DEAR ABBY: You advised "Uncomfortable," the young woman whose husband and in-laws want her to use her father-in-law as an obstetrician, to "speak her mind and make no apologies for her feelings." She needs more specific advice, or she'll wind up in endless stressful arguments.
She should find her own OB, make her own appointments, and inform the new doctor that her father-in-law is not to be given any information about her.
She should never argue with her in-laws. Instead, she should repeat the following: "Thank you for your concern for my health. I'm very happy with my choice of caregiver." This shouldn't lead to an argument or give offense.
Dealing with her husband may be harder. She may owe him an explanation (but not an apology). If he insists on arguing, she should repeat, "No, I've made my decision." The broken-record technique is very effective. She should be prepared for her husband to tell his dad anything he knows about her condition, so she should tell him nothing she doesn't want blabbed around.
Finally, she should make a list for her doctor of exactly who is allowed to be present at the birth. She clearly cannot count on her wimp of a husband to be an effective gatekeeper. -- UPSTATE NEW YORK
DEAR UPSTATE: I'm sure "Uncomfortable" will appreciate your input. It appears you are speaking from personal experience. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Uncomfortable's" husband is immature and selfish. He needs to grow up and consider his wife's feelings. And the physician in question is a controlling father-in-law who should show some professional decency, bow out, and recommend obstetricians outside his practice. Reading between the lines, the young woman has more to worry about than what is apparent in her letter. -- LOS ANGELES R.N.
DEAR L.A.R.N.: I agree. Now let's hear it from a fellow physician:
DEAR ABBY: As an anesthesiologist, I make a point of not having a medical relationship with friends and family. Besides being a physician, I'm a person with feelings and emotions, and, no matter how well-trained I could be, my judgment would be distorted and my decision subjective and biased. It's definitely not wise for "Uncomfortable" to be a patient of her in-law, and the DOCTOR should know this. -- SYMPATHETIC M.D.
DEAR SYMPATHETIC: If all else fails, perhaps the young woman can clip your letter and tell her father-in-law she has a "doctor's excuse." Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Let me tell you what worked for me: the simple phrase, "I have decided to use all women doctors from now on." The doctors I have chosen have all shared the experiences of childbirth, PMS and menopause. I even have a woman dentist! -- BEEN THERE IN KNOXVILLE, TENN.
DEAR BEEN THERE: That's an excellent alternative. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: "Uncomfortable" should choose a midwife as her care provider. Midwives are recognized throughout the world as the most appropriate care providers for women, and most women could benefit from the expert care, education and family-centered support we offer. We give our clients a high level of personal satisfaction, and our safety statistics are excellent. -- NEW HAMPSHIRE CERTIFIED MIDWIFE
DEAR READERS: Anyone interested in more information about midwives should contact: Midwives Alliance of North America, 4805 Lawrenceville Highway, Suite 116-279, Lilburn, GA 30047. Please enclose a self-addressed, business-size stamped envelope. The organization also has a Web site: www.mana.org.