This will be our third child, and we're looking forward to a third home birth. When our second was born, our son was almost two and we lived in a small apartment, so it was a no-brainer to us that he would need to be elsewhere when the baby arrived. We made plans for him to have a sleepover with a close friend if needed. As it turned out, virtually the entire laboring and birth process happened while he was at daycare anyway! Nice and neat.
This time, though, the kids are a fair bit older and our situation is quite different--we live in a larger house, they are cared for almost 100% at home by my husband and me, and they'll be almost-six and almost-four when the baby arrives. And I love the idea of giving them the opportunity, if they want it, to be in the room and witness their sibling's birth. (My husband was way older--thirteen years old--when his brother was born, but having been able to be there is something that he cherishes to this day.)
Having broached this topic just a little with the kids, it seems clear that our three-year-old daughter is SUPER INTO this idea, and our five-year-old son is a bit more cautious about it, but interested.
So then my big question becomes... Okay, who exactly is responsible for the children during labor? I will definitely need my husband for me, and for all the zillions of other things that come up--the birth pool, the location of the coconut milk, you know how that goes in home birth.
We don't have family in the area, and as much as I wish it were an option to fly somebody in for a month while we wait for Baby's big entrance, I don't think it's feasible. Nor do we have any super-close friends in the area with the kind of flexibility that would allow them to essentially be on call for us for weeks on end.
So, an idea I've been rolling around in my head: Hire a hybrid doula/babysitter. We'd want somebody who is a) comfortable with and knowledgeable about home birth, and ideally who could step in if needed for labor support, photos, something like that; and b) great with the kids and confident in caring for them being her primary role during labor.
My question to you all is basically: What do you think of this idea? Have you ever heard of an arrangement like this before, and if so, how did it work out in that case? Is this a reasonable expectation to ask a doula to consider? Am I setting us/her up for a logistical nightmare in the case that our older children have completely different desires about attending the birth, and both have equally strong needs for support (eg Son runs screaming and needs to be comforted in a corner, Daughter is fascinated and needs somebody to help corral her curiosity while in the room with laboring mom)?
Other factors that might be germane:
-Both kids are very social and tend to "latch onto" friendly adults right away, so I feel like one or two prep visits should be sufficient to establish a trusting relationship with a new, in-home caretaker.
-We've worked with one doula before, at the birth of our oldest, and she was fantastic and we loved her, but opted against paying for a doula at the second birth because we had noooo money.
-Turns out that was probably smart, since labor and birth for our second child lasted 4.5 hours, start to finish. We have some sense that this birth will probably also go fast.
-We're a bit more stable financially this time around, so while I don't *love* the high end of doula price tags, I can envision us going ahead with the expense for the right person.
-Oh, also our son will be well into his kindergarten year by February, so I suppose we'd have "take him out of school or let him come home to a brand-new baby" to consider, depending on the timing. The first two times, I've woken in the morning in active labor, so it sure would be nice to just get him up and ask him, "So do you want to get on the bus, or play hooky to meet the baby?"
...SO: What do you think of this novel?!
I would also love to hear about your experiences in other situations, if any of you have ever had any of your older children attend a birth.
May I just say, I feel VERY fortunate when asking this question that so many of us in our group have several older kids!
Thanks for lending us the benefit of your experience!