I recently got a call from a friend who is on the fence about having a home birth or a hospital birth. Now, I am not a person to sell home birth to those who want something else. Home birth is not for everyone. One must birth where they feel comfortable, but they must accept the ride they choose. However, as this person is a dear friend working in the hospital setting, I became quite interested in reminding her about the differences and freedoms that home birth can gift a woman.
Scene: Home, kids around, lights are down, food is nearby. Music of your choice, or silence. No preparations of what to take with you except in case of an emergency. And there you are, living, breathing, being. Others around you are not dictated by their own self consciousness of what will the nurse or doctors think if I snuggle with my mom while she labors. They are home. This is their space, not others. I do not have to cross a threshold and allow the hospital to officially take over. No, “am I allowed to _____?” Is it ok if I ______?. Or can I use your _____? No asking persmission or abdicating. Yet, feeling the caretaker close either in the room or a phone call away. A personal relationship developed. No “I wonder who will show up at the time of the birth? Or wondering if it is too early to go in? No, in the back of my head what if I barely break the parameters of time alotted or go a day outside of my dates? Would that affect me, would it, could it, should it? Should I doubt my ability? And if I worry about what people think if I birth at home, then what about what people would think if I didn’t want to do what the midwife or nurse or doctor in the hospital proposed? I mean, that probably wouldn’t come up with this baby, right? I mean, my partner could make sure that we would _____. What are the chances? Most likely I’ll birth within reason, but is this where I feel I can celebrate and appreciate this time to the fullest? Will I birth with reservations and settling for something I know sometimes works fine but other times doesn’t work out or will I choose to seize the day? On this journey to motherhood so precious, so very precious.
And the vision of me in my dark room, in bed, knowing it is not time to let others know it is time. And I have the peace to be and know that this may be the last time that I will do this in my life. That I will walk willingly into the fire and die in the transformation of a mother of three children and become a mother of four. And I don’t have to worry about what is waiting too long to go in. Yet, I can call and talk and have someone hold space on the phone or in person as my journey unfolds. My children asleep or rubbing my back exposed to life. And when I’m needing more support I can reach for the pillows in my bed and shove them under my body as I crawl up in a ball and find just the right position to moan or be silent. Move, tend to myself or allow others to tend to me. As I descend with each contraction deep into myself, to a place I haven’t visited in quite some time. And I can sit on my bathroom floor or lean on the back of my toilet, in my house, in my clothes or in no clothes at all. OR even take a walk to the backyard which may seem like a million miles away from inside. And if my labor spaces in time I can sleep and eat and go to sleep without the pressure of being told this isn’t normal. That labor isn’t progressing. I can know that my baby is traveling its path as well without judgment but with encouragement or positions or help from mom with her eating and drinking. And guides to this journey will still arrive and make sure that we are safe. And the positions I take for pushing can be anywhere and I can follow my body’s direction and not what is easiest for a monitor. And if I choose the floor of the closet, I will still be supported and held by those giving me space. And if I choose to birth on the toilet, I will still be held up and the baby be caught. And if I choose to birth in the pool, I can watch and see the baby rise out of the water into my arms And if I choose to birth on my bed and on my back I know that I wasn’t coerced into that position, I may have found it for that moment the most restful birthing space.
And when that baby comes out and I pull it up or it is set on my chest, the world around me doesn’t matter. This baby can be my world and I can be its world. Without guarding myself or my baby from possible unnecessary interference. We can be skin to skin as long as it feels good. Savoring this moment without a checklist. Without pushing the next item on the agenda. Waiting for the placenta, appreciating that moment on the threshold between two worlds. Allowing the moment to unfold for it is a lifetime for that baby. Allowing my children to unfold as siblings at home in that moment and then when they are ready they can go back to reading a book or doing homework or making art for their new baby. The pacing unfolds with the baby. The cues of the baby are not rushed and are respected and may be even magical. I’m not looking to the person who does my job with understanding that they are doing what they are supposed to do. I can smell my baby and look at all of the small creases that will be gone in a few hours. And I can wash up and eat my food without sending people places and snuggle into my bed. Allowing me to sleep only interrupted by my baby which really isn’t an interruption. I am not compromising all of the little things …or even the big ones…just so no one judges me later. And all of those little things, aren’t so little.