In high school, one of my basketball coaches had a homebirth. That planted the seed in my mind and I came to think of homebirth as something strong women do. Then I married a man whose mother was a midwife and many of my beliefs were fortified. I did my own research years before getting pregnant and I decided that homebirth was the best option for me.
I believed in homebirth scientifically. To this day I read the data to say that a homebirth is safer than a hospital birth for most low-risk women. I believed in homebirth spiritually and emotionally as well. I wanted my baby welcomed into the comfort of my home. The pros and cons went on from there. There really wasn’t a decision to be made— homebirth was the clear winner— and my son arrived on my bed on May 15, 2012.
During my first pregnancy, people would ask me, “Why do you want a homebirth?” With conviction in my heart I would answer that in hospitals things are done for many reasons: economics, fear of litigation, protocol, and what’s actually best for the mother and baby is unfortunately pretty far down on the list. I’m currently six months pregnant with my second child and someone recently asked me the same question. The best answer I could muster was, “I guess I’m crazy.” I no longer know if I’m doing the right thing.
If the answer were clear I wouldn’t be up writing right now; I wouldn’t have been up crying last night. I am torn apart. I feel that a homebirth is what’s best for my baby but I don’t think it’s what’s best for me anymore, emotionally. I don’t think I can handle it. I don’t think I’m brave enough to do it again now that I know first hand what it’s like. I know I could push through the pain but I can’t help asking myself, “At what cost?” What kind of wreck will I be on the other side?
I never thought homebirth was the answer for everyone, but I thought it was right for me in large part because of how unappealing I find the alternatives in my part of the country. I have studied labor enough to understand the delicate interplay of hormones and chemicals in the body. Once we start blocking pain the perfect orchestra of actions and reactions is interrupted, replaced with something artificial, something that can cause more harm than good. Then the “cascade of interventions” is set off and we are left doped and cut while our baby is taken away and cared for by strangers.