September 9, 2010 by Jo
Published in the program at tonight’s Ina May Gaskin lecture:
Growing up I knew about homebirth and midwives; some of my best friends were born at home and watched their siblings come into this world at home as well. As a young woman fresh out of high school I met an amazing lady, Judy, who had her babies at home. When I was 25 she invited me to a showing of “Business of Being Born” and from then on I was an advocate of homebirth, soaking in as much information about it as I could. I was a little obsessed with birth, period.
My hubby and I were married in November and 3 months later…pregnant! Despite my knowledge about birth, I was hesitant to jump on the out-of-hospital train and went ahead with the OB I’d been recommended to by my gynecologist.
I had almost 5 months of prenatal care with the OB, despite my declining sense of security with him. Whenever I set foot in the his office, I felt anxious, overwhelmed and lost in the shuffle. The final straw came when I attempted to take the gestational diabetes test and couldn’t keep the glucose drink down. The receptionist handed me a bottle of the exact same drink and told me to repeat the process the next morning. I just looked at her, dumbfounded; if my nausea-ridden body wouldn’t cooperate with the process on Tuesday, why would it on Wednesday? My husband, bless his heart, looked her in the eye and told her that repeating the same process but expecting a different result was the definition of insanity. We met with the doctor a few minutes later and that was the last time I saw him. Two weeks later we had wrested my medical records from his office, chosen a midwife and started the birth house rental process.
Suddenly I had some sense of control again. I felt so loved and pampered by my midwives. They took so much time to educate, encourage and listen to my hubby and me. I felt I could be honest about my fears and desires when it came to the labor and delivery, and it was totally refreshing. The last trimester of my pregnancy was my happiest because I was so cared for by these amazing women, along with my family and husband.
On the morning of November 16 (11 days after the original given due date) I woke at 4:30 with terrible cramping in my back. I knew this was the beginning of a long day, so I let my husband sleep and stood in a warm shower for about 2 hours. I finally woke him at 6:30 a.m. to help me deal with the pain. Throughout this I was on the phone with both my midwives, my mom and Judy and felt so strong and ready. My water broke at 8:00 a.m. and we started the drive to Tennessee to the house we’d rented for the birth. I went through transition as we drove, which made the 40 minute drive the most difficult part of my labor.
We walked in the birth house and I went immediately to the bathroom. After a while I got into the birth tub; soon my parents arrived and at noon sharp our baby girl made her entrance. She was blue and needed resuscitation, so the midwives took her to the bed about 10 feet away. I spoke to her and she took a breath each time she heard my voice; in just a few minutes she was breathing well in my arms.
I would go into more detail about the actual labor and birth but to be honest I don’t recall many. I remember laughing a lot. I remember that the natural light in the room was gorgeous. I remember my parents being there and how supportive and patient they were. I remember feeling totally secure, without a doubt in my mind about the safety of my baby. I remember adrenaline, obscene happiness, and relief.
But most of all I remember how much faith I had in myself, my body and the natural process of birth, and how it solidified for me that the journey is a huge part of the reward.