The nurse giving the tour and teaching the class…ohhhhh the nurse…where to begin. I know she’s just one person, but she teaches all the prenatal classes and she’s a post-partum nurse to boot, so someone thinks well enough of her to make her the public face of the hospital maternity center. I have to wonder how much of her attitude and philosophy are the hospital’s as well.
It started when she mentioned that this is a teaching hospital and some people get upset about the residents and such, but it was good to have a lot of people and options so “try to just utilize the staff.” Mrgh. How many people will really need to look up my shorts, anyway? Then there was the monitoring, which will be constant, which led someone to ask a question about “preferences,” or the birth plan. She said, and this is a direct quote: “Yeah, you can write them down, but we find nine times out of ten that unrealistic parents get their hopes up and it falls apart. Plus their babies are more likely to need extra help because their plans don’t allow us to do our interventions.” Oh. My. God. What is this preventative intervention business? Is that like a pre-emptive strike on Iraq?! Are you looking for WMD in my uterus?! So discouraging and negative and fear-causing.
So then we went on to the recovery room and she mentioned that if you’ve had a c-section, you’ll be moved to the room by gurney. And here’s where a woman who took an entirely different approach to her birth became the vehicle for showing me what I had to fear.
This woman in our class–who happened to be the only mom there without a partner or friend with her that I could see–was really upset by that. She mentioned she knows she has to have a c-section and the idea of the gurney kind of freaked her out. Nurse: “Well, then why are you having a c-section?” And the nurse asked this in a room with 30 other people. Well, nurse, since you aren’t attending the birth, it’s none of your damn business why, and it’s certainly not ours. The woman replied “medical reasons” which is more than I would have said with all eyes on me. The nurse goes “Oh, okay, I was going to say, can’t you just flip that thing?” She said it somewhat jokingly but still–what business is it of hers if she isn’t going to be at this woman’s medical team? What of patient privacy? When I hear “have to have a c-section” I assume that there is something like placenta previa, etc. going on, none of which I would care to discuss publicly. And what an insulting thing to say if there were women in the room who had breech babies that they couldn’t get to turn–way to make them feel like failures. And the topper: “But yeah, don’t worry about the gurney. You’ll be medicated.” Meaning she’ll be so doped to the gills that she won’t give a shit, and this is supposed to be a comfort to her. I certainly felt better having a nurse confirm that in the event of a c-section I would be high as a kite and totally incapacitated.
So we chatted a bit more about amenities of the rooms–no WiFi in the hospital so y’all have to wait for your photos, by the way–and thankfully she did mention that the baby can stay overnight with you if you want. The poor c-section girl apparently hadn’t had enough and asked if it was possible to have the baby stay in the nursery and be brought in for feedings. Perfectly legit question since she seems to be doing this alone and will have just had major abdominal surgery. C-Section cracked a joke “Already I’m a terrible mom, huh?” The nurse thought that teasing her back with “Oh, guess you aren’t going natural at all, huh? C-section, not going to have the baby room in with you…someone call DPS!” was appropriate. Her tone was kind of jokey, but not really. The hospital doesn’t seem to put much of a premium on naturalness anyway, and your bedside manner is to tease her back instead of giving her a comforting smile and maintaining neutrality? And again, what an insulting thing to say if other couples had planned to utilize the nursery for nights. I was relieved to know I could keep the baby with me but my choice and their choices are different, and none of them are for her to editorialize on.
From everything else she said, she just seemed really cold and impersonal and kept making all these references to “killing the pain if you need” and “we may have you walk around to help get things moving. That was another huge red flag, as the hypno-birthing guidelines would have you avoid that kind of talk. If someone keeps insisting that you should be in terrible pain, you WILL be in terrible pain. If someone keeps suggesting that you should be moving along faster and should rush, you WILL rush and do so artificially. Even Tom, Mr. Sunny-side Silver Lining, was horrified by her insensitivity. And after reading about natural birth centers, he was surprised to see how the rooms, though well-appointed, were still cold and clinical places.
This woman, who teaches the prenatal classes, who works on the floor, is the person who the hospital chose to have as their ambassador to new parents. Wearing a wink-wink smile and speaking in sing-song the whole time, she was basically every cliche of a clinical, fear-mongering nurse that I had read about in books, medical forums, and articles. Underneath the chipper exterior she seemed jaded, insensitive, discouraging, negative, and anxiety-causing. This is not the place that I had imagined. What she represents is not what I want.
I cried all the way home. It’s the first time I’ve felt anything like scared or negative regarding birth. I hated it. Every fiber of my being was and is telling me that these people are not going to take us seriously, or respect what I believe are very modest wishes–to be allowed to progress at my own pace, without being scared or pressured, with my wonderful husband gently coaching me.
I’ve said it before, but I am not opposed to the medical profession or necessary intervention. The staff does this every single day. I want to learn and utilize their experience to augment my own understanding. I want to be flexible in the face of medical necessity. My birth plan is really a list of preferences, and it all boils down to being treated like sane people about to become parents, not a woman under the influence of a traumatic medical event. I do NOT want some staff member to undermine every good, hopeful feeling that I have because what I want might not fit exactly into the pre-established routine.
I have an OB appointment today, and I really like my doctor. We’re going in to get options. At this point, I’d rather have Tom take a paramedic class and kick it at home in my tub than go back.