My Path to Homebirth :: Part 1

Some people describe me as a “hippie” Mom.  I cloth diaper, I let my kids self-wean from breastfeeding, I co-sleep, I wear my babies, I do delayed vaccinations, I homebirth.

I am often asked why I would choose to have my baby at home.  What reason could I have for being so crazy?  I totally understand those questions.

When I was in college, my sister had a homebirth.  I could not believe she would be so irresponsible.  I couldn’t believe that she would put her baby’s life at risk just because she didn’t like the hospital.  I couldn’t believe she would want to do it without drugs.  I was often heard saying, “God gave man the smarts to invent drugs, stick that needle in my back thank you very much”.  In fact, just 7 months before my sister had her homebirth, I had witnessed the birth of my best friend’s baby.  She had her baby in the hospital and had an epidural.  It was great, no complications, everything went swimmingly.  Why wouldn’t I want that?

Jeremy and I had been married 6 months when I found I was pregnant with Emma.  I was 26 and was a bit wiser at this point.  I was learning I had options.  My sister had had 2 homebirths, my sister-in-law had a baby at the Birth Center and those births were great.

I was starting to believe that I wasn’t a wuss and that my body could do this.  I started reading about the Bradley Method of childbirth.  Jeremy and I read and researched and decided on having our baby with a Certified Nurse Midwife in the Hospital.  This way I could have my natural birth with a midwife, but still have the comforts of the hospital.

During my pregnancy we took Bradley Method classes.  I completely ignored the part where we learned about C-Sections because there was no way I was going to have one.  I wasn’t going to cave and get an epidural, so the snowball effect of epidural=relaxing of uterus=contractions slowing down=increased interventions=possibility baby goes into distress=C-Section.  That wasn’t going to happen to me.

When I was 34 weeks pregnant I went to see my midwife.  I was measuring about 3 1/2 weeks ahead, so she sent me back for an ultrasound.  We found out that Emma was footling breech.  I cried.  She assured me that there was plenty of time for her to turn, but in my heart I didn’t believe her.  I went home and began researching how to turn a breech baby.  I swam everyday and did handstands in the water, I put ice on her head and heat down low (along with lights and music…trying to make it really inviting for her head down there!), I lay inverted on an ironing board and then on my reclining chair.  I saw a Chiropractor and had the Webster Technique done 3 times a week.  I burned Moxibustion by my little toe (on Thanksgiving in my in-laws garage.  Good times).  I did everything I could think of.  I wasn’t a candidate for an external version because my blood pressure shot up and I was swelling up like a balloon.

At my 37 week appointment I had a Non Stress Test done.  When it was done, the midwife came in and asked if I had scheduled my C-Section yet.  I was floored.  I told her that no I hadn’t and didn’t plan on scheduling it.  I wanted her to turn and was still trying to get her to turn.  She told me that a c-section wasn’t that bad and that I would be okay.  I informed her that a few years prior I had my gallbladder out, major abdominal surgery, and this would be similar.  There was no way I wanted to go through that recovery again with a newborn to take care of.

I left the office in tears.  I called my sister-in-law, who gave me the confidence I needed to fire my midwife.  I called the practice and requested a different midwife for my next appointment and to make her my primary midwife.

It didn’t matter.  Sunday night my water broke.  It was 8pm and I was sitting down to watch Alias.  I heard a POP and felt a gush and knew that my baby was coming.

We called the midwife on call (someone I didn’t know) and were told to go to the hospital to get ready for my c-section.  An hour later we arrived at the hospital and had a really horrific experience.  I was admitted to a room and told to put on this gown.  I did and then I had to pee.  So, I went to the bathroom.  A nurse came in and yelled at me because I was getting amniotic fluid all over the floor.  She made me walk on towels back to the bed.

I was hooked up to monitors and was being asked a million and one questions.  When I would ask for a minute because I was having a contraction they would look at the monitor and tell me that I wasn’t.  Yeah, it was great.

Soon enough Jeremy and I were taken to the Operating Room.  A cold, sterile room.  I couldn’t believe my baby would be born here.  This was not at all what I had wanted or anticipated.  As she was being born, I got sick and was throwing up.  I remember hearing her cry and they lifted her up over the drape to show her to me.  I went to touch her and immediately they whisked her away.  I had to hear all about her from the anesthesiologist.  It broke my heart.

My first real looks of Emma were from a bed where I was watching her be bathed by a Nurse that I didn’t like.  Everyone else got to hold her, touch her, smell her before I did.  She didn’t get to be with me until she was about an hour old.  Nothing about this felt right.

I couldn’t sit up for 12 hours after she was born.  Because I was flat on my back, it was difficult to nurse and I couldn’t get a good look at her.  When I could sit up, the nurses would come in and ask me constantly if she’d pooped, peed, eaten, wanting to check my vitals, her vitals, etc. etc. etc.

After 3 days I was so happy to be released from the prison of the hospital. When we got home, I started digesting her birth.  So many things I wished I could have changed.  So many things I felt so cheated on.  Emma’s birth was a catalyst for change in my life.  I knew that I would never give birth like that again.  I knew I would never let someone else tell me what I could and couldn’t do with my body and my baby.  It was the beginning of my journey.

To be continued…

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  1. Mama bee says:
  2. Becky says:
  3. KarilynAley says:

    wow i am fascinated. when i found out i was pregnant i wasn't ready for a baby, so i had the whole hospital birth, not really knowing what else was out there. i have no regrets, but i haven't really digested it.


  1. […] My Path to Home Birth Part 1 […]

  2. […] is about my newest journey that isn’t really so new to me. When Emma was a baby, I started researching my different birth options. I knew I didn’t want another c-section, and realized quickly that […]

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