Every birth changes you. I’m a new person after each of my own babies arrive (Read Baby #1’s story here. And Baby #2’s story here.) and every birth I attend as a doula or friend moves me or teaches me in some way.
But, the birth of Logan – one year ago today – shifted my thinking so dramatically that I’m a completely different person. I look the same and probably sound the same, but it’s time to detail what happened in me and possibly encourage some change for you.
Logan’s birth was actually pretty unremarkable: I labored quickly and without complication while my husband and friends supported me. I made all the sounds of labor, I wanted the epidural, I cried, I grabbed my husband’s hand like a lifeline and I didn’t want to go on.
But, there was one profound difference: I gave birth to my baby at home.
Because I never loaded up my laboring body to speed through the Nebraska night to a hospital, I am an outlier. An abnormality. When labor began, I turned completely to the task of letting my body bring my baby earthside. I never had to ask, “Is it time to go?” I just stayed home.
Ours wasn’t an easy decision or a popular one, but I knew how this baby would enter the world if I didn’t stay home. And I wanted something different. Eric and I went over the risks (vbac, out-of-pocket cost, distance to hospital, etc) and the benefits (safety, unhindered movement, pain management options, not having to fight for what we wanted, normalcy, etc) and it only solidified our decision. We would welcome our baby at home.
So I began creating my own options – literally. There was no plan for me to follow, no listings on the Internet for “underground” midwives and only vague guidance about how to prepare. It felt like an uphill battle as I interviewed providers from hundreds and thousands of miles away. I had an honest conversation with my backup provider about my plans, not knowing how she would respond. (She was wonderful!) I had to keep many details under wraps to protect my provider and our situation. It was not an easy process and I wondered if all the work would be worth it.
And guess what? It was amazing.
I never realized that working outside the “system” would feel so…normal. My water broke in my own bed. I paid attention to my contractions and adjusted my position to make the pattern more effective. My husband called our attendant and friends to alert them while I rested comfortably in my own bed. My baby was monitored in my bedroom and I was encouraged to just keep doing what I was doing. I walked up my own stairs to my “labor cave.” My friend arrived and assisted me with contractions while my husband filled our bathtub for pain relief.
Everything was quiet and dark – except for the “baby-come-out” sounds I made and the glow of candles around us. I felt loved, surrounded and supported. I reached that point in labor when I doubted myself, asked for a check on the baby’s heart rate and then my body started pushing. With the first effort, his head was born. I could feel baby hair, a squishy face and ears. (That was surreal!) With the next contraction, I pushed with ALL my might and the entire slippery baby body was up and in my arms. He had a nuchal cord (cord around his neck) which I knew was a normal variation of birth and with a little help, it was unlooped. Eric excitedly announced “It’s a boy!” as I sat back in wonder at the speed of the process: three hours from water breaking to birth. My friend and husband cooked me breakfast in my own kitchen as I rested on my own couch.
And just like that, the world looked different. I had done something that no one is “allowed” to do here:
I pushed MY baby out of MY body in MY home.
And I realized something: we’ve messed with birth so much in our culture that this incredibly normal, easy process I had just experienced would never be understood by most people – even many family and friends! We’ve taken a usually normal experience, added medical procedures “just in case,” provided “solutions” to problems that don’t even exist and removed all the inconvenient and unprofitable options from the conversation. Add the media distortion and the political regulations and it’s easy to see why we’re scared of this thing we call birth.
(Big, fat disclaimer: I am very grateful for medical professionals and institutions who care for women and babies when high-risk situations arise. I’ve heard stories about and seen births that should absolutely have happened in a hospital. Not every woman can or should give birth at home.)
But, should we be scared of birth? Should we remove our input from one of the most important events we’ll ever experience? This is America – freedom is our right…except when it comes to birth? We’re told we don’t know best, can’t be trusted to make decisions for OURSELVES AND OUR CHILD (when our God-given instincts and hormones are at their highest levels!) and we should turn over all our power to professionals…who are essentially strangers, don’t really know us and often don’t know normal birth.
And that is what changed for me that day. I realized I had been living in the Matrix of birth. (Stick with me here!) Blind to my real options. Blind to my power. Blind to my Creator’s design.
And I was angry. Angry that women don’t even know there is a different way. Angry that they’re lied to. Angry for the stolen experiences and disempowerment that happens every day when babies enter the world. What should be one of the happiest and most exhilarating experiences for a woman and her family can instead be heart-wrenching and full of fear.
I’ve struggled with sharing this for a year. How do I not offend my friends, my clients, my family? How do I address this very delicate issue without judging or alienating people I care for deeply?
The answer: with lots of love and conversation. I want to start talking about our experiences – even if we don’t agree! I want us to really listen to someone who has a different perspective. And, let’s be aware that there are other options for birth – even if it’s not the way we would choose. My own mind has been changed over and over again in regards to birth. And, while the process is exhausting and takes time, we can’t stop until birth in every context brings life, love and change for THE BETTER every single time.
Interested in what homebirth looks like?
The birth of our third miracle baby.