Exactly one year ago, I headed home from labor and delivery in early labor, disappointed at being sent home. They gave me something to help me sleep and I did, through most of the day. I got up, drove my then two-year-old to my parents house to spend the night there. I had some lentil soup, came home, watched TV with my husband and labored at home through most of the night. My son was born just after 8 am after four hours of labor at Bayfront Medical Center.
As the mom of two boys, I’m used to people asking if we’ll have another. If we’ll “try for a girl.” The truth is, I don’t know. I honestly don’t. I yearn for another child in a biological, visceral way. I know that I have room in my heart and soul for another child. But when I think logically, I know that we don’t have room in our cars, that three kids would be a lot of kids for us, that eventually my mom needs to retire from being our childcare, that we’d be starting all over just as we gain some independence.
(So forgive me if I cringe or laugh uncomfortably when you ask. Honestly. I don’t know.)
Last week, I got to go on a media tour of the new Bayfront Baby Place. My chest felt tight as I drove across town, following the path we’d driven in the middle of the night a year ago.
I met up with Katherine Snow Smith, the Bayfront Baby Place Media Coordinator. I told her that I’d just had my son at Bayfront last November. When she smiled and congratulated me on his upcoming first birthday, I felt tears coming to my eyes behind my sunglasses.
Oh holy crap, I thought. Get it together!
Luckily Laurin Evans arrived. She has a preternatural ability to distract me from being an emo kid. We walked across a gorgeous closed-in pedestrian bridge to the new building.
The Baby Place will be opening next month, so it wasn’t completely finished. It had that shiny brand-new look that model homes have, but it was easy to picture it full to the brim with the noises and buzzing excitement of a labor and delivery ward.
Baby Place isn’t a birthing center, it’s a modern hospital. But it has some really nice touches that, in my opinion, are moves in the right direction. I had both my children in hospitals, but I believe in minimal intervention and freedom to have as natural a birth as possible. (I had an induction and epidural with my first, and no drugs with my second.)
I only found one aspect of the Baby Place disappointing: None of the 13 birthing suites have tubs for mothers to labor in. (Previously, one room had a labor tub. Bayfront does not permit water births.) I spoke to my friend Diane about it, and she said that in labor she preferred a shower. I also used the shower during labor. Since most OB/GYN’s in town won’t allow moms to labor in a tub anyway, the lack of tubs isn’t a huge loss. (That’s a whole different issue that irritates me.)
The showers in each room were huge though. Definitely big enough for a birthing ball and a couple of people to assist a mom in labor. (Speaking of assistance, I can’t speak highly enough of doulas.) The delivery suites were gorgeous, with absolutely every effort made to hide all the medical equipment. While it may seem like an unnecessary luxury, efforts towards making a birthing room home-like are crucial when it comes to helping a mother relax during labor. Labor hurts enough already—when you add anxiety to that mix, you’re setting a laboring mother up for additional pain and potential complications.
To put this into perspective, on our way out of the hospital, we walked through a normal ward in the old building. I immediately became tense, my hands got cold, I felt short of breath and my stomach hurt. And that was simply from being in a “hospital” atmosphere. I’d hate to feel that way during labor.
The OR (one of four) completely freaked me out, but it looked really pretty. For a terrifying room with huge lights. Laurin delivered her twins via C-Section and was impressed by the facility. With multiple births on the rise, the OR area has capacity for more newborns to be cared for within close proximity to the mom.
We also had a chance to visit one of the 40 postpartum mother-baby rooms. It was approximately the size of my house. I’m pretty sure someone could have about thirty guests in there with no problem. (It was clear that in a pinch, the room could probably also be converted to a double, though they are all meant to be private rooms.) Like the labor suites, the postpartum room was very fancy. Think upscale hotel, complete with huge window and flat screen TV.
As much as I appreciate the luxurious feel of the postpartum area, these were the Baby Place features that impressed me the most:
Dedicated antepartum unit, thoughtfully separated from the labor and delivery area. The antepartum unit includes a lounge with a kitchen and washer/dryer so that mothers facing long hospital stays while pregnant can wear their own clothes, eat meals with their families, and even host baby showers. (I got weepy over this.)
Private triage rooms. Seriously, people. With doors and everything. As a “frequent flier,” I know how uncomfortable it is to sit and listen to other people’s private and sometimes heartbreaking pregnancy issues with nothing but a thin cloth curtain for privacy. (Example, while in triage getting a dose of terbutaline at 32 weeks with my first son, a woman next to me came in six-months pregnant having no idea she was pregnant. “I’m gonna need a cigarette,” she said.)
Kangaroo care immediately following delivery will be the norm with all healthy deliveries. When my first son was born, I had to wait about ten minutes to see him close up. When my second son was born, my midwife placed him directly against my chest and I nursed him within the first few minutes of his life. I am thrilled to know that more moms will have this opportunity by default.
Valet parking and a dedicated entrance for moms in labor. Last year, I had to jump out of the car at the emergency room while my husband parked. I sat in a wheelchair, laboring with contractions coming hard and fast. An old homeless man in the ER waiting room turned and said, “Excuse me, do you have the time?” Yeah. I’ll take the valet parking!
The NICU will be one floor above the Baby Place. Currently, moms have a 10 minute wheelchair ride to visit their babies in the NICU. Baby Place is located within the new All Children’s Hospital building. Parents with babies in the NICU will now be able to visit without being discharged or having to travel from one building to another. Many of my friends have faced varying amounts of time in the NICU, and I’m so relieved that the moms delivering at Baby Place will be as close to their babies as possible in the days following delivery.
This was not a sponsored post. However, I do accept payment in the forms of pumpkin butter, hugs and thoughtful commentary.