When we first found out we were having a baby, John and I knew that we had one decision that had to be made pretty quickly. Where to deliver the baby. We had to make the decision quickly because OBs really don’t like it when you decide to switch late in the game.
I’m pretty sure that I want a natural (i.e. non-drugged) delivery. So many people that I know have had major issues with epidural placement. Often, the issues left them with lingering problems months after delivery. I’m not a fan of having ANYTHING near my spine. Back when I was in college, doctors at the ER at West Penn wanted to do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. Here’s the thing – I wasn’t having any legitimate meningitis symptoms except an unrelenting fever. There was no way in HELL that I was letting them near my CSF. Especially since a resident was going to be doing the insertion. Unh.uh, no way, Jose! And that was when I was practically incoherent (I was drugged up on demerol – a lovely drug). Needles near my spine just to deal with birth. Not happening if I can help it.
So we ended up with what we thought were our two alternatives. Either I stuck with my OB/GYN office or we switched to a Birth Center. One problem. No birth centers in South Jersey. Not a single one. We’d either have to drive into PA or drive up to Northern Jersey (which by the way, sucks!). So, we looked around Philly.
Our first tour was of The Birth Center, located in Bryn Mawr. Which of course is clear on the other side of Philadelphia from us. It took us 45 minutes to get there, without traffic. If I went into labor and had to travel during rush hour, OMG…we would never get there. But, the birth center itself was amazing. The midwife that gave the tour was a practicing midwife in their center. The whole center runs on a very mom-centric approach. It was relaxing and comfortable. In case of emergency, Bryn Mawr Hospital was directly across the street. They had a super low c-section rate (c-sections are transferred to the hospital, obviously). They also had a great episiotomy rate.
When we left The Birth Center, we discussed the pros and the cons. On the Pro side: Yes, we liked the staff. Yes, we liked that they were focused wholly on us. Yes, they had great procedures in place in case of emergency. Yes, they weren’t just a baby factory. But, on the Con side: No, they weren’t a hospital. What if we were that 1 in a bazillion case that needed super quick emergency help. No, they didn’t have epidurals, on the off chance that I decide that I do want one. No, they were a pretty good drive from our house. So if we keep score, that’s 4 Yes: 3 No
Our next tour was of Virtua Hospital:Voorhees. Virtua is known in South Jersey as THE baby hospital. Almost everyone here gives birth there. People say that they like it, but I haven’t heard of one trouble free birth occurring there. If I was to stick with my OB/GYN, a practice I had been with for 7 years, I had to deliver at Virtua. It’s the only hospital they use.
We went to our tour. The first thing we learned, our tour guide was a CAR SEAT TECHNICIAN!!! Not a nurse, not a doctor, not a nursing assistant, not a PR person. A car seat tech. Surely this couldn’t be right (I later called to see if she was a sub, but she wasn’t. She’s one of their standard tour guides). But, she took the group on the tour (the group by the way was made up of eight couples who were eight-nine months pregnant and us. We were only 10 weeks at that point). They first took us to delivery room. It was very small in there. And the first thing we hear, “The first thing you’ll do is change into your gown and be hooked up to the fetal monitor. Once the fetal monitor is hooked up, you’ll be limited to the bed and the bathroom.” Ummm…yeah, I don’t think so. Already I was starting to feel major apprehension. Then we learned: You have to choose only 3 people that will be allowed in the delivery room. And, those are the only 3 people you are allowed to see all day. You can’t switch them out.
Then people started asking questions. You’d think a tour guide could answer simple questions, but she couldn’t. “What happens when all 17 delivery rooms are in use?” “What is you c-section rate?” “What about natural births? How do women remain ambulatory to help move the birth along?” Her answer to everything was “I don’t know. I’ll have to find out and get back to you.” I don’t know about you, but those are important questions.
As we continued the tour, we were shown the nursery, which is where the baby goes immediately after birth to have testing done. “Can the parents’ go with the baby for testing?” “Well, I guess, but it’s not the normal, and it’s not encouraged.” WTF!! You really think John or I are going to let you take our baby away to test without our permission. “Can we choose to not have the baby’s eyes teated for STDs like chlamydia?” “No, those are standard and have to be done.” Well, I don’t care if they are standard. I know I don’t have Chlamydia or Herpes. My baby does not have to be treated for them. See, this is why they take the baby away. If parents aren’t there, they can’t question and refuse.
Everything seemed so, well, shady for lack of a better term. I HATED it. No, in fact, I LOATHED it. I looked at John as we left and said, “I don’t care what happens, but under NO circumstances am I having the baby at that hospital.” Fortunately, John agreed.
But, here’s the thing. We weren’t ready to say yes to The Birth Center (on the off chance that this is my 1st. I don’t know what to expect and dang namb it, as much as I say I don’t want an epidural, I want the option available JUST IN CASE). We had to decide what to do. So which did we choose?
We chose NEITHER!!
Instead, we completely switched OBs and hospitals. And, since we figured we’re changing anyways, we might as well switch to one of the top hospitals in the country, so we switch to the University of Pennsylvania (and Heaven forbid, if the baby needed a NICU, it would be at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which is often ranked as the #1 children’s hospital in the country.) Penn seems to be a nice compromise between the two placed we visited. Although they are a hospital, they encourage natural births (or at least don’t discourage them) and have alternative pain management programs in place, including whirlpool baths in each room (for hydrotherapy, not delivery). I had my first appointment with Penn OB/GYN associates yesterday, and loved them. They were really great. Although we haven’t visited the childbirth facilities (we’re hoping to do this with the next few weeks), we’re both feeling much better with our decision.
We scheduled our anatomy scan for August 3rd, but we’re hoping to sneak in a visit to John’s aunt at a different Philly hospital to find out the sex before hand (she offered to do it for us as she’s in charge of that department), so we’re hoping to find out by the middle of July.
Do any of you have any guesses on what we’re having? All of our family seems to be leaning in the same direction.