To date, there are three women on my mother’s side of the family I can think of who’ve had children in the hospital: myself, my mother, and my cousin. The other thing the three of us have in common is that we bore our children in the United States. My family on this side is from the Philippines, where midwifery & homebirth are more common practices for childbirth than hospitals are.
You could honestly replace “Philippines” with the name of any other country and the sentence would still hold true. Like many expecting mothers, I Googled the hell out of every random factor I could think of that might influence whether or not my Seed Creature came out with three arms or jellybeans for eyes.
One thing I discovered was that, despite the United States having more births take place in hospitals rather than at home or birthing centers, our mortality rate is unfortunately higher. I watched The Business of Being Born and, while I wasn’t sure how to take medical information as processed by Ricki Lake, it did start making sense to me: an understaffed hospital with only so many beds requires a certain degree of in and out in order for it to profit. Why would I want that, assuming I required no true medical care, if I could have the individual attention of a midwife?
My boyfriend, initially, wouldn’t hear of it. “You guys came from a developing country, and now you’re in the United States, so why don’t you just take the medical care?”
I replied something that probably sounded like, “BLAH BLAH BLAH BECAUSE THEY’RE TRYING TO PROFIT OFF OF MY BODY AND THE ONLY PERSON WHO’S ALLOWED TO DO THAT IS ME!” Or something. Whatever my rationale was, the boyfriend agreed: should I have no complications during this first delivery, he would support me homebirthing our next seven children. (We intend on having eight. That’s another story.)
My due date was December 21st, 2012. It was December 20th. Around six-thirty the day before I was sitting on the toilet and started having some pretty bad butt cramps. I tried watching It’s Always Sunny reruns to distract me, but couldn’t be distracted, which annoyed me. After hours of not realizing that I was in labor, my boyfriend and our good friend — whom we’d named my birth advocate — scooped me up and took me to the hospital. But since my child is related to, well, us, she decided to start coming around the same time an ice storm started brewing. At the time, our family-friendly ride of choice was a ’79 Impala with no heat and bad breaks, and we lived on the side of town without the hospital.
I’d been in labor for three hours by the time we made it. In my birth plan, I stated I wanted to labor in a birthing tub before actually giving birth. The hospital and my doctor made plans for me to have access to one. When we got there, I was told the tub was broken and was offered the shower instead. After another cervix-widening hour in there, I shuffled back to bed and waited for my doctor to examine me. He brought a long, skinny wand with him for this round of vaginal exams, poking me up there with it like he was checking my oil.
“Are you breaking my water?” I asked.
“Mhm,” he replied.
I sighed and went, “Maaan, this is going to really suck.” I requested no labor augmentation in my birth plan, but figured at that point that I’d rather have a baby any way I could than not.
I went from contracting a centimeter per hour to four centimeters per hour; do the math, and you’ll figure out that the Seed Creature was born at 10:57 PM, after four-and-a-half hours of mostly non-hospitalized labor.
Our daughter’s birth proved two things. One, that indeed there were reasons why a person from a developing country might reject this first world’s interpretation of healthcare. I don’t blame any single employee or system for my water breaking or the tub or any of the hospital-related unpleasantries. Those just come with the territory of business. Two, and more importantly, it proved to my boyfriend that many women are capable of giving birth on their own.
Has anyone else successfully convinced a hospital fan to think about birth in a non-medical fashion? (Plus fifty experience points if you did so by having a kid somewhere really awesome, like the back of a car, or going camping!) I look forward to having Seed Creature present when her siblings are born, in the comfort of our living quarters, with a midwife.