Almost 10 years ago I gave birth to my first son. It was a 17 hour labor that I spent (mostly) by myself in our little bathroom surrounded by candle-light and fresh flowers. At one point, probably about 14 hours in, I remember thinking “I’m so glad there isn’t a doctor or midwife here as they’d probably be rushing me at this point.” It was a lovely freedom to be able to let my body release this baby at it’s own pace ~ a natural, organic pace that shouldn’t be sped up or slowed down. As my body went through those powerful, involuntary, shuddering pushes close to midnight, I told my baby, “As soon as I feel your head coming out, I’ll get off the toilet,” (yes, I labored for much of the time on the toilet as it helped me open up naturally). When I felt him coming out, I knelt down on the floor, grabbed the towel rack and called to my husband that the baby was coming. He walked in just in time to see me rip the towel rack off the wall just as the baby was crowning. A moment later, ChristoFinn slid out onto a pile of soft blankets on the floor. He gave a soft mewl to let us know he was breathing and then I picked him up, cradling him, and exclaiming “We did it! We did it! Oh my god, we did it!” My husband and I beamed at each other and then as we looked at our newborn baby boy, he smiled at us.
We’d kept the fact we were having an unassisted home-birth a secret from everyone. As far as anyone knew we were having a mid-wife attended home-birth, which is the avenue we started pursuing at first. But at 20 weeks of my pregnancy I knew I had to do this on my own. Whenever I’d picture my midwives at the birth I’d find myself worrying about them with silly thoughts like “What am I going to feed them? What if I take too long? What if I keep them from another birth?” Whenever I thought of having the midwives there it felt like a burden and a distraction. Also I was finding my intuition being questioned and undermined at each prenatal appointment. They were well-intentioned and absolutely lovely people, but they were making me question myself, and that just didn’t feel right.
Mostly, however, I chose unassisted home-birth because the more I looked into it, learned about it, and researched it, it just FELT right. Unassisted home-birth was something I’d NEVER considered before I got pregnant, in fact my catch-phrase pre-pregnancy in regards to childbirth was “Give me the epidural, I’m nobody’s hero!” How quickly that changed.
I don’t remember where I first heard about unassisted home-birth, but I do know it didn’t take long until I was hooked. With each book and story I read about unassisted my soul SANG and indeed, I experienced a blissful high each time I considered giving birth on my own. The bliss was a key sign that my intuition was right on track, but there were many hurdles to overcome. My husband for one. And who could blame him? Imagine telling ANY husband “Honey, I’ve decided we’re doing to deliver our baby at home all by ourselves.” That’s gotta be a holy-shit-factor for anyone. Indeed, my hubby and I fought more during my pregnancy than we had over the first 7 years we’d been together ~ and it was all about the birth. But I couldn’t budge. There was one morning, I decided to compromise with my husband and have the midwives there in another room. After I conceded it felt like my baby and my body were mourning. I started crying. It was then my husband knew how important this was. Only a couple of short weeks later he came around and was fully on board with my plan of unassisted childbirth.
We still kept it a secret from everyone else. We didn’t need to feel their fear or have it infect us. Keeping it to ourselves was the best way to protect our plan. (We did have emergency numbers and an emergency childbirth book handy in case we needed it, but we didn’t dwell too much on those.) We finally came clean after the birth when we made the initial calls to our family. Everyone was shocked, but they came around when they heard that everything had turned out fine. My father was probably the most shocked of all and didn’t know what to say at first. Now, he loves telling everyone, even strangers, how his daughter gave birth.
When our baby came out healthy and happy on that wintery day in February of 2005, not only was a new life born, but a new level of confidence was instilled in me. Those first few days after Finn was born my husband and I will always remember. It was like we were cocooned in a warm, pink bubble of bliss. And it was also like the three of us were on a psychedelic high. We would dream our baby’s dreams in black and white. We would be unable to tell which hands were his or which were ours when we were holding him, such a melding was going on. Food had never tasted better, colors had never been so vibrant. It was a beautiful, natural high resulting in our trust of ourselves, our bodies, and our baby. It truly was a peak experience.
My husband and I had two more boys after this, each born unassisted at home. Each peak experiences.
I often reflect back on my births when I need confidence in parenting or in life. Choosing unassisted home-birth has taught me:
* That just because something is normal (like our culturally accepted views of medicalized birth), doesn’t mean it’s natural.
* That faith is believing in something even when common sense tells you not to.
* That if we GET OUT OF THE WAY, we make room for miracles.
* That I can do whatever the fuck I put my mind to.
* We always have two choices: fear or trust.
* Not to listen to other voices above my own intuition.
* That we are capable of SO MUCH MORE than we know.
Despite my peak experiences, I don’t advocate unassisted home-birth for everyone. I truly believe a woman should give birth wherever she feels the safest, whether it’s a hospital, birthing center, or midwife attended home-birth. For me, I felt safest giving birth by myself (with my husband in the next room) and it has changed me forever and for the better.