Sadly, some of the most surprising interactions I have had as a childless woman are in medical facilities who think there are two kinds of women in the world: Those who have given birth and those who will soon. Other than that, the women don’t exist. And it impacts how women take care of themselves. Three personal examples over the last few months:
Mammogram (if you say it like “candy gram” it sounds better)
My doctor’s office is in a hospital that caters to women….I have to trudge through the sea of pink and baby blue crap to go get body parts smushed. I try to rush through the long halls with blinders on, but it is impossible. The walls are decorated with newborns (pictures, not the real thing) and the floors are covered with baby feet stickers. There is only one reason I continue to go there….because I love my doctor.
I’m going to run a marathon
One Saturday morning a few months ago, I decided to become a runner. Thirty minutes later I opened my front door and started to jog before I got to the sidewalk…. Justin Timberlake was in my headphones. Nothing else needed. Except I had the wrong shoes, I didn’t stretch and I possessed absolutely no athletic skill or talent. True story.
- A month later I was limping into a doctor’s office and had to complete insurance/new patient paperwork explaining my life story. Are you pregnant? No. Could you possible be pregnant? No. Are you sure? I mean reallllly sure you aren’t? NO!
- Waiting room signs: Notify our staff if you believe you are pregnant or could be pregnant.
- Magazines on the tables: Magazines dedicated to parents, babies, blah blah. Interestingly, not a lot of articles on feet.
- A nurse came to get me from the waiting room so someone could check out my Fred Flintstone feet. But first, we needed to x-ray. *sigh* Are you pregnant? No. Could you possible be pregnant? No. *sigh*
When I was leaving my most recent appointment, I was gifted with the obligatory plastic bag filled with toothpaste, new toothbrush and dental floss. Check out exhibit A on the left.
Am I uber sensitive to this topic? No doubt. But am I being unrealistic to want to increase an awareness that the childless exist? No. There has to be a better way. What about a route within the hospital that can get me from point A to point B….that minimizes the tour of the gift shop, birthing center, etc. What about an area in a waiting room that doesn’t scream BABY! What about magazines in the waiting rooms with articles other than “binky basics”, “choosing the perfect nursery” and “5 ways to soothe a crying baby”. <== Real articles BTW.
I get it. We exist in the minority. But we still exist. Many childless women I’ve talked with have given up medical care in general. Why? Maybe because they can’t bear to bare it again, for any reason. Maybe because listening to pregnant women talk to each other and scratch their full bellies (apparently that is a thing……..pregnant women are always scratching their bellies) is too painful. Maybe because it is a “our bodies have failed us again and again so why should I take care of it” mentality. I don’t know. But an environment dedicated to everything we want but can’t have certainly doesn’t help encourage good healthcare. Why am I focused on medical facilities as opposed to restaurants, malls, etc? Because when we need medical attention we are at our most vulnerable.
We don’t want a monument dedicated to our plight. We don’t expect a special facility that removes all hints of babies and pregnant women. But a few tweaks could create a more welcoming environment.2