Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nosocomephobia: Who Knew?

Today we toured the hospital where I will be giving birth sometime in the next two months. Like so many other aspects of this whole pregnancy adventure, educating myself on exactly what I can expect from my hospital experience was not exactly the calming, empowering, anxiety-reducing experience all the books promise it will be. It was, instead, terrifying.

Yes, it’s helpful to know where to park and which button to push in the elevator, but aside from those educational gems, the tour merely served to remind me how much I hat hospitals. I mean, I reminded Dr. Husband as we approached the entrance that I know hospitals are no big deal for him but I hate them—I’d just forgotten how visceral my hatred is. And “hatred” probably isn’t even the right word. It’s more fear than loathing—as evidenced by the tears that sprang to my eyes the instant I saw a very unhappy-looking woman being wheeled down the hall on a gurney by a lone nurse. She wasn’t screaming or writhing or behaving in any way like a laboring woman in a movie or television show, she just looked like she would rather be anywhere else in the world doing anything else in the world wearing anything else than what she had on.

I simultaneously wanted to crawl up onto the gurney to snuggle her and to run away shouting, “Sign me up for a home birth!”

If only midwives could administer epidurals.

Fear of pain, fear of dying, fear of needles, fear of scalpels, fear of forceps, fear of anesthesia, fear of episiotomies, fear of nurses, fear of tubes, fear of beeping noises, fear of antiseptic, fear of hospital gowns, fear of hospital food, fear of bedpans. For as long as I can remember I’ve been plagued, too, by the fear of my slippery, slimy newborn being dropped on the hard hospital floor. I mean, I suppose the doctors have had plenty of practice catching babies, but would it kill them to put down a few towels?

It would probably be good for me to visit the labor & delivery wing a few more times before I have to go there for real, to desensitize myself a little. I’ve heard that fear slows down the labor process, and the last thing I want is to be there any longer than I have to. But I have a suspicion that exposure therapy won’t work all that well if I just stand there thinking, “I hate it here, I hate it here. What’s that smell? I hate it here.”

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