As we went to sit down on my obstetrician's sofa, she said: "So you have questions."
There was an awkward pause as we hurried to arrange ourselves. My husband scrambled to turn on his phone, find the document we'd prepared, and we raced our eyes down the notes.
Our doctor sat perfectly still, staring at us. Apparently entirely unaware of the human need to have such hollow silences filled with softening noises.
Most of our questions are about labour, we ventured.
"We usually have that conversation at 36 weeks," she replied quickly. Her eyes daring us to continue.
And this was the moment. The moment that it truly dawned on us that this woman wasn't going to make this easy for us.
We had read in books about the 'medicalisation' of childbirth, but were sure we'd be tough enough to handle it. After all, we had journalistic skepticism, and a PhD on our side.
However, it's easy to forget the power of a brute-force defence mechanism, which tolerates no deviation from its operating mode. Particularly when you're trying to keep relations friendly.
In a flash we realised our questions would be met with short responses, as though she was answering a verbal examination.
And our attempts to explore her responses would be met with a granite expression.
As someone who relishes the opportunity to talk to bright people about fascinating subjects, her complete absence of visible enjoyment in this conversation stopped me in my tracks.
We were talking about having a child, right? A cool thing. An episode that we all get to share. She as a professional expert, using her expertise and wisdom to help engineer a seamless birth. Us, as new parents, glowing with the opportunity to do this special project ever so well.
It should be a dream team. Except it wasn't. We were on opposing sides. Us with our 'questions'. Her with her 'training'.
My initial enquiries about contractions and labour preparations were met with a single response: 'You are breech. If that stays the case, those questions don't apply."
In due course, I am told at least 15 times during our session that I am BREECH.
When that fact is allowed to settle, I am then told I am AMA.
That means I'm over 35 (advanced maternal age) and so will have a higher-risk birth. But she preferred not to say that. After all, an acronym is always the best, most positive, reassuring way to convey information in a sensitive situation.
The night before our check-up, my husband and I had had a hypno-birthing session.
"Try and ensure that during the next two months you filter out negative messages about childbirth. Being your most relaxed self will help you in every stage of labour," said our trainer.
Hardly rocket science, we thought - not counting on the main obstacle being our obstetrician.
The sad thing is that I genuinely think our doctor has no idea how she comes across.
Like the IT guy who reaches over you to play with your computer without asking. Allowing his BO to waft generously up your nose. Then smirking when you explain what happened before it all went dark. (Sorry, IT guys, I know you've upped your game, but I experienced years of this and deep emotional trauma is hard to shake.)
Like any professional who treats their knowledge as a secret weapon, rather than a gift to share, my doctor probably thinks she is doing a wonderful job. Assessing my risks, explaining them to me, and then giving me a pre-decided outline of my birth plan, which doesn't require my input.
The trouble is, I'm a journalist. And in my professional life, people like her are satirised for not appreciating how they come across. We know that their ways are eminently fallible, and enjoy writing articles that prove it.
We also know that people who try and make you feel as though your thoughts are not relevant and valid, are usually the ones of whom you should be the most suspicious.
Of course, the grown-up way to deal with a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable is to be assertive. And I was, and will continue to be.
But at the bottom of this whole complicated, interpersonal muddle lies the fact that I want to participate as much as possible in my labour. A fact that I feel should be a forgone conclusion, but clearly isn't.
And she just thinks I am a 36-year-old AMA female, who's breech.Suggest a correction