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My accidental-on-purpose homebirth

I wrote this post before I’d delivered my second babe at home. More on how that went to come, but for now…

So, full disclaimer: I haven’t actually given birth yet, so I technically haven’t had my accidental-on-purpose homebirth yet. BUT. My full intention is to give birth to baby number two right here in my mom’s living room. And that’s something I never thought I’d say.

It’s not that I don’t think homebirth is an awesome option for women who have healthy, low-risk pregnancies; I totally do, and statistics support that. It’s just that I never thought I would be having a homebirth. Before arriving in California I’d picked out a beautiful birth center, practiced visualizing what my first visit there would be like, and how warm and welcome I would feel as I delivered my baby there with my family by my side. And then I visited the birth center. No warmth. No welcome. All business. I was petrified.

Chalking it up to nerves about the actual delivery, I convinced myself that I would just make the best of it because the alternative – a hospital birth – wasn’t what I wanted either and I was sure I was overreacting because of my first birth experience and that with time, I would get used to the birth center and its midwife. But I couldn’t bring myself to make a follow-up appointment and the weeks were passing by, with me still having no established care-provider. Because I’d known I was returning home for delivery, I didn’t do too much while I was in Saudi and the anxiety was starting to set in; what if there was something wrong with the baby and I wouldn’t know until it was too late?

Searching for more options online, I came across a local midwife who provided homebirth services and liked what I saw online, but knew that my mom wouldn’t go for it, and – to be honest – wasn’t really sure I would either. Just for the sake of covering all my bases, we made an appointment and trekked to Midtown to meet Maddie the Midwife, and – as they say – the rest is history. From the first meeting, I knew that even if the only place she delivered had been in the middle of the Pacific on a life raft, she was going to be my midwife. It wasn’t just that our personalities clicked, it’s that’s she had something that I hadn’t seen in a care provider in my entire adult life: compassion. She asked questions, she cared about who I was, who Adam was, what we wanted for my birth as a family, and she cared about the baby growing inside of me as an actual human, not as a life-leeching “condition” that was “due” out by August.

After the first meeting, it was a no-brainer. I knew I was going to deliver at home with her as my midwife, and that everything would somehow be alright. Choosing my care provider left space in my mind and heart to start to accept that I was going to have another baby and all the things that meant and how I felt about it.

This post is totally not (OK, well, kinda) about pushing having a midwife over an OB or a homebirth over a hospital or otherwise; this is about letting you know that there are people out there who actually care deeply about your birth outcomes based on your wishes and feelings and not their statistics and liabilities. The last time I felt respected and truly cared about with a doctor was when I still got lollipops for being a good girl, and that’s not OK. Pregnancy is a time of extreme vulnerability and transformation, and everyone deserves to have a compassionate, competent care-provider looking after them and their family.

In my childbirth education classes, I teach that one of the most important decisions you’ll make regarding your birth is where you’ll give birth. This means that you have to look at yourself as a consumer first and foremost and shop around for the right provider at the right location. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and you must remember that you have enough options that you can choose to go somewhere else, even if that somewhere else is outside of the country/state/city that you’re in.

If you’re in a position where your only option is to birth in a hospital and you’re worried that they won’t respect your wishes, my suggestion would be to educate yourself and build a team of educated, supportive people who will be there during your labor and delivery. Even if you can’t have every single thing you want, having a great support team around makes all the difference.

Remember that you’re important, too, mamas. Yes, your care provider should be focused on keeping the baby growing inside of you healthy, but even more importantly they should actually care.

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Be here now

Children can teach us a lot. Our own children can teach us a lot more. Often times those lessons are painful, but we end up somewhere beautiful once we work through it.

When you have a toddler, for example, you really start to understand how you react when your patience is low, you’re running on little to no sleep, and you feel out of control. It can be ugly. It can be uncomfortable. It can be embarrassing. But it’s a lesson you can get no other way. Think about it – nobody except a sassy 2 year old is going to completely disregard what you’re saying when you ask them not to remove their poopy diaper in the middle of the kitchen, or look you square in the eye while they pour juice on their friend’s mom (no joke, this happened, y’all!) It’s in those moments, when you’re weighing the possibility that nobody will ever want to play with your kid again that you realize you can’t control anything and it’s by the grace of other moms who laugh and say, “been there, done that,” as they’re wringing pineapple juice out of their skirt that you realize your kid probably, most likely, hopefully won’t grow up to be a jerk.

One of the most beautiful lessons that my kids have taught me, though, is how rewarding being fully present is. When I stop what I’m doing on my phone or in the kitchen or on the computer to sit with A and watch what he’s doing, all of his behavior makes sense. He’s living in a world colored with imagination and tempered by instinct (which means he does what he wants when he wants, YOLO!) and it all comes together in this beautiful mishmash of toddler chaos.

M teaches me to be present every day when he refuses to settle while nursing if I’m on my phone. That’s right – the favorite pastime of every nursing mom ever irritates my newborn. Is it because he shares my attention with A all day and values our moments nursing as just ours? I’ll never know. But what I do know is that when I put down the phone and focus on the bond we’re sharing through feeding, he calms down and relaxes, allowing me to do the same.

Being present in all things in life can actually increase productivity and make us feel less stressed, though it’s hard to do when we have a gazillion other things on our mind. Sometimes it takes a loving smile from our newborn (or our toddler smacking the newborn on the top of the head) to drag us back to the present, but whatever it is, let it take you back to what’s most important – the here and now.