Letter From A Homebirth Hubby

By , March 5, 2011 9:23 pm

Uninterupted Family Time was honored at our homebirth...

My name is David (aka Sir Hubby to many of you), and my wife Justine and I have had two of our three children together at home. We decided to birth at home after having a difficult and traumatic experience in a hospital during the birth of our first child, an experience we vowed never to have again. I should explain that my role in the birth of our first child (in the hospital) was clear to me at the time – I was there to support my wife throughout the birthing process, and provide whatever comfort I could. I was “up to speed” on what to expect and what Justine’s wishes were regarding routine interventions, episiotomy, and pain management during her labor. But despite my best efforts I wasn’t able to prevent the unwarranted interventions which eventually led to a very painful and damaging birth experience both for Justine and for our newborn daughter. Although the experience was overall negative, it didn’t start out that way.  Our hospital birth was going fine while we waited for the doctor to arrive – but when he did, our careful planning and choices went out the window along with any sense of dignity.  The hospital birth did provide a hint of what might be possible if we had been left alone for a few hours more, and if the obstetrician had never walked through the doorway. During our next pregnancy, we were led to homebirth by a lack of alternatives – we tried several providers but found a uniform lack of reverence for the process and a clear intent to deceive us and prey upon our fears.

During our first homebirth experience, I envisioned my role to be supporting her through what we anticipated to be a long and difficult labor, as I had done in the hospital. As her labor progressed and deepened, the anxiety and discomfort that had accompanied our hospital birth never materialized. Our midwives were very helpful, of course, but I wanted to be as supportive as I possibly could be. I gave Justine many massages, applied pressure to her hips and sacrum, fetched glasses of water or damp rags, adjusted the temperature of the birthing pool – but my primary role was being genuinely present with Justine through each contraction and keeping her attitude positive and her spirits high. When labor became intense, especially during transition, I physically supported Justine as necessary and enjoyed the opportunity to provide emotional support, as well. When our second daughter was born, I had the pleasure of being among the first to touch her, instead of being relegated to the corner while others performed their routine and unnecessary procedures on both my wife and our baby. I was involved in every aspect of her care and our family was the center of the experience, not schedules, or tests, or protocols, or staffing concerns, or legal protections.

Birthing at home was an absolute joy for me as a husband and father. We have precious few opportunities to share a moment of such intense emotion and feeling with any human being, let alone sharing it with both wife and child at same moment. Of course, I will never know for certain precisely what it feels like to be a birthing mother, but the experience of being so intimate a part of the birth process has given me a level of understanding that I would not have been able to achieve otherwise. The day of our second daughter’s birth will always be a surreal and profound memory for me; a day when I witnessed and participated in the linking of two generations of my family, when I felt my wife’s power and glimpsed her true self, and when I met this brand new family member for the first time. Homebirth changed my ideas about women and children immeasurably for the better, connected me with a sense of mystery and spirituality that I hadn’t experienced before, and demonstrated viscerally how far from ideal the medical model of childbirth really is. This post was also published at Elephant Journal by the folks at The Normalizing Homebirth Project.

3 Responses to “Letter From A Homebirth Hubby”

  1. Kelly says:

    I love this! (and I so enjoyed reading your birth story the other day).

    My own hospital birth experience wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t what I wanted either – I chose to give birth there because it was my first one and I didn’t know what it would be like, but I just don’t think you can avoid turning pregnancy into an illness in a place that is medically managed, even at the more ‘baby friendly’ hospitals.

    I don’t discount their value – if my baby or I were dealing with serious issues I would be thankful the hospital was around – but for normal birth, it shouldn’t be the norm.

    I am definitely planning to give birth at home next time around! :) (And stories like this are so encouraging to that!)

  2. justine says:

    Kelly: So glad to hear that you are educating yourself about your options. I have seen the hospital route work for some momma’s and babies— those with real medical issues. And I am grateful that they were able to get the care they required from professionals who truly love the work that they are doing. But, you hit the nail on the head— for normal birth it should not the norm. I often daydream about the fantastic job OB’s could be doing if they dedicated themselves to only supporting high-risk pregnancies. Just think of all the time and effort they could pour into each family then! Someday It will be a glorious day when our sons and daughters are able to plan the safest birth for their own families without all of the craziness! I hope to hear all about your wonderful future homebirthing experience.

  3. Kelly says:

    It’s so very true Justine, and I think we are moving towards that ideal, slowly but surely. :)

    Looking forward to my future home birth too!

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