First of all, thank you all for your comments on my last post. That definitely has been the scariest thing I've dealt with since...well, maybe ever? I don't know. It was just awful. Anyhow, everything seems to be better now and back to normal. We had our regular OB appt on Monday and she didn't seem concerned (more on that later) and baby looked great (lots of fist pumping).
But today I need to enlist all of you - yes ALL of you...even you lurkers!!! - to comment and give me your opinions. I am absolutely terrible at making decisions and now find myself faced with a big one. You see, last weekend, I finally watched The Business of Being Born and all four follow-up episodes. Yes, they really made four more after the original documentary. For those of you who don't know (I think most people do know?), The Business of Being Born was produced by Ricky Lake, a talk show host who somehow became an expert on natural childbirth after giving birth twice. You can tell she's an expert because her own birth video is part of the documentary and her expertise is clearly on display....as well as her enormous breasts, naked self walking around her kitchen while she moans desperately, and her placenta/afterbirth staining her bath water red. So yeah, I guess she's an expert?? Anyhow, the point of the documentary is to discuss the United States over-use of medical interventions in an effort to avoid pain, complications, and legal liability. However, the use of these medical interventions creates a cascading effect, resulting in a cyclical need for more interventions. That is "The Business" in a nutshell.
Now let me say, I am a research-driven, science-based woman, who happens to have been raised by free-spirited, hippie parents. Needless to say, the two sides of me often clash. Watching this documentary brought up both sides for me. Clearly I wanted to instantly decide to revamp my birth plan so I could have my baby in the most natural, healthy way for myself and my baby, including water birth under the stars....well, no, not quite, but you get the idea. But at the same time, I cringed at the clearly biased, one-sided documentary which did not present the positive side of modern medicine and the risks involved in home births and lack of good accreditation and management outside of hospitals in the U.S. My husband, on the other hand, did not seem conflicted at all. He literally LEAPT onto that bandwagon. He was all, "Yes! Totally! Doctors and hospitals are out to twist us into their little schemes! We can't let them take away your amazing, natural birth experience!!" Ok well, not really that bad, but you get the idea.
Meanwhile, after we watched the documentary, I had another appointment with my OB. Now, when I first went to visit her, I wrote in my blog that my doctor's office wasn't all that I'd hoped it to be. There were no pretty pictures on the wall, no nice interview sitting in my doctor's private office prior to the exam, no wind chimes...well you know. But I did say that I liked my OB because, and I quote myself, " The whole interview was filled with laughter. And, even though I could tell she was rushed, she felt present." Ok, well now, I don't know if I was just trying to hard too like her. I mean, I DO still like her, but she is ALWAYS rushed and I am always waiting. She always feels like she needs to be at the next appointment and our appointments only take about 15 minutes, tops. Is this normal? I feel like she puts the ultrasound machine on me, checks if the baby is alive, and then says, "See you next time." I was especially disappointed after having the bleeding when the appointment was a whole of three minutes just to make sure there was a heartbeat. I gave her the benefit of the doubt because I knew she squeezed me into her schedule and assumed we would talk about it at my regular appointment, just three days later. But no, she didn't seem interested in following up, even when I expressed how terrifying it had been and asked if it was normal. "Yep," she said, while squirting the gel on my belly. And that's about it. Then there is the fact that the first time I met her I had the sense that she would want me to go ahead with an epidural and wouldn't quite understand doing it "naturally." This time, we brought up the question of a doula (yes, probably spurred by our documentary-marathon). Her response? "Um, if you want. But I don't see the point." She also said, "Well I guess if you really want a natural birth, you should get a doula, because she could help you with that." Implying that no one else present would be supportive of that? I don't know...maybe I'm reading between the lines too much. Anyhow, STILL I was (am?) ok with her. She is knowledgeable, kind, smiles a lot, and I trust that she would deliver my baby safely. Everything was fine.
Until last night. My husband decided to sit down and have a heart to heart with his friend and friend's wife (who is 6-months-pregnant) about their experiences with their midwives at their Birth Center. He came home gushing with stories about how how their prenatal appointments are an hour long, how the midwives are caring and kind, how they check in about EVERYTHING that is going on with you physically/emotionally/spiritually, how the birth center is beautiful, relaxing and tranquil, and how amazingly happy both of them have been with their experiences.
So yeah, I was instantly jealous. It sounded like therapy for your soul as well as really good prenatal care at the same time. They stated that they instantly feel at peace when they step into their waiting room. Wow. But.....shit. That brought up two major problems for me. First of all, I have always wanted a hospital birth. The idea of a birthing center just sounds a bit like tempting fate to me. What if something goes wrong? Mostly, what if something goes wrong with the baby following the birth? Could we get to the hospital in time? Also, are these people qualified and able to do what an entire hospital of people can do for me? The part of me that has a PhD was screaming inside at the idea of the touchy-feely-unscientific side of all of this. But the part of me that has been exhausted, sick and scared, just wants a care provider who, well, cares and who will take a holistic approach to this pregnancy. Not to mention a provider who will not push me into interventions I don't want.
I mentioned two problems. The second may seem a little silly. But, well, I can't imagine "firing" my doctor. I mean, there are things about her that I wish I could change, but overall, I think she is good, capable, and probably better than most doctors out there. I am a person who is not very good at confrontation and likes everything to be "nice." So the idea of "firing" this doctor who has done nothing wrong sounds awful to me.
So what do I do?? Do I continue as planned, hope for a natural birth in the hospital and accept that the prenatal care isn't exactly what I dreamed of, but it is empirically valid and high quality care? Or do I go with the other side of me and sink into the beautiful birthing center that has candle-lit birthing rooms with beautiful decor and a team of midwives waiting to inquire into my overall health and well-being and give me the time and attention I so desperately am craving right now??
This is where I am at right now. I feel I want to decide as soon as possible, because the longer I wait, the harder a transition would be. Sooooo we scheduled a free "consultation" at the birthing center. Can I just tell you guys, when I called, the damn receptionist was so nice and caring that I wanted to cry? She gushed about my first pregnancy, consoled me about how hard the first trimester has been, and gave me hope that it could get better around 16 weeks. I wanted to make my decision right there. Oh, and the FREE consultation is an hour long, 1:1 with a midwife, followed by a meeting with their clinic director to discuss additional questions. Wow.
But now I need your opinions. Is a Birth Center (basically a home birth with a bit more structure and just a BIT more medical supplies) an absolutely crazy and maybe irresponsible thing to do? Am I throwing away my belief in science just because I've been so sick and tired and want a little coddling? Right now, I'm leaning toward trying to figure out a way to have the best of both worlds. Maybe I can have the midwives do prenatal care but somehow keep my doctor as a back up doctor? Meet with her occasionally or something? And decide later on if I want to do the hospital birth or not? According to their website, they are very open to "supplementing OB care," but I have a feeling my doctor may not be too keen on it... Anyhow, OPINIONS WANTED. Be honest and let me know what you think. Oh, and please don't try to introduce too many additional options, I really am overwhelmed enough as it is. Oh, and before you ask (because everyone does), LA does not seem to be good at the combo of alternative and standard care and doesn't offer options such as birthing centers within a hospital setting. I looked into UCLA Midwives program but that didn't work for logistical reasons, and that seemed to be the only option that combined the two. It seems to be one or the other. And here I am, trying to have the best of both worlds.
*insert huge sigh here*
Because what I really need is to create more stress for myself, right?