Coming from a culture where many babies are delivered at home, my cousin who is a doctor and mother of two, reminded me that no matter the frightening delivery stories people seem to want to discuss right before your scheduled due date, “the delivery process is completely natural, is not truly medical, you are not sick, your body knows what to do and the hospital staff is there to facilitate the natural process.” So given the choice between several large world-class medical centers to deliver my baby, I was leaning towards the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, which is equally sophisticated while providing an intimate setting.
The thought of having a baby born on Nantucket is for many both a romantic notion and, from what I have learned, a badge of honor. But in my case, the decision had nothing to do with the fact that my baby’s birth certificate would say “Place of Birth: Nantucket,” but rather to have a wonderful birthing experience that we would carry with us for the rest of our lives.
The choice of a doctor or a hospital is a trying task at best. Researching physicians’ backgrounds, experience and reputation, available specialists, nurse/patient ratios, teaching and research facilities are just some of the considerations. One can spend many rainy evenings on the Internet researching all the options to make a well-informed decision. Unlike many other medical procedures, selecting the doctor and hospital to deliver a child brings many more personal and emotional factors into play as well. Will it feel like a warm and caring environment? Will the doctors and nursing staff respect my birthing wishes? Will the nurses have quality time for my newborn and me?
When I learned I was pregnant, I asked myself all these questions, yet with so many excellent hospitals in New England, there were no obvious answers. With access to some of America’s leading medical centers, many would choose, and many friends certainly recommended, the “safe” option of a large, nationally ranked and recognized hospital with unlimited technology budgets, huge nursing staff, many medical residents on staff and the capability to address any hypothetical medical issue should the need arise. However, living in Boston and summering in Nantucket, with an uneventful pregnancy and an anticipated uncomplicated delivery, all options were on the table for our spring delivery.
When visiting the Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s obstetrics unit, my mind was quickly made up. Past the wall of bricks inscribed with the names of babies born on Nantucket and walking through the doors of the obstetrics department, I felt immediately enveloped by a warm safe environment surrounded by nurses who were as excited about my pregnancy and upcoming delivery as I was. Past the nursing station, the oak-paneled delivery rooms with en suite bath- rooms, rocking chairs and beds felt more like a hotel than a hospital. While the requisite medical equipment sat by each bed, I did not hear the constant buzzing of monitors and medical devices from the hallways that make institutional hospital settings so unpleasant. Rather the space felt not that different from being at a luxury resort with a level of attention from the staff that any hospitality business would strive for.
We arrived at the hospital at midnight and were immediately settled into our room. It became very clear that we were surrounded by a team of efficient and competent nurses and doctors. While I cannot comment on the medical importance of being relaxed during the birthing process, I have to believe that feeling so secure in the ability of those around you and so comfortable in the hospital environment plays a role in the de- livery outcome.
By the time my contractions increased and birth was impending, the entire team was at my side. With some nurses even staying past their regular shifts to be there for us. Our baby was delivered at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, April 28th, and beyond being the most incredible moment of my life, it was truly a gift to have had the baby at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital. The process went so smoothly, and both myself and the baby were doing so well, we decided to leave the hospital a day early to the disappointment of my husband who was enjoy- ing the broiled salmon dinners, the diaper changing service and the flat screen TV.
Since leaving the hospital, we befriended our wonderful delivery nurse Pat, who vis- its our baby regularly and feels like she has become a part of our family. When people ask where we had the baby, there is almost a universal reaction of surprise. Given the extensive options of extraordinary medical institutions from which we had to choose, there is absolutely no question that we made the right decision by having the baby in Nantucket. In so many ways this was an unforgettable experience, and yes, our baby’s birth certificate will forever say “Place of Birth: Nantucket.”