Don't you hate eating your words?
Yeah, me too. Which is why this has been such a difficult post for me to write. That, and the fact that I had pneumonia last week and still need daily doses of an inhaler just to breathe. And also the fact that I've spent cumulative hours on the phone with less than wonderful customer service agents the past few days trying to get my internet access restored. Just for the record, my husband is now in charge of all things internet related.
Ok, back on point.
Let me clarify a few things first.
I am a homebirther. I believe in homebirth. I believe its a safe, wise, and gentle way for a baby to be born. I believe that homebirth is as safe as a birth in the hospital when the mom and baby are low risk.
I had a marvelous experience birthing Max at home. I've attended lots of successful, beautiful homebirths as a doula. So when I fould out that we were expecting again, I naturally started planning for another homebirth.
Problem is, I've never felt completely settled or comfortable with the idea. Since my wonderful midwife with Max, who also happens to be one of my best-est friends, moved to New Mexico a year and a half ago, I had to start from scratch interviewing midwives. Nothing seemed to click. I kept telling myself that I was only dragging my feet because I had such a great friendship with my last midwife and was having a hard time adapting to the idea of having "just" a midwife.
I hired a midwife who I knew, respected, and had attended births with. I had seen her in action and respected her experience and liked her style as a midwife. I still felt unsettled. I joked with my husband that maybe the reason I was feeling so lost and uninspired was either because I was going to have a baby so fast that it didn't matter who I hired, or I was just going to end up in the hospital anyway. I stuffed my uneasiness and apprehension in the back of my mind, convinced that the reasons I was unsure had more to do with all our medical drama over the past year and a half than it did any inspiration or instinct about the matter.
This pregnancy, much like my others, has been relatively problem free. I had two visits with the midwife and an ultrasound, all showing that things were progressing more or less as they should.
But underneath it all, I couldn't deny that I was feeling uncommitted. I was dragging my feet when it came time to make another midwife appointment. I was having trouble envisioning, planning or getting excited about a homebirth. Previous pregnancies have found me reading every birth story I could get my hands on, devouring birth books by the dozens, (I remember my husband asking me once, "How many birth books can you possibly buy before they all start saying the same thing?") and daydreaming about my perfect birth. Imagining a homebirth this time around has felt as productive as visualizing a brick wall.
It all came to a head about a week and a half ago. Out of the blue one Tuesday evening, my husband remarked, "You know, I really have a strong feeling that we're going to end up in the hospital with this baby."
"I do too." I said, without even realizing that I was going to say it. And just like that, everything I'd been trying to deny for the past six months came rushing to the surface. There was a reason behind all the apprehension, the unease. It was because, deep down underneath, despite all the denying my uneasiness and pretending everything was fine, I really wasn't at all certain about our plans for a homebirth.
We talked more that night after the kiddos had gone to bed. We talked pros and cons, and put everything out on the table. After our experiences with Max's birth, my husband is as pro-homebirthing as I am, and was equally wondering why he felt this way. But I couldn't help but think that if my husband felt the same unease that I did, that it was time for me to sit up and take notice.
The next two days were filled with a lot of praying and a lot of crying. I didn't want to give up on a homebirth. I hate hospitals. I know it sounds crazy to 98% of women out there, but I really do feel like my births belong at home. I don't know that I have ever felt so conflicted about something in my entire life.
I was supposed to have an appointment with my midwife that week, and called the day before and cancelled it, telling her where we were emotionally. She was wonderfully encouraging and supportive, asking me to keep her in the loop with whatever we decided. She said that she had sensed hesitation from me at the very start, and kept waiting for me to come down off the fence on one side or the other. She encouraged me to follow my gut, and let my instincts and feelings guide my decision, because in her experience, it's women who don't listen to that inner voice that find themselves in trouble.
Meanwhile, I made an appoitnment with a midwife who delivers at a new hospital nearby. I've done a birth with her as well, (although I have to use that term loosely because we both showed up at the same time- about five minutes after the baby was born!) and she has a wonderful reputation for being as non-interventive as possible, and helping her clients get the birth they want. The hospital is very new, and from everything I've heard, very progressive when it comes to labor and delivery. Both Tom and I thought that we should probably start checking out all our options.
I kept hoping and praying for revelation. Waiting and wanting the skies to open up, a voice to speak. So conflicted. Caught between things I truly believe and the nagging feelings that my husband and I had been feeling the entire pregnancy.
I went to see the midwife this week, and immediately felt at ease. She was very upfront and matter of fact, easy to talk to, and laugh and joke with about the birth community. I gave her a brief rundown of how we were feeling, and she also encouraged me to follow my instincts, letting me know that she would do everything she could to help me acheive a peaceful, nonmedicated birth in the hospital. From what she told me, there are no interventions I would be subjected to routinely, and that rather than forcing her patients into procedures, she would explain the risks and benefits and then let me decide.
I left the appointment feeling like a giant weight had been lifted off me. I met Tom for lunch, and once again had the odd experience of hearing words come out of my mouth before I knew I had made a decision: "I think this is what we need to do."
So I find myself in a very weird spot. I'm a homebirther through and through, but we feel strongly that for reasons we don't know, that we need to plan a birth in the hospital.
I don't know what that means, or why we would feel that way. I had one friend suggest that I may not be completely over all the medical chaos that we went through with Max, and that because of that, I'm having a hard time believing that anything could go smoothly.
I've wondered if my ambivalence about having another baby may be keeping me from making the committment to a homebirth.
But the last thing we want is to spend all the time and energy investing ourselves in a homebirth and then be forced to transfer late in pregnancy or worse, during labor. If something is going to go wrong, (heaven forbid!) I would much rather be prepared emotionally to be comfortable in the hospital. And the biggest nightmare driving both of us would be to look back and realize that we had been receiving inspiration the entire pregnacy, only to ignore it.
There's also the not-so-small fact that birthing in the hospital would be significantly cheaper for us, to the tune of at least $1000, and probably more.
I've felt like a traitor to my natural birthing mamas and friends. I've felt like an imposter. I've questioned my ability to receive and interpret revelation. I've wondered if I'm just a big fat wimp. I don't think I've ever felt so conflicted about a decision in my entire life.
But now that the decision has been made, I feel lighter. Calmer. Settled.
I know that the majority of the people who read this will wonder what the big deal is, and why I'm acting like the decision of where to birth my baby is such a big deal. I know that people can and do have wonderful experiences in the hospital. I know that there are many (most) women who can't imagine birthing anywhere else.
I'm holding on to the hope that I wouldn't feel this strongly about something without a reason.
I'm almost 30 weeks, so it won't actually be that long until we know how this story ends. We joke that this baby is just destined to be surprise from beginnning to end. We were surprised to be pregnant, surprised to change our birth plans, and the biggest surprise of all will be finding out if we're having a baby brother or sister.
So we're hanging on for dear life for the rest of this crazy ride.