Wednesday, December 17, 2014
the things i loved about birthing at home
Here I am, looking back to 6 months ago, when our sweet Stella made her way into the world, in the wee hours of a hot summer morning, in the comfort of our home, in our own bed. How did so much time pass so quickly? And yet, I remember the events of that night and that morning so vividly. I wouldn't change a thing about it. (Even if my children all do insist on taking forever to work their way out because they sit so wonky in my womb. Anything for my babies).
Stella turned 6 months this past weekend and so I've been reflecting back on her birth a little bit lately: the events that led up to it, what actually took place, but more so the things that I will cherish in my heart forever about birthing my daughter at home.
It was incredible.
And perfectly wonderful.
For starters, when I go into our bathroom to take a shower and the same candle that was burning that night is lit, I am immediately transported back to being in labor. They say smell is the sense most strongly tied to memory and I love how certain smells from that night- coconut, lavender- take me right back.
That night, I had been in active labor for several hours and was starting to tire. I decided to take a shower at about 1 am (she was born about 4:15 am). I had a candle burning in our bathroom and our bedroom of the same scent- vanilla coconut. And so now, that smell will forever be tied to my memory of laboring in the shower, where my contractions really began to pick up, where things got so intense I had to squat or bend over to get through each contraction, where I knew it was time to call my midwife because things were getting ready to really happen.
The smell of lavender will do nearly the same thing. Ben joked that our bedroom smelled like an herb factory thanks to a crock pot full of hot wash cloths and lavender essential oil. During each contraction, Ben would place a hot wet wash cloth on my back as I leaned over our bed. It was a life saver. And lavender in the air helped too.
I loved that I could tuck my boys into bed at 8 o'clock that night, while having strong contractions, and when they awoke the next morning, their baby sister was there, in their home, waiting to meet them. We didn't have to be separated from each other for any time. At all times, our children were near to us and we were near to them. No worrying about who would watch them overnight, who would bring them to the hospital, if Ben would go home or stay with me. We were all right there, together, the whole time, as a family.
The moment that Stella was born was peaceful. No one whisked her away from me. There were no monitors to run her to, no beeping or heat lamps. No one insisted on wiping her down and bathing her immediately or poking her foot with needles. No one running around the room frantically. No one asking me a million questions. No machines, no technology, no intervention whatsoever. It was quiet and calm, not loud and chaotic. It was dark and peaceful, not bright and hectic. Ben was by my side, worship music was playing softly, Stella went right on top of my tummy and chest (of course we took some pictures) and then we rested quietly, together.
It was basically the exact opposite of the two hospital birth experiences I had with my boys.
I was able to nap in my own bed after labor. Need I say more? I mean, wow was that an amazing thing. Something so simple and yet so wonderful. I gave birth, nursed my sweet daughter, and then I took a nap, all in my own bed.
I was surrounded by only the people I chose, at the time I chose, no one more, no one less. For most of my labor it was just Ben and I. No nurses poking me in the arm, no one insisting that they check to measure my progress, no monitors strapped to my tummy, no one asking me to sign a bunch of forms.
Just me, my baby and my husband.
I could focus on what I was doing. I wasn't interrupted a million times. I was able to get into my zone and stay there. When it was time to call for help I invited my midwives and one of their students into my home. They were there to assist and support me, to simply attend my birth. They were not there to tell me what to do, how to do anything or try to convince me to do anything against my will.
Which leads me to the best part about birthing at home: I was free to choose. Birthing at home allowed me to choose exactly who I wanted to attend my birth, it allowed me to choose what I wanted to do during labor, it allowed me to choose what happened to my baby after she was born. It allowed me to decide what I wanted or didn't want to do while pregnant as well! I was free to decline anything I felt I didn't need.
Birthing at home allowed me to listen to my body and labor exactly how I chose: walking, standing, squatting, in the shower, laying down. I wore whatever I wanted. Even when things got a bit challenging, my midwife encouraged me to just follow my body's cues and do what I felt I needed to do. She didn't interject and say I needed pitocin to get my cervix to dilate quicker or to stop pushing (like I was told during my delivery with Isaac). She was there simply to encourage me to keep working, to keep laboring, to keep going. And of course to make sure Stella and I were both doing well.
You see, there is freedom in birthing at home.
I look back on that night with gratitude. What a blessing it was to have a baby in the comfort of my own home. What a blessing it was to have the freedom I so deeply desired for her birth. I am grateful every day for the beautiful amazing gift that God gave to us wrapped up in a sweet, precious, cuddly little baby and I am grateful every day for how she made her way into our lives. I am grateful that He was there in our midst and that He never left my side. And I am grateful that even if I hadn't been able to birth at home, even if things hadn't gone the way I had desired, that He would still be the sovereign God.