Hi Mamakaikai, Eloise is a dream. You will love her. She was called in about an hour before my son was born to assist Parvin. I had never met her before, though I'd heard wonderful things from Andrea, as they were room mates at the time. I had a very long labour (40 hours) but didn't find it difficult at all (at least I don't remember it being difficult!!), though I did launch into a healthy round of "oh no I can't do this, make it stop, etc etc" when DS started crowning. That is the only time I remember intense pain. Anyhow, it was Eloise who talked me down and got me over that hurdle. I can't remember what she said, I just remember that she was like an angel and she had an incredibly calming effect on me. I will always remember her for that.
I'm so surprised that they only attended 12 homebirths last year. Are you sure that's right? I would have guessed it was a lot higher. Perhaps it's because the birthing centre itself really is a wonderful option. We were leaning towards having a home birth (we were undecided right up till the end! Andrea had been to our house for a few appointments so she'd already seen it and said we could choose at the last minute) and in the end I'm so glad we went to the centre. We were the only people there and it was very quiet. The room was so comfortable and everything is just so easy there. The tubs are huge and they have all the right "gear" (poles, benches, trapeze type get-ups, I used them all!) Our home is very spacious and nice but by 30 hours of labour, I was happy for a change of scene. The best part of going to the centre was being waited on hand and foot by the midwives and the aide-natales who work there. They did my laundry, glasses of juice magically appeared, they turned our music on, our stuff was tidied, etc etc. (And they very kindly disappeared without getting insulted the moment I said there were too many people in the room.) I felt like a queen and my whole family felt so much respect from them and the environment in general. We left only 5 hours after DS's birth but it felt like I'd just spent a day at the spa. That building will always have a special place in my heart and I can't wait to give birth there again.
I'd never try to dissuade anyone from having a home birth as I can totally understand the appeal but we are really lucky here in the Gatineau area to have such a wonderful other option. I'd say that there are definitely advantages to going to the maison!
To Musiclovinglife - I bet it will be nice for you to come home. If you really want to get into la Maison de naissance, I would suggest that you wait to TTC until your card is just a few weeks away (you can speed it up by going to the office in Montreal in person to apply, they will give you your # right away, doing it all by mail takes at least a few weeks longer). The way it works is you call la maison the day you get your BFP. If it is your first time being cared for by them, they will ask you to come in to an information session. Go to the soonest session possible. At the end of the info session, you can put your name on the waiting list if you still want to (you will!) and then cross your fingers that you get a call. I've been told that only 50% of women on the list actually get in. I'm not sure if maybe that's not actually true or if I just got lucky this time. I don't think I was asked for my card number until my first appointment, which was around 18 weeks the first time, so that will buy you some time if you want to TTC right away. Because there is such high demand, I wouldn't count on being able to pay for care if you don't have your card. Good luck and keep us posted on your move!