I fully support women who choose to give birth in places other than a hospital – their own homes, a birthing centre, or, in the case of an amazing You Tube video I saw, the Mediterranean Sea. A Russian woman traveled to Israel to give birth in the Mediterranean and it was astonishingly beautiful, the woman the picture of grace and strength. I fully agree that pregnancy is not an illness, and childbirth not – in most cases – an emergency, however, a woman like myself, who makes fifty to-do lists a week and panics over the unlikely scenario of twenty people being simultaneously unavailable to babysit, well, a hospital is my birthing place of choice. I find immediately available medical attention and equipment to be as soothing as the sound of ocean waves. But that’s just me.
Also, I secretly love hospital food. I love getting food on little trays, everything in its own little compartment. I love that the hospital staff brings you a bedtime snack, even if it is a bizarre combination of bran muffin, cheddar cheese, and orange juice with Metamucil. After I had Mark, they brought me a tuna salad sandwich and let me tell you, dear readers, this was the tuna salad sandwich to end all tuna salad sandwiches. This was the greatest tuna salad sandwich of all time. When I was pregnant with Jake, I dreamed about one day getting another such tuna salad sandwich. Nine months, I thought about that sandwich. Then when I had Jake, it was egg salad day. Wretched egg salad. However, they did bring me a Salisbury steak (I still ate meat at that time). It was a tremendous Salisbury steak experience. Angels sang around that Salisbury steak.
Later, as I was recounting this incredible meal, my husband said “You know it’s just a hamburger patty with gravy, right?” Oh, but what a hamburger patty with gravy.
The downside of giving birth in a hospital is, of course, the possibility that you can spend hours in triage, which is precisely what happened to me. Triage was packed, packed with women with scheduled c-sections, women in the early stages of labour, and women in the “MOTHEROFGOD, MAKE IT STOP!” stage of labour. Those in the latter group were quickly wheeled into delivery rooms, prompting my husband to suggest that perhaps I should add a little, shall we say volume to my contractions and although I am capable of dramatic screaming, I felt unable to rise to the occasion at the time.
My doctor came by to check in with regards to what is euphemistically termed “pain management”. Since I had no drugs with Mark, I felt that I should do the same with this baby, not just to quell arguments and sibling rivalry down the road (“Ha ha, you made Mom get an epidural!”) but also because I had the well-authenticated concern that having an epidural would slow down my labour and I wanted to finish and have the baby quickly so that Mark could come and visit in the hospital after his afternoon nap. Yes, you read that correctly. That was my actual concern. Yet another reason to make up a birth plan: when you are in labour, you are simply incapable of rational thought.
Speaking of rational thought, here’s another tidbit: if they offer you a wheelchair, take the wheelchair. I speak from wretched experience. When I was assigned a delivery room at about 7 centimeters, I refused the wheelchair. It’s just down the hall, right? Twenty minutes, several very loud contractions, and 8.5 centimeters dilated later, I finally made it to my delivery room. Why, you may ask, didn’t someone bring me a wheelchair? After all, I was crawling down the hallway, shrieking with a contraction every couple of minutes. I do not know the answer to that. Maybe they thought I would rip the wainscoting off the wall and begin beating people with it? Or maybe the staff is just used to hormonally crazy pregnant women and didn’t notice. All I know is that I was about to meet Cheryl, my delivery nurse, and that is a story for another day.