This post is part of an editorial series, “The Stork Stories,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog and Texas Health. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and answers as you prepare for baby’s arrival.
In the last three and a half years, I have given birth twice — once in a hospital, and once at home. Each experience carries its own weight and each has it’s own place in my heart. One is full of regretful hindsight, while the other is full of proud accomplishment.
This is the tale of my two births.
The night before I found out I was pregnant in 2011, my husband and I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born.” I began dancing with the idea of home birth. That is, until I met my OB/GYN and fell in love. She was encouraging and comfortable with my natural plan; she gave me confidence.
After exactly 40 weeks, D-day came and with it, steady and painful contractions. We anxiously arrived at the hospital once again (thanks false labor) and were shown to our room. I was three centimeters dilated, but needed to be four before we’d be admitted. We roamed the halls, squatted, and grunted — the whole shebang. An hour later, I was admitted; it was happening.
And then we got the news: My doctor was on vacation. Instead of my young, 30-something female doctor who supported my plan, I would deliver with an “old school,” 60-something, male, who, within minutes of meeting me, was throwing out the “C” word (as in section).
From the beginning of pregnancy, I knew I wanted to give birth unmedicated. I wanted be fully present, to tap into my inner warrior, and do what my foremothers did for centuries before me (yeah, I’m crazy). After 11 hours of intense laboring, it was becoming difficult to hold to those convictions. I started questioning my strength. My husband was tired, I was exhausted, and we had no help from the nurses. Due to my son’s posterior position and subsequent back labor, all I could do was stand and sway, but my legs were going numb, rapidly. At eight centimeters, I got an epidural. It was five and a half more hours before I met my son.
When it was finally time to push, the epidural had worn off just enough for me to feel my contractions, although the nurse still tried to coach me. I began to tear, as is common in first births, and the doctor decided, despite my birth plan, that it was best to give me an episiotomy because I was tearing “like a spider web.” In addition, he decided to turn my son as he pushed through the birth canal. This trauma resulted in a three-and-a-half-degree tear.
So here he was, in the flesh. My brand new son. He lay on my stomach with his cord cut, holding my fingers, and wailing for the first time of his life. After no more than two and a half minutes, he was whisked away across the room to be measured and bathed so I could be stitched up. The doctor explained that in his experience moms were “more relaxed” when not holding their newborn babies. I lay there shaking with adrenaline, begging them to let me hold my baby. My son and I were separated for his entire first hour of life. We will never get that golden hour back. To this day, what saddens me the most is the first moment of his life.
Almost two years later, I was pregnant again. In the months after my sons birth, I began meeting moms who had experienced healthy home births. At eight weeks, I found a midwife I loved and hired a doula (a.k.a. Birthing Jedi and a MUST for natural birth). These ladies were my team. They educated me on my options, nurtured a friendship with me, and held appointments at my house. No one was pushy or condescending, but rather soft and gentle.
When the second big day finally came, I didn’t have to drive over potholes while my stomach contorted. I didn’t have to wait for red lights or traffic to bow to our needs. We were already where we needed to be. Most important, my entire team was present. When we realized my daughter was posterior, my doula helped me turn her in labor (see, Jedi), which ended my back labor.
The difference in my hospital birth and homebirth is everything at home was mine. I wore my clothes, labored in my bed, bounced on my birth ball, ate my food, and drank my water.
I have fond memories of my home birth. I can look across our bedroom and envision the birth pool where I first heard her tiny yelps. I can lay in my bed and remember snuggling my fresh-skinned babe while being stitched up after birth. At bath time, I can reminisce the herbal bath we took together moments after her first breath.
If I am ever pregnant again, I will undoubtedly birth at home. Not because it was easier (it’s called “labor” for a reason,) but because home birth put me in the driver’s seat. I owned my home birth, and I didn’t feel that with my hospital birth. For me, the path of birth isn’t about home vs. hospital, but rather which route empowers me most as a mother and a woman.
Would you ever consider a home birth? Why or why not?