Editor’s Note: This is the last in a 10-part series asking families to share in their own words why they chose home birth. A heartfelt thank you to all the moms, dads, partners, and grandmas who shared. Please explore the rest of the posts (Links here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9). We end with the voices of sweet Andie Lynn’s parents: Ryan, and Anna. All photos of Anna and Ryan and Andie’s birth journey are by Alisa Blackwood.
Ryan: I chose home birth because I wanted an intimate and connected birth. I wanted to be present and to enjoy it. I wanted to know who was going to be there. I wanted to be comforted. I wanted help. I wanted people that actually listened. I wanted to draw from this experience as a way to feel powerful and confident! Our first baby was born in the hospital so when I heard I was having a second baby there was NO question in mind where the birth would occur. Our second baby would be born at home, and she was! Thank you birth world!
“We chose people who believed in birth. We had to.”
Anna: I’m writing this in the same spot our daughter Andie Lynn was born; our living room. Come to think of it, it’s the same place she was conceived. The journey from her conception to birth was a tremendous one of learning to stand up for myself, and learning to let go. We chose home birth against our family’s wishes, and came up against a lot of fear and judgement. But we also had lots and lots of support. We chose people who believed in birth. We had to.
This was our second babe, and we were fortunate enough to have been let in on the BIG secret during our last go-round. That secret? Birth is normal. We had been initiated into the birth scene two years prior with our first pregnancy. Our first child, August, was born in the hospital. Let’s just say it wasn’t the right place for us. We knew we had to plan a home birth with the second baby. I had this feeling that birth could be a sacred event, though my first birth was far from sacred. My first birth was traumatic not only for myself, but for my partner and son.
I dreamed that the birth of our second child could be empowering and that I would feel safe and loved. I dreamed I could birth my baby and draw her up into my arms. And while I dreamed many beautiful things, I fought with nightmares just as powerful. At nearly 39 weeks my water broke. My partner, Ryan, and I did everything we could think of to get labor going, but after about 30 hrs with no contractions, I was afraid that my nightmares would soon become reality.
I thought my home birth had to be perfect. I didn’t want it in any way to resemble my previous birth. I was terrified of transferring to the hospital. But my dream team assured me that as long as I was healthy and baby was healthy, there was no need for any intervention, yet. We were safe, no temp, and baby was moving and grooving in my belly. But I was tired from being up all night waiting for contractions and thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking. So we decided to give acupuncture and an herbal induction a try. An acupuncturist came over as I started my delicious caster oil induction. After 4 hrs of herbs and tinctures, plus acupuncture, jogging up and down the stairs, showering, dancing shimmying and gyrating my belly around, I started having regular contractions.
Once things got rolling I started to believe that MAYBE this would actually happen. Maybe my dream of a peaceful home birth would come true. I was able to move freely, to labor in the water and on the couch. And I was able to rest; to let each contraction go completely. My team held space for me to experience and express each emotion fully. I felt their BELIEF in birth, as well as their belief in me. And I felt my baby as she rotated and descended. I did the work, the hard, hard work of laboring. Mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually I adapted and changed as I transitioned and then pushed. My daughter was born in the water, and scooped right up to my chest. The beauty of this reality was far better than any dream!
Even with the prolonged release of my waters, and with significant blood loss after the birth, I felt safe and confident with my midwives. They were aware of my past, and prepared for everything that came about. Their presence in the days after Andie’s birth was invaluable, and they helped us through some less-than-perfect situations. Pregnancy, labor, and birth are not perfect. Dealing with this imperfection, fully experiencing it, is what makes labor and birth so powerful and transformative. With both of my labors I came up against the edge. The first time I felt like I fell off. This time I was surrounded by those who believed I could fly. And so I did.