Yes, I know I have plenty of time, but then again :-)
Personally I would love to have a home birth, but as that's not exactly a possibility (well, if I really really wanted to I guess I could, but well.. I guess I rather not get into that), a natural birth in a hospital is the next best thing.
3 hospitals - T, B & L.
T is the local hospital (in fact the one in which my sperm bank is located). It is a good big hospital with a very good reputation. They do have some kind of natural birth centre, but their orientation is medical, and very quickly and over any little thing will have you continue the birth with a doctor. That is something I do not want happening. Yes, it is a hospital and if something goes wrong, good that there are doctors around, but I would prefer not being rushed to the doctor on any little thing. So I am very much against giving birth there.
As for B, it is located a bit further (T is not more than a 15 minute drive) away, but still quite reasonably close. I think they do have some kind of natural birth centre, but not quite sure how they are about it. I think they are probably more or less like T - quick to send to the doctor.
So now we come to L. A little hospital, maybe not the best of names, but their natural centre... oh, such a good reputation! I am reading a lot, and it only has good recommendations. They go with you all the way on the natural thing, let you have the birth you want. Only problem is the distance - about an hour's drive. Oh, and their maternity ward (where I'll be after birth) is lousy! Obviously not a point in their favour, but o.k, I'll live with that, it's the distance that might be an issue.
Talked today to sister #1 who I want to be with me during the birth, and she told me how there was this hospital she was planning to go to when giving birth to her daughter, and how the water broke so she ended up going to the nearest one (T) and how she was very pleased.
And I don't know.. I very much want to give birth in L, but what happens if I make all these plans and end up rushed to whatever hospital.
The thing is what I know is from reading and all, not from actually seeing the place(s). I have plenty plenty plenty of time until I do the hospital tours, and only much later (with confirmation that all is well and I can have a natural birth, and the size of the baby and all), will I be able to register to the natural health centre.
But then there is the midwife issue. I do not want a Douala in my birth. Don't know, I just don't fancy some strange woman in my most private and intimate moments so called there for me. But I do want to give birth with a midwife, one whose orientation is natural births (and hopefully no doctor!). I understand that I can just go with the natural centre, and whatever midwife is on call will be with me, or pay for a private midwife (let me just add that giving birth at a natural birth centre is also not free and not exactly cheap, whereas just giving birth in a hospital doesn't cost). Going with whoever is on duty is a big gamble, as I understand all midwifes do rounds also in the natural centre, so I could end up with really anyone. So I prefer paying and knowing I can be calm about that. Now there are a few who are very much recommended, one in particular, but not sure how far ahead I should book her. I think now should be a good time to try (I think better being early than late and hearing she's fully booked. In fact the one with all those recommendations, I heard she doesn't take anymore new patients, but then today I heard that due to some personal issues she is not taking new patients in the near future, so maybe I'll be able to have her..). But I have so many questions, like what if baby ends up with in a breech position which will mean no natural birth, or if she's too big etc. At the hospital I can only register from about week 32 (or something like that), so I'm calm about that. But not sure how it goes with a midwife and if I want to ensure she will be with me at the birth and all.. And this midwife with all the recommendations, well how do I know she is the one for me? Besides her knowing her work and all and a good chemistry between us, what am I looking for in her? And I haven't yet read the book "active birth" which I really want to (in fact, haven't yet bought it), so I feel like if I schedule an appointment now, it will still be a bit early knowledge wise (I would like to come to the meeting knowing a bit more..). But then again, if the good midwifes are snatched, I prefer being an early bird here.