Well, it is all getting rather serious.
Please also monitor my Facebook page, as it is the most efficient way for me to disseminate information on a daily basis.
I will try to update every 1-2 days as time allows. I am also going to activate my Instagram.
For many doctors, our time has been crammed with taking in information from all the hospitals and health organisations, readjusting our private practices and caring for the people in front of us. So please be understanding if it is taking a bit longer to get back to you individually.
I will see everyone tomorrow as scheduled, but after that I will most likely need to adapt to the requirements of the lockdown. It is likely that I will space out time frames between visits to reduce the need to travel outside your home.
The principles of care in the next few weeks are these:
• The less number of visits you need to attend will reduce risks to you, your baby, your partner, your family, me, my family and the greater community.
• The shorter the face to face interaction will also reduce the risk of transmission.
• The primary purpose of your visit is for me to physically examine you so that I have information regarding the size and position of your baby (and other things). I have done (literally) over 40,000 antenatal visits. I can get the information very quickly. All the time comes with explanations, reflections and discussion. This does not require a face-to-face visit.
• Don’t be offended if I shuffle you out the door. Everyone who knows me knows I like to chat. For all our sakes I need to curb that tendency. We can talk later.
• The longer I can avoid being exposed to the virus or contracting the virus the longer I can be available to deliver babies.
• The most important service I provide is to be available for deliveries. For ‘normal’ births, but more so for complicated births or caesarean sections.
• If I become unwell or am exposed, then you will be cared for by one of my usual roster of covering doctors.
• I will do my best to address your questions, concerns and provide a standard of care the same as if this bloody virus did not exist. I just need to be more creative about how that care is delivered.
• I will answer personal and individual questions privately but I will probably look to having a live ‘question and answer’ session over an hour every day or two. This might be useful to stay in touch and answer questions common to everyone. I will let you know about this as I work it out.
• Remember, still no kids or ‘extras’ at visits (partners ARE allowed – unless you want the peace and quiet). I want to thank ALL of you for respecting that so far.
My advice for consultations is this:
• If you have questions, have them pre-planned and ready to go. I will not be waiting while you contemplate the questions you have forgotten. I will answer your questions as I examine you and then you will be out the door (sorry….)
• If we have not covered your questions and issues, then you need to ‘register’ at the front desk as you leave that we did not cover everything you wanted and I will happily call you later that day (or next day if I run out of time). I will limit these phone calls to 10 minutes or so, as I anticipate making a lot of them.
• If I do call you later, I will try to do it during ‘business hours’ or late afternoon, but I may call you up until 10:30pm (I am a night owl). You may desire an earlier call, but I also have children who are scared and require my attention in the evening to maintain some normality in their lives. If you are in bed and do not answer that is fine, I will call the following day. If you haven’t heard from me by lunchtime the next day, then call the office (just in case I have overlooked your call for whatever reason).
• If I call I am likely to be a ‘no caller ID’. Don’t screen me out!
• The same rules (as outlined in your printed information) apply if you have a more urgent medical issue. Call the office during the day, call the delivery suite or if urgent then page me on 9387 1000.
• Last week I made a birth education video with our wonderful Fiona, an experienced midwife at St Vincents who runs the maternity education. It runs for 2 hours or so. (The blooper reel is longer….)
Over the next few weeks:
If I cannot be available (through quarantine, illness, whatever), then the other obstetricians in my covering arrangement will be available. They are also in the same situation. We have had discussions and meetings about helping each other out. More broadly, every obstetrician will be making themselves available for ANY pregnant woman in need. That means that if I, or any of my usual covering doctors, cannot attend a birth then it may be any accredited obstetrician at your booked hospital who may attend. They might be someone you have never met. They might be a man. They might be really young or really old. They might have bad breath. They might have a crap sense of humour. They will be qualified….and that might be the best we can do. Fortunately, all the doctors at St Vincents Private and Epworth Freemasons are fabulous. Of course, they are not me….but we are in desperate times. Good news is that I am FINE, unexposed, my family is well and I foresee that I should be able to keep working. I am just trying to reduce my exposure as much as possible for as long as possible.
A few things to consider:
It is completely normal to be overwhelmed, sad, scared, anxious, angry, feeling ripped-off.
Pregnancy is a particularly vulnerable time for most women. They are inevitably scared and anxious. They worry about their babies being ‘normal’. They worry for their own safety. They worry about pain. They feel disempowered about being so reliant on others to protect them. Or maybe that was just me…..
The good news is that:
PREGNANT WOMEN DO NOT SEEM ESPECIALLY VULNERABLE TO THIS VIRUS.
BABIES ARE NOT DEFORMED OR PARTICULARLY AFFECTED BY THIS VIRUS.
THANK GOD! (or whoever)
Remember that keeping fit is important – going for a long walk, being active and doing exercise will help you both mentally and physically.
Get off your phone – stop listening to all the depressing information. Read. Make plans. Do activities. Play games. Run around the back yard with the children (if you already have them). Make time to not engage with all the doom and gloom.
So, this will pass. We will come out the other side.
For women having their first babies, they will feel worried (over and above the usual worries) and feel ripped-off that their ‘self-indulgent’ pre-pregnancy time of spas and lunch-dates are not possible. Fair enough.
However, we live in a particularly lucky country at a lucky time in history.
This virus has shown how much we take for granted. Health, medical support, food, VACCINATIONS. (please slap the first anti-vaxxer you meet).
This is wartime. It is just that we face a biological enemy, not a human one.
So, we at least know the end will come, one way or another. It will diminish (like SARS) or we will get it and most of us will get better. Either way, IT WILL END.
IT WILL END.
Life will be different (although it is about time people worked out it is good to wash your bloody hands….!).
Remember, if you are feeling a bit precious about not seeing friends, not spending, not buying stuff….that most people in history have been through far worse. As those of you who are parents already know, and those of you about to have babies will come to understand…IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL. As parents, we willingly make sacrifices for our child. Even if it hurts US.
There are times that you see or hear something that ‘smacks you in the face’ with its power.
For me, one of those time was watching a programme about the second world war. A Jewish woman recounted the last time she ever saw her mother. She was being shipped out of Europe by train with other children to be protected against the impending Nazi genocide. Her parents were sending her away to England, along with her older sister. Her sister was crying but complied with her parents demands to get on the train. The woman recalled how she clung to her mother and refused to get on. After much drama, her mother slapped her hard across the face. The young girl, having never been struck by her mother, was shocked and recoiled. She got on the train. She spent a long time upset with her mother’s harsh treatment and was angry and upset. Until later. When she realised that her mother slapped her on the face to stop her pleas to stay and comply with the demand to get on the train. Of course, in time, she realised that her loving mother took such harsh action because, above all, she wanted her daughter to be safe. She wanted her to get on that train, get out of Europe and survive. Tears sprang to my eyes. What shows the depth of a mother’s love more than a mother who is willing to be hated by her own child in order to make her comply with an order that will save her life. I often think of that mother. She must have collapsed with fear and grief and sadness to know her child was going to resent her for her ‘cruelty’ when she probably felt a visceral pain to let her go. I cried for hours.
So, this is not just about an individual. Whether you are already a parent or about to become one, we must all put aside our individual ‘rights’ and ‘desires’ to simply do the right thing. Follow directions. Respect the governments who are making the best decisions they can to keep us all safe. Remember that people have done it harder in the past. That this difficult time will come to an end. Lessons will be learned. Friends will be made. Priorities will be readdressed.
And won’t life be sweet on the other side……