Our family’s path to home birth

 

As I approach my twenty fourth week of pregnancy I find my thoughts drifting toward birthing day. We’re planning our second home birth with a midwife we love, but our first birth experience, as just-right as it was, doesn’t prevent the butterflies from visiting from time to time. It’s nothing that can’t be settled by a few deep breaths, but still, birthing day is Big (capital B!) no matter where it takes place.

I’ve known since I was twenty years old that I wanted to home birth. That was the year that I came across a copy of Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery. The stories, the photos, the idea of giving birth in the comfort and familiarity of home inspired me, even as young and as far from mothering as I was at the time. Intuitively, I knew that birthing at home was something I wanted and held tight to that ideal for many years. With dog eared pages, the book would sit on my bookshelf for sixteen years before I’d give birth. Over the years, I’d pull it out and read through a few birth stories, distantly conjuring up the day that I, would welcome a sweet babe into my life, by birthing at home.

My husband’s path to home birth was quite different. In fact, when I first brought up the idea with him, years before I became pregnant, he thought I was crazy. In his mind, all midwives were adorned in crystals, dipped in glitter and patchouli, and only caught babies in incensed-filled rooms with the Grateful Dead playing in the background. Giving birth at home was as far fetched an idea for him as performing one’s own shoulder surgery. There were trained professionals, in hospitals for such things.

I didn’t broach the subject the first few weeks of my pregnancy. I savored the newness of the life inside me. My husband is very scientifically-minded, and while I respect this about him, I knew I’d need to get my facts together to present home birth in a way that he’d openly respond to. I think, I started bringing the idea home by renting documentaries: The Business of Being Born (which I’d seen several years prior) and Gentle Birth Choices.

He sat through them without much commentary, but slowly our dialogue began.

What if…? Then what…? How do we cope with…? His questions started. I knew I couldn’t answer them all.  I was overwhelmed by the depth of knowledge he sought, but I started to see a glimmer of hope as he began to pursue answers on his own.

As much as I knew home birth was right for me, I wasn’t going to force it on him. More than anything else, I knew that I would need his unwavering support to birth and I wasn’t going to coerce him into a situation that didn’t work for him. I wanted to welcome our child into the world in a way that resonated with both of us. Worst case scenario, I pictured a compromise involving a midwife and a birthing center.

As with anything, one can find research to support any side of an issue. Steve found numbers and statistics that favored home births and he also found numbers that raised his hackles. I began filling the house with books. I queried friends about midwives in the area and began researching ones to meet. Unconvinced still, I told Steve that before we made our final decision I’d like to talk to a few midwives so that we could be fully informed. Reluctantly, he agreed and I set up appointments with four home birth midwives over the next two weeks.

Our first two appointments happened to be on the same afternoon. As we pulled into the driveway of the first midwife’s house, I could feel him tensing. “Just be open minded” I urged. When we walked in the door of the house we both paused to take in the scene before us: ceiling-high boxes, dirty dishes, stained couches, and Christmas decorations from a holiday that had passed ten months ago. We’d walked into Steve’s worst midwife nightmare.

Sure, she was sweet and while she seemed well-informed, and like someone we’d enjoy talking with over a community potluck, she most certainly was not our midwife. We were both clear about that. After the hour-long interview we thanked her kindly and made our way out the door. Once in the car I could feel the “I told you so’s” coming. Fortunately, he bit his tongue.

We were both stressed as we made the twenty minute drive to our second appointment. I could feel an anxiety headache coming on and Steve, I could see, was clenching his jaw. We climbed the stairs of the porch and when the door opened we were greeted by a kind, rosy-cheeked woman smelling of cinnamon who welcomed us into her inviting home. We relaxed into her couch and listened intently as she talked about her background and her birth perspectives. She was calm, nurturing and even-keeled. She was well articulated and measured with her responses. She felt real. We found out that she went to the same prestigious east coast college as Steve and I smiled in wonder as I saw him relax and open to her, knowing that their shared alma matter would give her credibility. As we asked tougher questions, and she patiently and thoughtfully answered them, I could see Steve softening more. We were connecting with this woman in ways that I can’t articulate.

Our hour with her went by too quickly. We both wanted to say there, curled on her couch. We said our goodbyes and as we walked toward our car Steve looked at me and said, “She’s the one. We found our midwife.”

I stopped mid-stride and squeezed his hand. “Really?”

“Yes,” he replied. “Let’s do it!”

And just like that, I knew we would.

Lisa Coffee

About Lisa Coffee

I’m a crafting, gardening, homebirthing, Colorado Mama with a two year old named Zinnia and baby number two (affectionately known as Turnip) due this fall. As a family we strive to live close to the earth and her seasons and my best days are spent gardening the heck out of our quarter-acre backyard, making homemade meals and planning our family’s next big adventure. I’m especially fond of a good Mojito happy hour and I have a weakness for far-too-expensive jeans, but those luxuries sing of life before motherhood. These days, when I’m not stripping cloth diapers or cleaning up after another toddler shenanigan, I can be found barefoot in the garden, at my sewing table, or heading for the hills in the Big White Van. Join me daily, as I share snippets from the good life at littlecoffeebeans.com .