Coming To Grips With A Hospital Birth
Did you all know that I was born at home? I was. My mom is a natural kind of woman and when it came to her babies, I was born at home (when we lived in New York) and my brother was born at the birthing center (in Delaware.) When I got pregnant, call me crazy, the last thing that was on my mind was how in the world I was going to give birth.
At first, all I could think about was how sick I was and about getting through that. Then there was the joys of being done with the sickness part and it being time to tell everyone. Once the fanfare died down slightly, and I started showing, they handed me a packet at the OB/GYN called "pre check in papers" and sent me on my merry way. A couple weeks ago, as I am nearing my third trimester, I finally felt ready to open that packet. (Up to that point, I had been avoiding thinking about the delivery at all.)
What I was not ready for was the meltdown that came with it. You see, I am completely unfamiliar with hospitals. To me, they are mystery places reserved for when you are...I hate to say this...dying. I hate the way they smell. I hate the way they look. I want to never have to go to one if at all possible. But I happen to live in a very small community with very....how do I say this..."modern" views on childbirth.
Why "modern," you ask? Well, for me, the way I view childbirth is natural occurrence that in 90% of cases needs little to no intervention. IE- no hospital necessary. Just give me a midwife and a few good hours and you're bound to get a baby. I feel my body will know just what to do. The state of Delaware feels very differently than I do. Home birth in our state is illegal. And there is one birthing center located 2 hours away. My options are pretty limited (especially considering how quickly my mom had both my brother and I--in under 8 hours, start to finish!)
Hospital births account for 99% of the births in our country--very modern. Women are taught that they need fancy things like pitocin (used to induce labor) and epidurals (to help take away the pain) when in reality receiving either one of these interventions sky rockets your chances of getting a c-section. We are bombarded by messages that we can't trust our bodies and then when the interventions lead us to more interventions we praise modern medicine for doing what the modern woman couldn't achieve on her own.... at least this is the way I see it.
This was why I had a safeguard against this: a doula. This was my light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to have my doula and then I would be safeguarded against routine hospital interventions. I would be much more likely (22% to be exact) to have a natural birth, even in the hospital setting. And then I opened the packet, and it read only three support persons are allowed in the room while you are in labor.
This meant leaving someone out of the birth experience...either my mother, my mother-in-law, or (gulp) my doula. That was about when the meltdown began. Why was I being told who could and couldn't be there? Why did my doula have to count as a support person? After agonizing over the decision, my husband and I decided that my doula would have to sit the main event out and help train my mother and mother-in-law to do what she would have done. We simply couldn't pick between my mother and his, and we felt this was an experience we needed to have together.
With a heartsickness I can't describe, I filled out the rest of the packet, and brought it to the hospital and asked to see the place. I smiled and the nurses were so nice to me. They answered my questions and asked a few of their own. They stayed calm when I asked how long I would have to stay. They told me that if I was breast feeding, 48 hours is customary...why? Because women often have trouble with breastfeeding. (Sheesh...again, how do these dang bodies work?!)
My mom and I left the hospital, got in the car, and again, I had another meltdown, saying through my tears, "I don't want to have my baby here! It smells like old people!!!" (Sorry, no offense, old people.) The fact remains: I am having a hard time accepting the fact that I have to birth my child in a hospital. It feels wrong. The beds look uncomfortable. They want to keep me for 48 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A huge part of me feels like I am being cheated by having to go this route. Another part of me feels helpless to stop the hospital machine as my due date marches closer. A large part of me worries that they won't listen to me when I say "no thank you" to the IV, or the pitocin, or whatever else. And then there is the baby...who I don't want to have to come into the world this way. I want my baby to come into the world in a calm, less germ infested place...one where whoever wants to be in the room can be there to say, "hello!"
Maybe I am old-fashioned. Maybe I am new-school. Maybe I just feel entitled to the birth experience I choose...and I don't understand why I have to be told to fit into this one-size-fits-all box. Either way, I am struggling to come to grips with the hospital delivery, and a part of me is deeply sad that I can't have my baby in the comfort of my own home, just like I came into the world.
I am perplexed by the system and having an inner crisis because of it. Why have we taken something so natural and complicated it so much? I just don't understand. I am trying desperately to push past these negative feelings in order to get to a place where I feel good about delivering at the hospital. I never thought that it would be this difficult. One would think that having no other choice would allow you to move into an acceptance phase, but for me it just hasn't been the case...at least not yet.