Hospitals, Childbirth, and Fear

I’m feeling a lot of fear and anxiety about the birth of this baby, but maybe not in the way you’d expect.

I’m good at childbirth.  I may suck at pregnancy, but I’m good at childbirth.

That said, I am not loving my hospital options here.  My doctor only delivers at two hospitals, both of which are part of the public county hospital system.  I will say that both are classed as Baby Friendly hospitals which is a huge deal and really great.  But I have major concerns about both.  Here are the concerns I have with both places:

Hospital A

This is where I went for my HG hospitalizations.  Anyone remember how awesome my experiences were there?  No one?  That’s right.  Because it sucked.

  • This is an old hospital.  It’s gritty.  It feels very… what’s the word… institutional.  I’m sure it’s very clean, but it just looks really grimy from being old.
  • They have you labor in one room and deliver in another room.  That’s right ladies.  When you hit transition, they make you move.  I cannot imagine the chaos of changing rooms during transition.  This just seems like a terrible idea and a terrible policy.  My doctor said they might be able to make an exception for me since we have no need for things like warming tables and the like, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with a “might be able to.”  This is a major deal-breaker.
  • Fathers aren’t allowed to spend the night.  My husband might not be able to do this anyway because of the Grasshopper, but the idea of being stuck in there for 3 days by myself just makes me feel edgy and trapped.
  • I had pretty bad experiences at this hospital.  Just walking into it is enough to send my stress levels up.  The woman I shared a room with leaving blood all over the toilet seats, and the mentally ill man walking outside my door and shouting all night and freaking me out that he would come into my room, and the L&D nurse who left me in the wheelchair and repeatedly told me and anyone she ran into that I shouldn’t be in L&D despite what my doctor had said, and the OBGYN not bothering to see me at all, and the evil vital signs lady who kept making my IV sticks bleed with the blood pressure cuff, and the OBGYN who smiled and said that if I feel persistent nausea and vomiting to come back in (idiot), etc, etc, etc…
  • Very restrictive for visitors under the age of 13.  The Grasshopper could come visit us but only for certain hours.  3 days separated from my family.  Cut off from them when I want to be with them the most.

Hospital B

  • No showers in the rooms.  You have to walk down the hall to the shower behind the nurses station.  That means if I want to sit under the hot water while I’m in labor and labor in the shower, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
  • Only two rooms.  What if they’re full?
  • No visitors under the age of 13 allowed.  That bothers me in a major, major way.  I would be completely cut off from my family during one of the most important times for us all.
  • It’s in the next town over.  It’s not a long drive, but it is a drive.

General Concerns

  • I’m not a fan of several of my doctor’s partners.  I only actively dislike one of them, but I think having him walk into the room to catch the baby would send me over the edge.
  • My doctor isn’t always on call.  I’m not sure what percentage of her babies she delivers, but if she’s not on call, it would be a major, major stressor.  The last thing I want to deal with is more stress.  That week when all hell was breaking loose with the HG, she was not reachable.  At all.
  • They don’t let you eat in labor.  I need to eat all the time!  If I can’t eat I have to get hooked up to an IV with a glucose solution.  I am really, really averse to IVs and needle sticks at this point.  Like heart racing, hands shaking averse to it.
  • No tubs.  Anywhere.
  • General nervousness about the whole thing.

This is my last baby.  Of course, it goes without saying that the ultimate goal is a healthy baby and a healthy mommy.  That’s a major no brainer if you ask me.  So why can’t birth be a pleasurable experience for me?  It was a good experience last time, but like I said in my hypnobirthing post, I want to be an active participant here.  I have absolutely no regrets about the Grasshopper’s birth.  I just want something different this time around.  I want a water birth.  I want to do this on my own.  I want this last time to be a positive and gentle experience.  I’ve had such a crappy pregnancy.  I just want to have a positive, respectful birth.

Home birth is absolutely not an option here, but there are some lovely-looking birth centers here in town.  My husband is dismissing the idea out of hand.  It’s just so far outside his concept of normal.  I just want to find a way to help him understand why I might view that as a viable option.  The hospitals here aren’t like the awesome one we delivered at in St. Louis.  Would switching to midwife care after the HG be like a huge “Eff You” to my doctor?  “Hi there.  You get to do all the awful stuff without the little bonus prize at the end.”

I hope I can find a way to make peace with all of this.

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12 thoughts on “Hospitals, Childbirth, and Fear

  1. I’m having similar issues with my birth options right now. I actually just posted about it in the ‘pregnancy, adoptions and parenting’ right before seeing this. I don’t have much help to offer, just I hope something works out. You could try telling your doctor exactly this and see what his thoughts are.

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  2. I believe you’re going to absolutely know what to do before all is said and done. Not only are you a planner–you are an incredibly strong little momma.

    My concerns for you tie in to the memory of my own children’s births. Here they are:

    First 2 births…hospital. Even though I kept to myself, was not needy, didn’t ask for any drugs whatsoever, I had a very patronizing nurse who said unneccessary, snide things within my earshot all day long. [Example: with no epidural, I can always feel the moment my baby’s head goes through the cervix into birth canal. It is an “involuntary” kind of push. Painless, yet unmistakable. I calmly let the nurse know that there was a definite push that I didn’t do (the uterus is, afterall, a muscle). Her response was to roll her eyes, look out the door and say out loud, “Dr. So and So…Um…Dr. Magic Fingers…come check this girl. She *thinks* she needs to push.” Dr. So and So comes along to check me, looks at the nurse and says, “She’s a 10 and the head is through…”]

    Series of events at hospital birth number 2: Razor against my will; Sweet nurses, thank God; Dr. On Call telling me NOT to push just before he goes to lunch; Involuntary push…at which a sweet nurse says, “I’ve been with her all day…I believe her.”; Sweet nurses move me to delivery room and deliver my baby; Dr. On Call coming in and saying, “I see you decided to push anyway.”; Medical class of about 12 people walking in to study everything about me with one stupid girl who says, “Did you shave yourself?”; Getting hooked up to pitocin drip after being returned to my room so my uterus would contract; Best friend begging them to bring in my baby so I could nurse him to make my uterus contract naturally; Feeling thankful 5 hours later that pitocin bag was empty; Being hooked up to another full bag that kept me from sleeping because it felt like I was in labor all over again. Oh…I didn’t see my baby for 4 hours.

    Sorry so long. I had no say in anything. Laboring–as powerful a moment as it is–isn’t a time when we feel empowered advocate for ourselves because all of our strength is being poured into bringing forth life. (And why should we have to fight with anyone about what we know is right for us?)

    Last two births with Midwifery Health Practitioners: Amazing pre-natal care; Back-up Obstetricians on call; Medi-flight available; Treatment filled with women who treated me with dignity & respect and at no time did I feel anything but nurtured. Short, precious labor where they sat quiety in a corner and let me do whatever came natural. They required that I drank some kind of juice every 30 min. because we use so many calories to labor. If I had been hungry, I could have eaten. Showers and tubs were available. Babies were in my arms immediately after birth and no one took them away. No visitor age restrictions. I went home several hours later.

    I don’t dwell on those negative hospital experiences but I wish I could un-do them and do it right. As for the last two…they are precious memories from beginning-to-end with HG being my only negative.

    I believe you could express plenty of appreciation for your doctor and still do birth the way you know is right for you. After reading about your choices of hospitals, I couldn’t help but relive my own horrible experiences. My vote is for a birthing center. This is YOUR birth. Not theirs.

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  3. Hey molly, I read this earlier and have been thinking about what I would do. You know I have lots of opinions on childbirth choices 🙂 You are in a tough spot I can appreciate some dr. Loyalty feelings and not wanting to push your husband around. But I honestly think when it comes down to it though you really don’t have a choice- your hospital options completely and totally suck! Seriously it sounds like you would be giving birth in a bad version of 1965. Take him for some BC tours and get out your pros and cons. He wants you to be happy & safe. Its your job to get him there kwim? Jim was the same way initially with my vbac but he got there eventually. As for your doctor give it to her straight and see what her responses are. You can’t be the first mom not to want to give birth in that environment. Good luck girly!

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  4. What about getting a dula? We considered it for a while when we were pregnant last fall. It was the closest I could get Manuel to the “natural” side of birthing, then I got slammed with “high risk” and the dula was out the window for me 😦 The dula can work in conjunction with your current doc or by themselves at a birthing center, they totally work with you at the level that you need. Maybe bringing her in with Dr. Awesome can help Juan get more comfortable with the idea??

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  5. Hm… I was about to say “Find the birthing center nearest you and run there!” after reading how yucky those hospitals are, but your last point about Dr. Awesome is one that should be considered. As open as you are with her about everything else, I would say it should be discussed with her. I know my doc was sentimentally attached to me and Josiah by the end of our rough journey, and it did mean a lot to her to deliver him herself. I had a c-section of course, but she was the surgeon. I’m sure you’re also sentimental about her being the one to deliver this baby… Which leads me to… hm…

    I’d say that hospital number One is an absolute NO. If it were me, that is. With HG, psychological reactions are so important. I refused to ever go back to one clinic after a negative HG experience there. It wasn’t even a big deal. I had a nurse lecture me when I had bad diarrhea. She said I needed to care more for my baby’s health, and that I should have come in for IVs sooner. That was L&D, and I was 5 months pregnant. I did return to that hospital, but I never went back to L&D again. I’d go to antepartum and avoid that floor all together. So I definitely think for this to be a positive experience, I’d consider never going back to that first hospital you described because you already have a negative experience attached to it. Again, I don’t mean to offend by making suggestions.

    Step one would definitely be talking to your amazing doc. I totally understand your anxiety, but I just have to believe that this birthing experience will be a great one for you, regardless of where it happens.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean about how important the negative associations are. At our hospital in St. Louis, all I had were VERY positive associations. I think that really led to a positive feeling there. I’m just worried that if I step into Hospital A in the middle of labor which is a very vulnerable time, it will just ratchet up the stress.

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  6. Could you birth at a birth center and invite your doc to be present? Explain to her that you want a birth center birth, but that you’d still love her to be there?

    I was going to suggest home birth, but it looks like you’ve already thought down that road! It works beautifully for us, but I am sure that you will find the option that works for you.

    If you need to work on your husband to get him a bit more open to a birth center birth, you can try showing him “The Business of Being Born” – that often does wonders! Or taking a Bradley/Brio/Hypnobabies childbirth class – that helps too!

    Good luck! I’ll be so interested to hear what you decide on!

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  7. I can’t help you make a decision, but I can say that letting the staff at whatever location you decide on know in advance of your phobias will be a huge asset to you. I am so very sorry that you seem to have developed the needle phobia; I’m borderline emetephobic and fully needle phobic, and the needle phobia is far, far worse. It’s life-altering and such a pain to deal with. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and I am so very sorry you have to deal with it.

    Here’s a great resource: http://www.needlephobia.com/ There are suggestions there for how to handle sticks, both for you and your doctor.

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  8. Has your husband read this post? The two hospitals wouldn’t even be an options if I was in your shoes. I’d rather “accidentally” give birth at home. Especially if this is going to be your last pregnancy- do things YOUR way. You want to look back w/fond memories. Be selfish and do what YOU want! I also think given what you went through at ‘Hospital A’ during the worst of the HG your doctor would understand why you wouldn’t want to give birth there.

    You’ll make the right decision.

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  9. OMG! I can’t believe the hospitals here are more progressive than there! Sounds like 34 yrs. ago when I had Joseph. Tad had to be fully gowned the 1 feeding he could be in the room to hold his son! I did the “move to the other room”–you should have seen my face when they said, “Move to the other table” REALLY!?!?!? Baby stayed in the nursery except for feedings. We had to get very special permission for Tad’s mom to hold Joseph, because she had to go home before we got out of the hospital. Fast forward to M.E. and we were doing all in the same room, did not have to have the IV so was up walking til the end, and delivered and recooped in the same room before they moved us to the regular room. We went home the next day, because my mom was going to be there.
    I know this is a tough time and making decisions like this are never easy. But you have been thinking through all of this and the answer will come to you and your husband. You still have time to make this decision, so take that time to weigh all your options.What I do know is that I bonded with all my kids even though each birthing experience was different. When it comes down to it, it is that precious baby up against you and all the experiences that come after that that are so important.
    Loving your blog! So good to know what is going on with you. Thanks for keeping us informed.

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