It was to my great relief and satisfaction that my OB was somewhat horrified to hear of the nurse’s perspective on our hospital as an impersonal baby factory. That doesn’t mean we aren’t weighing our options and researching, but it goes a long way toward soothing my fears. I know from my sister’s experience that a hospital birth can be a magical, totally positive experience. I also know from others that I trust and respect that leaving the hospital setting and using a qualified midwife is safe and also magical and positive. Plus all my favorite things and my husband are already at home. In the interest of time–5-8 weeks left to go, and I have a small but gnawing hunch that this baby is impatient and will see the end of March–I am doing my research quickly but I feel more comfortable about the hospital as a fallback. So! The pros and cons.
Midwife/At Home Pros and Cons: A qualified, experienced midwife is a trained professional. She will know what she is doing, and will know if we need a hospital transfer. We would have every preference of ours met, my recovery could be in my own bed. I could even make an effort to ruin the mattress so I can get that memory foam king bed I want. (Kidding.) (Not really.) My familiar and comforting objects will be handy, including my laptop and Canon equipment–we have some grandparents on the mainland who are going to want photos posthaste and they advised us not to bring valuables to the hospital. Mainly, I will not be “fiddled” with if I don’t want to be; I also suspect that I will be belligerent and unpleasant if I am unnecessarily handled and a midwife circumvents that.
However–under ideal circumstances, it takes 45+ minutes to get from our apartment to the hospital. For several hours a day, circumstances are *not* ideal. To get to a 6:30 class at the hospital in Honolulu on time, I have to leave my apartment well before 5. It can take almost two hours to get to the hospital, which happens to be the nearest one that is equipped to deal with birth, there’s construction on the way, and traffic can get gridlocked quickly. I know from nearly a decade of urban living that emergency vehicle sirens mean very little during urban rush hours. I am not convinced that in the event of an emergency that we would be able to get to a hospital in a timely manner. I’m not convinced that there *will* be an emergency, but we are nothing if not nervous people.
OB/Hospital Pros and Cons: A lot of people’s discomfort with hospital births stems from their OB. This was never the case with us, and from the start I have liked our OB very much. A midwife would put me very much at ease, but my OB already does that. She was appropriately horrified by Monday’s tour, and then sat down with us to go over every item of our plan. She was flexible, open to new ideas, and reassured us that what we wanted was quite reasonable and not outside the bounds of what she would consider safe. She also got the hospital on the phone, got us a personal apology, and from talking to other people there, it would appear that the Standard Operating Procedures are not as rigid as the nurse made them seem. The staff will review our plan and accommodate our wishes, especially in regard to the few moments right after birth. I still have to deliver and recover in two rooms, but I regard that as a minor irritation rather than a deal-breaker. After discussing flexibility with my doctor and the nurse on the phone, I feel better that we probably will not be made to feel like nuisances for wanting to be involved with all aspects of the baby’s first days. I will get to have my “what the hell just happened to me?!” moment with the baby. Basically, most of my dislike of the hospital procedures stemmed from seeing it through the nurse’s eyes, and we all know how I feel about HER. The rigidity and dismissive attitude were hers, not policy. And she’s not an L&D nurse; she’s post-partum and a night nurse at that.
On the other hand…short recovery time in the hospital. Crappy parking situation. There are lots of nurses who really get into natural birth but there’s an equal amount that would sooner see you hooked to the epidural because it makes their lives easier. It’s the luck of the draw as to who will be working that shift. My OB is fantastic and she runs the show, for sure, but she won’t be there the whole time and probably won’t be there until the end. And what if she can’t make it at all? She’s promised she will but circumstances are what they are. Uncomfortable bed for Tom, and never mind the cafeteria food. (Tom’s going out to Whole Foods with a giant cooler once we’re all settled in. This is one of the many reasons I love him.) There’s still a possibility of having to fight to get what we want.
So there are things to be weighed. It’s a huge load off my mind to know that my OB is willing to go wherever we want–and made the effort to warn us about the “baby factory” aspect of another local hospital where it really *is* SOP to strap you to a monitor and a Pitocin drip from the get-go. She is also pretty flexible; she told us about one couple she worked with where she stood back and coached the father while he delivered the baby, describing it as “really cool.” She was sincere, appropriate, supportive of our wishes, and supportive of hypno-birthing and eager to see it in action. If we do decide to push through (I pun) with the hospital, I am glad to know she’s at the helm. I have documentaries to see about birth and the medical industry and books to read and calls to make before we make our final call, but I feel 100% better than I did yesterday.