02 August 2011

Our Road to Having a Homebirth

People who know how crazy and fast my labor with Baby Blue was probably assume that the reason my husband and I are choosing a homebirth with this baby is that we don't want another baby born in the car.  Although this made our decision a clear and easy one, it is not the main reason.

Once I found out I was expecting our first child I looked into every option and was drawn to the idea of a homebirth. Unfortunately this was not received with support from people I worked with. As I began researching more I felt it was a safe option, but then I also knew several women who had homebirths previously and let's just say a few left me feeling less than confident in the saftey factor. In fact, I became down-right afraid of what labor and birth entailed because of their haunting stories of their homebirths, so my husband and I decided that a hospital birth was the best way for our first little one. The birth went as smoothly as can be expected in a hospital setting, as long as I stood firm- even kicking a nurse because she really needed to back off. In any event, I look back on that birth with great fondness and no regret. I remember her purple little body being laid on my chest and me thinking, "She is not my baby...she is ALL my husband....but she's so pretty and I love her". Thankfully I had the presence of mind to insist on breastfeeding right away and she seemed quite enthusiastic about the idea. They let me completely finish feeding her before I handed her to my husband and mother while I was stitched up. (Because she came so fast I had a 3rd, almost 4th degree tear... This was truly the worst part of it all.)  The nurses were actually great this first time around in the hospital- very supportive, left us alone, let my daughter room in and never separated us. I had the greatest nurse (she reminded me of an old spirited southern nanny) who helped Ruby Red latch on and helped us breastfeed successfully. My OB/GYN was amazing as well and very open to whatever I wanted. I was very lucky.

The second time around I knew I couldn't listen to anyone else's stories of their births, whether in the hospital or at home, and had to go with my "gut"- and that was telling me to go with a homebirth. Yet my husband was skeptical, offering that he'd be OK with the decision to birth at home but not entirely comfortable with the idea. But I needed him to be more than OK- I needed him on-board 100% and knew that he wasn't. I have also learned that he comes around in his own time and so I prayed for wisdom, clarity and open-mindedness on both our parts. It became apparent that he wasn't going to be comfortable with a homebirth and I willingly accepted that. More than anything I needed us to be on the same page and I knew I could hold my own in a hospital setting so the thought didn't worry me in the least. I was somewhat criticized for letting how my husband felt affect my decision, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I prayed that through this birth my husband would see that there was a better way, but I also prayed for the safety of the baby and myself. I didn't want either of us to suffer to prove anything. God truly took care of this as our little Baby Blue couldn't wait any longer and arrived en route to the hospital, completely healthy and kicking away on my chest. She was a champ from the start and I again insisted on breastfeeding her before any "checks" be done on either one of us and the hospital obliged. This time I had an obnoxious nurse about my age who treated me like I was stupid and bossed me around, telling me I wasn't doing things right by having her sleep in bed with me and that I was nursing her too much. After putting that nurse in her place and being assigned a new one, our stay was lovely and relaxing and I had a lot of time to bond with her before we brought her home to meet Ruby Red. It really was a blessing in disguise since our Ruby Red broke a fever of 104 degrees the night I went into labor with Baby Blue. She lay on the couch listless and so sick and both her grandmothers did more to take care of her and give her the snuggles she needed than I would have been able to. I ached to be with her yet I needed to be with my new baby. God knew what He was doing and it really did work out the way it was supposed to.

Immediately after the birth of Baby Blue I was less than willing to compromise the third time around and was pretty frank with my husband. He instantly agreed that we'd go for a homebirth this time and became informed so that he, too, would be confident in our decision. He has been nothing but supportive and fought for what I want on more than one occasion this pregnancy. It's amazing to see the transformation and when I suggest something that I think may be a point of stress for us to talk through, he has trusted me, researched and backed me on everything. We were originally hoping to go with an unassisted homebirth and he willingly said he'd give it a shot. After much prayer I'm the one who decided this wasn't right for now. My previous two births being so quick I had no time to control pushing to reduce tearing or change positions. I also went into shock both times and was pretty sick afterwards, as my body didn't have time to ease into labor...and then suddendly there was a person coming out of my body. My husband was a huge factor in my being OK after the birth of both girls, but I'm still apprehensive about the tearing. In talking to my midwife about how I wanted to have an unassisted birth she has been nothing but supportive and encouraging, reassuring us that she will stand back and basically let us still have that unassisted birth, while being there to make sure I'm OK after the baby is born. I feel like I'm getting the best of both worlds as eveyone who I want to support me is doing so.

I am more than excited about the birth of this baby. My husband has been the most incredible support with my other two births and I couldn't do this without him. I'd like to call him my amazing "doula" but he really wouldn't like that...  Yet he really does know how to keep me calm and focused, which is quite a task as my body goes from 0-1000 in minutes. It's similar to a sprint- most women experience going through a marathon where they can at least ease into it a little bit and process what's going on, but so far I have had time for neither. We have pictures of us, our sonogram picture and the Blessed Mother present during the birth and he reminds me to unite my pain to the Cross. It is a very unifying and holy experience and takes away most anxiety. It truly is beautiful for us and I cannot wait to experience it with him again....except for those last few minutes of course. But those are fleeting and behold the most precious gift of a new life that we have cooperated in bringing into this world.

I have no regrets with our decisions in the past. They have helped shaped us both into true advocates for homebirth and fighting for what a woman wants and deserves during birth. Those experiences also give me a deep respect for each woman who decides to do it in her own way. One way is NOT better or more beautiful than the other.  Each brings a little baby into the world and each shapes your character and hopefully brings you and your spouse closer together. True, one way is best for you and your spouse and I hope you follow your heart in your decision.


  1. Yay for Homebirths! I am so sold on the idea of a homebirth whenever God blesses with Baby #3. I want to stay as far away from the hospital as possible. ;)

  2. Beautifully written, Amanda, especially the summary! Can't wait for baby to arrive!

  3. I'm so glad you have all the support you need from every angle!! Whether at home or hospital, that truly makes all the difference in the world for mom, dad, and baby...

    I am really grateful that while we can't have a midwife present this time, we can at least have a doula who is completely fine with us doing the actual birthing ourselves, and will be there for the emotional support during labor, and physical support afterwards. I'm comfortable knowing that my husband has oxygen, sutures, and everything else I might need for safety during and after labor (it's really cute, actually... he's proud of himself for having a cannula instead of the oxygen mask, so that I can still breathe in and out of my nose instead of my mouth if I need oxygen. :) ) I, too, feel that this time - more than ever - our preparations for childbirth have brought us both closer together and for that, I am really grateful. I think a big part of that is that my husband never liked the idea of a midwife and felt like someone was stepping in to take over his role (even though he was the one doing the "coaching"... he wanted to take responsibility for our health and well-being during and afterwards, too. I could sense that tension and I don't think it was very helpful to me.) Now that he will have that true caregiver role, along with the relaxing/encouraging role, I think he feels that this will be the birth he's hoped we'd have. I know he will be ok with whatever I need to do to get through those last very difficult hours of transition, whether it's groaning or screaming or whatever... he told me he doesn't care and he wants me to do whatever feels right! (This is a big improvement from past labors, when his pre-birth encouragement was mostly, "This one will be easy - I'll bet you won't even scream this time." :P For some reason, deep screaming is actually more helpful to me than trying not to scream and/or feeling guilty that it's coming out of me no matter how hard I try to not do it. I'm guessing that's because trying not to actually adds to the work and tension of the situation.) I've been teaching him about light-touch massage and how that will help me relax during early labor, too... he loves practicing it on me. :)

    And yes - it is definitely a "we" - it is very important for your husband to be comfortable with the situation, while being supportive of your needs and desires at the same time! Both spouses need to communicate and be open to the thoughts and feelings of the other... you both brought this baby into being, and you both ought to be able to help bring this baby into the open world in the way that seems right and appropriate for both of you! :)

  4. Awesome post Amanda...It brought me to tears. It's so important to both follow your "gut". I actually had a doctor tell me to stop nursing so often (every 2 hrs.!!) so that my breasts would have a chance to fill up. ??? I looked at him like he was speaking Japanese.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Shannon Lawson

  5. Definitely follow your gut...and it sounds like your husband is the type of supportive husband that will greatly benefit you during your home birth. My husband was AMAZING, brings me to tears just remembering. I'm sure you've heard of it but I read Ina May's book "The Guide to Childbirth" like 3 times before I had my home birth. I also printed out lots of quotes on birthing with confidence and read those often to quell any fears or doubts I had.

    I wish you the best of luck for your next birth. Thank you for sharing.