In preparing for Baby D’s birth and planning a birth at the birth center I am hoping to avoid many of the common interventions in a hospital birth. But to be plain I am trying to avoid the hospital all together. I am committed to keeping our birth out of a hospital unless medically necessary (and while I might have some narrow views on what constitutes a “medically necessary” birth) I am not anti-medicine across the board.
Almost eleven years ago I walked in to a hospital to apply for a job. Applying for a job is nerve-wracking but couple that with my almost phobic fear of hospitals and it was a tough morning. Ultimately, I had the pleasure of working at The Outer Banks Hospital for five years. With only twenty-one inpatient rooms it was just the right size to help a girl like me get past the fears. That institutional, terrifying smell of clean was somehow less frightening in a hallway that is only twenty some yards long. A small hospital. A relatively small group of employees. Soon enough I grew to feel safe and comfortable inside that building. My skepticism surrounding modern medicine was trumped by my faith in the individuals I met that put everything they had day in and day out in to helping people.
Since moving to Chapel Hill I have been to UNC Hospital twice. Both times to see new babies and their parents. The fears I was accustomed to feeling as I walked through a hospital’s doors had all but left. I chalked it up to a great experience at the hospital in the OBX. I thought maybe I wasn’t afraid anymore of those big buildings with their orangey bleachy smell and the white coats hurrying from one place to another.
Night before last Em was sick. Sicker than I have ever seen her. Granted she has been very lucky in her six short years. She has had an ear infection, a rotten cold she can’t shake. But never had I held her little body in my arms as she vomited for hours on end. Barely awake, her eyes would flutter as she tried to fight sleep. Rolling her on to her side time and again, replacing soiled towels with clean ones and holding her hair out of her face – a parent rises to the challenge.
If you are me, a parent also has a sense of humor. Behind her in bed I would rub her back. Jumping up at her slightest movement to grab the trash can from the bedside table. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I imagined the following morning, the dark circles beneath her eyes. Would I tell anyone that they were not from lack of sleep at all? But from being repeatedly hit on the bridge of the nose with a small plastic trash can as I aimed her face towards the trash can, and away from my new white carpeting?
I was worried about her. But a stomach bug is a stomach bug. This one was vicious but I assumed it would pass.
Late the next morning I picked up the water bottle from the bedside table. I had filled it at least twelve hours earlier. There were less than three ounces missing. I started to contemplate the possibility of dehydration. I tried to convince myself that I could just take her in to see her pediatrician if she needed fluids or some high test anti-nausea meds.
When the nurse at her doc’s office called me back and said she thought I should take her in to the ER my eyes welled up. I was afraid. And I had to be the mom. I jumped in the shower. I had been awake for 30+ hours and I needed a quick cry and to clear my head. I was going to take my baby to the hospital. But she would be fine. Stomach bug. Worst case scenario was IV hydration.
I called MQD. I refrained from sending hysterical text messages. And off we went. From the back seat she looked so tiny. Her voice so weak. “Mom, I did make it to six before I ever had to go to the hospital, Mom.” I smiled. She sure did. And so did I.
An hour later when MQD walked in to her room at UNC I exhaled. She told him she had made it to six and a half. We joked her about fudging her age a bit. Some Zofran and another hour later she’d had a Popsicle. And kept it down.
Not long after that I saw a smile. The nurses and docs never asked about the dent on her nose from the trash can bludgeoning. This morning we are 18+ hours puke free. Sipping Gatorade in bed. Watching movies. Milking it for all its worth.
I am still kind of scared of hospitals. But that smile was worth a million scary walks through automatic front doors.