I had just given birth to my second child when I started dreaming about homebirth. I’d pack up my toddler who was 15 months old at the time along with my newborn baby and we’d walk across the gravel driveway to my mother’s house (we lived behind her) to blissfully enjoy her cable TV and air conditioning in the middle of the day.
After I settled in my toddler with a few snacks, I’d park my butt on the sofa to nurse my baby and watch A Baby Story. It was the same sad story--lack of labor, Pitocin, pain, crying, epidurals, babies in distress, c-sections and doctors who come in and save the day. Then one day, I saw an episode that blew my mind. It was a mother who give birth on her bed at home, with other children around her. I noticed she wasn’t writhing in pain, she wasn’t screaming, she wasn’t stuck in an unnatural position for the benefit of the OB and she didn’t have a gaggle of nurses around her commanding her to push. My most recent birth experience still fresh on my mind, what I witnessed that afternoon was practically revolutionary.
I always thought of homebirth as a groovy, crunchy hippie thing to do. I mean, was it even legal? Was it safe? How would I find a midwife? What would my husband think? I never considered homebirth for myself. It was an exciting and strangely attainable proposition. Exactly two years later, I found myself preparing to give birth at home with my third child.
I wanted to give birth on my own terms.Bottom line, I wanted to give birth on my own terms--not according to my doctor’s schedule. This was my birth, my body and my baby. It was simple. I wanted to give my unborn baby an unhurried, peaceful entry into this world. No bright lights, no nurses barking orders, no strangers putting their hands on them, no unnecessary drops in their eyes, no needles and heel pricks, no isolation, no warming lights and no plastic bassinet. Just birthing into warm water, soft breasts, silky skin, gentle kisses on their forehead and quiet, teary-eyed greetings.
Empower yourself with knowledge.I became like a sponge, sucking up as much knowledge about homebirth as I could. I read statistics, I saw videos, I read books about midwives, I learned about birth in different cultures and most importantly, I learned about my body and how it was specially made to give birth. I didn’t have Ricki Lake and The Business of Being Born to inform me about how dangerous unnecessary medical intervention was. It was just me, Barbara Harper’s Gentle Birth Choices, my raggedy copies of The Compleat Mother, my heartfelt convictions and my dreams of a natural childbirth (preferably in the water). Once my eyes were opened, it just made sense to give birth at home.
Surround yourself with positive people.Don’t let others put their fear on you and over your birth. Of course, there were people who doubted our decision--namely our parents. But I knew their concern was rooted in love, so I did my best to explain my newfound conviction and educate them to quell their fears. Whenever anyone else tried to predict a negative and scary scenario, I’d immediately shut them down. I didn’t want to cloud my focus. I became friends with other women who had homebirths, so I was able to visualize what my birth could be. I also spoke at length with my midwife, and learned a great deal from her.
I went on to have four amazing homebirths, three of those being waterbirths. They are some of my most treasured memories in my life. I truly believe it’s given me the confidence to be a better mother. I think every woman should have a birth they can look back on and be happy about, regardless of whether it’s at home or in a hospital. I’ve never regretted the decision my husband and I made and I’m proud to say that our babies were born at home, in peace and on our own terms.
Denise, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
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Pearmama. You can also find her over at Babycenter where she is giving the site a much needed Latina perspective.