My journey started in 2006. My husband and I had just found out we were pregnant with our 4th baby, and I felt very strongly about having a home birth this time. My previous 3 babies were born in the hospital, and while it was not a terrible experience, it was not a great experience either. I was pressured into unnecessary interventions, nurses yelled at me, I was told to hurry up, and I never really felt any “relationship” with my OB/GYNs during the short and impersonal visits I had with them. I knew that birth could be more than what I had experienced those last 3 times. I wanted to allow my body to do what it was supposed to do. I wanted to be able to birth in the peace and comfort of my own home. I didn’t want a bunch of strangers there during the birth, looking at me during on of the most intimate times of my life. I wanted to be allowed to walk, shower, sing, cry, eat, drink, and labour in every way that I could. I wanted to be free of protocols and rules that had nothing to do with safety and comfort, just money and fear of lawsuits.
When I began looking for a midwife, I lived just north of the Kansas City, Missouri area. I spent what started as hours, then weeks, and then it became months, searching for a home birth midwife in my area. Unfortunately, the closest midwives I could find were several hours away, and due to their far away location, were not an option for birthing at home. I began feeling very upset at the laws against midwives, and was afraid that I was going to have to choose between a hospital birth or an unassisted home birth (which I wasn’t comfortable with). I didn’t feel it was fair or right that other people were making my decisions as to where I could, and would, birth my child. It wasn’t until I was close to 28 weeks in my pregnancy that I found my midwife, Suzanne. She was located in Leavenworth, Kansas, and was more than happy to come over from Kansas to Missouri to take over my prenatal care and assist our first home birth.
Suzanne was a wonderful midwife (CNM). She came to our house for every prenatal appointment. She spent all the time we needed talking to us, explaining everything to us, teaching me about the prenatal care procedures (what they were, why they did them, what they told her, how to do it myself, etc…), talking about birth procedures and positions, went over reasons we would transfer to the hospital, the items I would need to supply myself, and those that she would bring with her. She made me feel very empowered and educated me about pregnancy and birth. She even encouraged me to write up a birth plan, so she would know what I expected during and after the birth. This is something that I had never done, as I was never asked for a birth plan before, or even asked what I wanted or expected with my labour and birth. It was amazing to be able to put onto paper everything that I wanted, and everything I didn’t want. She read my birth plan at our next appointment and said it was the most thought out and detailed birth plan she had ever read. I knew what I had missed from my previous births, and didn’t want to go through that again if at all possible.
During my pregnancy, the only person supportive of my decision to birth at home was my husband. Both of our families were very insistent that home birth was dangerous, although they knew nothing of the facts of the safety and the statistics on home birth. I continued on with what I knew was best for my baby and myself. I did my research, and showed our families that home birth is as safe, if not safer, for low-risk pregnancies, and that birthing at home was not just safe for my baby and me, but I was actually safer than birthing in the local hospital. We let them know that, with the hospital only 10 minutes away, if there were any complications we would transfer. I knew that I wanted a home birth, but I also knew that problems do arise at times, and transferring to the hospital is always an option.
On the 4th day after my estimated due date, I went into labour. I had not been pressured to have my membranes stripped, to be induced, or to jump start labour in any way as I had in my previous pregnancies, even before my due date had arrived. Suzanne let my baby pick his time to come, and knew that since we were both doing fine, it was better for my baby to stay and grow inside of me, than to pressure him to come out before he was ready. When I called Suzanne, and told her my water had broken a little bit earlier, she and my doula came over and spent the next 8 hours with my husband and I as I laboured in my house. They both helped me get through many long hours with her comforting words and helping me into different labouring positions and techniques. They even encouraged me to eat and drink during the labour to keep up my strength for the endurance race I was going through.
I gave birth to my beautiful little boy, Brigham James, on my living room couch at 12:02pm. I didn’t have anyone pressuring me into anything I didn’t want. I only had friendly faces, and supportive and loving people around me. My baby was not taken away from me, but immediately give to me the very moment he was born. I was able to hold him, nurse him, look at him, and fall in love with him at that very moment. He was not whisked away to be weighed, cleaned, poked, and surrounded by strangers in a bright room. He was at his home, in a warm, quiet and loving environment.