part of Canada and in almost every other part the world, babies with anencephaly receive better care than here??