We want gynecologist care at Mercy Birthing Center!
April 11th of this year I gave birth to my son, Oliver. From a very early age I remember dreaming about the day I would become a mother. Carrying around baby doll after baby doll, I never grew tired of imagining what my own child would look like and be like, and how my labor and delivery would be. Though I knew labor came with it's own challenges to say the least, I knew one thing for certain- that mine would be amazing.
Fast forward a couple decades, and I found myself pregnant and looking to schedule my first prenatal appointment. I already knew from past research that I wanted to go the natural child birth route, and I had heard about the Birthing Center at Mercy, St. Louis from a friend who had labored there. Excited for what the future held, I made my appointment with MCB and counted down the days to when I could go in for my very first appointment as an expectant mother.
A little back story, I was a patient at a fairly large OB/GYN office in South County of St. Louis for a few years at that point. I started going to them because not only had my friend recommend I do, but I was always reading rave reviews online about this women's practice, (not to mention their spiffy billboards around town) so I had to give it a try. Unfortunately, I was never really blown away by them as I was expecting to be, and always felt a little disappointed by this. Sure, they were nice and seemed to have a small amount of interest in my own life and well-being most of the time, but I never really understood the constant praise of this practice because I surely never saw anything extraordinary.
Fast-forward again to the day of my very first prenatal appointment at MBC. I of course was exhilarated at the fact that I knew I would get to see my itty bitty baby's heartbeat, but other than that I went into the appointment much like I do at any new medical facility; expecting cold waiting rooms filled with awkward silence and old magazines, and empty, impersonal, rehearsed lines from the staff. Sounds a bit pessimistic, but history does have a tendency to repeat, and if history has told me anything, it's that doctor appointments are pretty lack luster and definitely cookie cutter. Or so I thought.
This glass half empty view was vanquished the second I walked through the door at MBC. The atmosphere alone feels unlike any other medical office I've ever been to. Is that...homey I'm feeling? Followed up immediately after my unexpected entrance was a warm, dare I say chipper, greeting by the staff behind the desk. Mind you this was a 7am appointment, and chipper usually does not exist before 10am for most people. Not only were they incredibly welcoming, but something about the way they spoke to me, addressed me, and looked at me led me to believe they actually, genuinely CARED about me, my baby, and my family as a whole. Say whaaaaat!
Well, needless to say, the rest is history. That first appointment was beyond anything I ever expected. The nurses and staff were so charming and always made an effort to ask me about my life in an effort to build a relationship, which of course, was built. Then there was Elizabeth, who I don't think I could say enough wonderful things about. Not only does she have the sweetest, calmest, most gentle demeanor of anyone I've met, but she is also very thorough and precise in all she does, which makes it very obvious to outsiders like me that she loves what she does. That was apparent for all of the workers at MBC. They all love what they do and take great care with every patient, which then translates to an overwhelmingly remarkable experience for patients, like me.
Back to April 11th, my son's birth day. That was the single most challenging, painful, beautiful, life-altering experience of my life. I would be lying if I said I took it in strides; there were MANY occasions where I wanted to tap out and even verbally expressed my desire to be done a few times, but Elizabeth and the nurses working that night kept me focused and on track. We didn't end up hiring a doula, though we wanted to, and were upset that we missed the opportunity to not only give my fiancé some relief during labor, but to have someone there who knew exactly what to say to me, when to say it, to get me through each contraction. But it turned out that we kind of ended up with a doula anyway. Two, in fact! Elizabeth and Michele both sat patiently with me for what seemed like hours, helping me and coaching me through transition, regardless of the fact that there were two other women laboring at the same time as me. My labor and delivery ended up being so much more than I ever imagined it, and I have the MBC to thank for that.
That kind of above and beyond care, going far beyond what's in their job descriptions just for the sake of helping me and making my pregnancy/labor/birth/postpartum care amazing is what not just I, but every woman that walks through those doors comes to know and love. Never once have I ever felt so cared for and welcomed anywhere outside of my own family, and that's the truth! Not only does every staff member know you and your child by name, but they know what's been going on in your life, what you've been going through recently, if you've bought a new house, or started a new job- all these intimate details about your life, because they CARE. How often do you come across that anywhere, let alone at your medical care office? It literally feels like my own mini family in that office.
By the way, that OB/GYN practice I was talking about earlier- you know, the "awesome, amazing" one with "great staff" and "super doctors"... yeah, they kicked me out of their practice once they found out I wanted to birth with MBC. No, really! When I first decided to have my son at MBC I called them to let them know that I was pregnant and would be utilizing the Center for my prenatal and delivery, but that I would be back when he was born. After I received my breast pump through insurance, I began getting phone calls from the insurance company asking who my regular OB/GYN was. "Didn't I tell you this a few weeks ago? It's those ladies. You know, they totally awesome billboard ones." Well, this happened more than a few times, me getting phone calls from the insurance company, desperately trying to find someone to foot the bill for my pump. Every time I would speak with them and tell them who my doctor was, they would always inform me that they called that office and was informed that I am no longer a patient of theirs. Really?! No longer a patient? Because I'm pretty sure I told you I'd be back and that I just had made the decision to have a natural birth at MBC. So much for "best practice ever", and the sad part is that I'm pretty sure while they may not literally kick you out as I was so nicely pushed out the door, I guarantee most practies have the same level of warm fuzzy's that this practice did...
The day my son was born was a very bittersweet day for me. I was beyond ecstatic, cloud nine status, because of my beautiful son. But I also knew that his birth meant my time at MBC had nearly come to an end, and the thought of that was literally depressing. We had spent so much time there and cultivated such an amazing relationship with all these lovely ladies, in such a wonderful facility, the thought of all of that just vanishing from my life was devastating. Both my fiancé and I agreed that it just didn't feel right to not be returning there.
That's why hearing about the possibility of the MBC opening up a gynecological facet of the office was beyond exciting, and I knew then and there I would do whatever I had to in order to make it a reality! That office, the people, quite literally change people's lives. I know I'm not the only one who would do anything to resume regular care with them, so I ask that those who have the power please allow the Birthing Center to start providing GYN care as a regular practice. It would mean the world to us.