I know I at least mentioned this before, but in speaking with family and friends this weekend I found myself more clearly stating my plans for birthing a second child. I will absolutely do things differently next time around, and that means I will stay out of a hospital if at all possible.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against hospitals. I worked in a hospital and absolutely loved it. I love the people and their commitment to helping others. I love that hospitals offer safety and a variety of medical expertise. There is so much about Jack’s birth that I cherish.
But! The downsides are many. The people in the hospital don’t know their patients for the most part. The number of staff is large, and the shifts do not cover an entire labor. Some of those members of staff have a horrible bedside manner, and patients are stuck with what they get. Of the four nurses who attended us during our time in the hospital, two of those four were absolutely horrible. And unfortunately due to timing, those two horrible nurses had a much greater impact on my birth experience than the great nurses. I do not want people I don’t know to have that much impact on what is a very personal and unique experience in my life.
Despite my birth plan, despite my doula, despite my OB’s agreement with my wishes, despite my repeated restatement of my wishes, choices were taken away from me in the hospital. And the reason why those choices were taken away? Simply for the nurse’s convenience, or due to someone else’s mistakes, and my OB was not there to overrule in my favor. Being admitted to the hospital meant that others took over and had more control over what was happening than I did; in spite of all previous reassurances that my wishes would be respected.
I didn’t have a horrible birth experience. I was able to deliver Jack vaginally, without pain medication, and I healed pretty quickly. My son is healthy, and I am healthy. My goals were achieved. But I know if I had simply chosen to give birth at home or at an independent birth center, there would have been a lot less stress, a lot more support and comfort. I thought that the birthing room looked homey and warm, but I didn’t realize that decor is only one small piece of what makes a person feel comfortable in their environment.
Let me be clear. I am not the type of person who desires to “experience the miracle of birth” or “realize my strength as a woman” or other such romantic notions. I am nothing if not practical. I simply don’t want to hand over my autonomy to a large number of strangers who have done nothing to earn my trust and who have protocol in the forefront of their minds at all times. Birth is about babies and parents and nature and all working together in a common goal. I want to be surrounded by those who respect that with words and deeds, and I want the birth to be the priority, not something that is thought of after the institution is taken care of. I understand why hospitals do what they do, but that doesn’t mean I have to let a hospital and its staff dictate how my child comes into the world.