Well #4 [finally] arrived, healthy and happy – thus my internets silence. The little guy sleeps long, eats well and in general has a laid back and happy disposition. I know, I know… give it a few months. We’ll see how he acclimates to this crowd he now calls “family”.
Overall the birth experience was a positive one – everything went smoothly with no major surprises. Really, when it comes to something like ushering a new life into this world, that’s the best we can aim for, right? After 4 times around I’ve learned there’s something controlling the process and it’s not me.
We had Baby M in a natural birthing center inside one of the city’s hospitals and would recommend it to anyone (wanting a drug/intervention free birth). It was my first water birth. Yes, I liked it; yes it still hurt; yes, if we were to do it again (BUT WE’RE NOT), I’d opt for water. The only downside was the number of rooms. We ended up having to leave ours so another family could have the privilege of a similar experience. (I took the approach that someone did actually move for me to come in, so it was time to pay it forward. Even if at 5am.)
So instead of spending our day.5 in a homey setting with a queen-sized bed, we were shipped downstairs to the mainstream recovery rooms. It was a basic – nice – hospital room. Nothing fancy, nothing shabby. Definitely not the worst experience of my life by any stretch.
What did strike me was the repeated question: “You’re from upstairs, right?” It didn’t catch me until after the first few times it was asked. Later JJ and I realized that those who opted for the birthing center approach carried a stigma. Not necessarily bad or less-than, just different. Immediately my attending nurse asked if I was wanting to leave that day (because “upstairs” you can as quickly as 6 hours after delivery. Little did she know I wasn’t wishing for an early discharge until after I was moved to the uncomfortable hospital-style bed). I put two and two together to realize that such an early discharge translated into a lot of work for her, thus the concern.
Later we waited to hear from the hospital pediatrician before getting permission to leave; it was advised to wait the full 48 hours (which fell at midnight. Not convenient.) but he eventually looked at our circumstances – 4th time around, relatively normal people, appointment with our own ped for Monday morning – and signed the release.
My initial reaction could have easily been frustration with this doctor. Sure a few rare conditions might pop up in the next 12 hours, but it was unlikely. My Cynic Self rolled her eyes and said “another night means more insurance money.” My Momma Bear Self clenched her jaw and internally defended what a good job she’s done with her other 3 children, thank you very much.
But I also took a look around and realized that this doctor – who didn’t see patients outside the hospital in a clinic setting – worked in a very urban setting with a very diverse population of people, namely mothers. Such diversity breeds a diverse experience for him – what he sees on a daily basis is likely nothing like what I’ve encountered.
I realized the doctor’s attitude toward releasing me reflected his own experiences in the past, not his experience with me as a person, a mother or a patient. Prior to walking in to give discharge instructions, he had not even met me.
Isn’t this the case with most people? They react not just to who we are and what we say, but rather to their previous experiences. We don’t live in a vacuum – each of us come to new interactions carrying our pasts and we interpret through those lenses. Words and ideas carry baggage, invoke memories, and trigger past feelings.
The doctor approached my situation based on his past experiences. So does the grocery bagger, the drive thru worker, the boy riding his bike through the neighborhood… even my sister, mother and husband. To think that I have shaped all attitudes and perspectives is a bit shortsighted on my part. To think that I might change them completely is a tad zealous. But to think that I might shape them and direct them in a more positive light… maybe that’s just a brave endeavor.