I'm not pregnant yet and we're not planning on trying for #2 for another year or more, but this has really been on my mind. A bit of background: My first daughter was born at a hospital with an epidural, but I didn't know I had any other options besides a hospital and to be honest, I don't know if I would have done anything else because I was so paranoid that something bad would happen if I didn't follow the medical model (I even abandoned my health food store natural vitamins to take the prescription kind "just to be safe") Even though I wanted a natural birth and knew I'd breastfeed, that's as far as it went. Having my daughter totally changed me and I'm now a 100% "mothering" mom (cosleeping, not vaccinating, breastfeeding beyond infancy, cloth diapering, etc.)
Anyways, there's a birth center about a mile away from me and it is totally wonderful. We've been going to gatherings there at least twice a month for the past year, the midwife's daughter is our doctor, pretty much all my friends are from the birth center and everyone raves about how wonderful they are, we went to their walk and get our produce from them (a fundraiser), I sort of know the midwives already and would be able to keep seeing them after the birth... I feel such strong ties to the birth center and it's so close, I feel like I'd be crazy not to have my next birth there.
However, with my daughter, the pain progressed instantly from "oh, I can handle this, I'll just go to sleep, It's probably not REAL labor" to "OMG there is no way I'm doing this without drugs get me to the hospital NOW" (very very painful, I found it impossible to move or just be upright during contactions). Of course the epidural and the fact that I had a nurs that ignored me for hours slowed things down, I'm sure, but I wonder, had I not had an epidural, how fast would that birth have gone? The car ride to the hospital was miserable and having to get dressed (I was in bed sleeping and woke up in intense pain) to go there, then change into the gown there was just so hard given the amount of pain I was in.
I'm worried about having to be in the car even for a 5 minute drive in such pain, I'm worried about the labor progressing even quicker, and given that we have no family in the area, I'm worried about bringing my daughter to a different place for a birth when she might not have anyone else there to help her if she's hungry, bored, etc. (other than dh) The idea of saying "ooh, this is it, this hurts, I'm in real labor now" and the settling into a warm tub or just getting comfortable in bed seems so nice, but the midwife I would go with is an hour away (I know a few people who used this place), so there's the travel time to the appointments, not to mention having to prepare our house for a birth (not that it's a big deal, but it's a consideration), but a homebirth would be quite a bit cheaper if it was all out of pocket.
So is there anything I haven't considered? Anyone have any suggestions so I can get this figured out?