If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would have a home birth, I would have said you were nuts. I vaccinated on schedule and a specialists recommendarion was law. I didn’t research pregnancy because there was no need when doctors knew everything. It wasn’t until seeing The Business of Being Born that I began to realize I could even second guess or question conventional ways.
I began to pour over blogs and research alternative approaches to, well, everything. My research has taken me beyond questioning the brevity of how we experience birth but into every avenue of life, into organic food, and meditation and beyond. I can’t sum up all my research in this one page, but I can tell you the moment I knew that home birth was right for me, and I am grateful to my husband and family because it was an unforgettable experience.
I was 29 weeks pregnant when I abandoned my OB/GYN of the last 8 years. It wasn’t personal, it was just, well personal business. He couldn’t give me the labor and delivery I wanted in a setting that would be conducive to a pain free labor and delivery, at least as far as I am concerned. That night, after touring Wyandotte Hospital, where an LDRP suite consisted of a boring yet scary hospital room with a jet tub, and a bed that dropped into stirrups like I was going into surgery, I couldn’t sleep. I got up at 3 am and started doing my research. While switching OB/GYNs in the 3rd trimester isn’t ideal, it happens a lot because people move and other moms, like me, have changed their minds mid pregnancy and taken their insurance elsewhere. I could do that too! I could have the natural birth I wanted at Karmanos Center for Natural Childbirth in a luxurious room with a queen size bed and spa bathroom. It was complete with hospital provided essential oils and rubber duckies; even the nurses were educated in natural birth and pain relief. This felt like the perfect combination of the home birth I craved and the hospital birth I was trying to avoid.
I had never relished the idea of my male OBGYN, but at this point, he had delivered all three of my babies. I was anxious to change my birth plan so late in the game. My new OGBYN, for a Karmanos delivery, was female and it made the transition easier. My very first visit, I went on the scale backwards so as not to see how much I weighed, just like I had done at every doctor’s appointment this pregnancy. I have always been paranoid about my weight so I decided to opt out of knowing how much I was gaining this pregnancy as long as it was healthy. She didn’t get the hint and immediately told me the escalating number. The appointment started out stressful enough and ended with my new OBGYN checking my cervix for x amount of medical reasons rather violently. I left the appointment with her words echoing in my mind about my contemplation of home birth, “I don’t think home birth is safe; the risks are too high.” I wasn’t feeling her confidence in the natural birth I wanted, and was completely eligible for, as I am extremely low risk and healthy.
The 2nd time I saw her, my visit was about 10 minutes. She came and listened to the heartbeat after my blood pressure was taken and my urine given. I asked her before leaving again, “So…everything looks good so far for me to deliver at Karmanos, right?”
“Well, you are a new patient and I haven’t been with you this whole pregnancy, but everything looks good so far. We will know more as it gets closer. But don’t get your hopes up because something could happen and you might have to transfer to the regular hospital. We want a healthy baby no matter what.” She smiled in the doctor’s, ‘trust me’ way. I brushed it off.
By the third visit I was beginning to get irritated when she voiced for the third time her doubts, “You never know if something will happen, so I don’t want you to get your heart set on the natural birthing room. The other hospital rooms are very nice too!” Her words left me feeling hopeless it and I wasn’t feeling secure that she would be an effective advocate for me, much less encourage me into the labor and delivery I wanted. Every word out of her mouth contradicted the two books I had just read and the statistics they had represented. I felt like I didn’t matter and I was going to give birth with a strange doctor in a strange hospital 100 feet away from the birthing suite I was expecting. I cried the whole way home, bawling my eyes out because I just wanted to have this baby at home. By that evening I had decided to change courses again and had an appointment with the midwife that had delivered two of my best friends’ babies. It was the first time I felt at peace since the day I toured a hospital and decided to reject that way of doing things. I stopped crying and started smiling.