My 5 births
My first was a planned hospital birth, 8 hours. Not a bad memory at all, although there were elements I would definitely go back and change if I could. I reached all my goals that I knew to have.
The second was a planned home birth with a CNM. My labor unexpectedly started at 35 weeks, very intensely, and, even though his heart rate was strong, we decided to have him at the hospital. The labor was straightforward and quick, but his apgars were 2 at birth for a very long time, no muscle tone, no breathing efforts. He ultimately was on ventilation for 2 days and stayed in the NICU for 11 days. He was diagnosed with an extremely rare bacterial infection that had crossed the placenta (we had it cultured). It was hemophilus influenza, an untyped variety with a 50% mortality rate in those whom it has infected across the placenta. The infection had caused pulmonary hypertension, which is the constriction of the blood vessels of the lungs. They basically were collapsed and didn't start up at birth. He is turning six this month and is normal as far as I can tell, although his first 18 months were more delayed in terms of physical milestones and he was very poorly coordinated. Now, he is very well-coordinated and is reading ahead of his years. Thank God! I did not include this in the poll because he was not a homebirth. We went to the hospital as soon as labor started because he was early.
Next came our twins, who were born at home with just ourselves in attendance (a friend came halfway through to help with the kids). There were no problems at all. My second twin was a footling breech.
In December, we had our fifth baby, little Bethany Jane. She was born at home with two direct-entry midwives. What a different birth than all my others. While my first came with pain, it was still doable...with my second and the twins, I wouldn't even describe it as painful, and I certainly didn't have a transition with any of them. THIS birth kicked my butt!! Ugh. I think she was asynclitic, because I had terrible back pain that I couldn't resolve intuitively and she was born with bruising all over one side of her face. In fact, the only way I could get through was by stretching out flat as a board (or even slightly curved backward) and that made it bearable. The stinging was also tremendous at crowning. OH LORD, I seriously could barely stand the thought of my birth until some distance had come between me and it.
But there weren't any problems. I bled a lot more afterward than I ever had. I remember feeling it just pour out of me several times, and I had tearing. After an hour or so, I almost passed out in the bathroom. My baby never had any issues at all. In fact, she continues to be perfect in every way.
I do want to say that we should not downplay the possibility of true emergencies in childbirth, especially for those who have lost babies to them. My good friend just lost her baby and uterus to a uterine rupture during an attempted home VBAC. Another friend has a permanently disabled baby from a shoulder dystocia. Another mother I know almost died and needed 18 units of blood after her uterus inverted. These happen and we don't do mothers any favors when we act like they don't. And furthermore, this thread reminds us all that there are definitely incompetent care providers out there. Rather than asking questions like "How much do you trust birth," I recommend actually finding out if your midwife has any experience handling an emergency at all. During the aforementioned shoulder dystocia, the midwife freaked out when she couldn't resolve it and left the room.