Earlier this week, Melbs and I went to tour the hospital I’ll be delivering in, Alta Bates in Berkeley. The tour followed an hour long physician meeting— a monthly get together for all L&D doctors in the group to meet the patients who will be delivering in the next couple of months. Each doctor tries to be present for each of their own patients’ births, but in case that’s not possible at least we’ll now be familiar with the other doctors on staff.
The meeting itself was interesting. Each of the 5 doctors introduced themselves and then spoke about a stage of labor and delivery. Topics ranged from vaginal birth to C-section, to what to expect during your postpartum stay. All of the various procedures and protocol were demystified, and many rumors debunked. I went in with so many questions, worrying how on earth we would ever know where to park when the time came, let alone find my way to the delivery room. The Q&A session was very comforting, and it was great to see so many other couples as far along into their pregnancy as we were.
After this, we toured the hospital. The first curiosity we squared away: everyone gets their own room! There was a collective sigh of relief from both expectant mothers’ and their partners once that was pointed out. This hospital has so many delivery and postpartum rooms it looked more like a hotel than a medical center. But I should clarify— 80% of all rooms are solo occupancy, while the other 20% have potential for sharing. If you’re put in one of these rooms the likelihood they would double you up with anyone is slim to null— but still, an important detail.
We also learned the process for checking in to our hospital stay:
1) Park in the regular parking lot and walk into the hospital together like a normal person. Parking will cost $20 for a 3 day stay.
2) Take the elevator up to the third floor (again, like a normal human being).
3) Check in with the security desk — which is staffed by a very intimidating person because babies are precious. Our name will already be on a list since we are registered with the hospital.
4) Walk a few feet to the triage counter where we’ll sign in and get my hoo-ha examined to see how far I’m dilated. They were clear to point out that only ONE person can accompany the mother to triage which begs… for women with doulas, who do they choose? Hubby or doula?
5) Depending on my status we’ll either go for a nice walk to the roof garden or Whole Foods and come back, OR I’ll be admitted to a delivery room… where we could spend the next several hours.
6) The labor and delivery room is small— a bed in the center for me, a couch for Melbs, and if you’re lucky, a tub. There is a flat screen TV, windows to the outside world, and room to put LED candles if you wish. Absolutely nothing may be plugged into the walls, so we’ll be bringing the Jambox and our massive external phone battery. This is the room where all of the magic will happen. The tour guide/nurse said that the staff GREATLY appreciated LOW moaning to high-pitched screaming in these rooms.
7) Two hours after the baby is born, the whole family is moved to the adjacent postpartum ward and we’ll get a room with a bit more space for ourselves and for a handful of visitors. The nurse said there is no limit to the number of visitors you can try to stuff into your room, but highly encouraged us to say “no more than 4 at a time” as a rule. I’m sure she’s seen some shit. The whole time we’re here, the new baby wears an ankle monitor that will sound alarm if it gets too near an elevator or open door. We also learned that only two people (presumably the mother and father) get “full-access” to the baby while at the hospital. Although, when this was mentioned, one of the other mothers on the tour blurted out to her husband, “me and my mother” which ignited an argument which we all enjoyed hearing. ;)
8) Typically folks stay at the hospital a total of two nights, three if there was a c-section performed on the mother. There are mommy-and-me classes held in the morning for those who wish to learn more about infant care or breast-feeding, and you can have a lactation consultant visit you in your room if you’re having trouble in that area.
9) Finally, we can leave as a family!
10) Once at home, the doctors told all of the husbands that their primary job was to keep me away from visitors who try to enter our home. I actually laughed out loud when I heard this. Apparently I am going to need all the rest I can get and cannot be bothered by pleasantries and inquiries about our labor. What they didn’t say but I inferred is that I’ll probably look haggard and be such an irritable mess that it’s in my best interest to not engage with the public. They said, if anyone comes to your door they better have food and should be prepared to either be a) thanked and turned away immediately or b) handed your baby for a maximum 5 minute visit which does not include access to the mother. Again, I’m sure these doctors have seen some shit in their day!
After our tour we celebrated our newfound knowledge and peace of mind by going out to dinner in the neighborhood— something we aren’t doing enough of lately. We actually ran into some friends at the restaurant and had a nice chat about our impending parenthood. It was a nice way to end our educational tour. We both went home feeling a lot more prepared for the “big day”