5.5 mos pregnant/the FB picture we posted from our phones/Laelia Day 2
So, amazingly enough, a year ago was Laelia’s first birthday! But a year before that, she born (funny how that works). That story has yet to be told. Until now.
As some/many of you may already know, we had a home birth-hospital transfer, and let me say right now to get it out of the way; it was NOT an emergency. There—now you don’t have to read on while expecting things to get super exciting or anything. It was a normal boring 48 hour birth process that progressed in tiny steps and climaxed with her head being pulled out by a suction cup.
A long long time ago when I was a young and eager art college student, I moon-lighted as an anthropology major (in other words, double major). I learned a lot of things about humanity that I always thought to be quite obvious, but apparently most people found them to be revelations, and sometimes shocking. Among the more “shocking” information was that birth was a normal, natural process that would take place whether a laboring woman was in a field or a fancy hospital. The mother could be alone, or she could be in the presence of loved ones, doulas, nurses, midwives, doctors, anesthesiologists, etc–but either way, that baby would come. When I think about humanity, I don’t think with my “taboo on”, as I like to say. That might mean I have never been fully engrained within my own culture, but mostly it allows me to suppress my knee-jerk reactions to things which is entirely liberating. This means:
- I know it’s normal for a 4 year old to breastfeed (from a biological and world view)
- I know the difference between gender and sex, even though applications for health insurance and people proclaiming the “gender” of their unborn child don’t
- I know, baby-wearing and co-sleeping ARE NOT TRENDS OR FADS. They are basic human traits. On the contrary, cribs and strollers are modern trends.
- I know giving birth completely numb while strapped to a bed and monitors with IVs coming out of you is not normal. Giving birth via major abdomnial surgery is even more abnormal. When I was in college I learned the cesarean rate was 1/4 births in America, and it terrified me. When I got pregnant in 2009 it was 1/3. There was no way I was going to be in a hospital.
I got pregnant a whole month and a half after we got married. We just decided to see what happened, and it happened fast! I knew I wanted to be in the care of midwives, but I couldn’t decide on a home birth or a birthing center; my main problem with having a home birth was that we live in an apartment and I didn’t want to disturb my neighbors (I’m so nice, right?). Luckily, my new cousin-in-law and bff Becky had already had two HBACs (and now 3, the last birth being breech twins) with a very reputable pair of midwives, Leslie Stewart and Catherine Williams of Home Birth Services of Los Angeles. I went to the orientation meeting, and they immediately addressed my concerns about having a baby in an apartment by telling us a story about delivering in a 80 sq ft studio in Venice, and that there isn’t really anything in a birth center that they couldn’t offer us. What with this news, the fact that I don’t have to get on a freeway to get to their offices, and that they delivered Mayim Bialik’s (I saw her at an LLL meeting once!), Cindy Crawford’s (a family friend used to be her nanny, and when I mentioned my midwives at a Christmas party as my aunt was flipping over the idea of me having a home birth, she said something along the lines of how great my midwives were; this calmed my aunt down), and Pamela Anderson’s kids (oddly enough my bff nannied her kids for a while, and helped her mom who was their housekeeper), how could I say no? But seriously, these women have delivered everyone’s HB baby in Los Angeles. It’s weird. Or awesome. A little of both. Anyway, we felt very happy to settle on our birthing plan.
The only thing I was nervous about was telling people about our home birth because nothing brings out the shocked and defensive side of even the most non-judgmental people like doing something taboo. For some reason, just saying this occasionally makes women who choose to birth otherwise to proclaim all their very sound reasons for wanting to give birth in a hospital. As if simply stating “I’m planning a home birth” means “I’m planning a home birth and I think you’re stupid for wanting to give birth in a hospital”. So if anyone is reading this and getting all fired up about all of their reasons for preferring a hospital birth, please don’t. And if you are one of the rare persons who would prefer a home birth but for medical reasons would never be allowed one and you’re feeling defensive about your circumstances, don’t. You are what a hospital and it’s highly trained staff is for. (However, if you are reading this and you’re getting fired up because you want a HB but it is illegal in your state, please; get fired up! Start a petition!). I think these things are very personal. A woman should give birth where she feels she will be the most comfortable and capable of giving birth. There are plenty of good, solid reasons why many women feel more comfortable in a hospital, but I don’t feel comfortable in hospitals. They creep me out, and I feel suffocated. There are also just as many good, solid reasons to give birth at home. Luckily, home birthing is becoming less and less taboo, so I don’t worry at all anymore when I talk about it.
Okay, on to the actual birth story…
More photos after the jump