It is challenging to explain my schedule to people who are curious. Some of my hours are set, some of my work hours take me by surprise, and all work hours need to remain flexible. When I walk out of my house, I never know if I will be home for dinner or if I will be gone for the next three days. It keeps life exciting.
I have responsibilities that are a constant that must be tended to. To meet these obligations, I have 2 days a week that are set aside for prenatal visits and postpartum visits. On average, I see a typical client for 6-14 hours of prenatal appointment time during the course of a pregnancy. That is actual face-to-face time spent between care provider and client…. not waiting room time. These appointments are spent going over prenatal education pieces, answering questions, and completing a check-up. There are also 2 postpartum visits that take place in my office at 2 weeks and 6 weeks postpartum. All of these appointments are the ones that are easy to schedule, but they also must remain flexible because everything changes if I am called to a birth on my normal office day.
I also have home-visits that I do. At 36 weeks of pregnancy as well as 1 day postpartum and 3 days postpartum I make the drive to my client’s home rather than having them come to me. Since I cover a pretty large region of this state, this can equal a lot of time in my car. At the 36 week home-visit, I am making sure that I can find the house and that all the supplies are in place and ready for the birth. At the postpartum visits, I am making sure that a woman is getting enough rest while caring for her new baby. I am able to check on things like jaundice and breastfeeding without a woman having to get dressed or leave the comfort of her bedroom.
The paperwork is really what takes up a good portion of my day. I must keep excellent and thorough charts on every single client and client encounter. I need to go over records from previous pregnancies, review lab results, set up ultrasounds, and call doctors to consult on cases that have challenges. I do not have a secretary, so I am also responding to all emails and phone calls on my own. Questions must get answered about which cold medications are safe to take while in the third trimester and why a baby is seeming to be fussy at 2 weeks of age. I file the birth certificates for each baby who is born in my practice and apply to get them a social security number. I even do the insurance billing myself!
The part of my schedule that requires the most amount of flexibility is the actual labor and birth. I am in a solo practice, so I am on-call for 100% of my clients, 365 days a year. The call to come to a birth comes whenever it happens. In the last month alone I have had to leave dinner parties that we were hosting….. TWICE. Usually, the calls will come in the middle of the night; 3:00 am is what I consider to be “the witching hour” for my phone to ring with a father telling me that I need to come to their home. It is during this labor event that all else in my life becomes secondary and the laboring mother and her family become my absolute primary concern. It does not matter what my plans were for the day as I will now sit with a woman while she brings new life into the world….. regardless if it takes 3 hours or 3 days. I will pace the floors with her partner and slow dance with her. I will rub her back, listen to the baby’s heart beat, and help her find her way through pushing. I will spend a portion of that day reminding her that all this pain is not for nothing, but that she is about to meet her long awaited child. At the absolute height of intensity that my most favorite part of my job comes, as I get to help a woman reach down and grasp her sweet child as he enters into the world.