Last week, my husband and I went to visit with the midwives at one of the local birth centers. It was very, very cool, and for me, it went very, very well.
She began by giving us a quick tour of the birth center. Having never been to one before, I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t sure if I should expect an office-like atmosphere or what. What I found was a very quiet, peaceful place. It was very home-like and comfortable. There were couches in the consultation room, a nice-sized bed in the birth room (which included a deliberately small, cave-like attached bathroom for a mom who wants to retreat), and a gorgeous room with an absolutely huge, deep tub. Not to mention, the exam room, kitchenette, auxiliary labor room, etc.
I really liked that she showed me the specific things in the rooms, too. I remember when we toured the hospital in St. Louis, they brought us to a room and said, “This is one of our labor/delivery rooms.” And that was it. As first time parents, you don’t really know what to ask about, so you stand around and say, “Oh, interesting. Thank you.” I can’t remember if I asked about a squat bar, but questions like that were met with answers like, “Oh, yes, we have those. Just request it at the time.” The difference here was that she was pointing out specific things that you could do. She showed me their birth stool and even showed where they usually put it and described how you’d sit on it, with your birth partner sitting behind you on the bed for you to lean against. I am certain that if I had asked if I could sit on it to see how it worked, she would have let me.
This kind of thing is important to me. I tend to get bogged down in not knowing exactly how things work mechanically. For example, with the birth bar, I was intrigued by it, but I’d never seen one. Never tried it out. I didn’t want to fool around with the whole “Am I doing it right” thing, so I just didn’t ask. With something right there that I can look over really carefully ahead of time and even try out just to get the feel of it, it’s just a whole different level of confidence.
At any rate, the birth center is gorgeous. The midwife we met with really took the time to connect with me. At one point, I was talking a little about some of my hospital experiences and becoming stressed out, and she just reached over and squeezed my hand. Just little, simple things like that. She just really went out of her way to validate my feelings and show empathy. It was very peaceful and comforting and I can see, with a demeanor like that, why she has a successful midwifery practice.
She also really seemed to get the whole thing with HG. She took a gentle look at the scars from my midline and failed PICC, and was just so gentle and sympathetic about what I’ve been through. No suggestion to try this, no suggestion that I should have done that. Just very gentle and kind. Having someone in the natural birth community who really recognizes that I don’t have a choice about pumping my body full of chemicals is both surprising and a relief. She is also willing to hold a space for me until I am off my pump and my doctor is able to release me into her care. She’s willing to wait for me, and I so appreciate that. No pressure, no stress. When I am healthy enough and able, she will be there for me.
Aside from all the touchy-feely stuff, they also meet all of the requirements that you would expect them to meet. Things like licensing, emergency preparedness, how they handle hospital transfers, etc. All that stuff that you absolutely expect and consider completely necessary for a practice like this. And I really grilled her. I had a huge list of questions, and she answered every single one completely and without waffling about it.
For those curious, here is a link to the list of questions I asked.
I came away feeling very, very positive. It all felt, so… right. My husband not so much. He’s very much married to the idea of the hospital model of birth: lay back and let the doctor drive. This resulted in a bit of… ah… hearty discussion between the two of us. Thankfully, ultimately, he has found that he can respect that I have some pretty serious aversions to being in a hospital. He may not understand why, but he accepts that I do. And I very much appreciate his support.
Ultimately, it’s up to the insurance company. I’ve applied for them to accept this birth center as in-network, and I’m just waiting to hear back from them. Keep your fingers crossed that they give us the approval!