i'll brave being one of the few dissenting voices. when we were having dd2, dd1 was 29mos. i knew ahead of time that i wanted a quiet calm environment, and dd1 was just too young and rambunctious to place those sorts of expectations on her. i had a friend doulaing for me, and she ended up spending the majority of her time caring for dd1 while i labored either alone or just with dh. we had a friend lined up to get dd1, but the friend was flaky and took HOURS to finally come get dd1. labor started at about 9am, and dd1 was finally picked up at about 6pm. within 45min of dd1 getting picked up, dd2 was born. it was like my body was waiting for quiet and calm to be ready to birth! my friend returned dd1 to us after taking her out for dinner and getting her bathed and pj'ed for us. it was such a treat to have her fed, clean, and ready for bed! then dh could help the midwives with me and dd2 without having to also care for a toddler.
BUT i'm the type of person that likes to retreat and be alone when in labor or just in general when dealing with "big deal" kinds of things. if i'm sick, i want someone to throw tissues or popsicles into the bedroom, quitely shut the door, and go away. i think it's important to be realistic about your preferences and your children's personalities/sensitivities when deciding whether or not to have kids at a birth. this time around dd1 will be 9 and dd2 will be nearly 7 for ds's birth, so as long as they want to be here for it, i'm totally happy to have them. but i do plan on having a backup person to pick them up if they decide last minute that they'd rather not be present. we shall see!!!
Happy Humanist Mom to Luna Paz (2/16/06) & Zoe Jean (7/21/08). Patiently awaiting the arrival of Johnny (edd 6/26/15).