Home birth, part 1

I have been wanting to do some posts about home birth, because while it is not the right decision for every one, with my last pregnancy, it was the right decision for me. It is near and dear to my heart and was one of the most empowering, transformative experiences I've ever had.

I thought to start out my posts on home birth, I would begin with my personal experience - how I was guided to choosing a home birth. I mostly want to record this for my own sake, and I don't mind sharing the journey with others.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second daughter, I was so excited. I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth, without medication. This is because I had had an epidural with my son, and was not too impressed by it. I desired a natural birth with him, but I was not prepared enough and decided to get an epidural when I was dilated to 6 cm. I felt let down after his birth and told myself I would go naturally the next time.

So, the next time came, and I was determined. When I was pregnant with my son, I had so many people tell me I couldn't have a natural birth, especially members of my family. They said, "Oh, you have no idea how hard it is. Just wait, you'll want the drugs." I wanted to have a natural birth for myself, but it didn't hurt to have someone in mind I wanted to prove wrong.

I called my insurance to see if midwives were covered. They weren't. So next, I researched and found a doctor who was very supportive of natural birth. I enjoyed going to this doctor, but it still felt like just a doctor. Nothing special about the relationship. I felt very confident, however, that I would be able to have a natural birth and knew that this doctor would be supportive.

My next step was finding a doula. I talked to a few doulas, and settled on one, who happened to be apprenticing with a local home birth midwife. I hadn't really considered home birth before. And, I didn't consider it at first either. Not for any particular reason, I just didn't really think about it. I was very happy to have a doula and knew that I would have the support I needed to birth naturally in a hospital.

As my pregnancy progressed, I researched and read all I could about pregnancy, labor, and birth. I wanted to be prepared. I talked to people who birthed naturally. I read birth blogs. Incidentally, I read a lot about home birth. My mind was opened to that possibility, little by little. I had known a few people who had had home births right around the time my first was born but other than that, I hadn't had any experience with home birth.

I was due right in the midst of the whole "Swine Flu/H1N1" thing (I would call it an epidemic...but, well...it didn't turn out to be an epidemic at all). Because of this, the hospitals became very, very strict regarding visitors in the Mother/Baby unit. I found out when I was around 26 weeks pregnant that the hospital I was delivering at would not allow children under 12 in to visit their mother's or sibilings. This made me so sad. I couldn't imagine being away from my little boy (who would be only 20 months old when I delivered) for two whole days, let alone not being able to show him his sweet little sister. I wanted him to be a part of the experience. I didn't know what to do about it. I knew it sounded stupid to people, but it hurt me to the core. I just couldn't imagine it.

Then, I found out that if a mother was suspected of having H1N1, that in some cases, the baby would be taken away so as to not become infected. This enraged me and I felt it was wrong. I do not want newborns to get sick, but I didn't believe it was the hospital's right to separate the mother and baby, against a mother's will. If it were me (and it very well could have been me) - I would want the choice. Choices. Those are important. And, we as mother's should have a choice. I wanted a choice. And, if I wasn't able to have that choice in a hospital, then I would find a way to have that choice.

I also felt that the hospital was a very germy place, with the whole H1N1 thing, and I didn't feel comfortable with that. I felt that our home was a much safer place for my baby to enter this world.

Incidentally, like I mentioned before, my doula was an apprentice midwife. I called her up one day, just to see how much a home birth would cost. Finances were my main concern. If it wouldn't be expensive, I was almost positive I needed to talk to my husband about doing a home birth. She told me that they were just starting a program for low-income families to be able to do home birth. By having part of the appointments occur in group settings, with a moment for individual check-ups, they could charge less, but still let women have the birth experience they wanted. It also provided a great system of support for pregnant women and new mothers. What an amazing blessing for us.

I spoke to my husband about having a home birth. I had already done all my research and I had felt that it was very safe and that it was something we should consider. At first, he didn't really see the need for a home birth. He thought I could have the birth I wanted in a hospital. I knew that would be his reaction, and definitely understood it. I felt the same way - "Why can't I just be satisfied with a hospital birth?" I couldn't understand why I felt so driven to have a home birth. I was being led and guided...and even pulled at times. But why? I didn't really know, but I knew I had to do what I was being guided to do.

I continued to research, and of course, pray and think about the decision. I educated my husband, and as he researched and learned, he saw that it would be a good thing too. He supported me and told me that we would birth wherever I felt it would be best. I knew he was behind me 100%. I had a lot of negativity from my family surrounding my decision. I had decided on birthing at home, but with all of the negativity, I had lots of thoughts inside about not doing it. I thought to myself, "It'd be so much easier just to give birth in the hospital...nobody would ask me questions...nobody would be saying bad things about me." But, again, that would be going against what I felt so driven to do. It would be going against something inside telling me it was the right decision.

It was not an easy decision to decide to have a home birth. It was not hard because I felt it was unsafe - through research and prayer, I felt totally confident that it would be safe. I knew God was in control and I knew that the outcome depended on His plans for me. I knew my midwife had the knowledge and experience needed to have a good outcome. I knew I was healthy and low-risk. It was hard because it was going against the grain. Home birth is not common, although it is becoming increasingly more well-known. It was hard because I had such little support, outside God, my husband, my midwife, a friend, and the natural birthing community online. It was hard because I was making an uncommon choice.

I ultimately decided to have a home birth when I was 32 weeks pregnant. From the moment I made my decision, I felt so excited. That told me it was the right decision to make. I couldn't stop thinking about it and planning for it. I felt sad that I didn't have many people to share that excitement with. I kept it to myself because I had opened up to my family about wanting a home birth and had had such negativity, that I decided it was best to just keep it to ourselves so I wouldn't have to deal with what other people think. I decided I would let people know about Maude's home birth after she was born. It was easier that way for me because the negativity put a damper on my excitement.

I firmly believe that the harder the choices are that we make, the more rewarding they are. That doesn't mean that we should make choices that are wrong. That is not what I am saying at all. What I am saying is that we should make choices that are right, even if they are HARD. Even if they are the hardest thing you'll ever do. If it is right and your heart is telling you to do it, you have to do it, no matter what. Having a home birth took so much courage. But it is a decision I will never regret. I came away from that experience with so much growth. I grew spiritually as I made the decision and I grew spiritually as I birthed. My testimony of God grew. I knew He was aware of me and I knew He was guiding my life. I also knew that He knows all things. He knew when Maude would come. My labor lasted a long while and I felt so hopeless. The apprentice midwife said to me, "Kami, God knows when Maude will be born. You just have to trust in Him. He already knows how this will end! Have faith!" I realized that I was not in control - God was. He already knew when she'd be born and I had to trust in him. I did trust in Him and I turned my will over to His.

In the end, I know why I was led and guided to this choice. No experience has changed me the way my home birth changed me. I felt empowered. I felt transformed. I learned how to listen to God's voice guiding my life. I came closer to my husband. I learned to trust in my body. My confidence grew. I also gained two wonderful friends - my midwife and apprentice midwife. I'm forever changed by them. If I would have taken the "easy" route (in this case, for me, it would have been the easy way out, but I do not mean that if you choose to birth in the hospital, that you are taking the easy way out), I would not have become the person I am today. My decision, although very difficult, changed my life for the better and I am so thankful I did something hard. Now I know "I can do hard things."