First of all, thank you all for your kind responses about Indy. With everything we have been going through with both of our pets, I have marveled at the caring in this community toward animals. My posts about my pets have gotten so many kind comments, it just goes to show how important pets are to all of us.
But this post is not about a sad story relating to pets - I promise! Instead, it is a follow up to my post about hospital birth versus a birthing center. This morning was our appointment with the Midwife. Going into it, I was feeling fairly certain that my goal was to find a way to have that "middle road" that so many people recommended. Namely, in this case, having the midwifery model of prenatal care, but still having my hospital birth plus doula. Read on to see if I wavered in that goal...
Let me start with walking through the door of the clinic. If you remember my first post about my OB's office, I was disappointed with the lack of art on the walls, baby-centered items, and just general sense of "pretty office for pregnant women." Well, this place is ALL of that and more. First of all, the reception area is a big store filled with items for babies and pregnant women. Picture brightly colored wooden toys, adorable baby bottles, colorful cloth diapers, nursing wraps, and a plethora of nipple-related items that do god-knows-what. Not to mention artful black and white photos of women (and men!) and their babies. The walls are papered with announcements about prenatal yoga, prenatal massage, and just general prenatal wellness.
Then we walk into the "exam room." Yeah right. Exam room? More like a therapy office. We sank into a plush, comfortable couch and the midwife handed me my glass of water and my husband his coffee (with agave, ha!). I took in the exam table that looked more like an aromatherapy massage table. The plants, the artwork, and oh-yeah, a few medical items discretely tucked into the cabinet. When she went to get us our drinks, my husband literally teared up a little (don't tell him I told you this!) from suddenly being in such a warm environment after the shock we've been through in the last two days with our cat. And trust me, he is a big, tough, manly-man. Well, normally he is a big, tough, manly man. In this appointment he was holding my hand, rubbing my neck and earnestly discussing the merits of a true "birth experience." Uhhh...who is this guy??
So what did we learn? Basically more of what I already knew about the positives of a natural birth, the negatives of a hospital birth, yadda yadda, thanks for the recap of a Business of Being Born. But we also heard about their contingency plan for hospital trips, the way in which they make those decisions (hyper cautious, planning ahead), and their statistics regarding transfers to hospitals (less than 1% emergency trips, 15% non-emergency transfers). Typical reasons to transfer would be if the woman decides no way in HELL can I do this shit without medicine, or more serious issues such as the baby's heartrate is weak/irregular, the baby's position is not conducive to vaginal labor, or the woman has been laboring for too long. The midwife spent an hour talking with us. She validated our dissatisfaction with OB care and offered to help us find an OB more open to natural birth if we decide to stay with a doctor. She listened about how sick I have been and then said, "I just really want to validate how hard it can be to be sick during pregnancy. You want to be happy and positive, but all you can do is barely make it through the day. That comes with guilt and confusion. It's hard." Thank you, I agree!! She also listened about the recent "bleeding episode." She approached it with such a calming, normalizing way that I can see why the "pregnancy is not a disease" model goes over so well. She scoffed at "no sex for the rest of the pregnancy" and wondered what the impact on our relationship would be of "no sex." Of course, she explained she had not examined me and all of these decisions would be based on my pregnancy, risk factors, type of bleeding, etc. Good to know she's not ALL touchy-feely.
Their prenatal appointments are one hour long (first appt is 1.5 hours) and include therapy-like discussions about transitioning into parenthood, your own experiences with your parents, your relationship, and your current experiences. Her words, "having a baby is not just about giving birth. It is an entire experience," really hit home with me. It seems to be a nice confluence of medical and emotional care. They DO do all of the same tests you would find in a doctor's office (gestational diabetes, blood work, etc, etc), which I liked. They do have a doctor who works with them and is able to meet them at a hospital in case of transfer (don't you like the way they use the word "transfer" instead of "emergency"?). Basically, they seem to have a thriving group practice with a dedication to quality, holistic care.
Oh and we saw the Birthing Suite. Hello, 5-star, baby-welcoming accommodations. The suite is a two bedroom apartment with 20-foot ceilings and floor to ceiling glass wall that can be retracted into the ceiling to let in the fresh air. Uhh nice? The living room is complete with comfortable couches and a full dining room/kitchen so your family can make you food while you labor. The bedroom has another couch (for hubby to sleep?), a queen size bed, and of course, the gorgeous, deep birthing pool. Oh, then a normal bathroom with tub and shower. Again, discretely tucked away you will see medical equipment including oxygen for mom and baby, resuscitation equipment for mom and baby, and who knows (I don't want to??) what else. The Birthing Suite is yours for as long as you labor until about six hours afterwards when they help you to transition home. Two days later they visit you at home to check in.
So what did I decide? Well first of all, let me tell you, after his first misty-eyed moment, I knew my husband had drank the Koolaid. At breakfast after our appointment he said, "This is the most excited about our pregnancy I've been yet!" So cute. Me? Well I felt completely torn between two sides of myself. I don't know if I've explained this before (skim ahead if I have), but I grew up feeling like a creative, hippie-esque, open-minded, artistic person. THAT person would have dived in (no pun intended) to the birthing suite. That person wrote creative writing, studied philosophy, did water color, and wore Birkenstocks. Oh and makeup, what's that? Then I went to graduate school. They made me get grown-up clothes. They slashed through my reports to get rid of "creative writing" and leave scientific formatting. They made me believe in evidence, sciences and assessment of your effectiveness. So, sitting their at breakfast, both sides of me were at odds. My heart wanted to take the plunge and go with what feels oh-so-right and my brain kept thinking of risks and complications.
So what did I do? I jumped.
We have our first appointment in two weeks. I feel good about this. It feels right. Do I feel scared? Hell yes. But, ultimately, as my husband put it, it's really just delaying when you go to the hospital. When I want to go, we'll go. Until then, we'll stay committed to something we both feel is just "right." Also, if I decide two weeks before the delivery that I need to be in a hospital, then I'll be able to be in a hospital. In the meantime, I will move away from the care of a doctor that never really "fit" what I had hoped for. And I will give myself the nurturing, decadent care I feel I (and my baby...AND my husband) deserve.
After I made the appointment, the director called to assure me that I was now "under their care" and I could call 24/7 with any questions. In case of an emergency they will - listen close here people - come to my home if needed to check me out. They also sent me initial paperwork to fill out. At my doctor's office I filled out absolutely nothing. She asked me NO questions except, "Are there any serious diseases in your family history?" and "When was your last pap? June? Oh good, I don't need to do one then." In contrast, these forms are like a book. To me, as a therapist, they seem to be taking a family-systems approach to care. In addition to the extensive medical history for me AND my husband, they ask multiple questions about my mother, about her births, about her views on births and about my sister's views on birth (really??). They then ask about relationship history, whether parents are still married, my family's views on birthing outside of the hospital, my goals about my birth, etc, etc, etc....I can't remember it all. And what is really cool? My husband ALSO fills out a form about his views on natural birth, how he sees his role in the birth, his family's view on natural birth, etc, etc, etc. This is not just prenatal care here guys. If you are uncomfortable with self-disclosure, step back onto the paper-covered exam table.
So that's that. We're taking the plunge. And now that the decision is made? I feel giddy. In dialectical therapy, they say the best way to know if you are making a decision with your Wise Mind (as opposed to your Emotional Mind or Rational Mind), is to make the decision, give it time, and see if it still feels right. Well, it's only been about 8 hours, but I'm feeling pretty good so far :)
Please weigh in here. Thoughts? Concerns? Questions about what I didn't cover? Things I should follow up on? Cheerleading? Would you like a glass of the Koolaid??