Still nothing. Now we’re just pissed.
My parents leave in two days.
In our Bradley class, which seems like a distant memory now, Denyse encouraged us to write up a “birth plan.” I didn’t get the concept at the time, figuring the plan was: Give birth; go home. How could we possibly develop a plan for the most complex, unpredictable moment of our lives, when the experts should be calling the shots? It seemed ridiculous.
But Denyse said over and over that if we make our preferences known to the nurses and docs—in writing—on the big day, we’d have a better chance of getting the delivery we want. We want to do it naturally, with no meds. And we can call more shots than you’d think, so long as we’re cool with the staff everything and things are going smoothly.
It couldn’t hurt to draw one up, we decided. We’re winging it, based on stuff we’ve read, but here’s what we came up with. Some of it sounds ridiculous, even to me, and most hospitals would fight us tooth and nail on a bunch of these.
1. As few interruptions and internal exams as possible. So we can do our Bradley thang.
2. Sarah will be allowed to walk around and change positions as needed. She 100 percent refuses to deliver while lying in a bed.
3. She wants to wear her own clothes. Or lack thereof. i.e., no hospital gown. She wants to wear one of my comfy t-shirts.
4. No IV, no catheter. Sarah certainly needs to stay hydrated, but we’ll go with ice chips, thank you very much. And catheter: the very word makes Sarah shudder.
5. No fetal monitor, unless it is required. This is a machine attached to the mother’s abdomen that checks her contractions and the fetus’s heartbeat. Once it’s on, she’s pretty much confined to a bed. We’re told a fetal monitor can comfort you. Or scare the hell out of you.
6. No routine use of amniotomy. Not that there’s anything routine about the artificial rupture of the amniotic sac in the vagina with something called an amniohook.
7. No solicitation of medication. Since most hospitals don’t see many natural childbirths, they’ll keep trying to push meds. Nothing against them; we’re planning to just say no.
8. When it comes time to push, Sarah wants to use a squatting bar. Having a hard time imagining this, but I’m imagining a hot Romanian gymnast.
9. No one should tell Sarah when to push. Especially me.
10. No episiotomy. This is an incision through the perineum made to enlarge the vagina and assist childbirth. It can make postpartum life pretty miserable, leading to various unpleasantries on the toilet and in the sack.
11. Jeff will catch the baby during delivery. Insert joke here.
12. Jeff will cut the cord. Using a Ceremonial Dull Butter Knife passed down for three generations in the Ruby family. Kidding.
13. Sarah wants to breastfeed the baby immediately. Most newborns, when placed on the mother’s belly, will naturally find their way to the nipple. Sarah wants this moment. Nursing will also contract her uterus, which should help expel the placenta and reduce bleeding. Plus, it’s a nice thing to do.
14. Postpone eye ointment for hour or two after birth. As a baby travels through the birth canal, it can pick up bacteria from the mother’s vaginal fluids, which causes eye infections. So nurses administer eye drops immediately. “Babies have a moment of calm alertness following birth,” Sarah says. “Why make them spend it with goop in their eyes?”
15. Wait to bathe the baby. We want to do it ourselves. (We do?)
16. No pacifier/bottle. Ever. For some reason, Sarah is adamantly against them, though I suspect that within a couple months, we will be awash in both.
17. No hepatitis B vaccination. Sarah tested negative for hep B, so there’s no reason to give the kid a shot right away. Our pediatrician will do it later, not that I have any idea who our pediatrician is.
18. Examine baby in Sarah’s presence. I have no idea what this means, but it sounds so creepy. Are we being paranoid?
19. If the baby needs treatment, Jeff to accompany at all times. You know, because I really know what I’m doing.
20. No circumcision right away. If it’s a boy, we’ve got a guy waiting to do the bris. And his name is Mordecai Turkeltaub, so he obviously knows what he’s doing.
So you see, we’ve been pretty thorough. These 20 wishes are all well and good, but the truth is, we have no idea what we’re getting into. If we succeed in even 10, and have a healthy baby, I’ll consider it a success.