On Sunday, we had the first day of Machane Mommy (Camp Mommy), and our ending activity of the day was a local carnival, to which I took ds6, ds4, and ds3. They had a great time, and so did I, though I began having a lot of contractions during the three hours we were out. After I got home, these continued but I was unsure about if I wanted to go to the hospital yet. It was still two weeks until my due date, and the hospital is an expensive taxi ride away. My preference is to get to the hospital as late in labor is possible so there’s less time for them to do things that are unnecessary, but I didn’t want to go through the registration and check in process while in advanced labor, or have the concern about giving birth in the taxi on the way!
After resting and listening to some meditations for an hour or so, I had a feeling of clarity that I should go to the hospital at that point, about 1 am. We called a taxi and I have to say that having intense contractions while the driver makes sudden jerky stops isn’t the most comfortable thing! We got there and registered, and dh said my contractions were about every three minutes. Perfect. We went upstairs to labor and delivery, but it was quite a wait until a staff member noticed we were there. Dh was shocked – he asked, what would happen if someone got there ready to deliver? I told him, now he understands my concern about when to get there!
My hope in going to this hospital was to use their natural birthing suite, in which I was told that women are given a lot of privacy and much more flexibility than in the regular birthing rooms. I was told by a doula who goes to frequent births at this hospital that I’d have to qualify for the room (I was told this by the staff as well), and that I’d be best off to make it as easy as possible for them to qualify me by letting them run their standard protocol on me. So that’s what I did.
First was the mandatory 30 minutes of monitoring, which turned into an hour. Every time I asked about having it taken off, I was told “A couple more minutes”. Then I had to have an ultrasound to determine the size of the baby (over a certain size wouldn’t be allowed), then an internal exam – and when it was determined I was healthy, the baby wasn’t too big, I was in active labor – the doctor on shift refused to let me use the natural birthing suite because I had so many children already that I was too high risk. (When I asked what was so dangerous about using that room, they said because it had a regular bed instead of a hospital birthing bed and it would be less convenient for them if something went wrong.)
At this point I told my husband I wasn’t interested in staying around at this hospital and I wanted to go home. Not because of the room itself, but because being in the regular room meant being treated in a very different way than what I felt able to accept. I was supposed to have a visit with my private midwife four hours later (I had decided to continue having private prenatal care with her even though I couldn’t afford a home birth) so I called her to ask her opinion – I wanted to ask her if she’d consider lowering her price in order for me to have a homebirth with her when she showed up for the prenatal visit! But there was no answer at either of her numbers, and not knowing what choice I had when it looked like I’d give birth in three or four hours, I very reluctantly stayed at the hospital.
They put me in the nicest regular suite as a compromise to not letting me use the room I wanted, but to me it didn’t matter much. They said they’d need to monitor me for about thirty minutes out of every hour, and when I asked about the cordless version, told me it was only available in the natural birthing suite. This made contractions much more difficult, but what was really hardest for me is that I was unable to feel safe in the environment I found myself in. When the midwife was trying to tell me how it would be the same birth regardless of what room I was in, I explained to here that if I didn’t emotionally feel comfortable, I was concerned that my labor wasn’t going to progress. She was very nice – everyone was, really – but they all said the same thing: we respect what you’re saying and it’s your baby but it’s our responsibility to be sure your baby is safe.
Dh brought a relaxation cd with music in the background, since it’s the only suitable music I had for the birth, and it was great. When I was admitted the actual labor room, I also drank the strong red raspberry infusion we prepared before leaving. But I was having a very hard time picturing the end of the birth, something that’s never been an issue. It was like there was a big concrete wall in my mind between labor and the final result. After a few hours of contractions, the doctors came around for my visit and asked if I noticed that my contractions were getting further apart and less effective. Yes, I noticed that.
Then the head doctor told me he wants to send me for an ultrasound at their clinic since things slowed down. What? I told him I already had an ultrasound when I came in. He said that it showed my baby was four kilos; I told him that the technician told me 3.800 and that she couldn’t measure accurately because the head was so low.
He said that since I hadn’t done the gestational diabetes tests earlier in pregnancy as well as some other tests, that I didn’t have the necessary profile to show that the baby wouldn’t be too big to be birthed naturally. I told him that our children had ranged in size up to 4.5 kilo that I didn’t have a single sign of gestational diabetes. We finally agreed that I needed to be released from the labor and delivery ward and transferred to the maternity ward since labor had slowed down so much by then. I told him I was exhausted – I hadn’t slept or eaten for hours, and there’s no way that labor was going to start again until I did.
I finally was transferred to the maternity ward, which was good since I had a quiet place to be, had lunch, and didn’t have as many people questioning me repeatedly about the same questions. At this point I told dh again that I couldn’t stay in this hospital; emotionally I didn’t feel safe at all and didn’t think my labor was going to restart again for days if they kept me there. We finally reached our private midwife – she had been away overseas and gotten back twelve hours later than she expected; when we called she had just walked in the door from her trip. She wasn’t in a frame of mind to advise me, and I put down the phone feeling more alone than ever. I just didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was beyond my ability to think positively or let go or whatever else – I felt so trapped in the hospital.
Soon after this dh called her, and told me we’d work out the money for the homebirth (this was my main concern), that I shouldn’t have to stay in the hospital when clearly it was the wrong thing for me, and that we were leaving the hospital. I felt a bit apprehensive about this because the decision to go to the hospital wasn’t made out of thin air. It took them a few hours to prepare the necessary paperwork, and I had to sign an against medical advice form. When I did that, the doctor told me I needed to have an ultrasound before I left, and when I asked why, he told me that my baby was so big that he was likely to have shoulder dystocia on the way out. (Somehow the size of our baby went from an estimated 3.800 – which I thought was an overestimate and highly unlikely considering his gestational age – to 4 kilos to 4.5 kilos.) I told him that our biggest baby had been 4.5 kilos and didn’t anticipate a problem birthing a baby that size, but that in any case I could do another ultrasound when I came back to the hospital to give birth.
He agreed, then told me I needed to do a glucose screening. I asked why, and he said I wouldn’t be allowed to have a natural birth when I came back nless I did and the ultrasound showed the size of the baby was under 4.5 kilo. If I didn’t agree to this, they would only allow a trial of labor if the ultrasound showed the baby to be under 4 kilos. In case you don’t understand the veiled language, it means that I would have to have a ceasarian. I was really puzzled about this since there was no sign of me having a big baby but I said I’d take care of it when I checked back in, signed the paperwork, and after a couple more hours of waiting, were on our way home! I was so relieved just at the thought of leaving, and not surprisingly, about a half hour before we left, I started having contractions again…..