"Edited to Add"....

This started as a pregnancy blog when I fell pregnant in May 2009 after four years of finding a donor, doing all the counselling / paperwork / tests and trying.

And now, thanks to a 4WD which skidded onto our side of the road, killing our baby daughter at 34w and injuring me, my partner and two of my stepdaughters on 27 December 2009, it has turned into something else. We didn't want this something else, but apparently it is all we've got to go on with.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ridiculously premature discussion of birthing options

As much as I don't want to count chickens before they hatch etc (and as much as even planning what to do if said chickens might hatch) I made a tentative phone call to the Mercy Hospital family birthing centre yesterday, just to see how far ahead we'd need to book if, by any chance, come February, we might be in a position to think about the immediate hatching of a chicken...

"Oh, we've got a few bookings for February. You'd really need to book in this week if you want to be sure to get a spot".

Yea gods! How am I supposed to accept the possible reality of giving birth by the end of this week! And how does this work for suspicious people such as myself who are afraid of booking anything which presumes a chicken hatching, as that would be mocking the gods, and inviting disaster?

But, to put those suspicions aside for a moment, it looks like we are going to have to book some kind of birthing centre ASAP, whether or not I am able to wrap my head around the concept.

So, although I'm pretty sure that there are only 3 people reading this (and only one who isn't related to me by birth or whatever we would have if we were allowed to be married) I feel compelled to make a plaintive request to the internet at large to answer my question - Have you given birth at the Mercy? (ordinary hosp / birthing centre), and did they poke you with sticks and torment you and your baby and loved ones, or were they intuitively compassionate, respectful of you, your relationship (same-sex or not), your baby and your preferences for giving birth and extremely competent in helping you get baby from inside your uterus to outside?

Do you have any advice on giving birth in the following circumstances?
- living in sydney until about christmas, then moving to a suburb in melbourne's north (just a little further north than the current swineflu hotspot)
- keen on minimal intervention - and a midwife-led birthing environment.
- maximum support for breastfeeding / rooming in.
- no complicating medical conditions / factors thus far.
- same-sex friendly "a plus".

Gah - this sounds like a personals ad!! Any tips much appreciated!

(Photo title: Sister Mary Rose supervises Hospital Maternity Ward, April 1953, Ralph Morse, TIME - don't you love that the mother's face is just cropped out of the picture! Gah.)


  1. A friend of mine just had a baby at the Mercy - I'll put you in touch. xxx

  2. Hi! I'm said friend...

    Congratulations on your impending sprog!

    The birth centre is pretty awesome in theory... it looks lovely, the midwives seem nice... and they're very supportive of rooming in and co-sleeping and all that stuff... but in order to keep their pristine history of natural births, they kick you out at the slightest sign of anything and the people on the other side of that wall are very intervention-happy. I ended up with a midwife yelling at me (not a birth centre midwife), and then a C-section, plus one of my support team was told that "your friend wouldn't have mental health issues if she wasn't obsessed with natural birth and all that other stuff".

    My understanding now (wish I'd known it before) is that although the Royal Women's no longer has an official "birth centre" you're more likely to get a natural, intervention-free birth there.

    Mind you, after the birth, even though we were now in the ward and not the lovely birth centre so my partner couldn't be with me, breastfeeding support was awesome and they let me co-sleep (I did have one midwife look at me with amazement and say, "Oh, that's what all the back women do!"). Also they were a bit bemused by my cloth nappies.

    My advice? Your moving plan sounds a bit tight... I'd move earlier if you can. You'll be 7 mths pregnant? It won't be much fun. Plus a lot of services stop on January... so you want to make sure you can do pre-natal yoga, go to birth classes etc in the couple of months before you give birth...

    I'm really happy to give you access to my "maybe baby" filter on LJ if you have a LiveJournal acct...

    If you have any other questions, lemme know. Sorry I couldn't give you a better story... I do have other friends who've given birth there and had a good experience if you want to hear from them too...

  3. Just found your blog via OhChicken (We Are Fambly)... Instantly addicted.

  4. Thanks Mordwen for such a thorough and honest response (and Ping for putting us in touch - mwah!). Sorry to hear you didn't have such a great experience. No one deserves to be yelled at when they're trying to push out a baby.

    I've been trawling some of the messageboards and got a similar impression about the Mercy - that they are very quick to boot you out into the ordinary wards if you don't progress snappily. But much as I'd love to opt for the women's instead, I think we'll probably be living too far out (preston). Will investigate further.

    And thanks for the advice re moving a bit earlier. This might be possible, given that my work will be relatively flexible as of mid-November, but there is still my partner's job and stepkid's school schedules to think about in the equation.

    We had hoped the stepkids could stay at school until the end of term and enjoy extended farewells with their friends.

    Yes - I'm on LJ as well ("7sjukskoterska"), but with no journal as such, only just for keeping in touch with Ping. Would love to have access to your maybe baby filter if that is okay.

    One question - I've read a few people recommending that you take along your own midwife / doula - and was wondering whether that would be a bit over the top. I'm pretty lucky in that my partner has given birth three times herself, and is pretty good at sticking up for me, so I don't know that I'd need someone else on side. Any thoughts?

  5. Keely - vilkommen darling! Glad your surgery went okay and sending you lots of sticky thoughts for july. xh

  6. Hi there. Ping put me in touch as well. I had my son at the Mercy (in the labour ward, not the birthing centre) in 2007 and had a really good experience. We went in with a clear, one-page birthplan and they not only accepted it but seemed glad of it. They never tried to push anything on us that we had stated that we didn't want, even 'standard' things like regular dilation checks and the injection to expel the placenta. They pretty much left us alone for most of the labour. There was a doctor in the room for a total of about 30 seconds who did a dilation check (with my permission) after the second stage had started to make sure it was ok and not counter-productive for me to start pushing. Then she left and I had a normal, drug-free delivery with just midwives. That said, my labour was textbook, so you have to take that into consideration.
    I'd say the only reason you would need a doula/your own midwife would be if you or your partner doesn't feel confident in asserting your own preferences, which doesn't sound like the case. My husband was very clear on what we wanted and handled all the communication with staff, and it was absolutely fine.
    I have three friends who also had babies at the Mercy - one was fine, the second had some complications and found it more of a battle to get what she and her partner wanted (but it was a battle they won), the third had more serious complications and wasn't happy with the way the obst. handled it (but it was mainly a problem with bedside manner). I have heard many negative stories about the Womens - so I think in the public system it might be just the luck of the draw, ie who's working that day and how smoothly your labour goes. But I have no qualms whatsoever about going back to the Mercy if I have a second child. Best of luck with everything! If you have any other questions, Ping can put you in touch. :) Kate

  7. Have added you to my filters. Just click on the "maybe baby" tags to see all the ones from pregnancy. I think the birth story is at the end of those but if not, I've added you to "definitely baby" too.

    I say yes to the doula but check that yours is experienced with hospitals. You have the advantage that your partner has been through this before... but people still space out when they see loved ones in pain/distress. Mine was mainly a homebirth doula and she didn't really advocate for me once they started induction and I had no experience so I caved... I really needed a feisty person to stand up to the midwife and say "no, she does not want to be induced" or even to remind me "that's not in your plan, are you sure you want to do that? Do you want to take a minute and think about it?"

  8. Thanks Kate - it does sound like the experience depends a lot on the particular drs / midwives you encounter. But very glad to hear you had a good experience at the Mercy.

    And thanks Mordwen for adding me on - so much interesting stuff! And so many things to think about. I guess it is tricky working out how you (and loved ones) will react in a situation that is totally new and potentially frightening (and definitely painful for at least one of you). I guess the 'cascade of interventions' is something I'd like to avoid if possible.

  9. *i have had a little wine and should NOT be responding but anyways...*

    thanks for commenting on our blog :). congratulations on your little cheese.

    my babies were not born at the mercy but i have heard good things.

    birth stuff is hard.esecially at the start.

    see....shouldn't comment after wine...

    owlie :)