You might remember that I mentioned having a home birth last year with R. But I didn’t go into a ton of detail, because frankly, birth can’t be summed up in a paragraph, not accurately anyway. Maybe I’ll tell my birth stories soon, but for now, I’ll just give you the highlights. These 5 things made home birth everything it should have been and everything I wanted it to be for us.
1. I was fully in my comfort zone. Not a ton of people know, I suffer pretty badly with social anxiety. Because of this, the idea of being in a room with 2-3 strangers with my lady bits on full display was a nightmare for me. My husband will attest to the fact that during my first (hospital) birth, I did not calm down about it, even as I was pushing L out. At home, it was a different story. I had no interest in a nurse I’d just met 45 minutes prior staring me down like that. We don’t know each other that well, ma’am. At home I could lumber through my house, get comfortable wherever I pleased, crawl around on my own floor without feeling like a stranger had pooped there recently. I laid in my own bed, showered in my own shower, and I moved about as I pleased, without needing to figure out where I’m going, or alerting someone.
2. My daughter didn’t feel displaced by the birth of her sister. As many second time parents know, the worry of what will happen to your first born while you’re in the hospital is a real problem and can really put you ill at ease. At the time, L was cosleeping, had never even been left with family for any amount of time, and was socially anxious as well, even with people she knew. Sending her away to a foreign experience while I myself was in a state of chaos would have been terrifying for both of us, and would have hindered my ability to free my mind and allow her sister to come easily. So it was amazing that she was able to be in our home with my husband at her side whenever she was awake. When she was awake, her and my husband sat in the living room or ate or whatever it is that they did, while I wandered around, likely sounding like a dying moose. She fell asleep on the couch just in time for me to begin pushing and she woke within 20 minutes of her sister being born. After meeting her new sister, she sat in the chair next to our bed and watched and talked to us while me and R were getting settled. She came and sat in the bathroom with us and me & R took an herbal bath, and she eventually felt ready to go eat breakfast with her dad while we were nursing. She even got to be part of the stat checking for R.
3. I got to do whatever I wanted. I wasn’t being monitored (other than the occasional quick BP check or a heartbeat check with the doppler). I wasn’t trapped in a cramped room while nurses walked in and out just as I was getting into a groove. I wandered around, found comfortable positions on my own, I showered like 50 times, laid over the edge of my tub for about 45 minutes while I worked on getting R to a better spot. I like to be alone for the majority of my labor, so it was really nice to just be able to leave and go somewhere by myself without being pestered. I was in the safety of my own home, so I could do as I pleased without a nurse tsk-ing at me, or giving me some rundown of policy when I break a “rule”.
4. I really KNEW everyone who was at my birth. Each of my midwives had spent hours and hours with me. Every prenatal visit with them had been an hour or more of actual face-to-face time. There wasn’t a random stranger involved, there were no mid-labor introductions, there was no “this is how I like to do things” because all of that had been talked about at length in our many prior visits. They knew what was important to me, and there was no one there would didn’t know my real birth plan. There was no one there that made me feel the need to advocate for myself. We were close enough that when they showed up, we all fell into this seamless groove. They didn’t need to be instructed on where everything was, because they’d been here twice before. It was such a comfortable setting, which I really valued more than I thought I would. My husband was right by my side without being ordered to hold one of my legs. He was able to just hold my hand, brush my hair away from my face, and give me drinks in between contractions, just like I wanted for our first birth.
5. It was really MINE. In my previous birth, it never felt like my experience. I felt like I was whisked through birth, whisked through recovering, and that was that. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. But with my home birth, it was MY experience. It was on my terms, according to my plan (as much as is possible, anyway), and I was able to really immerse myself in my birth. It felt like I had done it all on my own, in a good way. I felt empowered by my birth, not crushed and exhausted by it. It was a birth I was proud of, and while I’d been proud of my babies and our journeys together with both births, I didn’t really own my hospital birth in the way I owned my home birth.
I know home births aren’t for everyone, and I’m sure many of my friends and family were horrified that I chose to birth without a team of emergency medical staff on call, but it was right for us, and honestly, I would do it again, if the idea of adding a 5th person to our home didn’t fill me with dread. It was just what I wanted for our family. And I think it benefited every one of us.
For anyone getting ready to give birth, whether home or hospital birth, the only thing I can tell you for when things are getting tough and you don’t think you can keep going is this: “you’re already doing it. You’re tougher than you know.” That’s what my midwives told me when things were getting hard, and I wasn’t sure I could keep going, and it has resonated with me since.