Reflections on childbirth09 Jan 2000
An article in progress
In the moment that Christopher was given to my wife, time seemed to stand still. I'm sure that there must have been a lot of activity in the delivery room, after the cord was cut, the placenta was expelled and examined, and the episiotomy was sewn shut. I don't remember much of that. I just remember holding as best I could my wife and Christopher.
I can't really compare childbirth in the US and in Germany, of course. We were loaned one American book (Pregnancy and Childbirth by Tracie Hotchner), which was helpful for vocabulary but seemed very paranoid and depressed. My feeling about many passages in the book was "I'm glad we're giving birth in Germany so we don't have to go through that!" (Looking at Amazon, I see the reviews there are mixed.)
I said in my first article that the PDA turned the birth into a clinical experience, but that isn't 100% true. I didn't have change into greens, and I don't remember anyone wearing masks, even during the delivery. When the PDA had set in, the midwife encouraged me to get into the bed with my wife and catch a few winks; the lights were turned down low and we were left alone. We never had to change rooms, and the delivery room did have a couple of padded chairs and a radio/cassette player so it didn't feel quite so shiny and sterile as a hospital room might feel. (We had recorded a couple of cassettes for the labor, but we never thought to put them in. We heard some Top 40 station all night long.)
In Germany, a midwife is required to attend to every birth, and our midwife Vera was one of the best. We didn't choose her; she was simply on duty that night, but my wife knew her from the weekly acupuncture treatments. All the midwives we have met during the past 2 months seem to possess a kind of magic in their voices and in their hands. It might well be witchcraft, in the most positive sense of the word. Vera's encouragement and sense of what my wife was feeling might very well have made the difference that made a C-section unnecessary.
My wife's health insurance entitled her to be treated by the head physician of the department...
I never did finish this story. I guess I would have written about how our private health insurance entitled us to better care than the normal German couple would have recieved. This story from my old weblog was copied into Movable Type on 17 August 2003