At first I didn't bring this subject up because it was all rather up in the air. It was really important for me to have Josh be fully supportive of the idea and he was unsure at first. I left the final decision up to Josh not only because of my base belief that there can only be 1 head of a household and both men and women are designed for men to be that head but because of a much simpler and closer knowledge of myself, and that emotionally I knew I need him to be fully with me on something like this.
Josh took some time and after much thought and prayer and research and an interview with the midwife I loved, as well as a lot of meditation, discussion, and though on our past birth experience, decided that while he was still wary of the idea he had so few real objections to it that it would be unfair of him to not be supportive of something that was so important to me. It wasnt exactly the answer I wanted but I took what I could get and ran with it.
Since that point Ive stayed fairly mute on the subject because Im afraid to insult anyone who will see my choices as judgement on their choices. I dont know how to get around this except to assure you that they arent. Home birth is not for everyone, its definately not safe for everyone, and its not even best for everyone that its safe for.
I dont think you are a bad mother, or a weakling, for your epidural. I had one with Zeke after 24 hours of grueling labor. I DO wish hospital births were more accepting and supportive of other pain relief options. And I DO believe that in getting an epidural, you (and I) miss out on an amazaing experience. But its an experience you have the right to skip. There are many experiences other people hold very high in their opinion that I have no desire to know personally. Skydiving, for example, holds no interest to me.
So please dont take any of this as judgment. Its just a way to explain my choices to family and friends that think I am a little strange at best and dangerously crazy at worste.
Q. So why do you want to have your baby at home anyways? Why cant you just have a "natural" labor at the hospital?
You know, since almost the day I found out I was pregnant with Zeke, my most natural instinct was to go off into the woods and have my baby by myself. With both pregnancies that is how I imagined the "perfect" labor and birth. In the woods, on some sort of soft material, by myself, in the dark. I know it would scare the willies out of most people and its completely unrealistic (not to mention dangerous) as an actual plan but its how I would be most comfortable and its what I've dreamed about a lot.
A home birth, with an experienced midwife, is obviously the closest to this ideal that is safe and possible. With Zeke's pregnancy Josh was very very VERY against anything of the sort, and I didnt actually know much about home birth or anyone who had had one. I also truly believed that I could zone out and pretend I was alone at the hospital and have the kind of birth I desired. I found with Zeke that I was mistaken, though. And for a large veriety of reasons.
Hospitals are noisy, brightly lit, and unfamiliar. I was being constantly interupted, constantly monitered, and I just plain couldnt ever get comfortable. I was soo worried about being forced into some sort of interventitive measure, and so worried about having to stand up to the "authority" of the hopsital, as well as so worried about "perfoming" well and seeming calm in front of the nurses that I never allowed my body to take over and get into that very open and very vulnerable place where labor can happen. I really think thats a major reason why I went into labor so late (almsot 3 weeks) and why it lasted so long (over 35 hours).
And of course my fears caused the very things that I feared. After 24 hours of induced labor and no progress to speak of, I hit a wall. I did not know what to do, and I was literally "losing it". The first thing the midwives I was with suggested was an epidural. And I took it.
I dont blame myself and I dont blame them but Josh and I both feel if there had been a single person in that room that had believed in my ability to birth Zeke naturally, and had suggested somthing other than an epidural to help me cope and get over the wall, we would have been able to go for it. We've also decided looking back that no matter how hard everyone around us pushed for it, the induction was a bad decision. I wasnt ready, and neither was Zeke, and at heart we both knew it. We just didnt trust ourselves and no one else trusted us either.
I know now that in that vulnerable place that is pregnancy and birth I am so open to suggestion and I've realized the importance of a care provider that really truly believes in my ability to birth and the naturalness of birth itself. Cathy is there to watch over my birth in case something goes wrong, she is there to make suggestions when and if I hit another wall, but other than that I know that she believes she does her best work by leaving me alone to work thru it as I will. I know that she believes birth can happen at any number of weeks, and last any number of hours, and still be "normal" and I know that her confidence will give me confidence.
Many people feel perfectly comfortable in a hospital and not at all comfortable laboring at home without the safety net of the "equipment". If that is true then of course the hospital is where you should be!! No one can labor while afraid. For me, for reasons I may never fully understand, the place where I am most comfortable is at my house and left to myself.
Q. But what if something goes wrong? People used to die in childbirth all the time you know.
The myth that less women die in childbirth because we moved into hospitals is just that, a myth. Less women die in childbirth because of improved health and sanity standards. Women eat healthier, take better care of their bodies, and doctors actually wash their hands. Childbirth Fever, the number one killer way back when, was simple infection.
More women die in the US in childbirth than almost any other country, including many countries where home birth is still a normal practice.
Josh, in particular, was surprised by how little, when you got down to specific common "emergencies" a home birth midwife (properly trained ect) cant handle. Cathy carries Pitocin with her in case of hemmorage (although she said she usually uses herbs as they work faster), she has a doppler to listen to its heart, she can slip a cord off a babies neck just as easily as an OB can, and hands are pretty much God's forceps.
The truth is most situations that make birthing at home dangerous offer plenty of warning signs along your pregnancy. High blood pressure, a breach baby, ect would of course make us rethink the safety of our plan.
And there is also the truth that yes, c-sections are a miracle of science that have saved lives. And yes, Cathy has had to have clients transfer to a hospital to get one. Sometimes her water has broken and for one reason or another she just never goes into labor. Sometimes the baby just wont fit (this is where having a "proven pelivis" is nice. i fit a 9 1/2 pound baby on my back so yeah...i can fit anything God throws my way). These situations dont happen nearly as often as they do in hospitals, because midwives are more patient and more willing to use alternative positions (squatting opens a pelvis by 25% for example) not available to a women with an epidural. But they still happen and I am prepared for this possibility and can transfer to a hospital at any time I or my midwife thinks its necessary.
Q. You talked about "hitting a wall" with your labor with Zeke. What if that happens again? I mean, what if you just cant cut it and want that epidural?
I actually asked Cathy about that. How many of her clients have just wimped out and gone to the hospital for the epidural. Its never happened to her. When you are at home its just not an option, and because its not an option everyone is working on other ways to get thru. I'm sure I'll
hit a wall, if not 2 or 3, during my next labor. But I also know that I will break thru it.
Q. Zeke was soo late. What if this one is too? You cant get induced at home.
That's true. While Cathy has pitocin she doesnt use it to induce. Because of the nature of induced labor and the increased risks associated with it, its not safe to do without fetal monitering. Part of the joy of not knowing a real due date though, is I wont know when I am "late". I really believe that 99% of the time babies come when they are ready. Very few women will NEVER go into labor. There is of course the possibility, and it comes to mind a lot at 42+ weeks beleive me. But if Cathy or I get worried because its been a long time, or I'm getting rather big, or the baby is less active we can always go in for an ultrasound and check the little sucker out. She recently had a client go to 42 weeks and when they went in to look at the baby he was happy as a clam and only measuring at a 40. She went into labor a few days later.
Q. What about Zeke? Where will he be during all of this?
Because Im at home and have no where to rush off to, I feel confident to keep him with me and our schedule normal as long as possible. Because Zeke's birth was so long Im expecting another long one. ITs not logical but its a common failing. Of course a time will come when I cant focus on him any longer and I'll want Josh to myself as well. At that point we will have a babysitter either come over or come get him. We havent decided who yet but we are blessed with a lot of friends.
That's all I can think of right now but I cant express to you how open I am to any and all questions, no matter how judgemental they may sound. I would like everyone to be as comfortable with this as they can be, and I know that its so out of the mainstream that people truly have a lot of questions about it. I talk to Cathy weekly so I know that she'd be willing to answer any that I cant. :)w~q