34 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, my Ob/Gyn, who’d been a family friend (my father being a dentist, we had lots of medical folks in our circle) whose sense of humor I’d always admired (he hung IUDs on his Christmas tree…) informed me solemnly that my pregnancy was high-risk because I was fat. I asked why. He muttered a bit and then blurted out that 9 out of the last 10 fetal mortalities at the Hospital I was worried would intervene excessively had happened to obese mothers. I shot back that he hadn’t told me anything about those mothers’ pre-natal health, their pre-natal care, their socio-economic status, or their ages, and that the absence of any of that information rendered his single statistic invalid. He replied with an eye-roll and the concession that I could crouch in the corner and howl for all he cared as long as I had the baby in the hospital. This all happened after he’d (as I later found out) lied to me and told me the local Birth Center wouldn’t/couldn’t take me because of my weight. There are now state laws that might have prevented them from taking me, and they’re bullshit, but back then, he was just plain lying. Happily, he was not the OB from his practice who was on call for either of my labors. Unhappily, because I was in the damn hospital, no one made me get up off my exhausted ass and walk my way through the ineffective contractions that were an exact match of my mother’s first labor (both of us almost died, for a variety of dumbass reasons) and her mother’s (my would-have-been-uncle did die). In my case, 24 hours in, they gave me some Pitocin and my stupifyingly beautiful and healthy daughter popped out 45 minutes later. So it turned out fine, but the midwives at the Birth Center would have had me walking, and it also would have turned out fine and taken much less time.
That daughter has now had two gloriously healthy babies while fat. My younger daughter (a rather easier 7-hour natural delivery) is now 26 weeks into her first pregnancy. About 6 weeks ago, she and her husband, for a long list of smart reasons, moved in with us from out of state, and she had to switch OB practices. She didn’t get into her first-choice practice because it was full, so she ended up in a practice that has superb docs and midwives and NPs, but the worst office management in history (I left it because of that, though I really liked my doc), and that practice sends all its patients to Maternal Fetal Medicine at Christiana Care for their sonograms. MFM used to just be for high-risk pregnancies (real ones), but Christiana Care, the local corporate-creepy hospital near-monopoly has recently undergone something of a conversion and radically lowered its c-section rate, radically upped its lactation support, and managed to turn around what was a pretty dismal rep. as maternity unit. So, good. Great, actually. But part of that whole transition has been to extend the reach of MFM. So off our daughter goes to her sonogram, which went fine (nice wiggly baby girl in the precise middle of the size chart), but then The Doctor (Anthony Sciscione, and yes, I am calling him out), who had never met or seen our daughter before that moment walked in, plunked his arrogant, fat-shaming, sadistic, misogynistic ass down and announced to her that, in spite of her blood pressure being 110/60 and her blood sugars being (as far as anyone knew–which has turned out to be true) absolutely normal, and in spite of the fact that she has a very physical job, so is moving and lifting stuff all day, she was at serious risk of STILLBIRTH simply because she’s fat. He managed to reduce a tough cookie to tears (not hormonally induced–rage-, humiliation-, and terror-induced). What the fuck sort of physician says that shit to a woman who is 24 weeks pregnant????!!! With a healthy baby and no family history of bad outcomes???? What the fuck sort of human is that cruel to any other human, let alone a pregnant woman? Well, I grew up hearing that there were, generally speaking, specific personalities that tended to be attracted to specific medical fields and that the two specialties that tended to attract sadists were orthopedics and Ob/Gyn. Way to inhabit an ugly stereotype, Dr. Sciscione…
I know doctors are trained to despise fat men and women. I’ve been talking myself blue in the face about it for ages, so I’ll spare you that specific rant. But this is up there with kicking puppies and tripping the aged. There is no medical justification for threatening a pregnant woman whose medical condition is lucidly healthy with the worst thing a pregnant woman can think about. Stress is not medically useful. Humiliation is not medically useful. And his demeanor was in no sense either medically useful, or humanly acceptable.
This is Delaware. There is a mathematically significant chance that I know someone who’s a friend of his. Maybe even someone who would testify to his sterling character or medical brilliance or even his deep feminism. There is even a chance that I may run into him one of these days. I hope so. Because he was a sadistic shithead to my daughter BECAUSE she’s fat. And that is medically inexcusable.
Yes, she will be sending a letter to his immediate superior, along with several articles about the real damage done by fat-shaming, the invalidity of much of medicine’s approach to obesity, and some suggestions for alternate careers for Dr. Sciscione. Preferably somewhere his mysogynistic carcass will never be near another woman.
For the record, the nurse he then handed her off to so she could be trained in how to treat herself like a diabetic disaster-in-the-making started out by handing her a tissue and speaking softly and respectfully to the pregnant woman in front of her about how to manage any remote-but-potential risks without using terrifying language or treating her like a moral/mental deficient because of her size. And the front desk staff explained to her, without comment, how to avoid ever having to speak to Dr. Sciscione again. Almost as if they know how much of a toad he is. Nurses always know.