When my wife decided to give birth to our fifth baby at home, I was against it.
I understood her reasons. At the hospital you don’t get much rest. The nurses are adamant to do things their way even when we persist that we want things done differently. She is forced to give birth in an uncomfortable position. She didn’t want to travel while in labor. She wanted a quiet setting for contractions.
Now, I am making it sound like we have had terrible hospital experiences with our four previous children, but we did not. We had great experiences with awesome doctors who were considerate of all our special requests. But my wife was dreaming of something different for her next birth.
Financially, insurance would cover a hospital birth while an at-home birth would be completely out-of-pocket. I understand that the cost, if we didn’t have any coverage, would be much cheaper for a homebirth compared to a hospital birth, but, for our bottom line, it would be more expensive to have the baby at home. Insurance would cover the birth at the hospital while I would have to pay out-of-pocket for a midwife.
Safety concerns also plagued me. What if something would go wrong? I envisioned the need for an emergency c-section or some situation with our newborn that would need immediate attention. The hospital we use is approximately fifteen minutes away from our home while speeding. That’s faster than the EMS typically gets to people in our small, rural town, but that seems like a long time if there is an emergency.
Plus, a completely selfish reason. I like the day off of just spending time with my wife in the hospital following the birth.
In the end, it really came down to being a battle that I don’t think I could win. When she told me, “Well, I am just going to have this baby alone,” it was all over. I finally gave up.
So we prepared. We interviewed and then hired a midwife. We watched Born in America and the Business of Being Born. Both documentaries showed the main people in the show struggle with birthing at home. Eventually, both headed to the hospital to finish it off. That was something we feared would happen.
THE LABORFast forward to the day of labor. My wife had been having contractions erratically spaced with differing intensity for nearly two and a half days. It was a week before our baby’s due date. Eventually, the contractions started happening regularly and intensely. We decided that she was in labor for real and called the midwife. It was a little after ten at night. Our kids were already tucked into bed and asleep, so we weren’t able to send them off. My wife moved to the bathtub because that is where she wanted to camp out for the evening.
The midwife came around eleven and measured my wife’s cervix. She wasn’t dilated enough to be in the bathtub as that would slow down the labor. Our midwife wanted my wife to be dilated to 5cm. According to her, that is the point at which being in the water would speed up labor. Before that, being in the water could slow it down.
My wife has a history of fast labors. For our second child, She was only dilated to 2cm when we arrived at the hospital. Fifty minutes later we had the baby. I had to be adamant with the nurses that they come back to our room to measure my wife again. They begrudgingly did, but then it was all business from there. They actually tried to get my wife to hold off on pushing until our doctor arrived. I don’t think a woman with the urge to push can hold it back.
About forty minutes after the midwife had arrived, my wife was dilated enough and returned to the bathtub. I camped out next to it. Actually, I was a crappy husband and dozed off for a while. But the thing with my wife is that she really doesn’t want to be interacted with and wants to be left alone while laboring, especially while experiencing a contraction. I was there for whenever she needed anything like a cup of water or the feared emergency ride to the hospital.
At 12:35, things got serious. My wife was ready to push. I was there to encourage. She always reaches a point where she thinks the pain is too much and she wants to give up. All of her births have been without pain killers, but there is this point right before labor is over that she clamors for them. Not that she can give up, but I always remind her that its almost over. And it was.
At 12:45, we had our new baby. A little while later, the placenta was out. All of my fears were alleviated. Both baby and mom were in great shape.
With a homebirth, the time following the birth is a little more difficult on me, the father. With that said, it is much more relaxing for my wife. And that is what is most important. In my previous experiences, we would come home from the hospital and my wife would already have had a few days of rest. At the hospital, there would be nurses helping us with every need and giving us time to catch up on sleep (except when they are poking, prodding, asking questions, making us watch instructional videos, or taking blood pressure readings). At home, I am in all intents the nurse, without the knowledge. I have to remember that my wife just had a baby. I am the one responsible for keeping her cup full, feeding everyone, doing the laundry, and cleaning. Thankfully, my mother took my kids the day following the birth of our baby, but it has been a lot more work afterward.
Our experience has been great. Our homebirth provided the birthing experience we were looking for.