born at home

One week ago today I had the unique honor and pleasure of being the midwife at the birth of my granddaughter who was born at home. The labor was neither quick nor easy, giving me ample time for reflection and contemplation on the process of birth, place of birth, and the work of being a birth attendant.

Here’s the back story: My son, well, he’s the child of a midwife-now family doctor who attended the homebirths of his 3 younger sisters and his nephew, whose birth I midwifed 20 years ago – not to mention the ones he attended on my back as an infant in a backpack. For him, homebirth is a natural choice. My daughter-in-law is a Harvard pediatrics resident. This is not a trivial fact. In Massachusetts, it is the pediatricians, even more than the obstetricians, who have been the most vociferous about the dangers of midwives – they’ve tried to shut down birthing centers because they consider those a dangerous place to have a baby – so you can imagine the attitudes about homebirth!

When my daughter-in-law became pregnant, I shared my joy about the pregnancy, but withheld all opinions about pregnancy and birth, making it clear to her that my strongest abiding belief is that women birth best where they feel safest and if for her that is the birthing center or hospital, she had my fullest support. I let her know I was available for questions should she need any information, but I had no expectations of involvement on any level. And this was completely true and authentic.

Early in the pregnancy she opted to birth at the birthing center across the street from and affiliated with the hospital where I attend births as part of my residency program. It took a few tries for her to find the midwife with whom she felt most compatible, but she seemed pleased with her choice and settled into her prenatal care. That is, until a few weeks later when she received a report that her thyroid test was abnormal and that she might need treatment for thyroid problems, which can be dangerous for the baby if left untreated. She called me for advice and was clearly anxious and upset. Here’s the problem, I told her: We really shouldn’t be checking thyroid tests in early pregnancy in women who don’t have thyroid disorders because pregnancy normally causes thyroid tests to come back abnormal. To reassure her of this fact, I confirmed this information via a former mentor of mine, a world-renowned expert in maternal fetal medicine. Sure enough, a few weeks later, a recheck of her thyroid test was normal. The experience left my daughter-in-law feeling less than confident in conventional prenatal testing. Strike two against conventional medical prenatal care happened later when she went through a similar misadventure regarding prenatal glucose tolerance testing. She was beginning to feel that the over-medicalization, and worse yet, mis-medicalization, of her pregnancy was a distraction from her confidence in herself – and her care providers.

At this point my daughter-in-law started reconsidering her birth options and after initially asking me if I would be her primary birth attendant at the birth center, which I couldn’t do because of restrictions in place at the birthing center, she opted for a homebirth and asked me to be her midwife. Now you might think that my midwife inner self was jumping up and down with excitement over her decision; I mean, really, how cool is this! But I wasn’t. While I was deeply moved and honored when she told me that I was the person she most trusted in the entire world to “deliver” my grandchild, my respect for birth is profound. I know that most of the time things go without a hitch, but it was also a big responsibility – when things go “wrong” with birth, the stakes are high.

Further, the situation for me was politically complex. I am not just a homebirth midwife with 30 years of experience with birth; I am also a medical resident whose autonomy as a doctor is not fully granted until residency completion. Thus my role at a homebirth, and especially as the midwife to a family member (and in my supervisors’ eyes, doctor to a family member) is subject to the position of my program director. After all, I am covered by medical insurance provided by the program and they determine whether my conduct is considered “professional.” And on top of it all, I would also be personally and professionally judged, as would my daughter-in-law, by the pediatric and obstetric communities in which we both regularly participated, based on the outcome of the birth. Rough waters to navigate!

A further consideration I had about being the primary midwife for my daughter-in-law revolved around my experience that when push comes to shove (or should I say when birth comes to push?), a woman doesn’t necessarily want her mother-in-law down by her coochie. I wanted my daughter-in-law to have an “out” clause in case she changed her mind about me being at the birth at the last minute.

We settled on bringing in another midwife to join me at the birth, to provide options should my presence at the birth not be ideal for any reason, and on some level, for political protection for me “on paper” as my program made it implicitly clear that it was not appropriate for me to take care of a family member. This is quite different than in the midwifery model, where many women have welcomed their grandchildren into the world. It is also quite different from the way medicine is practiced in small communities where the presence of only one doctor in a town or village might necessitate caring for family members. But that’s another story…

Fast forward to December 18th, 2011. My daughter-in-law went into labor at 40 weeks and 3 days gestation. Labor began in earnest in the early evening, and by midnight when I called to check in before heading to sleep, I could tell by their voices on the phone that they’d feel more settled in if I came over to their place and just went to sleep there. So after 6 years of medical school and residency, I got dressed, packed my midwifery supplies into my car, and headed to my first homebirth in six years.

I never did go to sleep that night. Or until 2 am the following day. Contractions were close together and on the longer side, not allowing any rest for the laboring momma through the night. Toward morning we called my companion midwife to join us, thinking things would move fast as she was already 6 cm dilated and contractions were getting closer together and much stronger. But the day dragged on as nearly relentless labor persisted. We did all the usual things homebirth midwives do to support the natural birth process and help the mom feel comfortable, while keeping an eye on mom and baby’s wellbeing. Showers, back rubs, hydration, reassurance, etc. By about 4 pm my daughter-in-law began asking for an epidural, telling us she just could not do it. In the typical birthing environment, a quick call to the anesthesiologist would have been made and mom’s wish granted. To the homebirth midwife, such plaintive requests typically harken to what we call “transition” – that place when a laboring mom is about 8 cm dilated and has to be cajoled into a second wind.

Sure enough, she was 8 cm and hung out there for about 5 more hours, receiving intense emotional support and labor guidance between contractions. About 2 hours of those were spent with my daughter-in-law sitting between my legs on her sofa, me talking her through contractions and then her deeply sleeping, resting on my chest for those precious moments between, recapturing her energy for the remaining labor that was to ensue. Baby’s heart tones stayed rock steady throughout, with intermittent auscultation done alternately by my co-midwife and me.

Finally, at about 7 pm, it was time to push, and after another 2 hours my gorgeous granddaughter was born, her crowning head supported by my hands, and then her little being gently lifted from my hands into her parent’s loving arms, three generations touching her little wet self in her first seconds “planet-side.” The parents were tired but triumphant and exhilarated. The labor did not fit Friedman’s curve. The labor was a normal, unique, non-linear process.

During the long labor I reflected on so many things. I had sentimental, emotional moments watching my son dozing on the sofa or kissing his wife affectionately on the head, or encouraging her to take sips of water or tea between contractions, wondering where the time had gone since his birth, which I remember as if it were yesterday. I also sometimes just reflected on the transcendental, spiritual connection I felt with my granddaughter in labor – that somehow I just knew deep inside me that she was doing well.

But mostly I reflected on the role of the birth attendant. Homebirth midwifery, done properly, requires a lot of hands-on support and decision making by the primary attendants(s). During this labor I’d felt moments of concern, wondering if the long labor was dysfunctional and would result in a hospital transport, and how that would shape the psychology and confidence of the new mother. I had to consider how to intervene in supportive ways to help what was likely an asynclitic head shift in the pelvis to allow labor to effectively proceed, and I had to find ways to help an exhausted laboring mom sleep without an epidural.

I reflected on just how much work it really is to be a homebirth midwife. This was in direct counterpoint to my experience as a physician attending births where the thinking process is much different. For the most part that kind of thinking is algorithmic and predetermined; it’s not really even thinking, but only following a set of rules. If labor takes this long you do this, if mom has pain you do this, if labor is slow you check dilatation every XYZ hours. And so on. Honoring the natural physiology of birth and its unique manifestations, while attending to safety, requires a different type of thinking. Let me explain.

Two nights prior I had attended a birth in the hospital. The mother, a patient of mine in my residency clinic, had received nearly ten ultrasounds in her pregnancy because the obstetricians and ultrasound experts could not see the baby’s hands on any of the ultrasounds. They had told the mom, and me, that the baby most likely had serious deformities. Based on this I transferred her care to a high-risk setting for birth. She was induced at 38 weeks because her amniotic fluid level was considered low, and she spent 3 days undergoing medical induction. I was called on the evening of the third day of her induction. “Doctor, what time would you like us to call you to come in?” I was asked. Given that it was Saturday evening, and I’d been on call the night before, I asked to be called when she was 7 cm dilated. I was called as I’d asked to be, and when I arrived at the hospital she was fully dilated. She “labored down” – sleeping with the help of an epidural – for about another 2 hours. Finally, with 3 obstetricians and an obstetric nurse in the room literally screaming at her to push, and 5 pediatric staff on the sidelines waiting for the baby to arrive, her baby was born and whisked over to the awaiting pediatric staff. The baby was normal and healthy with normal hands. No problems. Inaccurate tests had led to unnecessary anxiety for the mother, and intervention in the pregnancy and birth, much like my daughter-in-law had experienced with prenatal testing, though she avoided the unnecessary interventions.

The mother was quite exhausted and had minimal interest in holding her baby, though she was relieved that he was not deformed. There was little about this birth that seemed to honor the sacredness of motherhood. The mother was treated as a passive participant in a process that one would hardly consider pleasantly memorable.

Now please don’t get me wrong; I do believe there is a place for hospital birth, induction, ultrasounds, and epidurals. I am a rational radical. But the two experiences were so perfectly juxtaposed for me in time and tone that I could not help but consider the differences. I realize how much harder I had to think as a homebirth midwife, making tiny decisions continually along the way as to how I can best support the process and intervene the least, how I had to pay attention to subtle details about the mother’s sounds and words to determine dilatation to minimize unnecessary vaginal exams too often done in the hospital and too often leading to maternal infection. There are so many details, too many to recount.

The sacredness of the birth at home, which I experienced hundreds of times as a midwife before becoming a doctor, struck me to the core. There was no screaming at the mother to push, there was no passivity on the part of the mother – she was the leading lady in a many act play – and in the end she deserved a standing ovation! The birth was sacred, peaceful, and beautiful. I can truly and honestly and clearly say that being the midwife for my granddaughter was not an ethical compromise or an infringement of professionalism. It was a completely natural act in a completely natural process. The bond that deepened between my daughter-in-law and me is profound. And the confidence I have witnessed in her as a mother is clearly different than the insecurity I have observed in so many women who leave the hospital after a depersonalized birth experience. Can hospital birth be different or better? Yes, but only if lessons are learned from homebirth midwives.

Now that we are all a week postpartum after welcoming this wonderful addition to our family, I can joyfully click my ruby slippers three times and say, “There’s no place like home.” My daughter-in-law, I know, feels the same way.

38 Comments

  1. You are an inspiration. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, and congratulations to your daughter-in-law and son, and to you, grandma.

    Blessings!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. My first assumption when you announced you were attending your grand-babies birth was “that is so great”, but now I understand more deeply what a big moment that was on so many different levels.

  3. Your unique insight as an experienced midwife and a nascent physician offers a beautiful perspective. Thank you for sharing so eloquently.

  4. I assisted my sister-in-law’s HBAC (40 +3!) on December 19, so this was truly a post I could wholeheartedly relate to. πŸ™‚ Glad you are in the medical community!
    Lauren

  5. Such a beautiful, eloquently written description. I am also a “rational radical”, but I’ve had one hospital and two home births and for ME, home (with a wonderful midwife, whom I trust and respect) is the place to be.

  6. Thank you Aviva for this beautiful story. I have no doubt I will be sharing this numerous times with clients as they ask me about natural options. Blessings to you and your family!

  7. Thank you. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for your selflessness in sharing this with others. This will continue to bless many.

    Heather

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. This sounds so much like my wonderful home birth experience with my son eight months ago. I feel so lucky to have had this experience, and so grateful to the skilled midwives who attended. So fascinating to hear the story from the midwife perspective. Blessings to you, your son and daughter-in law, and your new granddaughter!

  9. how do you plan to take what you learned from this situation and transform hospital practices. If you continue to maintain the disconnect between one approach at home births and the other at hospital births, when will the change come? I would love it if you would post a new blog entry talking about next steps for you and for the ob/gyn system in general. Until doctors are willing to respect the work of midwives, recommend that patients go to midwives except in the case of genuine high risk pregnancies and fight insurance companies about how they reimburse for birth (more procedures equals more money), this is just a lovely story, nothing more.

    Thank you,
    Bailey, home birth mother of two

  10. I wholeheartedly agree with you Bailey. There is a terrible assault on home births in the name of
    “safety” from the medical world. When will someone bring about changes? It seems to me that Aviva is the perfect person to do so. In the meantime, too many women are being mistreated and misguided.

  11. As a midwife whose UC daughter just had her first baby (my first grandbaby), I can relate to this on so many levels. Differences include my daughter specifically telling me I am her mother, the grandmother-to-be, not the midwife or, in the beginning, not even her doula. She wanted me as her mama-support. It turned out differently as it was clear I became her doula later in the pregnancy, but I was, over and over again, thankful I was not her midwife. I admire your ability to remain objective; I know I could not have done so.

    My daughter’s labor was similar, without the acynclitic head (that anyone could tell), but as my granddaughter was born, via cesarean, after 32-hours of labor, our experience was very different than yours, albeit just as rejoicing and exhilarating. Whereas you helped your son and the new mama reach down to bring their child to her breasts, I was able to hold my granddaughter to her sleeping mother’s breast, helping the 9 pound 12 ounce new baby suckle until her mama was aware enough to hold her own baby. Some of the most cherished pictures from her birth are seeing my dripping tears as I held my own baby’s breast, keeping her daughter aligned and keeping her glucose up, avoiding any separation from her new family.

    This is your story, but you’ve inspired me to wax poetic for a few minutes. I can so relate to your joy.

    Even though I was a homebirth midwife (until recently), I also 100% supported my daughter in her choice of birth. When she asked me where I recommended, I honestly told her I wasn’t comfortable with any of the homebirth choices where she lived. She chose, instead, a great group of CNMs at a hospital across town, bypassing the “best” hospital located close to her home. The midwives couldn’t have been kinder and I know that because I am a midwife, my daughter was afforded special treatment in some ways, including being left alone with the newborn, helping her nurse instead of being in the warmer, her glucose being tested on schedule versus based on symptoms.

    There *is* no place like home, you are right. But, you are an extremely educated and experienced midwife, unlike many (most?) non-nurse, homebirth midwives in the United States. Your daughter-in-law was blessed to have an amazing midwife, not something too many home birthing women are privileged to secure. Home birth is an incredible option, IF the midwife is highly educated and skilled. Sadly, the process to becoming a CPM is not a lot of either.

    So, whereas the hospital absolutely has a lot to learn from homebirth, I firmly believe home births also have a lot to learn from hospital births. My ideal is that non-nurse midwives are required to attend a certain number of hospital births as doulas… 50 or more… as part of their midwifery training. This isn’t to medicalize homebirth, but to give a more well-rounded picture of what birth can bring… showing the complications and emergencies along with the normal births. It would be awesome if doctors and nurses were also required to attend homebirths, but that is a pipe dream I know will never be realized.

    I do hope you’re able to carry this amazing experience with you onto the L&D floor, sharing how patience and respect can foster a healthy labor better than much of the technology used. I pray your own cesarean rate remains low and your clients/patients continue to benefit from your decades as a midwife.

    I look forward to reading more, Aviva… there is so much you can teach all of us, most of all, myself.

  12. Having caught two of my four grandkids I can relate to your joy. I am not able to compartmentalize as well as you & can no longer doula in a hospital setting- it just makes me crazy. Good work & I hope that you will bring some “home” to the hospital Moms.

  13. Hi aviva,
    Was wondering if you have employment plans as a new family practice doc? We are looking to hire here at our Birth center !
    Please check us out at wisewomencare.com
    Smiles,
    Augustine

  14. What justification do you offer for possibly making your daughter-in-law’s labour longer by the intervention of cervical checks? How is that natural?

  15. What is your knowledge base regarding the process of becoming a CPM? I agree there are those who aren’t as educated as others, but that goes for any professional. My 2 home births included 2 different trios of midwives (2 certified, 1 training), and I couldn’t have had better care by an OB. In fact, my OB experience was quite the opposite!!!!! All 6 midwives were highly-efficient, very knowledgeable about all things regarding normal physiological labor and birth, and cared about me as a person and about my family as a whole. I’m almost insulted that you think “many (most?)” CPMs aren’t qualified. You make it sound as if only doctors are qualified to attend births.

  16. A long time friend of mine shared your post with me. I, also, am a (retired) midwife who has had the honor and privilege of attending my grandchildren’ births. Not all were where or with the practitioners I would have preferred but at least I was present to help the transition to this world be a little bit less invasive. One was actually an unplanned home birth! Thank you for being available to this next generation. They have such a hard time discerning the “truth” of their womanhood versus what is told to them from the medical society. Maybe I should be more active in guiding a few of them ………

  17. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. What a sacred moment for you and your family, the moment your all exchanged your touch over that little ones life. Such a powerful image. What a wonderful way to make an entry to life outside the womb.

  18. I enjoyed your sharing tremendously as I too am a homebirth midwife and attended the birth of my first born daughter who, pregnant for the first time (at 41) w/ twins was headed for a lot of intervention and most likely operative delivery. If not protected from the over medicalized, fear based, mainstream medical system. I too encouraged her to find a good midwife. Options were slim in Canada where she “needed to sign up with a midwife with her positive pregnancy test or she wouldn’t be able to get one”….not enough midwives to serve the demand in Montreal.
    She found a homebirth midwife in NY who would attend her (w/ me) but she wasn’t experienced in twins and “didn’t inspire confidence.” She said she trusted me and asked if I would attend her in our family home.Her husband (a PhD professor & scientist) wasn’t familiar w/ home birth/midwifery model and thought she should have the babies in the hospital but once he began doing the research on home birth and honored my daughters wishes, he was very supportive.

    “I don’t think the hospital provides the kind of support I need…. I’m more focused on what is needed to support natural birth and less hooked by fear and opting for all that intervention, in the hospital “just in case” something goes wrong. I’ll trust birth.”
    She the daughter of a midwife…grew up w/ the mantra to trust birth.

    My (OB/Gyn) husband (now retired from OB) too knew she would get better care w/ me at home (“as long as term VTX babies, equal growth etc”) and he admitted she wouldn’t get a supportive environment and they’d all be breathing down her neck. He also said he just wanted to be grandpa and not to call on him to actually do anything.

    I asked another experienced midwife (new to home birth) to assist me. My daughter had a 6 hr labor, delivered in water with her husband by her side, her father sitting behind her looking only slightly nervous, her doula, and several other family members all cheering her on while she labored silently. First baby came out in 4 pushes (Vtx) weighed 6lb and 18 minutes later second baby (footling breech) 5lb 8 oz flew out in 2 pushes (9/9 Apgars for both babies). She had continuous support and care pp by me and her doula and a very attentive husband ….super bonder to the babies.

    Her transition into motherhood has been amazing. Her marriage is strong, her babies thriving, and both parents say they think it was the gentle birthing and postpartum care as one of the factors that contributed to these babies who everyone says “are amazing”

    The experience of my husband (OB doc) and of mine (midwife of 35 years) at this birth were so similar as yours ……

    Medical doctor : he was nervous and anxious the whole time stuck in the “what if” …..
    while I trust in birth and “knew” she could do it. Trusting too that you won’t get “hooked by fear” ……. that which comes w/ the medical model.

    Don’t loss the heart of the midwife!!
    …..doesn’t look will can ever happen….thanks for sharing your story….I’m interested tin following your journey. Enjoy the grandbaby! Jenna Houston CNM [email protected]

  19. It is very possible that the mother asked for the checks, or she was at least just fine with receiving them. Even in the hospital you can decline cervical checks. πŸ™‚

  20. It is very possible that the mother asked for the checks, or she was at least just fine with receiving them. Even in the hospital you can decline cervical checks. πŸ™‚

  21. My knowledge base is that I am a CPM and a CA Licensed Midwife, so I am very aware of what it takes to become a CPM.

    It’s great your midwives were so efficient and knowledgable about normal birth… awesome… but birth is much more than always normal and that’s where I have the major issue with the education and skills training of non-nurse, homebirth midwives here in the US. While “the experience” is important, it doesn’t take training to be caring about you and your family, but it *does* take training to know how to attend to the plethora of complications that can and do arise in what started out as normal births.

    Not sure why you’d be insulted… I don’t even think a midwife should be insulted! Instead, what I’d like to see happen is midwives take it upon themselves to get more education and training. Make being a CPM an awesome accomplishment. Homebirth midwifery could be so much more than it is. To me, it’s vital to talk about it instead of ignoring the deficiencies and letting others disparage homebirth as a whole. I want to see homebirth remain an amazing and SAFE option for women and children.

    That’s where I’m coming from.

  22. As a Family Doc who did births (hospital) for 15 years, and lived with a CPM (who drove out in Iowa snowstorms to deliver babies) I can relate to both the beauty and worry of doing your grandchild’s birth. For the 99% of “risked out” (eg low risk) births, things go great, and we avoid the over medicalization/over testing that hospitals encourage. Yes, we over test, yes we over monitor, and over drug/epidural/c-section in the name of “preventing problems”.

    The problem is the 1% when things go “bad”. We – as a culture don’t accept that – and the lawyers jump in, and it all goes to crap from there. Luckily that didn’t happen, and I can only imagine how badly things could have gone – and IF a problem and emergency transfer to the Hospital had been needed……yikes.

    I tried to emulate home births – with low light intensity, including the family, and a calm environment. When I put the wet baby on the mothers abdomen (instead of handing it to the resucitation team in a warmer) and encouraged immediate bonding, the nurses used to joke, Oh another Family Practice birth….but many, after a few years grew to like it.
    My Kudo’s to you for taking that risk of a home birth – and congratulations on a wonderful grandson.

    Those tough moments, your decision to “take that risk”, and your daughter in laws trust in you (espcially now) all are the bonds of love, and a true relationship. I would hope we can move birth out of hospitals – into Nurse Midwife run birthing centers, with home like environments. I can hope for fewer than 25% C-sections (national average) and a solid trial of labor before cutting open a women’s abdomen open. I can dream of engaged, interested patients (for all reasons) who take responsibility for their actions (including their obesity, smoking, eating and exercise habits). I can hope for a system that puts the lawyers far away from medical care – or perhaps at the front end – signing off on best care practices that prevent lawsuits.

    In the meantime, thanks for the inspiration and sharing of your stories. Boston has few family doctors, Harvard has no Department of Family Medicine, and the culture is one dominated by Internists, Pediatricians, and Ologists. In my opinion much of the North East needs more primary care that really respects the patient and family wishes. Thanks for leading the way.

    David Pepper MD
    Martinez, California.

  23. Hi Aviva,
    I find your journey so interesting and inspiring of hope for the future mothers (and staff) wherever you work. I would encourage you to talk with our Director at our holistic health center as our practice of 4 midwives has dreamed of having a Family Practice Doc/ OB to work in our facility (and the hospital that we’re affiliated with has a new Family Practice Residency program starting 7/2012). Please keep us in mind!
    http://www.fullcirclewomenshealth.com in White Plains (Westchester County) NY
    Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, NY.

    My contact info:
    Michelle Chiafulio
    [email protected]

  24. Aviva,
    I just assisted my 5th grandchild’s birth and this was the first at-home one! I was there as her doula, and just loved it! Witnessing your grandchild’s birth is the most exciting thing, I believe!

  25. The two births you shared remind me so much of mine- the first in hospital and second at home. You’ve captured several differences I’ve not been able to put into words yet. Thanks.

  26. I can relate to this article as pertains to the differences in hospital and home births.

    at 38.5 weeks, My first daughter was born after 56 hours of labor, of which only 16 had been at home. I was committed to as natural of a birth experience as I could have in a hospital, and had a wonderfully supportive CNM team, plus my Bradley method coach and a select few family members to assist me.

    When she was finally born, she wasn’t doing great and there was meconuim present. She ended up suffering from a non-descript gram-rod negative infection that they could only suspect was Meningitis, several seizures, and she was subjected to a flurry of invasive tests and medicines within the first two days of life, as well as a month long NICU stay (I firmly believe she contracted some sort of infection from the many progression checks they did, or the water tub I labored in). They were preparing us to essentially expect she would suffer long term effects, possibly even Cerebral Palsy. Today she is a bright, completely unaffected 4 year old, but the scars of that horrific experience still stick with me today.

    Flash forward 2 years to my second daughter. My water broke at home (also at 38.5 weeks to the day) and I figured if I was lucky, maybe I’d be gifted with a 10 hour labor this time around. I took my time, ate a sandwich with some milk, took a shower. The labor sensations were coming on quite rapidly and before I knew it, transition was suddenly there making itself known. I thought I couldn’t possibly be at that point yet, and was starting to question whether I’d be able to go natural this time around. Within 40 minutes I knew it was time to push, as she was crowning. So, in the bathroom of our humble home, my husband and I brought our daughter into the world together. It took 1 hour start to finish, and all through the process, my body took over and did what it needed to do. I would not trade that experience for anything. It was magical and special and I wish more women could experience birth uninterrupted, and be allowed to bring their child forth naturally.

  27. Thank you for your beautiful post. I am awaiting the birth of my third child who is due on the 12th. This time I am going to have a home birth with a midwife. My first two children were delivered in the hospital–the first by induction at 42 weeks (with 10 hours of labor) and the second without any intervention at 38 weeks (and 27 hours of labor). I recently watched the videos taken after both of their births and I was reminded of how clinical everything in the hospital was and how annoyed the doctor was at me for not wanting to be “hooked-up” to anything with my second baby. Thank you for helping to reassure me that home is where I want to be for this birth. That home is a good choice for me to have my baby.

  28. I loved this post! I had a very, very long labor with my first, and stayed home for about half of it, with no doula or anything, then I had the support of a great (male!) CNM at the Army hospital where we delivered, who backed me when the (female!) OB wanted to do a C-section after 2 hours of pushing (it took 5 total). I did have an epidural after 37.5 hours of contractions (and 24 hours of vomiting, yay), but I didn’t get to sleep (I wish!), just was told to push immediately because they had broken my water and I had spent 8 or 9 hours at 9 cm so they felt I needed to get that baby out! Anyway, about a year later, I developed either lichen sclerosus or lichen simplex chronicus, depending on who you asked, and suffered from that for over 2 years, until it cleared up near the end of my second pregnancy. I had my second baby at home with a wonderful CNM and CPM. After only about 4 hours of labor, my daughter was born into water, caught by my husband, and rested on my knees in the warm water, not crying at all. It was so joyful and empowering, and I feel like it healed me from the first experience. I tried to keep interventions at bay with the first one, and the midwife was so helpful (father of 7!), but there were still so many things they had to do, as you say, by a formula. Also, I had no idea how much support a midwife gives you, helping with every set of contractions, being so soothing and supportive between them. At the hospital I felt like I was on my own, and at home I felt like I was just being so lovingly taken care of, so supported, so cared for and cherished. Having done both, I have to say, I felt so much safer and well cared for at home, and my midwife the first time was just wonderful, but I was one of several that night, and he couldn’t just sit there with me the whole time.

    Thanks for the great story, how wonderful for your daughters and daughter-in-law that they have you for their births!

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