In my email today. Just in time, too.
"Hi, Barb. You don’t know me. We’ve only communicated a couple of times, and by email or blog comments at that. But you changed my life.
I had a hospital birth with my first child – a great hospital birth, honestly, even knowing what I know now. At the time, I chose family practice OB care and a hospital delivery as not just the safest option, but the ONLY safe option for delivering my baby. Through a combination of lucky factors, I ended up with a low-intervention OB (who had apprenticed with midwives!), a baby-friendly hospital, and a quick labor with few interventions outside of an epidural, IV, and continuous fetal monitoring. But when my sister-in-law chose to deliver her first child at home, I knew I had only two choices; I could either get on board with her decision, or I could remove myself emotionally from her pregnancy and birth. It’s not OK to be constantly dogging someone’s pregnancy with doubts and fears, and I wasn’t going to do that.
In my homebirth research, I found your blog, and I read it avidly, and I started to question some of my assumptions. Between your blog and lots of other research, I learned that the incidence of birth complications that can’t be resolved outside of a hospital AND that come on very quickly with no warning is, actually, incredibly low. Like, you’re probably at a greater risk when you drive to the hospital. (Further research and some NTSC number-crunching showed that yes, for the majority of Americans, you take on a greater risk of substantial complications by driving to the hospital for a low-risk delivery than you do by delivering at home; the likelihood that you’ll get into an accident while driving distracted for 20+ miles is higher than the risk of a problem developing at home that can’t be fixed by a transfer.) I emailed you and told you my birth story, and you said “Oh hell yes, when you asked for the epidural, you were in transition, 4 cm or no 4 cm. You were right there. You could have done it.” And after talking to my husband and realizing the degree to which he HATES hospitals, I decided that if I could ever get pregnant again, I would deliver at a birth center, with midwives.
I did get pregnant again. (After two more miscarriages, totaling four.) My pregnancy was completely textbook and uncomplicated, modulo a couple of borderlike GDM screens and some preterm contractions that were stopped pretty easily. At 39w2d, my prodromal labor started amping up and regulating, and after some discussions with the midwife, we decided it was time to head to the birth center. . .
. . . and then I got the call. For the first time ever in my midwives’ practicing history? The birth center was full. FULL. No room at the inn. We could either drive to another birth center 40 minutes away, with strengthening contractions that I was feeling largely in my sacroiliac joints and a history of precipitous labor, or we could do this at home. After some quick discussion, we decided to convert to homebirth. My husband and my doula scrubbed out our giant tub and tidied the hell out of my master bedroom, my mother bought plastic tablecloths and triple-wrapped the mattress, the neighbors brought over a plate of sandwiches, and we sent my daughter over to her best friend’s house.
I am so glad we didn’t go to the birth center. My contractions were kinda strong but irregular, and the midwives advised amniotomy (I was having a LOT of ligament pain and couldn’t really walk or change position very easily, and the thought of doing that for hours was very exhausting). They broke my water at 6 cm, which threw me basically instantly into transition; after 25 minutes I got in the tub, where I instantly began to feel pushy, but my midwives didn’t want me to deliver in the water because I’m heavy enough that in the case of a dystocia or other emergency they couldn’t lift me without risking their own health, so I tried to hide it. (HA.) But after 20 or 30 minutes in the tub, I had a contraction that I just took a deep breath and bellowed through for 90 unbroken seconds without changing pitch or tone, or pausing, or taking a breath, and they said “Yeah that’s your last contraction in the tub.” I said “I will fucking CUT you if you make me get out of this tub” but they did anyway – my doula had to count me down like a recalcitrant toddler – and got me onto the bed to push. That was at 3 PM. My son was born at 3:08, after I just hollered him out of my body. 6 lbs 12 oz of amazing miracle; 78 minutes since the amniotomy.
It was so lovely. It was so peaceful. When we were done, we were home. . . he was born in the same bed where he was conceived. I had very little blood loss, no tearing, and his apgars were 8 and 10. I’m still not in love with unmedicated labor, but it was worth it to stay out of the hospital. And my GOD I felt good afterwards.
Without your blog, without your passionate advocacy, would I have had the courage to deliver at home? Maybe. Probably, even; I had a lot of other resources on the web. But it was definitely an easier decision to make having read your accumulated wisdom, in large part because you tell it like it is and don’t shy away from the risks.
My son is ten days old, sleeping on my shoulder as I type this, tummy full of milk. He’s been out of the house a handful of times already, but every time, it was by my choice. I could have kept him here, at home, in my arms, since the instant he was born. He is my second and last baby. . . I am so grateful to have had this gift of having him at home. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank YOU, Kathryn! You were the salve I needed today. Bless you and your family. Enjoy your BabyMoon.