Sunday, October 9, 2011

Birth and marriage

My best friend had a baby this week. She had to be induced, as even at 42 weeks her body wasn't showing any signs of preparing for labor.  After a grueling fifteen hours of disorganized contractions but no other response to the drugs, heart decelerations during contractions, and the baby still not engaging, she finally had a c-section.  The baby was 9 lbs 3 oz, with fat chubby cheeks and fingernails so long they had to be trimmed shortly after birth.  He was, you could say, overcooked.

But it wasn't the birth she had planned or hoped for.

Admittedly, I was also disappointed.  Not in the baby's birth, but she delivered at the hospital I will have this next child at.  I was disappointed looking at the maternity rooms, which are nothing more than a plain hospital room, converted for one patient.  A lone picture on the wall with a mother and a baby are the one suggestion that this is more than a plain old med-surg hospital room.  There's a chair that pulls into a bed for Dad, a card table, and a tiny 12 inch TV stuck on an arm that the patient can pull in front of her to watch.  I've been an inpatient at this hospital before, and I can vouch that this room is indistinguishable from the medical patient rooms.  Not only that, but this hospital discourages the dad from staying more than one night, has a nursery--something most hospitals no longer have, except for very sick infants--that they encourage you to send your baby to, and isn't very welcoming to anything but flat-on-your-back-deliveries.  The baby is stuck in a normal isolette with no cover.

In contrast, the hospital where I had Joshua had large, airy rooms.  If I had delivered naturally, I would have checked into my room, delivered there(unless I chose the large birthing tub down the hall), and stayed there throughout my whole stay.  There was a large recliner that pulled down into a comfy bed for my husband, a wooden, round dining room table by the window, a large plush rocking chair, and a cradle for the baby.  There was a flat screen television on the wall and the whole room was tastefully decorated.  It was far more like a hotel room than a hospital bedroom.  Dads are encouraged to stay with mom and baby the entire time, and not only does the hospital encourage rooming-in, they actually no longer have a nursery.  There is a room with special equipment set aside if your baby needs extra care, but other than that, they don't put the babies in there.  If Mom is exhausted and there are no support people, the nurses were glad to take care of the baby while she slept, but the babies usually never left mom's side.  While the room wasn't huge, it was large enough to easily accomodate several visitors.

Of course, that hospital is an hour and ten minutes away, and we made the decision long ago that it was too much of a drive.  We talked, briefly, today about my absolute dislike of these maternity rooms at the hospital I'll be delivering at, but decided that anyplace else is really too far of a drive to be considered.

And, honestly, it doesn't matter. 
Here me out on this.

There are a lot of women I have known who think the birth is the be-all-and-end-all.  They want their babies born their way, with minimal interventions(or maybe a lot of interventions), a certain way with certain things going on.  I know labor and delivery nurses that laugh at birth plans, because so many of them are so detailed that it's impossible to follow.  You might get the birth you want. You might not.
If you have a healthy baby, who cares?

Births, I think, are an awful lot like weddings.  A lot of preparation and thought is put into a wedding.  The dresses have to be just right, the lighting, the music.  There is nothing wrong with planning for a birth or a wedding, but so often that planning takes our attention off of what is really important--that it really isn't the event.  It's the marriage. It's the baby.  Those are the important things.  How they happen? Not so much.  You can have the most beautiful, romantic, fairy tale wedding in the world, but if you don't follow your marriage vows--not just fidelity, but love, honor, and respect--your wedding was nothing more than a joke.  You can have the most natural, calm, peaceful birth in the world where nothing went wrong, but if you're a failure as a parent, the birth was meaningless.  (And, honestly, the baby doesn't care how or where it was born. Really. They don't.)

Now I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with a fairytale wedding or a romanticized birth.  There isn't.  But placing all your focus on an event, instead of on the marriage or the baby, is wrong.  It's a recipe for disaster.  This was the main reason my husband and I chose to have a small, simple wedding--because it wasn't about the wedding.  It was all about the promises we were making to each 0ther before God and witnesses; audacious promises that we have vowed to keep.  We didn't spend a lot of time planning our wedding; we did spend a lot of time planning our marriage.  Our wedding itself was not the main event.  The vows we were making to love, cherish, honor and respect each othere were.

So in the end, I'm not that concerned with where or how I give birth.  Yeah, this hospital is definately not my ideal--but if I have a healthy baby, who cares if I'm in a cramped hospital room for three days?  What does it matter?
It doesn't.

The baby matters.
Our marriage matters.
Nothing else really does.


Katie said...

Thank you for this! I'm 20 weeks pregnant and have loved your childproofing blogs and insights ever since I found you via FJ. I really appreciate the point that birth is like a wedding as I have had a whole lot of trouble mustering up any more thoughts about birth than that I can't wait for it to be over and to actually have a baby!