Would He Ask A Married Woman The Same Question? : The Baby Project Emily Grace Whebbe, a single mom, wonders whether her OB/GYN would have treated her differently if she was married.
NPR logo Would He Ask A Married Woman The Same Question?

Would He Ask A Married Woman The Same Question?

Illustration of pregnant woman.

Upon finding out I was pregnant last November, I wrote in my journal: "One pregnancy test shows positive. I've researched for an hour now on the false positive rate of home pregnancy tests: It's seemingly impossible for the test to read positive if I'm, in fact, not pregnant. There are other brands. I'll buy one of each tomorrow."

Days later, I went to my family practice doctor and took an "official" test. At first he gave me the "We'll give you a clear answer in no time" attitude. I informed the doctor I had taken five tests over multiple days, and they had all been positive. (I had actually lost count, and was sure it was more than five.)

He suddenly lost his reassuring demeanor and calmly told me to go in the restroom and give him a urine sample. We both knew I was pregnant. I returned to the exam room and waited. He returned in just a few minutes and started typing something on the computer, calmly saying, "So, have you thought about your options? Do you want to go forward with this pregnancy?"

My excitement thankfully overpowered my outrage at his seeming insensitivity toward my "options," and I simply said "yes." I couldn't help but wonder if he would ask a married woman that same question. He proceeded to give me a prescription for prenatal vitamins, and I asked if I could have a detailed breakdown of the vitamin's ingredients. He told me he didn't have that information, and implied that I should simply trust that it included what was best for my baby.

About Emily

Emily Grace Whebbe, 26, from St. Paul, Minn., is a first-time mom who gave birth to her daughter, Revira, on Aug. 4. She delivered naturally with a midwife at a birth center, accompanied by her partner, Kai.

Suddenly I was on my way home, in a place I had never been emotionally, and upset with how the doctor had handled informing me that there was a person growing inside of me. My brain was so foggy, all I could do was listen to the song I always listen to when I feel a little lost — "Casimir Pulaski Day" by Sufjan Stevens.

Did he even say I was pregnant? I wanted an outright statement of fact: "You are pregnant." How would he be able to answer all the questions I would have if he couldn't even give me a description of what was in the vitamins he gave me? Didn't he want to make sure I knew how to take care of myself and my growing baby? Let the list of questions begin.

I have always been one to research things, and I knew this would be no exception. I knew I didn't want to give birth in a hospital, and especially not after my initial consultation with the "options" doctor. Another obstetrician I saw promised me she could give me the same birthing experience a midwife could. I was more than a little doubtful.

Within a few weeks, I had an appointment at the local birth center. It took me less than five minutes to decide this was the place I was going to give birth to my baby. As we left, my partner Kai said he felt more comfortable with having a baby after meeting the midwives. I was now merely two months pregnant, and nothing had made him comfortable until that. I breathed a sigh of relief, and for the first time since finding out I was pregnant, I slept through the night.

My pregnancy has been without complications, at least by a textbook definition. Sure, I've had my share of panicked calls to the midwives (who, thank the earth, respond quickly), but things have remained normal and healthy. After years of playing instruments and enjoying the sounds of the natural world around me, I've learned that the sound of my daughter's beating heart is possibly the most calming rhythm I could ever hear.

The very state of being pregnant, however, has felt like a bit of a complication. It seems there are decisions to make, emotions, restrictions, and benefits I never even knew existed. Kai and I have had conversations we never planned to have, and still we find ourselves looking for the best way to raise this being. Where will we live? Will we vaccinate? What type of school will she attend?

Of course, pregnancy has also come with a wide array of perks. While I'm not allowed to tear around downtown Minneapolis on my bike as I used to, I am allowed to increase my protein and fat intake, which I ravenously take advantage of; and still, I am a little underweight.

Perhaps my favorite pregnancy bonus has been simply hearing my yoga instructor say, "Let your practice take you wherever you need to go today." This has been especially helpful when my body simply won't do what it has done so many times before, but more importantly, it has turned into a mantra of sorts, allowing me to remind myself that I can take myself and my baby to whatever realm we need to go.

Now in my final weeks of pregnancy, I'm finally feeling, and looking pregnant. The most notable change over the past few weeks has been my views of how labor will go. While I was generally calm and collected about the impending labor and delivery, I'm starting to have moments of sheer panic at the prospect of this baby actually being able to find a way to fit out of me. I'll be awakened in the middle of the night by my baby stretching clear across my entire torso, (which is quite long) and be in pure disbelief that she'll make her way out.

I have moments of doubt that I can do it, and fear that I'll want to give in and get an epidural or other pain medications. Above all, though, I am filled with unrestrained excitement, and I know we'll each be able to do what we need to do.