I'm not currently pregnant and not even planning to be so for a while longer as our son is only eleven months old, but as we approach his birthday and I revisit the first time I looked into his face, I am thinking about beginning to contemplate a freebirth the next time I am pregnant.
Our son's birth was a homebirth attended by my partner, my sister, our two midwives and their assistant, who also happened to be a friend of mine and a doula. I labored for over 36 hours and pushed for close to four hours.
These are the things I remember that I have ambivalent feelings about:
*I never desired or asked for a cervical check during my pregnancy, and I suspected I might not even want cervical checks while in labor but reserved the right to change my mind while in labor. My midwives did not state or ask to do a cervical check and let me know that they don't request or offer them but they are happy to do them at my request. I thought I felt some mild pushing contractions after laboring for about 12 hours and they let me know they don't offer cervical checks but are happy to do them at my request. I was curious to know how much my cervix had dilated at this point, but I chose not to have them check at that time. A while later, I again felt what I thought were pushing contractions and thought about it again and wanted them to check for cervical dilation. It was open about 5 cm and that was about what I expected. The cervical checks did not hurt me, but I had kind of hoped to avoid them altogether. I'm not really sure about why I chose to have the cervical checks, but I just felt like I wanted to know. I remember feeling very disappointed when a few of them indicated my cervix had not really dilated at all. I began talking to my cervix and asking it to open, but that disappointment never really went away.
*Before I began pushing, I remember thinking and saying that I was afraid I wouldn't know how to push. Then when I began pushing, one of the midwives used her fingers in my yoni to push down towards my rectum so I could direct my pushing. I didn't mind this at the time, but as time has passed, I realize that that was an intimate sharing of my body that no one but my partner and I had done before. It wasn't without my permission, but I feel awkward about it now. I know that midwives have seen many a yoni and probably felt them, too, but birthing our baby was almost a sexual experience for me and that's what makes me feel awkward about it.
*Throughout the end of labor, they gave me some homeopathics. I have the birth record they wrote down, but I can't find it right now. I think they gave me some pulsatilla, and I know they gave me cimicifuga and the other cohosh in the last few hours to help things get going since I had been laboring for over 24 hours by that point. I am fine with the cimicifuga and other cohosh because I knew what they were, but I wasn't sure about whatever else they were giving me. They said it was for the pukiness I got early on the second morning. I guess I just wonder if I really needed them or if my body would have done okay on its own.
*Our midwives thought I should eat something the afternoon of the first day of my labor, but I honestly had absolutely no appetite. After they offered me a peach and something else smoothie, which I found way too acidic and not appealing at all, we agreed on cottage cheese and some banana. It was hard to eat because I moaned so much throughout my labor and I think my throat was swollen. Thankfully, I didn't puke the first batch, but I think I puked some of the second batch that they coaxed me to eat early the next morning before we started the cohoshes. Puking during a contraction really bites, by the way.
*After pushing in various vertical positions (on their birth stool, in the birth tub, leaning over the birth ball, squatting by the side of the bed, lunging by the side of the bed), our midwives suggested I might get into a "McRoberts" position (aka on my back with my knees hugged to my chest or lithotomy). This was also not uncomfortable, but in retrospect, it was not a position I would have chosen for myself and I do not like the associations it brings up for me as far as submission to having birth done to you. I know that this is just a feeling I have about this position, but I just didn't like it.
*Immediately after our son was born, his cord was already limp and he was not responsive and not alert and not breathing. It seemed like an eternity to me, but when watching the birth video a few months ago, it was probably less than a minute. I don't remember his apgars, but his 5 minute one was at least a 7 so he was okay. His cord was not particularly short and he had good heart tones through all of the previous 28 hours or so of occasional monitoring, and one of midwives thought perhaps my placenta had started detaching during the final descent. My feeling is that this was entirely possible. In the seconds of his non-responsiveness, they used a de-lee (sp?) to suction meconium from his mouth and nose to prevent aspiration. He hated this and turned away from it. They also used blow-by oxygen.
*The postpartum visits by our midwives and their assistant were satisfactory, but honestly, I wanted something more. The birth of our son was the last time we saw both midwives and their assistant at the same time, and I was really disappointed by that. I can understand only one of them coming for the 1 day, 2 day, 1 week and 2 week home visits, but the 4 week visit and the 8 week visit were both at their office and only one midwife was there each time so I never got to process the birth with them all. We allowed them the privilege of being with us as we birthed our new family, and we welcomed them into our lives during the whole pregnancy, and although I understand fully that midwifery is their livelihood as well as their passion, it was like I lost friendships with them all when I ceased to be pregnant. I have read the threads here at MDC about this, so I know it's not a just-me phenomenon. I guess I wonder about what the three of them feel are comfortable boundaries. The past few weeks, I have found myself contemplating asking them all over for lunch so I can talk to them and process the birth, but it seems silly after almost a year. It makes me cry just thinking about having them over, and I don't know why.
*One other thing about the postpartum period: I'm not sure how this came about, but our street address and our mailing address are different, and so mail the midwives sent to us about their annual client summer picnic never got to us and we missed it, which made me extremely sad, and then our son's social security card was apparently sent back to the office from where it came. Also, they didn't include the information about how to go about getting a birth certificate or that they would file for the social security card in their client information binder, so I ended up having to research that information and ask the midwives about it on my own. I just wish it had been written out for me in advance.
I know these are all just little things, but I have become increasingly aware of even the slightest things being considered interventions, so they just don't feel quite right in retrospect. I'm not even sure that I would want a freebirth that was just my family, but I know the next time I birth, I will look for an attendant with a much more hands-to-herself philosophy, someone who will be okay with maybe sitting in the other room if I want that or be okay with providing her assistance should my partner or I request it.
It feels good to physically type all of this out. I'm not sure how long I will leave this entire post up because of some of the private things I mention, but I welcome your thoughts about what I've detailed above and additional considerations I might entertain as I begin thinking about freebirth.