We visited Flower Hospital yesterday, and made our final decision in favor of Bay Park. Flower was pretty nice: not as long a drive as I thought it would be (twenty minutes, though that was only to the campus and not to whatever entrance we'd be using to drop me off when the time came, since there was no label for "maternity ward" or "breeders this way" or anything so we didn't know which way to go), and the rooms were spacious and well-kept.
But Eric and I both got an unpleasant vibe from the place. We had to talk it out a bit before I was convinced that we had reasons to reject it other than gut instinct--or rather that the gut instinct was based on something substantial. I think on Eric's part it was partly the big tour group we were in and the tour guide's (necessarily?) talking-down-to-the-poor-ignorant-people tone. I didn't like it either, but I can forgive it in a situation like that. We were both put off by what felt like a very unexpectedly traditional attitude towards labor and delivery: "We will cure you of the disease of pregnancy."
I'd heard that Flower was very progressive and modern and mother-friendly; they certainly do encourage having the babies in the rooms, and have birthing rooms with no separate recovery rooms, and no official visiting hours and such. But we got a handout that stated that every woman is placed on electronic fetal monitoring as soon as they're admitted; we got the strong impression that the hospital's, or at least the nurse's, opinion is that every woman would and should want an epidural ("or you can get other pain medication through your IV" and, in the handout, "we also have alternative things like beanbag chairs and aromatherapy"); the nurse asked who was having a boy and reassured those people that the circumcision would take about ten minutes and "usually they do just great." I wondered whether they would kick up a fuss if we were having a boy and didn't want him circumcised. I also wondered whether they were really progressive other than introducing birthing rooms to the area. The guide asked "Is anyone using a midwife?" and when one women raised her hand, said, "There are also two rooms with tubs, if you're interested in that," sounding very dubious about anyone who would do such a thing; whether she meant working with midwives or laboring in water, I wasn't sure which.
(Apparently they used to have a birthing room for water births, but there was some situation in which a woman in the tub needed a bed and there was none in the room, so they took the tub out. I don't see why they couldn't have just added a bed, since the rooms were certainly big enough.)
So I called the midwife group attached to Bay Park this afternoon and got an appointment. I'm to bring in my records from my current doctor when I go; since the appointment is in a week I'm probably going to go pick them up rather than having them mailed. I have to admit I'm looking forward to leaving my doctor, now that we've made the decision--her administrative staff have continued to drive me crazy. And Eric doesn't need even more crazy on his hands.