As I was nearing my due date, I couldn’t find any detailed information about labour and delivery at the Christus Spohn South Hospital website. What would my room look exactly like? What equipment did they have for natural delivery? I attended their childbirth classes, got a tour and read general information about the process in books and forums, however it wasn’t enough reassurance for me before enduring what is known as the most painful experience of all time. I had a lot of surprise when the time came. So I am writing everything I remembered to help someone out there ready to give birth there.
Rest assured though, every nurse I met at this hospital were the most compassionate and toughest group of people I ever saw in my entire life. They remained so kind and professional when I was at my messiest, if you know what I mean.
I also had a very compassionate and intelligent doctor who really went out of her way to be there for me. My labour was extremely long.
The biggest drawback at this hospital was the food, it is simply not edible by my standards. I am not sure what kind of treatment they gave to the ingredients or where they store them in, but they all had the same hint of foulness. Even the sliced vegetables! I couldn’t stomach anything except the milk because it was safely sealed in a carton from the supplier. I thought it was just my taste buds, I may be a food snob, but I asked my husband to try the bread. He couldn’t even chew it for more than once. So make sure to pack a lot of food in your hospital bag or have someone bring you a meal during your stay. You will need to eat to build breast milk supply immediately.
This hospital is not very natural birth friendly. There were no nurses available that specializes in natural births when I was there nor did they have all the equipment such as birth stools and different sized exercise balls. They did have a peanut ball though and an exercise ball…
Also, I was hooked up to a machine and the wires didn’t really allow room for a whole lot of moving for natural birthing positions.
Despite all this, I survived and was able to successfully give birth being heavily medicated. Here is how it happened right after my water broke.
My husband and I arrive at the hospital at 2 am. The general entrance that we usually use to enter labour and delivery was closed! What an annoying setback to deal with in an urgent state. We had to get back in the car and go all the way to the back of the building to the emergency room entrance. I vaguely remembered the nurse mentioning this at the class I took, but forgot. Maybe they need to put a big sign at the parking lot with a symbol of a pregnant women?
Over there, the nurse at the ER front desk insisted I sit on a wheelchair so she could wheel me away to labour and delivery. “I really don’t need a wheelchair,” I said.
“You have to,”
Accountability I guess, but not quite logical to me. No one expected me to be on a wheelchair anytime after that. Especially in that awful state I would be in in the next 48 hours, so that was funny.
So then I was put in a room where a nurse verified that indeed my water broke. She said a doctor will come see where I was at with dilation. I requested a female doctor, but they only had a male doctor available. Fine.
So the doctor said I was 3 cm dilated. Then I was taken into another room. I got into a gown and gave them my birth plan. They tried to respect my natural birth goals, but at the end, they couldn’t be fulfilled because of all the complications I would have.
During this time, I had to tell many nurses coming in and out of my room the same biographical & medical history information because their computer system was down! This happened rarely apparently. It was so annoying to tell someone my life story over and over and over again. I think I must have repeated it at least four times!
As I mentioned my wish to have a natural childbirth, the nurses really tried to respect this. I told them if it was medically necessary for my baby, I could break these rules (eventually they had no choice). They brought all the equipment they had available, a peanut ball and an exercise ball. I couldn’t move too far because I had an IV and was connected to a machine that monitored the baby’s heart rate and my contractions. I refused the epidural or any painkillers at the time.
A nurse would come into my room a few times per hour to check up on me. Apart from that, I was left to figure it out on my own and my husband was trying his best to help me.
My husband and I did a lot of casual reading online, and it seemed like it all came down to relaxing, deep breathing and changing positions. There is much more to this.
Since my water broke, this labour & delivery was going to be riskier because the baby would be exposed to bacteria and I needed to finish giving birth within 18 hours. Well, the labour & delivery turned out to be a 21 hour experience for me! Oh and during this whole entire time you aren’t allowed to eat anything except their ice chips in case you need to get a c-section.
I made it to 6 cm dilation at around the 17th hour without the epidural. But since this was taking so long, the doctor had to give me the dreaded pitocin, which would make my contractions stronger and faster. I didn’t know if this was a pain a human could handle. I didn’t have time to google it. So I had to make a quick decision and agree to the epidural. (I later found out that women have handled natural child births with pitocin.)
Fine, if I was going the conventional western medical path, give it all to me. I begged for the vacuum. I didn’t know if I could push anymore at the 21st hour. I tried my best, but it was going to be hard because the baby’s head was way above average in size (99% percentile) and it was positioned sideways, so that made it even more extra hard. I really wanted to take a break, but this was one job where that wasn’t possible. You have to go all the way.
So after the pitocin, epidural, episiotomy, vacuum, and my hardest pushes, the baby came out.
But this didn’t come without any consequences! The vacuum caused some bruising on the poor baby’s scalp (hematoma) and off to the NICU he had to go the next day. Vacuum causes the hematoma which causes jaundice as I found out. I wish I knew all of this earlier, I would have never asked for it! Plus, the labour and delivery was so long that it was considered high risk (more than 18 hours) and with my Group B Strep, the baby needed antibiotics.
The NICU experience was such a nightmare! It is so awful to see a delicate little newborn tangled with so many wires and gizmos. What’s worse are the awful procedures they do that make babies cry. Don’t get me started with the EKG. It was so bad that they asked my husband to leave the room so they wouldn’t see. I can’t believe he accepted that, as parents, we have the right to be with our children whenever we want, especially at a hospital! Why does “intensive care” mean they measure his vitals but they overlooked important things like changing his diaper right away and human affection? They said they needed to give the baby antibiotics twice a day. So then why does the baby need to be there 24 hours for just two doses a day? I would have been happy to show up with the baby at the hospital for the two daily doses. I don’t think he didn’t need to be there the whole day. I asked, but didn’t get an answer I understood.
Then they give the baby formula because they claimed he wasn’t being fed enough! I was so against giving formula. I made it clear in my birth plan. Yes, the nurses did try their best, they even called me while I was sleeping to breastfeed him. It wasn’t enough for my poor son. I could only be there so much. I couldn’t be there more than two nights. The NICU doctor told me on my third day that I had to pump 1 ounce before he could be released! No woman has that much milk on the third day! I only had colostrum! Colostrum can’t be pumped! But I did anyway! And there wasn’t much! How could I have had anything after starving for 21 hours during labor and delivery and not having access to good food at the hospital? I couldn’t drive and my husband was fixated on making sure the baby was taken care of and wouldn’t leave the baby’s side.
It was a horrible experience. My husband didn’t want to leave the baby alone so we had to take shifts to watch the baby at the hospital. It was hard to do in my postpartum state, but we did it. We were like zombies. Seeing the baby in the NICU wasn’t a great start to motherhood. We had to fight and fight to get him out. He finally got out on the fourth day and has been doing great ever since!
Total cost if you have no insurance: $17,000
Oh the bill is such a monster! I didn’t even want to see it!
But I did pay attention to the out of network bill, which is from the epidural. So make sure to ask for in network when you get it. And fight like it is bureaucratic war to get this bill written off. They charged me well over $700! After months of fighting and learning about my rights and tons of phone calls, even recording my phone calls, mailing paper work, bla bla bla, I got it written off when I demanded an explanation of benefits to the out of network people.
In conclusion, if I had to do it all again I would:
- Hire a doula. The nurses were great, but at the end of the day they answer to the hospital, not you. They have strict rules to follow and they are not with you the whole time. They come in and out of the room and they are not obligated to be experts in natural child births.
- Consider another hospital that is more natural birth friendly with a different NICU protocol. This is most likely available in a bigger and more progressive city like Houston or Austin.