Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We had a home birth (and you can too!) Part 1

*This will be the first in a series of posts about our birth choices*

If you know me in person you have more than likely heard me gush about our recent home birth.  It's hard for me to not talk about how amazing the birth was and it's even harder for me to not shout to every pregnant woman I see "YOU SHOULD HAVE A HOME BIRTH!  OUR BODIES WERE MADE FOR THIS!!"


I really detest the word "should" when it comes to parenting advice.  "You should just let her cry it out....." or "You should just spank her..." has been uttered to me many a time by people meaning well.  However, to me, the word should sounds like "I know better than you do and you should listen to me...."

So, I won't use the 's' word.  Instead, I will simply share with you what brought us to the decision to have Lucia (and any other future children) at home.  Maybe you'll read something that makes you think.  Maybe you'll just read an interesting story.  Maybe one day you'll have a home birth.

20ish weeks pregnant with Azalia

I used to think of home birth as something for natural birth extremists or hippies.  Not for me.  No thank you.  I want a natural, drug-free birth, but in the safety and security of a hospital with emergency personnel standing by, please. 

Then I gave birth to my first daughter, Azalia.  We had been planning and preparing for a drug-free birth the whole pregnancy.  We told almost everyone we knew about this decision.  And almost every single person told us, "Oh...just you wait" or "You're probably going to want that epidural at some point..." and even "Are you crazy?!  Do you just love pain?"  We chose to go to a midwife for the prenatal care because we knew that midwives were low-intervention and very woman-centered.  We read this book and practiced all the relaxation exercises the last few months of the pregnancy.  We took a Lamaze class from the hospital in which our baby would be born so we would be familiar with the procedures there.  We typed up a birth plan that included "Our desire is to birth our baby drug-free" and "I would prefer to tear naturally and do not consent to an episiotomy".   We were prepared. 

Then the day came.  Sometime soon I will type up Azalia's birth story.  But for now, know that it did not go as we hoped and I was very close to a c-section because of a spiral of interventions.  We did achieve the drug-free birth for which we worked so hard.  I was feeling the natural birth high, but because many things happened that were out of my control, I looked back on that birth experience with a little bit of disappointment.  (I really, really dislike when mothers express the slightest disappointment with their birth experience and are met with "Oh, but you had a healthy baby, that's all that matters".  No, you are invalidating that mother's experience when you tell her that.)

We did it!  We had a natural birth!

A couple years after Azalia's birth we were thinking about trying for another baby.  We also watched this movie.  I was doing a lot of reflection on my first birth experience as we prepared for our second child.  And I realized that the kind of birth that we were wanting and hoping for was not going to be in a hospital.  It would be in our home.

I began reading birth stories online about women giving birth at home.  I could feel how empowered they felt, I could see the strength in their stories.  I knew what natural birth felt like....I wanted to know what it was like to give birth to my baby in our home.  I didn't want to worry about labor slowing down or stopping when I was transported to the hospital.  I didn't want the pressure of an epidural.  I didn't want a doctor (yes, the backup doctor attended Z's birth) telling me to lay on my back and cutting me without consent.  I wanted to walk around my own home and smell my things and eat whenever I wanted.  I wanted to cuddle up with my little one and my husband in our own bed.  I wanted to feel safe.

Then, we had our miscarriage.  Losing Seraphim made me even more convinced about home birth.  I wasn't sure if we were going to have another baby, but if we did, I wanted that baby born at home.

After the miscarriage, Joe and I discussed home birth.  He was actually born at home! I assumed he would be 100% for home birth, especially since he knew we could birth naturally.  I was wrong.  He was hesitant.  We decided to talk with some more people, I gave him some things to read.  I really wanted a home birth, but I knew I would not be able to do it without his support.  This birth was as much his as it was mine.  I needed him to be just as passionate about it as I was.  So I prayed and I waited.


  1. I have a question (or a few) for you....
    What if your baby was breech? Or if you were expecting twins? Or triplets? Or double breech twins?? WWYD? I have heard some WAY "crazy" stories lately & you are the only "extremist hippie" I know. Its funny you are posting a series on this because I was just wanting to message you this question but since you are off FB for a time, I wasn't sure the best way how.

  2. So interesting! Can't wait to read more.

  3. @ Katie...Very valid questions. In general, most midwives won't attend a home birth unless you are low-risk. I have heard of successful breech & multiples home births. However, I'm not sure if I would be that brave. There was a point in our pregnancy when the Lucia was breech and we had to decide if we would be comfortable having a breech home birth. Thankfully she turned right in time! I don't see myself giving birth in a hospital again unless it's absolutely necessary though :)

    @ Charlie....thanks! When I started typing it out I didn't think it would be so much! It's good to look back and remember how we got to this decision :)

  4. Don't forget that there are plenty of natural birthers/home birthers/etc. that give plenty of "You should...." It would be nice if both sides respected the decisions of moms, whatever they may be. In fact, in my personal experience, the most vehement "You should..." followed by some type of insult to my choices as a mother, came from a natural birth/home birth advocate. Just to clarify, I have had four natural births myself, so I'm no spokesman for the medical side of labor, but I certainly have feel disconnected from the movement, and frankly, find it a bit hypocritical at times. Just an anonymous wonderer's two cents. Also, I was wondering if you could clarify what the interventions were/why they were applied. I hope that doesn't seem like I don't believe your story, I just am really curious about people's specific reasons for having a birth that they did not enjoy in the hospital, especially people who are "prepared" like you were. I have had four natural hospital births, and they were wonderful. I KNOW I am lucky because I hear so many horror stories. Just wondering what your particular horror story is. Nice blog.

  5. @ Anonymous: Thank you for your comment...and congrats on your 4 natural hospital births! I know that it's possible...it just doesn't happen very often. Without getting too much into detail, the backup doctor was called into my birth because of the external fetal monitor. Once he was there my desires and opinions went out the window. He totally took over the birth. To the point that he was doing things to me without my consent. It took me a while to process it all...but basically? I felt violated. I knew that if I wanted to have another natural birth that I needed to feel safe. And I no longer felt safe in a hospital setting. In the future I will post that whole birth story. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying every woman should give birth at home. I just want women to have the information they need to make an informed decision. I just don't feel like the information is out there.