As our due date of November 8th is quickly approaching, I’m becoming more and more in touch with my inner Amazon woman, and I’m not talking about shopping. Like the tough, no nonsense woman within me that is ready to bear down and have a baby naturally. Unfortunately, however, I’m also becoming more in touch with the chicken within me. People who have known me most of my life are very familiar with my chickenness. I’m afraid of roller coaters, I get haunted by scary movies for months after watching them, and I’m even hesitant to watch evening news broadcasts because the state of the world is just plain scary. So it’s kinda funny when people ask me where we are going to have our baby. I respond timidly, “Well, we’re actually doing a homebirth…” Other moms usually respond with something like, “Oh wow, you’re brave.” Or worse, “I would love to do that but I’m just too paranoid.” It makes me sad to hear responses like this because they illuminate our culture’s negative and distorted views of birth. Remember what I said about myself earlier? I’m a chicken. I’ve been a chicken most of my life. So how did I, chicken-woman, come to the decision to have a homebirth?
Well, in undergrad, I saw a video in a sociology class that dramatically changed my views of birth. My professor was pretty crunchy and he thought it would be cool to show us different types of birth experiences from various cultures. This is how I was introduced to water birth. For the first time in my life I saw birth as something beautiful. The mother wasn’t screaming bloody murder, there were no anxious doctors around, and most interestingly, the baby emerged calm and quiet from the mama. I was enamored. For years I kept that image in my mind. So when it came time for Caleb and I to think about what kind of birth we wanted, I knew I wanted a water birth.
It wasn’t long before I discovered that waterbirth wasn’t available in most hospitals. I was really disappointed and figured I would just have to let that dream go. Then some really cool stuff started to happen. Two of our best friends discovered they were pregnant and informed us that they were planning on having a home birth, a concept I had never heard of. Then we came across the documentary “The Business of Being Born.” If you haven’t seen it, please do, it will give you a whole new appreciation for the beauty of birth. In the film, many women are shown having a water birth in their own homes. I remember feeling giddy that my water birth dream could become a reality. I looked over at my husband and said, “I want that.” To my surprise he said, “Me too.”
The film illustrates that while a hospital birth is sometimes necessary, there are many healthy women who do not need to take that route if they so choose. We even learned that the likelihood of having a natural birth in the hospital was not high and about the inherinat risks of various hospital interventions. It was very important to me to have a natural birth because of the research I had done on the effects of medication and the mama/baby bond. (That’s another topic for another day. Just for the record, I don’t judge those who’ve had epidurals, it’s not the end of the world, just not MY preference for MY birth.) I had also been aware of the dangers of some hospital interventions because we almost lost my stepmom during her labor experience because of a botched epidural. Truthfully, I became more scared of having a hospital birth than a home birth. It also seemed like to have the kind of birth I really wanted would be an uphill battle in that setting because interventions were so routine there. Luckily, I realized that our birth experience was something that we could choose. We had options. It wasn’t long before we were researching various midwifery centers (I know, it sounds SO crunchy) and fell in love with South Coast Midwifery. I am beyond thankful for this place! Even after our research about home birth, we were still nervous about the safety of it. They reassured us that they have never lost a mama or a baby in over 20 years of service. They also have all of the equipment equivalent to that of a neonatal ambulance so if, for example, the baby were to struggle with breathing or I were to start bleeding too much, they could handle that. Most importantly, they informed us that they monitor mom and baby vigorously during pregnancy and labor, if anything seems slightly near the “danger zone” they are transferred to a doctor’s care. They don’t take any chances. To watch a quick 10 minute video check out “Natural Born Babies,” it’ll give you an idea of what out-of-hospital-birth is all about.
So, I’m not writing this to freak anyone out about hospital birthing. The purpose is to say, hey, you have options. Educate yourself about birthing. Get all of the facts and decide what is best for your family. You don’t need to be an Amazon woman to have a home birth. There are so many resources out there to help you have the birth you want. Caleb and I took The Bradley Method course and loved it. There were home birthers and hospital birthers in the class, all there to simply learn how to have an empowered birth. As we get closer and closer to our birth, I become aware of how little control I have over the “when” of the situation. This baby could come at any time, yay! Yet, I at least feel empowered to know that even if I do get transferred to a hospital, Caleb and I have educated ourselves enough to know how to make the best of any situation. We’ve learned how to keep mama/baby bonding the most important priority regardless of the birth location. I’m feeling sort of scared still (remember, I’m a chicken), but I’m feeling mostly excited and very prepared. Ironically, when I say “very prepared” I mean, I’m prepared to surrender to the process and let my God-given body do the work. This chicken is giving birth, one way or another. I’m sure that there will be surprises, but my only hope is that Caleb and I stay connected with each other and our baby. It won’t be long until I’ll be writing about our birth experience here! I can’t wait!!