ETA - this turned out very, very long, so if you don't want to hear more from me about my DH, my own struggle with ideal vs. practical, etc - that's pretty much what it is about.
Thanks so much for your thoughts, mama2lennon. I think you're right about a lot of things. I was having trouble seeing beyond the obvious, that I still can't picture my birth with a midwife there. It is a bit disturbing to me that if this dream is supposed to be baby-influenced, while the baby sees my children as calm, intelligent, conscious people, the baby doesn't seem to see my DH at all. Or I may be thinking too much about it. But it is true that my children spend a lot of time talking to "new baby", introducing themselves, even telling baby about their day, and until very recently, my DH hardly ever did any talking to the belly.
Kate - yes, it sounds like we have very similar relationships with our husbands. It sounds ridiculous to some people, but my DH has never in our relationship done something he didn't absolutely know I'd be fine with, and I try to return the favor. If we disagree we talk, talk, talk until something gives. This UC thing is really heartbreaking for me because almost every time we disagree, with enough communication it turns out we were misunderstanding something and are on the same page after all, and the few times this is not true, we have been able to compromise very happily. I really can't expect much more of my DH. He said quite a while back that we would UC and he'd try to work through his issues - but this whole recent drama was kicked off with him deciding that he could not work through his issues. He has even, as your DH has, had a very reassuring UC dream. But he has had months to work through his own issues and tells me he simply can't. He has an untreated mental disorder (I've posted about it in Parents as Partners before) that requires him to be very much aware of his own emotions and his own probable reactions to things, and I trust very much his own 'reading' of how he'll be thinking and feeling during the birth. If he tells me he will need reassuring or he will be panic-stricken and unable to help me, I know he will. He has not told me in so many words that I should not UC or that he is opposed to it, he has simply given me his 'read' on his own emotions and reactions and laid the decision on me. He has even told me he would not be offended if I decided to do it without him. I have no supportive family in the area. Which leaves me with these options: 1)Have DH there. Deal, in labor, with reassuring him, DD, and DS. 2)Ask DH to leave or do not call him during labor. Potentially have to deal with reassuring DD and DS. Have no 'able' help whatsoever (DD is 4.5, she can't even draw a bath and would be incapable of calling 911, for example). 3)Find a sympathetic midwife who will deal with birth on our terms.
So I decided I can't do #1 or #2. I don't particularly need reassuring but I do need to know that there is someone there for me, and I don't think I'll be in any mood for carrying the weight of three peoples' emotional well-being. It just isn't going to happen (if I tried it would be a disaster). #3 seems so obvious, it would calm my DH down even if she was barely present, allowing him to be there for the kids and me to have the calm people there that I need. But we know in a way that most women don't that a midwife can change things.
What is sad for me is that I think my own DH would really have benefitted from a UC. He was barely involved in the births of our first and second children. I mean, he was there, he was my 'labor coach' in that irritating trying-to-get-dad-out-of-the-way lamaze sense, but he felt 'outside' the experience to me. Worried about me. Unable to flow with me and allow himself to be part of the experience. I wanted that for him. He tells me that when our first was born, he felt so peripheral to the whole experience, so many people held and saw her before he did, and he was simply 'there', watching, feeling unimportant and worried and alone. I am the type of person who is not easily inhibited by the presence of others - I never enter 'laborland' to escape my surroundings, I simply allow them to be as they are and don't allow it to worry me (the reason this worked in a hospital setting is that I had my mom, an RN/IBCLC, to help me, she dealt with all the personnel and I never had to say something twice, most times never had to say it at all). I'm the kind of person who walks around naked in the locker room totally at ease, the kind of person who wears a bikini to the beach, stretch-marks and separated abs and all, because I'm more comfortable that way, who tells her relatives 'we need to be alone now, will you leave?' when they've out-stayed their welcome. All that changes about me between on-stage (I do mean that literally in one sense, I am a musician) and in my house is that I wear sweats at home
. My DH however, is a different person entirely in public and in private. I don't know whether it is him individually or some fundamental trait of men (whether socially enforced or genetically determined), but he turns himself fully over to experience and emotion only when we are alone. On one hand it makes me feel special, on the other, I know that this is not a good thing in terms of his reaction to a midwife at the birth.
My DH simply does not see it this way. He simply sees that he is unable to cope with his own fears and worries. That he would be unable to let go and be simply supportive without some measure of reassurance. Since we have chosen a midwife he has been so much more involved in this pregnancy. He has talked more to the baby, touched my belly more (he seemed almost afraid of it before), talked about the birth and baby without my opening the subject, talked about my pregnancy. These are all such good things I have trouble reconciling them with my own sense of loss.
In the meantime, I'm left wondering. The birth of my second was fast and easy. I keep going back to a single moment: standing alone in the shower, laboring happily with the hot water at my back and shampoo in my hair, I feel the sudden need to push. Panic strikes me, burning the moment in my mind forever, and in that moment I reverse immediately from happily laboring on my own to full inhibition, my mind fights my body and I willfully close myself. I remember that moment now and wonder, if I knew then what I know now, would I have delivered then, alone in an upright shower stall? Could I have continued to give myself over to my own body so fully that the baby would have come forth with no more difficulty or pain than I'd felt in the labor to that point? I think so. But it is academic. Instead I washed the shampoo from my hair, put on clothing, got in the car, and half an hour later I was holding my baby, in the hospital, with an IV in my arm and a doctor-to-be repairing my tears, and my hair still wet from my shower.