now that we are getting settled into our new home, i finally feel like i can turn my energy towards preparing for our new baby's arrival.
i always assumed that i would have a home birth. my sister had three of her children at home and, through her, i was tapped in at a very young age to a wonderful network of midwives who specialized in home births in seattle. we visited seattle when i was 27 weeks pregnant and i introduced my husband to a midwife i deeply admire. by the end of our time with her he was a believer. we were definitely having the baby at home.
but the thing was...the place we were living didn't really feel like home. we had moved to los angeles a year before and i was working a stifling job that hadn't allowed me to really settle in to the area, let alone, create a sense of home. i barely knew anyone and found my doctor recommendation through a co-worker. i was seeing a doctor at cedars-sinai up until 26 weeks at which point i asked about birthing tubs. he looked at me with a blank stare and said that we would discuss my birth plan at 35 weeks. that was the last conversation we had.
if we weren't going to do it at home, we knew we had to prepare ourselves for the next best thing. like many first time mamas, i read every book, toured birthing centers, interviewed midwives and doulas, and took multiple birthing classes in preparation of my first little one's arrival. i turned all my intentions on having a beautiful birthing experience in the most unlikely of places. a hospital.
i started touring hospitals and came across an amazing one in downtown los angeles. tiny really. but tiny doesn't have the bureaucracy of a big hospital and that's what i was looking for. my goal was to have an unmedicated birth with little to no intervention, but most of all, be in arm's reach of a NICU in the event there were any complications. i ended up with a doctor (instead of a mid-wife) who is well-loved and known for his openness to women birthing the way they envision. for me that meant walking about, eating ice-chips or whatever i fancied, with a doula, little fetal monitoring, no mention of pain medication, no episiotomy, at my own pace.
elodie finally came to us after twelve hours of labor (eight of which i was at home) with no epidural, no pitocin, and little intervention. i can count the number of times i had to lie down to be monitored. it was intense, it was primal, and i have never felt so alive. i learned so much about surrender - a lesson that i have carried forth in my daily parenting of elodie. in the end, her cord was wound tightly around her neck which could have potentially been troublesome had i decided to have a home birth and i'm glad that i wasn't faced with that what if.
so now that we have finally moved and have a loving, supportive community here will i have this one at home? to be quite honest, i don't really have a burning desire to switch gears. more and more i feel like where and how we birth is just another way to divide mothers against mothers. i have many friends who have had c-sections and feel guilty that they never labored, many friends who had their babies in in their living rooms. is one superior to the other? not a chance. both stay up nights on end comforting a sick child, wipe away tears, give every bit of their resources and energy to make their little ones feel like the most important thing in the world.
the point where i get heated is when a woman is bullied into doing something out of fear for her baby's safety (which is honestly most likely to happen in a hospital setting) but i've also personally met a woman whose baby died because the midwife (here in los angeles, a year ago) was too cavalier to admit it was time to get to the hospital. all these stories exist, side by side.
i'm not trying to be controversial by writing this. i only know my own experience which was a truly beautiful one. the end goal is to have a healthy baby and a birthing experience that honors the journey of bringing a new life into this world. there are many, many ways to come by that and the only right choice is the one that feels most authentic to you. it's easy to spiral out of control and make choices based on what so and so is doing. that's the last thing you want to be doing when you are about to go through one of the most intensely personal experiences of your life.
i will be sharing a list of resources later this week that made all the difference in the world during elodie's birth. stay tuned!