Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Labor and Delivery Preparations

With six weeks to my fast approaching due date, I start to mentally prepare for labor and delivery. I have several friends who are due within a month of my due date so we have been swapping stories, commiserating on how big we feel, and preparing for the big day when our lives will totally change all over again. I can tell I'm getting a bit more anxious as I start to remember what labor and delivery was really like with Ada. Attending pre-natal yoga classes with a bunch of new moms who deathly fear labor isn't helping.

The good news is that BB has his head down and is in the right position for all things to go well. The Doctoress said "It's highly unlikely at this point" when I asked her if he would still flip flop in there or if he'll sit still and stay put. Even with that "highly unlikely" comment, I'm still worried he'll shift and then I'll have to magically find a way to get him to flip back into position. I'll know more in a few weeks when I get my final ultrasound but until then, all signs point to "go". Mentally, I'm encouraging him to stay put and be good. And I'm telling myself to stay calm, incubate, and know that everything will be just fine. Pep talks are crucial at this stage to focus on the positives and ignore the negatives, yet know they still exist and it's going to be okay if something doesn't go as planned.

With Ada it was fast - 5 1/2 hours, painful but manageable, contractions got fast quickly -- my Doctoress told me to come to the hospital this time when they are seven minutes apart instead of 10 like last time. I looked at her and said "10? They were never 10. I started clocking them at seven, I think, and by the time Rick got home from work 45 minutes later I was already at five-and-a-half or less." We are both predicting BB will come before his due date, and we are optimistic that it will be fast and simple -- as in non-complicated but still a heck of a lot of work on my part.

Right now, what really frustrates me is the other expectant mother's I'm talking to. The pre-natal yoga moms are all freaked out because they haven't done their research yet, don't know their options, and think labor is going to be like the movies. No one wants to have complications or a Cesarean section, some are afraid of needles and fear the epidural--but fear the pain of labor even more, and still others are just plain freaked out about it all because they are emotional hot messes. It is always a relief to have a mom who's been through labor in my yoga class to keep me calm and remind me they are rookies.

Then there are the current mommy friends having their second children. So far, I've run into two of them. Both are delivering at Prentice, Northwestern's Women's Hospital here in downtown Chicago renowned for it's flat screen TVs and brand spanking new facility that cost a fortune. I'll preface this with the fact that I'm not a hater and I haven't been there and I really have no right to say anything negative about the hospital so I'll direct my comments to the mother's who decide to deliver there. Why? I get it if you have a high-risk pregnancy or live in a posh circle where you have to impress your friends by going to the "Best" hospital in the area --since that seems to be the reputation of Prentice among the well-to-do ladies--but why? I keep getting asked if I'm delivering at Prentice (all the cool kids are doing it) and my response is, "Now why would I go and do that when I have not one, but two hospitals within six blocks of my house, both with newly renovated birthing floors and suites?" I went to St. Joseph Hospital for Ada and plan to do the same this time. It's close. The staff was fantastic. I had a great experience. And I don't feel like my insurance company is jacking up my costs to pay for flat screen TVs. I had a private room and Rick got to sleep on a crummy cot thing that folded out, but what do you expect? A pillow-top Murphy bed that drops from the wall with 5,000 count Egyptian cotton sheets and a maid to fluff your pillows? Hello! I'm the one that needs to be pampered here--but not to the point of manicures and pedicures post delivery.

Why would I give that local convenience up? I mean, I had a contraction outside of the car, got in, and had my next contraction as I was getting out of the car at the hospital parking garage. If we had driven to Northwestern, I'd have had about six contractions in the car during the 20-30 minutes it took us to get there in traffic, not to mention having to navigate the overcrowded streets of that neighborhood and then Valet park. No thank you.

On top of all of that, Northwestern churns out about 11,000 babies a year. The new $500M facility has a capacity of 13,600 annually. That could mean they are really good at what they do, or that they are a baby factory and you are a number and your Doctoress is really busy and needs to get you in and out and on your way with a cute, perfect little bundle of joy to take home. If I was high-risk and my Doctoress strongly suggested I deliver at Prentice so the baby wouldn't have to be transferred to another hospital if something was wrong, I'd be all for it. But that's not my situation so I don't see the hype.

Not only are new moms influenced by the fancy hospital facilities, reputations and recommendations from their friends, they also go where their Doctoress has rights to deliver. Which brings me to the point of how they go about selecting a Doctor/ess, or a group of Doctor/ess' they want to deliver them. In my opinion, most pregnant women in America are uneducated on the subject of labor and delivery, myself formerly included. What we know, we learned from movies. Childbirth should be uncomfortable, painful, involve a lot of screaming, etc. You go to your local Doctor/ess and listen to what they say, do as they say, and "poof", you get a baby. What they really need to figure out before they pick a Doctor/ess is "What kind of labor experience do you want?" and "Does your Doctor/ess support that experience?" Some want to schedule a Cesarean section and a tummy tuck all at once. Others want an all natural home birth in a tub or pool surrounded by incense. Still others want as much pain medication as they can possibly have and "just get the baby out", hopefully healthy. What I'm saying is, pregnant women have options they don't even realize exist and they make uneducated decisions about the health and well-being of themselves and their unborn children, and it drives me nuts.

For instance... two of the pregnant moms I know (both going to Prentice mind you) had natural child birth experiences with their first children. One baby took 18 hours of hard labor, the other was done in 3 hours. The Doctoress this time around for the first woman has scheduled a date to induce her three days before her due date because "the baby is ready" and she has a graduation to attend so this is a convenient time for her to deliver the baby. The baby can come before that on her own, but if not, it's time to induce. To which I respond "Are you f***ing kidding me?" First, how do you know when the baby is "ready"? What does that even mean? I think that's when labor starts naturally for most people (complications aside). And why would you induce someone who can naturally go into childbirth on their own and thereby dramatically reduce the likelihood of complications before their due date? Seriously? If that were my Doctoress, she'd have a big red mark on her backside as I would have kicked her butt out of my exam room right before storming out of her office and replacing her. To make matters worse, this Mom friend of mine is from another country and seems to believe that being induced is still "natural", maybe due to a language barrier? I couldn't even say "I cut my finger" while at a hospital in Germany so I can't even begin to imagine having a baby in a country where English is my second language. Another passionate friend of mine and this pregnant momma, took this "induction date"as an opportunity to write the momma a three page email on what "induction" means, and all about Pitocin, the synthetic drug used to induce someone and how "un-natural" it really is. I'm hoping, for my friend's sake, that she goes into labor naturally before her induction appointment and ends up with an awesome childbirth experience. I'm just not sure her Doctoress is going to let that happen.

The second mom I know said her induction date appointment like it was rights for bragging. "My labor was so fast last time that they have an induction date scheduled so that I make it to the hospital and don't have the baby at home." Okay. So what does that really mean? "I as your doctor want to make sure I get paid for catching the baby?" or "I'm genuinely concerned for the health and well-being of your child so I recommend that if he hasn't come on his own by your due date, we help him along." Again, that bothers me. I asked my Doctoress what her thoughts were on both of these situations and she replied, "I don't like to induce anyone unless I really have to." Knowing the few facts I had on both situations, she said she likely wouldn't suggest induction for either of these women. She did go on to say, "If you haven't gone into labor a week after your due date, then we'll talk about inducing you with Pitocin or breaking your bag to try to get things started but only because the stillborn risk starts to increase at that point, and we could see poop in the amniotic fluid--and I don't like to see poop." (Not because poop is gross, but because it is bad for the baby to ingest.) She then went on to say, "But if your ultrasound results come back with bad news, I have no problem inducing you." That, my friends, is why she is my Doctoress.

I chose my Doctoress this time based on the recommendation of a friend, but not just any friend. My friend is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital I'll be delivering at. She knows the good, the bad, and the ugly. She knows I want the best chance at a natural child birth, with the piece of mind that comes with a hospital setting "just in case". She knows I'm not materialistic and don't care about flat screen TVs or what other people think about where I should deliver. I want what's best for me and my baby. That's what this whole experience should be about. Hopefully I'll come out of this in a few weeks with a healthy baby boy, a great birthing experience I can share with other new moms, and the ability to shed light on a topic that I find truly fascinating.

Moral of the story: If you plan on having a baby, do your research to devise a birthing plan and a strategy for doing everything in your power to make it happen your way. You can't control the process, but you can make educated decisions along the way.

No comments: