Apologies for the delay in the babyshower-maternity shoot post; it is written but last week was not a good one and it didn’t feel right posting it – I don’t like to mix my happy & my sad, it feels wrong somehow.
So, many of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter will have seen that we went for our maternity ward tour on Wednesday last week. The one thing I have been sure of since my pregnancy began was that I wanted to have my baby at the Kingsbury; not only is it the closest hospital to me, but I was born there and it meant a lot to me that I would have Charly there too. I even stumbled across an amazing gynaecologist there when I was only 5 weeks pregnant.
Going on the tour was just a formality for me, I never expected to come across anything that would change my mind about giving birth there, and that is perhaps why it was so overwhelmingly devastating to discover that this wasn’t the case. I had begun to be anxious over being in the hospital (now when I am finally starting to come to terms with the fear of childbirth), so I was really looking forward to the tour and feeling reassured that everything would be in place to make it all bearable. Hospitals have always been “bad” places in my mind as I have lost far too many people in them.
The first thing that struck me as we were driving in was that there were still major renovations happening across the front of the hospital, they had been going on since the beginning of the year so it never occurred to me that they might still be going on next year. I have also been coming to see Dr George at least once a month for the past 6 months and had not noticed the noise at all, his practice while on the hospital premises is not in the hospital itself. As we made our way up to the waiting area where the tour was to start from, I began to get anxious – the noise was quite overwhelming.
As the waiting room filled with other expecting parents, I attributed the noise to the fact that the area was not sealed off from the main reception area which was where the major construction was happening. I could see the darkened maternity ward through closed doors from where I was sitting and even then, I felt sure that those doors would somehow magically block out the noise. When the sister who was to lead the tour arrived and began speaking to the group, nobody could hear her over the bandsaws, jackhammers and hammering, but I strained forward, trying to lipread and asking the questions I had prepared. Eventually, more or less beaten by the noise, I asked about the construction and I could see by the look on her face she was really hoping nobody would – and I fear if I hadn’t, nothing would have been said of it at all.
The response was “hopefully sometime around March or April” and she “reassured” us by saying earplugs would be provided to us – she either didn’t hear or chose not to respond to my half-joking query as to whether my newborn baby would be provided with earplugs as well. Most of her feedback was lost, and I either completely misheard her twice when I asked about when my husband would be allowed to visit or she responded incorrectly when she replied “only during visiting hours” – it could have been either frankly, but I was already starting to panic by then. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure she was lovely and brilliant at her job and I pitied her greatly trying to overcome the noise while worried first time parents strained to hear her, or simply waited for her to finish so they could see the actual ward and hopefully find some quiet. That was not to be.
The noise did not diminish as we walked into a small dark area towards the one “large private” room they have. I have to come clean and say that by this point my perceptions of the ward were largely influenced by the noise and dark and growing stress as I realised there was very little chance I was going to be able to give birth there and all the changes and additional worries this implied. The “large private” is the only room where Brett would have been able to stay with me while I was there and the “large” was an exaggeration – there were 2 hospital beds side by side and a very small bathroom with an admittedly large shower, and a window that opened over the construction so the noise levels were even higher in there.
As we left that room I started crying, but seeing as the ward was in near darkness nobody noticed, and I barely saw or heard anything further. As soon as the group started heading back in the general direction of the exit, Brett and I left. I went directly to Dr George’s rooms, hoping I would be able to speak to him and find out if he worked out of any other hospitals, but it turns out he is not in his office on a Wednesday afternoon. Brett had to return to work and so I returned home and cried – a lot. And then I posted to Facebook & I received encouragement and feedback from all of you and did a lot of added research and contacted Vincent Pallotti and Constantiaberg hospitals (the next 2 closest to me) for further information.
I also had to contact our financial advisor as we had just signed up to upgrade our current hospital plan to ensure we were covered for Kingsbury from January, only to discover that neither VP or Constantiaberg were on the new plan and so we would need to upgrade yet again (for over R10,000 more for the year) to go to either of them and the decision needed to be finalised by Monday (today) in order for us to be able to upgrade at all.
I had believed I was completely drained by Wednesday evening, but I was wrong and managed to start crying on the phone with Dr George again on Thursday morning when he told me he did not operate anywhere else and he would need to refer me to another doctor at the hospital I decided on. What a way to start my final trimester – nowhere to have my baby and nobody to deliver her.
The one light in an otherwise dark, exhausting and traumatic week was that one of my wonderful friends gave me a voucher for a mobile massage therapist, which I managed to book for noon on Thursday. I had never needed a massage more and by the time she left I felt a million times lighter and more positive – ladies, if the strain is getting to you and you either can’t get out or can’t be assed to get out, get hold of Barbara of Alpha Energy (076 743 3155), she is wonderful and has magic hands; you cannot go wrong!
After Barbara left, I got back on the phone with the hospitals and made arrangements for Brett & I to visit both this weekend. I also made notes from what all of you said and put together an extensive list of questions – including any plans for renovations in the near future! Friday was yet further saddened by the passing of Mandela and so I avoided all news sources & largely social media as well and worked furiously away on client writing.
Yesterday was our visit to Vincent Pallotti. We were very impressed by the light, warmth and size of the maternity ward and their rooms after our Kingsbury experience. The nurse who took us around was wonderful, caring, personable and took the time to answer all of my extensive questions patiently and thoughtfully; I even felt okay with the idea that Brett might not be able to stay over (there is only one private room that would allow Brett to stay over with me) as the visiting hours for dads are 8am-8pm. The only slight concerns I had were that there are only 3 private rooms (which work on a first come, first serve basis at all hospitals), and that there had been a large number of parents-to-be through the ward that were expecting in February. The large numbers are not an issue for them at all, as they do have additional beds available in the case of a “full house”, but due to my hospital fears I am quite determined to do my very best to get a private room and not inflict my personal ghosts on any other new mom. That said, we left feeling very much like we had found the hospital for us and agreed that Constantiaberg would have to be something amazing to sway us.
Our Constantiaberg visit was Sunday, and I could tell immediately that Brett was impressed. It is quite a beautiful hospital, very modern, it feels a lot less like a hospital than the others. The first thing you notice on entering their maternity ward is the space, everything is open and airy. We were greeted again by yet another excellent nurse, who took us through the to the delivery rooms, showed us how close the theatres were in the case of emergency, the nursery & NICU are also in the maternity ward & completely separate from the rest of the hospital. There are 7 private rooms, a number of 2 bed wards and a few 4 bed wards; you can tell what caught my attention. All of the rooms are really big and spacious, have comfortable chairs, lots of light and the private rooms all have their own bathrooms – and lets be honest, my chances are way higher of getting a private room where there are 7 than in a smaller ward with only 3. The only downside is there is no chance of Brett staying over, but their visiting hours are from whenever he gets there until 9pm.
Both hospitals were very much in line with what we were looking for in terms of keeping baby with mom, making sure dad can stay with us wherever possible, believing in skin-to-skin contact, supporting breastfeeding and firmly pro-mothers-birth-choice. Both had wonderful, warm staff; light, open spaces and lots of peace and quiet. I felt safe at both and I know I could happily have my baby girl at either. I would easily recommend either hospital purely from our visit to any mom-to-be, though of course only a mommy who has had a baby there could give well-rounded recommendation. For today we are leaning slightly more towards Constantiaberg.
So now I need to speak to Dr George, get his insight and advice on both and see who he can recommend in terms of a doctor; and contact the financial people at both and get information on that side of things. The fact that both places are definite possibilities has eased a fair amount of the strain, but by the end of this week I want to have made a decision and found a new doctor, so I can finally relax and once again begin preparing myself for all that is to come.