Time seems to be zipping by so quickly. I sat down to write this on Thursday, and somehow now it’s Saturday. How did that happen?
Last week, we had our big hospital tour. It was actually something I was looking forward to, and I’m so glad we did it. We unfortunately discovered that during evening traffic, it takes us 45 minutes to get there. We’ll have to plan accordingly, but I think we’ll be okay.
At the tour there must have been at least fifteen pregnant women and their male partners. Once again, we were among the oldest in the crowd, so not only were we the token lesbian couple, but we were also one of two token “old” couples (old meaning over 25).
The woman leading the tour was Connie, a childbirth educator and doula, and she was lovely. She had us all introduce ourselves and announce our due dates, and then we went on our way. We had a chance to see a few of the labor/delivery rooms, one of which was tiny and one of which had no bathroom but had fabulous lighting. None of the rooms have showers, but there are showers available for laboring women, and I’m fine with that. What the rooms do have are these amazing birth beds that move into all kinds of positions that your average hospital bed couldn’t dream of. They also have those great attachable squat bars, and they have no stirrups. That’s right folks: not a stirrup in sight. Instead, there are these paddles that one can use for leverage should one’s care provider want the final pushes to be in a slightly more traditional baby-catching position (we did hear, though, that this is not always necessary). They also seem to have birth balls, although our birth class instructor has suggested bringing our own, and I believe we will.
Based on Connie’s discussion, the staff there encourage women to walk around, change positions, take showers, and more in hopes that they’ll deliver naturally. They allow for intermittent fetal monitoring (unless one has an epidural), seem to avoid unnecessary interventions, have the lowest cesarean delivery rate in the county, and they seem to be very supportive of the sort of natural birth we’re hoping for.
The worst part of the tour was a little walk past the operating room. I shivered upon seeing it, and I hope I never have to see it again. Connie kept pointing out the CD player on the wall, as though this somehow made it a more friendly environment (along with a horrible floral border near the ceiling), but that room represented so many of my biggest fears heading into this birth. At least now I know which room I should not include in my positive birth visualizations.
Overall, though, we were really pleased with what we saw, and I think that even though it’s a hospital, it’s ultimately a pretty birth-positive place. We even learned of some special secret lesbian rights we get there! Yes, after the birth, my wife can stay over, even if I have a roommate. This is only the case for female companions/relatives/friends. (If a woman’s husband wants to stay, her roommate’s husband must also stay in order for them both to be granted staying permission). One man, his wife, and her sister complained about this very loudly to the nurses and to Connie during the tour, and the man was incredulous that some persons “significant other, or whatever they’re called” could stay if she was a woman. He said this while eyeing us sideways. I smirked and whispered to J, “So THESE are those special lesbian rights we’re always hearing about!” Oh yes, for once, we’re special. I had to refrain from sticking my tongue out at bitter bigot man.
We did walk out even more convinced that we wanted a doula, but after talking with Connie, we discovered that our budget would never have room for the $1000 average that area doulas charge. I was about to give up on a doula at all when I stumbled upon a doula-in-training via a certain online classified listing. We’re going to meet with her in a couple of weeks, and nothing is certain, but we may have a free doula, and that gives me a little hope.
It seems that in just about six and a half weeks, our due date is going to arrive, and within two month’s time, our son is going to be here in our arms. I think the reality of it may finally be starting to settle in–although in all honesty, there is part of me still sitting in that bathroom at 6am on New Year’s Eve staring in disbelief at a positive HPT.