As a preface to Part 2 of my rant against institutionalized maternity care, I would like to say that I do trust that the Lord is in this situation and that He loves me and my family and will take care of us all, no matter what. However, I also believe it is my responsibility to learn all I can about my options so I can make the best choice for my baby and me. I am sorry if my uncharacteristically cynical tone bothers anybody, but it is helpful to me in processing all this to be very honest with myself and others about my struggles and disappointments. Maybe writing things down will help me figure out a workable solution.
After meeting with the doctor, I asked the receptionist if it would be possible to tour the labor and delivery area. We had seen it very briefly the last time we were at the hospital, but as I had been riding in a wheelchair (it’s a big hospital to get around, and I was still on bedrest), I hadn’t really been able to poke around and see everything I wanted to—in particular, the rumored whirlpool tubs in the bathrooms.
The receptionist called over to let the staff know we were on our way, and Hubby and I made the long trek over to the maternity ward. The nurse who showed us around was actually pleasant and kind, but it was obvious she still had to bow to procedures and policies. For example, when I asked her if it was all right to labor and give birth in any position I wanted to, she hesitated and said, “Well…you’ll really have to talk to your doctor about that.” She seemed excited to show off all their new high-tech monitoring equipment. “There’s a computer right here in your room, so your nurse will be able to see how you and baby are doing at all times. Plus, of course, your information will be displayed on the screens in the nurses’ station as well.” Great, so they can monitor and analyze every blip and bleep and tell me that my baby is “in distress” if her heart rate decelerates during a contraction.
The nurse also seemed proud of the “warming unit” for the baby right in the room. Yeah, right, I thought. As if that plastic box could do a better job keeping my baby warm than I could, with her on my chest and covered with blankets.
We peeked in the bathroom and saw that the whirlpool tub looks half decent. It’s not as big as the tubs at the birth center, but it is deeper than a normal tub. I asked if it was permitted to give birth in the water. “Oh, no,” the nurse said. “If everything is going normally, you can labor in the tub, but you have to get out toward the end.” Why? I thought. It was so nice to be in the water when I was on my hands and knees pushing out D.L.F., and I can’t imagine not having the option, at least. If midwives can kneel beside the tub and catch the baby from behind, why can’t a doctor?
The only real bed in the room is an insanely uncomfortable twin bed with rails on both sides and a crack in the middle so the head can be raised or lowered. Oh, yes, and fold-out stirrups at the foot. When Hubby and I got out to the parking lot, I told him, “There is no way I will be on my back for one second during labor, and if they think I’m going to stick my feet in stirrups for the doctor’s convenience, they’d better think again.”
I hate being treated like a high-risk patient when I don’t feel like one. I still trust my body to birth naturally. If I had to give birth in a hospital, I would feel like I constantly have to be on top of things to the point where I wouldn’t be able to relax or get halfway comfortable (No, I don’t want anything for the pain…. Okay, that’s enough monitoring. Baby and I are fine. I’m taking off these straps now…. No, I don’t want you to check my cervix again…. No, I am not going to sit up in bed to push…. DO NOT put my baby in that warmer…. DO NOT give my baby a hepatitis B shot or eye ointment….on and on and on.) In addition, I just don’t feel like doctors are as committed to the well-being of the women in the care as midwives. For example, in my readings about C-sections lately, I came across a statistic showing that teaching hospitals, which have obstetricians and anesthesiologists on duty 24/7, have a lower C-section rate than regular community hospitals with doctors typically on-duty during daylight hours, indicating that if a woman’s labor is progressing too slowly, a doctor in a regular hospital just might be quicker to tell her she needs a C-section, so he can get home.
I’ve already called my midwives to ask how far away my placenta would have to get from my cervix for them to take me back on as a client. The supervising midwife is out of town right now, but she’s supposed to get back to me by the beginning of next week. I have another ultrasound tomorrow, so I’ll find out the status of the placenta then.