This post is part of an editorial series, “The Stork Stories,” brought to you by the Fort Worth Moms Blog. We hope these pieces provide you with helpful information, encouragement, and answers as you prepare for baby’s arrival.
It was July 11, 1998, and I walked into my house with a baby for the first time. She was healthy, perfect, a wonder to her daddy and me. I was six weeks shy of turning 22, and we had celebrated our first wedding anniversary just two weeks before her birth. So there we were, a family of three, home together. And while I basked in her newborn-ness and celebrated her arrival, it was hard to shake my disappointment and heartache that my birth hadn’t been what I wanted.
There was no crisis. Thankfully, I was able to deliver vaginally, her Apgar was great, and we breastfed without too much trouble. But I was not treated well, and there was no excuse. With the exception of one haloed nurse, the staff I encountered were bullying and patronizing. My OB had given approval for several things that I did/didn’t want in the delivery room, and I received eyerolls and outright refusal from nurses.
A doctor who I’d never met came in and broke my water without approval or warning. By that point, I had labored for nearly 12 hours, and was now told that I wouldn’t be allowed to stand up again (oh, man . . . don’t get me started on “allowing”), so I did the best thing I could right then: I got an epidural.
When my daughter was born, she was taken for the typical nursery procedures, which we were told would be under two hours. Those hours passed, and then some. After repeated questions about where she was and what was happening, which were mostly ignored, we found out that she had been subjected to a battery of X-rays for “slightly low respirations.” It was nearly seven hours after birth before she was returned to me, breathing just fine.
Fast-forward three years to my second birth, in a different hospital with a different OB. Despite wanting to birth at home, my husband wasn’t quite on board, and a hospital birth was still better for us financially. I arrived at the hospital prepared to stand firm on my birth plan, but my son decided that he didn’t need a doctor to deliver him. Our sweet nurse, who had served as a midwife in Scotland for many years, caught my baby, with no active pushing on my part. No doctor, no IV, no delivery table set up. I turned to my husband and said, “If we can do this here, we can do this at home.” And a homebirther was born.
Delivering my third child in my own room was the most peaceful, empowering experience I’ve ever had. I moved when I wanted, ate or drank if I felt like it, and no one pressured me about anything. My husband caught him, and because we don’t find out our babies’ gender ahead of time, he got to tell me that I now had two sons. I had the most wonderful midwife, and my children, mother, sisters, and several friends were all there with us to share in the joy. Without a doubt, I knew that for me, birth belonged at home.
My last three births were all just as beautiful. We lived in Virginia when baby number five arrived, and I was blessed to find another lovely, capable midwife to assist us. And for my final birth, I traveled back to San Antonio to deliver him, because we had just moved to Fort Worth and I didn’t want to change midwives. That was my hardest birth by far, and a good reminder that despite being where I wanted to be and having a plan, birth isn’t the same every time.
Two daughters and four sons later, we happily decided there would be no more babies. Honestly, that decision wasn’t even a little bit tough to make, but I’ll admit to pangs of sadness that there will be no more home births. I’m thankful for all six birth experiences, because they all taught me valuable lessons about who I am, how I’m made, what I can do, and how to be my own voice, my own best advocate. But home birth changed not only me but my husband deeply. That intimacy of laboring together with no one doing anything against my will was breathtaking and bonding.
I’d like to make something very clear: I am passionate about choices in childbirth. None of my sisters, and very few of my friends have given birth at home, and I’m thrilled when they have their babies however and wherever they want. For me, birth belonged at home, and I’ll forever be grateful to those who walked with me on that journey. I can’t tell you what’s right for you, but if there’s a little part of you that believes you could deliver your baby without hospitals, doctors, or interventions, let me encourage you to seek out a local midwife and have a conversation. You might be surprised to find yourself a homebirther one day.
The Fort Worth Moms Blog is hosting its next event just for you! Bloom, happening May 20, 2017 from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Cook Children’s Medical Center, is an event for expectant moms and moms who are currently parenting children two years and under. (Foster and adoptive moms are welcome too!) The afternoon will focus on information, resources, products, and more that target the pregnancy and delivery stage of parenting through the first two years. This event, held in partnership with Cook Children’s Health Care System, will provide a few hours of pampering, light snacks, educational resources, giveaways and swag, shopping, and connecting moms and families with relevant local resources for this season of life. For information, tickets, and more click HERE!