My Journey to Choosing Homebirth

On a forum site, someone asked how we had come to be homebirthers; what had led us to birth our babies at home. This was my response (and it’s pretty long). I wrote it when I was two days shy of being 40 weeks pregnant. I gave birth six days later.

“When I was 10 years old my mother finally had another baby.  She had a history of miscarriages/c-sections and so around her due date her doctor did an amniocentesis to check to see if baby’s lungs were developed enough to go ahead with the c-section.

My grandma, dad and I were all in the room with her. I remember her crying, and as a ten year old I wasn’t sure what was going on, other than my mom was upset (and crying!) and had a very long needle being moved around in her tummy.  Also the doctor kept complaining about the baby moving too much.  Nice – especially when there’s a needle there that could poke the baby at any time!

Since that point in my life, I knew something about that situation wasn’t right.  I bit my nails for months after that experience.  It truly affected me.  I graduated high school without knowing too much more about birth.  Except that I had an uncomfortable feeling about it and that lying on your back to push just didn’t make any sense.  Soon after graduating, my friend got pregnant and wanted me to be at the hospital with her.  When her mom mentioned I could “help hold a leg” while my friend was pushing, I was mortified.  That sounded awful to me.  I was actually grateful when my friend ended up having a c-section (reason: her baby was presenting herself face first).  I could handle the incision and all that jazz.

From then on, I did do some minor learning about birthing.  Everything I learned terrified me – episiotomies, cervical checks, pooping during labor, lying on your back, epidurals, everything (funny, the pain issue never scared me).  So, I mostly avoided the subject and tried not to think about what I’d have to deal with when I became pregnant.  Now, I’ve realized another issue I had with birthing was the disrespect that is shown to a woman’s body.  It always bothered me that the hospital wasn’t a private place and my parts would be displayed and manhandled.  Eventually, I decided I would go to a birthing center about an hour away if I ever had to endure a birth.

Fast forward to May 2009.  I discovered I was pregnant when I was about 4 weeks along (a big surprise to my newly married husband and I).  I wasn’t really upset by this, even with my negative view on birthing.  I figured we would make do…I could handle a birthing center when doctors wouldn’t force what I thought were ungodly procedures on me.  But as I researched my options, I found my insurance wouldn’t cover the birthing center.  I knew we could make payments, but my financial situation wasn’t the best and I wasn’t sure we could afford that.  If I went to the doctor and a hospital everything would be covered up to 80%.  My cost would just be 20% versus 100% at the birthing center.  I’m not sure what my logical reasoning was at the time, but I just knew I didn’t feel quite as right as I thought I would with the birthing center choice.  We ended up going to a doctor for lack of another choice.  I thought I could make my birth plan and deal with the hospital, even though that choice really made me feel terrible, I resigned myself to it.

I guess because of this feeling, I aimlessly searched online for midwives in the area.  I’m not sure how the idea of a homebirth got planted in my head, nor do I think I really seriously thought about it, I just kept looking around.  I found a few names of midwives in the surrounding area, but never contacted any of them.  Eventually I stumbled across a midwife’s name in a forum.  There was no number, no email and no link to a website.  Just a name.  For some reason, I felt compelled to find a phone number and call this particular midwife, even though I’d come across many others that were even closer to where I lived (this one was an hour and a half away).  As soon as I talked to her on the phone, I instinctively knew I wanted to meet her.  We set up an appointment. My husband and I both knew immediately after meeting with her that we liked her and wanted her to help deliver our baby.  She told us to wait to make a decision and to sleep on it.  We called her with our decision the next morning.  Even though my insurance wouldn’t take my midwife, we managed by making payments.  For her, and the experience I wanted, it was completely worth it.

My short experience with the doctor wasn’t all that terrible.  It was like any other time I’ve been to the doctor.  See a nurse, get your blood pressure taken, and spend a few minutes with the doctor (who always asks if you have any questions, but really wants to get on to the next patient. Not to mention I hate that question, “Do you have any questions?” It makes every question I had fly out of my head).  I think I only saw my actual doctor twice (I left her care at 19 weeks).  I suppose as far as doctors go, I had picked a decent one – she was friendly and professional.  When we told her we had decided to have a home birth and that it was no fault of the office staff (I even told her I planned on returning to her for any other gynecological appointments), her terse response was “I hope you don’t regret it.”  From that point on, I knew doubly that I’d made the right choice.

Our midwife spent, on average, an hour with us at each appointment.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  She talked to us about other topics than just birth and really got to know us.  I know I can trust her with my life and my baby’s life.  I feel comfortable knowing that she will be there when I’m in labor and that she will be honest and forthcoming with me.  I feel safe.  I no longer fear birth.  In fact, I’m anticipating it greatly!  I’ve done much research since those early days and have learned a lot about NATURAL birth and how the process really should work.  I’ve learned about birthing history and why/how some of the routine procedures got started.  While every woman should do what is best for them, their bodies and their babies, whether it is a hospital birth, a home birth or anything in between, every woman should READ and LEARN about birth and their own powerful bodies.

I would simply just discourage any woman from just going with the flow, just because it’s what their doctor says to do, or because it’s what is expected of them.  Once they have done their own research and learning, then they can truly make the best decision for them.  Honestly, I personally don’t understand how any woman could learn about natural birthing and still want to go to a hospital, but I know that women do and I respect that.  I have a lot of friends who haven’t had children who want to go to a hospital simply because they are scared of the pain and believe they NEED a doctor to deliver their child.  It is for people like them that I wish I could share my knowledge and help them understand their bodies are powerful and wise.

At the date when I’m writing this, I am 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant.  I have not been though birth yet, although I know it will be the most empowering, intense moment of my life.  I’m lucky to have a husband who supports me 100% and is just as comfortable with home birth as I am (and just as uncomfortable with the hospital as well!).  I’m lucky to have parents who support me and in-laws who haven’t questioned me.  I’m grateful to have found a spectacular midwife.  I cannot wait to “endure” my labor.  It feels magical – the way I went from being terrified to warm, fuzzy and comfortable.  It was an amazing transition for me.”

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