We welcomed our son into the world just over a year and a half ago with the help of incredible hospital l&d nurses and a very kind OB. The whole birth was a whirlwind and happened incredibly quickly. My water broke during the middle of moving day and three hours later I was holding my sweet boy. I felt very supported by the hospital staff and the nurses continued to cheer me on and tell me how wonderful I did even hours after the delivery. I delivered at the newly remodeled Martha Jefferson Hospital which, in all honesty, is quite swank. I enjoyed being pampered, having food delivered to me, while I spent time with my son. Needless to say, after such a great first experience, my husband and I planned to have our second child with the same OB practice and at the same hospital.
However, one fear I had during my first pregnancy kept creeping into my mind during this pregnancy: would I be forced into an intervention that I did not want? Fortunately, with the first birth everything went so quickly and smoothly that the only intervention that was mentioned was starting me on pictocin if contractions didn’t start after my water broke. That option quickly became unnecessary. I do remember panicking briefly in the delivery room when I was asked if I wanted to have an epidural. An epidural and episotomy were two practices I wanted to stay far away from and, for some reason, I was afraid an epidural would be forced on me (let me say, I fully believe in a woman’s right to choose an epidural; they just scare me). Of course, it wasn’t and all was fine.
And even though everything went wonderfully during the first delivery, I’ve been feeling scared that maybe labor goes a bit differently this time and I get bullied into an intervention that I want to avoid. I had been keeping that fear at bay until recently when, my second favorite doctor at the practice (also the one who delivered Bug) reminded me of how narrowly focused Western medicine can be.
Now, let me pause and say, 1.) I am very thankful for the development of Western medicine and I appreciate it and partake in it when necessary; and 2.) I have nothing but respect for the OB and nurses who delivered Buggy–they were phenomenal.
All that being said, I still started to have my doubts about delivering Baby #2 with my current OB practice. Buggy was born at 36.5 weeks gestation, at a beautiful weight and without any health complications. Yet, because he was born 3 to 4 days before what is considered full-term, the doctor I had been seeing felt that he needed to recommend weekly hormone shots for me to prevent pre-term labor again. My real problem with this suggestion arose because I ended up feeling like he wouldn’t have an open conversation with me about the shots. During my first two appointments, he led me to believe that he personally did not feel that I needed this intervention. Yet, when I arrived for my third appointment, he was all “it is recommended that you do this.” What about alternatives? “This is the recommended course of treatment.” I felt that the shots were being pushed on me solely for liability reasons. I left the appointment overwhelmed, afraid, and angry.
After chatting with a sweet friend of mine who had used the same practice and had used the recommended shots, I started to feel like they were not an option I wanted to choose. Due dates can be off by a few days anyway, so perhaps Buggy was born at exactly 37 weeks. Also, people develop at different rates their entire lives–maybe Bug was just ready to be born that day.
I felt empowered when I turned the hormones down but the fear that similar interventions would be pushed on me with little dialogue started to grow. So I did some research… I started looking into midwives who deliver in our area. There are two who run a birthing center nearby and I knew I could get Jesse on board for a birth there. But then I found the website for a midwife who solely does home births. Something in her picture and the way she presented herself on her website made me feel drawn to her. I had never considered a home birth (and only months before the thought would have terrified me) but the more I thought about it, the more excited I became. Tentatively, I broached the subject with Jess. He wasn’t super thrilled about the idea but, being the open-minded wonderful man that he is, he decided to entertain the idea. I set-up an appointment to meet with the midwife.
On Saturday we met with Debbie. After over an hour long interrogation by us, our minds were made. We were going to have a home birth. Debbie was knowledgeable, upbeat, nonjudgmental, and wasn’t phased by our curious, tired toddler. Not only were we excited to deliver with her, we (Jesse included!) became super excited about having our baby at home.
Having a home birth is the right decision not just for me but also for Jesse and Buggy. After our first birth, Jesse felt confined to the hospital and had a hard time being cooped up in a room. With a home birth, he’ll be more comfortable and be able to get fresh air in his own backyard. If we delivered in a hospital for baby #2, Buggy would likely be separated from us for several nights. He also wouldn’t feel comfortable visiting at the hospital and I fear the transition to Big Brother might be even tougher. With a home birth, Buggy can stay at home during the entire process. Perhaps it’ll be at night and he’ll sleep through it. Or, even if we send him to stay with my parents, he’ll be able to meet his new sibling in the comfort in his own home and then be able to sleep in his own bed. To make the recovery and transition period even smoother, Debbie will come to our house for the three post-partum check-ups. I know we will appreciate not having to tote a newborn and a toddler out to town so soon after the birth. A home birth is the right decision for us.
I want to take a moment now to say that just because we’ve chosen to have a home birth doesn’t mean that I don’t support women who choose to have a hospital birth. I read this wonderful posting on the Birth Without Fear blog about supporting women in no matter what choices they make during birth. This quotation sums it up nicely:
“A woman is beginning her motherhood and it should begin with love all around her. If a woman has a birth she sees as traumatic, no matter what kind of birth it is, give her support. If a woman chooses a different path that you would, remember it is HER journey. When you want to put a woman down, remember that if you want her to come to you with questions, be the person she wants to receive answers from.”
And just as I support every woman as she enters motherhood, no matter what route she takes, I ask that you support our decision to have baby #2 at home. Here is a list of things you shouldn’t say to a woman planning a home birth, even if you mean well (and especially if you’re trying to make a point). We’re incredibly excited about our journey and we hope you will be too.