It became one of the criteria by which we judged homes during our extensive searches. (whirlpool tub = plus; space for a whirlpool or birthing tub = also a plus) We were still riding high from the intensely beautiful and empowering experience of Isadora’s birth 3 1/2 years earlier, attended by the midwives at Madison’s free-standing Birth Center, and there was no doubt we would seek their services again. Finally, with said home in place, midwives at the ready, and our lifestyle ready for a new chapter, we found ourselves pregnant again.
The early part of pregnancy whizzed by at breakneck speed, obscured by the fast-approaching holiday season as well as the daily needs of an active 3 year old. This early period stands out as a time of lethargy, of lots of napping, and a fascinated awe with the speed at which this belly popped out and started dominating my body landscape. There’s really only one baby in there? Yes, thankfully, as confirmed by the 20 week ultrasound. We also confirmed that the baby, whose sex would remain a mystery, was indeed a baby of the human variety, despite his in-utero name of Baby Fluffy, as dubbed by his eager Big-Sister-To-Be.
Lofty goals of a handmade holiday quickly banished the lethargy and took over. This would be approximately the time that Baby Fluffy started hearing the steady hum of the sewing machine, a sound that would dominate his world for the remainder of his stay within. Christmas came and went and the focus was now shifted to Baby. Think about Baby. Talk about Baby. Prepare for Baby’s grand entrance into our world. We agreed that Isadora should be present at the birth of her sibling and started talking with her about what that meant. I also extended the invitation for The Moms to be present: mine and Andrew’s. To prepare us all and set the stage, so to speak, I required that we all watch the film The Business of Being Born, which I thought nicely captured many of the reasons we were so deliberately choosing our homebirth as well as show several examples. Over the course of my pregnancy, I ended up viewing the movie five times, watching it with each of The Moms (and Father-in-Law – what a trooper!) as well as with Daddio. It firmly cemented the beliefs that I had already held about birth:
- All women deserve access to making an informed decision about where and how they birth their babies and the ability to see that decision through
- Birth is a natural, healthy process, not a medical emergency or illness automatically requiring a hospital
- Pitocin = bad, bad, bad, especially if your goal is an unmedicated labor
- C-section rates are alarmingly high, still rising, and most often not necessary or the result of other (probably unnecessary) medical interventions
We read books, like Welcome with Love and attended sibling and refresher childbirth classes. I learned that, statistically, second or subsequent labors tend to last about half as long, and looked forward to the possibility, no likelihood, of an abridged 10 hour labor this time. At the very least, I was deeply comforted that the 4 hours of pushing I logged with Isadora should have adequately paved the way for this baby to slide right out.
Those of you who are regulars already know that this time was also marked by an almost-super-human craftiness. It by far marks my most prolific “making” period to date. Amidst this frenzy of curtain sewing, bedroom painting, diaper bag making and countless other projects, I could barely be bothered to assemble the materials for the homebirth. This includes things like sheets and protective mattress pads, hose and adapters for the birthing tub we were renting, towels, heating pads, receiving blankets, and baby’s first clothes. Far, far more than the boiling water, bed sheets torn into strips, and knife under the pillow of urban homebirth legend, no? (I admit to cracking more than one joke to this effect)
From the start, I braced myself for the reaction I’d inevitably get from others when announcing our intentions for a homebirth. I was careful to specify that it was our goal, as long as our pregnancy remained “normal” and without complications. (any serious complications would necessitate a planned hospital birth) Bolstered by hard facts gleaned from my repeated viewings of the film, I tried explaining how we believed the homebirth scenario to be safer (as it statistically is), as the introduction of medical interventions was highly unlikely, and those interventions often snowballed into more interventions and ended with a C-section. I tried to explain the emotional and physiological benefits to being on my own turf, in my own bedroom, surrounded by a team of loving support that I knew and trusted. I spoke of the advantages of healing and adjusting post-partum at home, without being jostled in and out of a hospital, and attended to by the midwives at home during the first week. And always, I answered the question of “What if there’s an emergency and you need to be at the hospital?” with the simple “Then we go to the hospital, either by car or ambulance.” Usually this question was prefaced with an incredulous “Aren’t you worried something could go wrong?” Simply, no. The vast majority of births, left to progress at the body’s appropriate pace, are uncomplicated, normal, and safe. Most complications are detected before the start of labor, and would allow for a planned hospital birth. As a sensible precaution, we were pre-resistered at the nearest hospital and were prepared to make the transfer in the event of an emergency. In the hospital, I explained, the average waiting time to prep an OR for an emergency C-section and assemble the crew is about the same as our travel time to the hospital, so we’d likely not be losing any time or compromising safety.
The dates of the calendar sped by, dancing their way from present to past, and our due date quickly approached. And we were ready – physically, emotionally, and otherwise.
We turned our focus to the Egg moon, watching it as it waxed to full, bringing our baby ever closer.
(Part 2 found here!)