I realize that this is a broad topic. A lot of you have asked why we chose to have our kids at home. I want to start this post by immediately saying I do not feel like this choice has made us better than anyone else, or that I am stronger than someone who chooses medical intervention or that I look down on other birthing options. That is an elitist attitude, and if you feel that way about your choices, whether they are the same or different from mine, please don’t continue to read this and definitely don’t comment. This note is purely about why me, myself and I (and, oh yes, Matt Murray) made the decision to give birth at home.
It started before Jack. Matt and I conceived and lost a baby in our first trimester. I had a terrible experience with our OB/GYN and never wanted to go back. When we found out we were expecting Jack I panicked a bit because I hadn’t found a new OB yet. I knew I needed a more personal relationship with a care provider and asked a woman at my church if she had any good recommendations. She told me about a midwife who birthed at home and who had delivered 2 other children at Renovatus… I honestly hadn’t considered home birth and the idea of it freaked me out a bit but I took the information anyway. Later than week I ran into my girlfriend, Lauren, and she told me that same midwife had delivered their son. It was too much of a coincidence not to at least meet this woman.
I started to research. I still at this point found the idea of having a c-section very attractive. I was terribly afraid of going through labor because of the pain and also I worried about recovery a lot. I had a friend that didn’t have sex for quite a while after their child was born and that freaked me out, too. I knew a lot of people who had c-sections and felt like it was just fine. I knew next to nothing about pregnancy or delivering at the beginning of my pregnancy and I was shocked to learn that there is SO MUCH to know about it. I was fascinated and thrilled to learn as much as I could. I’ve never had a great memory but it seemed like everything I learned about birth I committed to memory immediately, it was just too amazing to forget.
Through my research I started to realize that vaginal birth seemed to be far better for baby and mama health and recovery wise. The only problem is that there are a lot of rules that hospitals have about who can and can’t have a vaginal delivery and when they could have it. I realized that as far as hospitals go, I am not a good candidate. A lot of doctors still induce labor early because of macrosomia (fetal size of 8 lbs, 13 oz or larger) even though the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises against it. My family has a history of large babies and Matt wasn’t that tiny himself at birth. Also, most hospitals have a time limit of 42 weeks before they will induce labor (if they even let you go that far, which is unlikely). I have a family history of going closer to 43 weeks before labor starts on its own.
I wasn’t worried yet, though, because that research didn’t suggest to me that I wouldn’t be able to deliver vaginally, just that I may have to be induced and start labor sooner than I would have naturally. And who doesn’t want to have your baby sooner than 43 weeks? It sounded fine to me until I found the statistics that made me realize I might not have that good of a chance of vaginal delivery in the hospital at all! Our C-section rate in the US is over 30% and when you are induced, your chances of having a C-Section DOUBLE! Now I was scared. That put me at a 40% chance of having my baby vaginally. (Naturally was already out, if you remember, because inducing is not done with natural methods at the hospital.)
I do not think it is wrong to have a c-section. I do not think it is wrong to be induced. I do not think it is wrong to have your child in a hospital. Doctors are not evil villains. But I did not want that for myself and my family! It didn’t work for us. I met with my midwife and really loved her. She isn’t an overly flowery hippy like I was expecting (and nervous about). She is sharp, filled with knowledge and wisdom, kind, and passionate. This woman could handle an emergency. She would tell me the truth. She isn’t an idealist who thinks that every single baby should be born at home, but a realist who knows that the majority of all babies can be. It was a perfect fit. It was because of my midwife and the encouragement of my dear friend and doula, Jordan, that we chose to giving birthing at home a try.
As we continued on our journey I learned so much more that made me more and more confident concerning our choice. Simple things like not using an epidural made it so that you could labor in other positions besides flat on your back with your legs in stir ups, which is a very difficult position to deliver any baby in. Knowing that mine were probably going to be big would make that even more difficult. The infant mother mortality rate is lower for homebirths, too. That was really reassuring! Knowing that there wasn’t going to be any unneccessary medical intervention really made me the most sure, though. I think that in the hospital if a Doctor had told me that something was necessary I would have wondered if it really was. That’s not a good frame of mind to be in while delivering.
I know that it is meant to be sweet when people say that I am special or strong for delivering these kids at home but I just don’t think that’s true. I think that when God designed birth, He designed it perfectly. I believe that hospitals are for sick people or folks with emergencies. I wouldn’t go to the hospital for a cold just in case in turned into pneumonia any more than I would go to the hospital for a birth just incase something went wrong. I know that C-Sections, and our countries ability to perform them well has saved many people’s lives. I believe that the advancement of medicine is necessary and good. But I also believe that medical intervention should be used only when necessary or when a patient and doctor have agreed on it before hand. I wouldn’t want to go to the hospital wanting natural birth and end up with a c-section for non-emergency reasons. That is too sad for me to think about.
Birthing should make you realize just how beautifully women are made, not make you tremble with fear. I went into this adventure with concerns and questions, but without fear. It has made all the difference for me.