As you may (or may not) know Romy and I will be welcoming our first child into the world in mid-December assuming he sticks to a schedule.
As you may (or may not) know Romy and I will be doing a home birth. We’ll be using the services of a midwife team (3 women) who are Oregon trained and certified.
As you may (or may not) know my insurance scoffs at this and refuses to pay for their services so we’re paying out of pocket. We’re also having to drive past 4 hospitals to get there when we visit them. I have to take 1/2 day off work each time we go visit.
…and now that you know what this post is going to be about feel free to skip it if you have no interest in any of this, no hard feelings I promise, I had no interest in any of this until it pertained to me either.
So why go through the out of pocket expenses, inconveniences of driving into Portland proper (and crossing the river), burn valuable PTO at work, and be treated like freaks when we go to any class involving other parents to be?
Simple. It’s what Romy wants.
Now I didn’t exactly accept this with blinders or a sense of jubilation – this represented a huge change for me. Birth, to me, was something done in a hospital and it involved drugs to numb that pain and a c-section if it took too long to push the little bugger out.
Birth needed to happen in a “clean” and “sterile” environment that only a hospital could provide and a skilled team of people in scrubs with tools, forceps, and a lot of machines that go “ping”.
When Romy presented the idea that she wanted a natural birth my first (internal) response was “People still do that?!”.
We started off by watching “The Business of Being Born”. Not my favorite thing ever but it presented a different view for me. I decided to do a little bit of street work and started asking women I know that have had children what their experiences were. I was surprised at the amount of women that regretted going to the hospital. Not that they’d go for the home birth but the experiences there were subpar with reasons ranging from “I only ever saw my OB when he/she caught the baby” or feeling like they didn’t want or need a C-Section but they had it anyways at the doctors insistence. Mostly it was just being uncomfortable and feeling like they were on some predetermined timeline to give birth.
This caused confusion in my engineer wired brain – why wouldn’t you want to be efficient in something like this? Why wouldn’t you want a short labor, all the drugs, and someone to say “this is too hard, let me help take the baby out of you to ease your pain and stress”.
As it turns out my views were pretty uneducated. I’ve been around for a few births in my life – never witnessing one but kind of knowing “the routine”. Head to the hospital, get them checked in, go park the car, come back with a bag of stuff, and wait a while.
I’ve since learned that you can actually give birth at home in any number of ways. You can give birth in a tub or birthing pool, squatting, on all fours, standing, or laying down in your own bed.
You can have a say in what care your child does or does not receive at birth and you can have an environment where the baby isn’t whisked away to be put in a room full of other babies that have since been whisked away.
Still, this was all feel good stuff to me. So we set in to do work on finding out about this midwife culture and hospital culture. We started with interviewing midwives and we interviewed many. We visited their homes, their birthing centers, and their offices.
Like dealing with anyone that deals in providing a service we had our ups and downs and immediate likes and dislikes. What I learned about these providers outside that some of them really need to get a sense of business is that they weren’t just granola hippies that wanted to catch a baby and anoint it with patchouli oil and call it a success.
These women are college educated, highly seasoned, medically trained, and treated Romy and I with far more warmth and respect that we got in any hospital.
We grilled them pretty hard in the interview process and came away with a pair of midwives that work in tandem. They’ve since added an assistant so we’ll have three women attending Romy at the time of Gavin’s birth.
We’ll have the same medical options available to us as we would at any hospital here in terms of medication, APGAR, stitching, etc.. and we’ll be given a choice on which medication we want given to Gavin.
One thing you have likely learned about me is that I’m pretty risk adverse. So I’m not going into this thinking that nothing can go wrong. One of the things Romy and I have agreed on (at my insistence) is that we go to the local hospital and get a chart going with an OB/GYN and explain to he/she (turned out to be a she) that we’re doing a home birth with attending midwives and that they are our emergency option. The OB wasn’t too happy or supportive but I’ve found there to be a fairly similar attitude among many OB’s is that midwives are half voodoo priestess and half barbarian that holds back real medical science.
We also entered into a contractual agreement with the midwife staff that in the event that a situation COULD turn into an emergency we’ll transport to the hospital in a non-emergency situation and they will attempt to enforce our wishes of a natural birth without drugs.
We won’t be attempting any high risk births at home because home isn’t capable of handling an emergency as such and that’s where I feel hospitals really shine. I feel like hospitals aren’t a place of caring and healing as much as they are a vessel to safe lives, set bones, and get thousands of people in and out of there per day that are sick.
Hospitals are essential in any civilized infrastructure and I don’t want you to think that I’m knocking their existence, however, I don’t think it’s a place where I want Gavin to be born. Romy stresses out pretty hard when we get to hospitals for labs or to meet new doctors and I can’t imagine the stress she would feel with her legs strapped apart being told if she doesn’t give birth in the next 30 minutes she’ll be cut open.
Since stress causes a series of hormones to flood your system I believe that Gavin would get a full dose of that along with whatever other would get pumped into Romy. Just seems like a rough welcome to the world.
So we’ve made our choice, I’m paying off the midwife service in monthly installments, I’m happily driving far out of my way to see our team, happy to take the PTO because I feel like Romy and Gavin both will get the care they want and need. I’m confident that we have our bases covered, we’re agreed on when and why we transport, and have gained a support system through this that we’d not had up until that point.
The midwives have earned my total respect and confidence and have given us choices we didn’t know we had. They are a wealth of information and provide a sense of leadership that was lacking. They want to deliver our baby, they want to see him healthy, and they want to help us through this and that’s an attitude I’m entirely grateful for.
So what say you all (that made it through this post) – would you consider a home birth or is the allure of a hospital birth too strong to overcome?