Please indulge me with just one more post dedicated to Errol’s birth. Then on to regular programming, I promise; my sewing queue is a mile long, so there’s plenty of blogging fodder on the horizon.
As I was basking in the satisfaction that came from corralling all of the swirling, disparate thoughts surrounding the birth experience into a tidy pair of blog entries, I realized that I didn’t get to address any of our thoughts regarding The Hospital. Pretty key to the story, it bears mention here and now.
In preparing for the birth, I hadn’t given The Hospital much thought. A necessary precaution included in the list of preparations, I kept forgetting to make the call to pre-register. On the phone, as my call was directed to the appropriate channel, the receptionist remarked that I was “very brave” when I briefly explained my intent for a homebirth and the desire to pre-register in the event of an emergency transfer. “Oh, no.” I said. “I’ve got a team of very competent, highly trained medical professionals attending the birth – bravery has little to do with it.” I’d almost gotten used to this kind of response throughout the pregnancy, as if the mention of “homebirth” conjured up the image of me skulking to the corner of a barn to quietly deliver my baby myself, perhaps with my husband catching, if he happened to be around. I likely rolled my eyes and braced myself for an unpleasant or disapproving response after being connected to a different staff member. And I was really put out when I learned that I actually had to go there in person to pre-register and sign the necessary paperwork. Did I have a living will? No. Did I want to allow visitors in the room? No. (I’m not actually going to be coming in here, you see.) Grouch. Grouch.
And in the tortuous car ride en route to the emergency room, this was one of the pesky thoughts swirling around my head. NO! I do want visitors!! There was also the distinct fear of being treated like something of a pariah upon arriving. I could already hear the conversation, as if in choosing such a (foolish) option, I would deserve a backlash from the hospital. But nothing could have been further from the truth. From the start, we received the respect and dignity that we deserved. My midwife was afforded the respect and credibility that she’s had to on occasion fight for, that she certainly doesn’t take for granted.
And the nursing staff. They say that the nurses make or break the hospital experience, and I can see now how that is true. We were so touched by the kindness we received and the quality of car that cocooned us throughout our stay. That I was able to have my baby with me at all times, to breastfeed, to bond, to sleep made all the difference. The fact that this was the norm and not something I had to fight for was one of the eye-opening moments for me, when I realized I could let down my guard and shift my focus from advocating for myself and baby to simply healing.
We were truly humbled. Our preconceived notions of the Hospital Nightmare were completely and utterly shattered. At the end of our stay, we were literally ushered out with a shower of hugs and kisses, with a slight sadness not unlike that which comes at the conclusion of a visit with friends.
It was an important lesson. As I strive to make the best choices with the information that I have at hand, I mustn’t forget that I don’t have it all figured out; that I can’t. It is a great reminder of humility, for which I’m truly grateful.