In the UK the common practice 6 - 8 weeks after you have had your baby, is the post-natal check up. This normally happens with your GP and/or practice nurse. I had a laugh with my GP, I'd gone to see him at 2 weeks post natal to clear up some paperwork and to discuss my medications for the blood pressure. He said he'd not be allowed to do my check, on the basis that he was a man. I was laughing very hard, my GP is a trained obstetrician!!! And its not like anything happened down the "lambing end" so he wouldn't be required to even have a look down there!
However, if you've had a very complicated delivery you might be offered a follow up with your consultant at the hospital. I was asked to have both. So 7 weeks after Joseph's birth I was called for my consultation with Dr P, the head obstetrician. Joseph was, of course, still in hospital, but by this point was doing very well, just small, and learning to feed.
I was asked to go to ante natal, there isn't a post natal outpatient waiting room, so I had to sit with the pregnant women, which was fine, by that point I used to be a bit "other", a bit "different". My appointment time was 9.30, but it was a running joke amongst myself and my friends that this is a "required turning up time", you could be seen at any time. You could probably happily add an hour!
So I am sitting there, with my husband, quite chirpy having had an early snuggle with my baby, and who should appear but Charlie, the big Ghanian assistant doctor during my section. He trotted over and scooped me up for a big hug! We had a quick catch up, then the colour drained and he said "um what are you doing in ante natal?" I grinned and said "its ok, I've not got knocked up just a post natal check with Dr P" relieved, Charlie grinned and went on his way.
So then, who should appear but Dr A, she handled my medication and blood pressure issues post natally. She also had seen me antenatally and she had felt very strongly I was a good candidate for pre eclampsia. I had, at some drug induced hazy point, declared my undying love for Dr A, to which she replied with good humour "I love you too Kylie!" She came to speak to me, her face cloaked with worry "as ever, a delight to see you, but what are you doing here!", again I said "post natal check, because I'm complicated!", she too gave me a hug and then disappeared, the relief, again, quite obvious.
Still waiting, yet another doctor appeared, this one, Dr Abby, had not been involved in my care, we'd just got chatting in the corridors. He was drop dead gorgeous, about 26 or so, tall, dark and good looking. He saw me waiting, and positively sprinted over, gave me a massive hug, and a kiss! (by this time the pregnant ladies were all in stitches wondering how I'd become such a local celebrity!), and he said "good lord woman, this better be a post natal check, we'll all have high blood pressure if your pregnant again!"
One of the things I learned during my time in hospital with Joseph, was just how caring the doctors are, and how much they invest of themselves in each complicated delivery. I was amazed the number of times a doctor who had treated me would come up to me in the cafeteria or outside the neonatal unit and ask me how things were going, and more importantly, how I was doing.
I found the community of the hospital, and the care of each and every person, comforting and warming. Even the cleaners knew me my name, and would smile when they saw me.
And now, when we go back for follow up consultations I see a lot of the same faces, and see the delight when they catch a glimpse of my health, smily toddler.
This post is, however, for me, tinged with sadness. Our local maternity unit and neonatal unit has been marked for closure, despite reprieves from time to time, it looks like it will close next year. Women will have their babies in a large, shiny hospital. But it would be a such a shame to lose such a close knit community, which, truth be told, played a huge part in my emotional and physical healing.