Last night, after quickly eating a slice of cake apiece, we headed out to the midwives office to learn more about home birth. Now, I’ve been dreading this. Seriously. I couldn’t think of many more unpleasant, non-life-threatening ways to spend the evening of my birthday than going to this.
We were the first couple to show up, which is surprising in and of itself since Chris is one of those people who is eternally “fashionably” late. My secondary midwife, Sarah the English chick, was one of the teachers tonight, so I was really happy to see a familiar face. We settled down next to the water cooler, since I’m thirsty like all the time these days, and waited on everyone else.
The next three women to enter the room were all wearing purple shirts — SO WAS I! Seriously, did someone send out a memo to all the pregnant chicks to show up in that colour? It made me laugh, and then I had to explain to Chris why I was laughing, and then I felt like a total moron. But I mean really, that’s pretty funny, that we all show up in purple shirts.
When everyone (four couples, two midwives, a student midwife, and a guest speaker with her four week old) arrived, we all introduced ourselves — giving our names, due dates, and reasons for being here tonight — standard stuff. Then the meeting took off.
I was surprised — and happy — at how laid-back everything was. The midwives really engaged all of the couples in the very open-ended discussion, letting us lead with our questions and filling in any awkward silences with anecdotes about home births they had attended. They quoted studies done within the last two years in Ontario that determined that for a mother, a homebirth runs less risk of infection and intervention, as well as a faster recovery rate than a hospital birth, although for a baby there is no difference whatsoever between the two. They showed us the equipment that we will be provided upon saying we want a homebirth, and also the equipment that they will bring to our household — this really amazed me. Mini oxygen machines, materials for suturing and IV, a package of sterilized clamps and scissors for handling the umbilical cord, injections of Vitamin K, eyedrops, etc, everything that you would expect to find in a normal, low-risk hospital birthing room, the midwives bring along in a portable format. And they offer options for pain relief, like sterile water injections, that a hospital might just forego in favour of an epidural.
We discussed everything: the “mess” of giving birth and how to handle the placenta (they suggested freezing it and then planting it in your backyard in the spring, wtf?); the size of a 10cm dilated cervix (and let me point out that 10cm diameter is frighteningly huge); how your pets may react to you giving birth at home (curious and very aware, inordinately interested in the fluids etc, often agressive towards the midwife); giving birth in an apartment building (you may want to tell your neighbours, but really, you’re probably not going to make so much noise that they’ll be banging on the door or calling the police); what qualifies you for a homebirth (good health, normal pregnancy, single head-down baby); when a midwife will transfer your primary care to a hospital (any emergency situation, which they can normally tell is coming by the monitoring they do); the length of active labour and how your midwife determines that you’ve entered that stage (generally 6-12 hours, and when your contractions are 4 minutes apart from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next, at least 1 minute long, for at least 1 hour — “the 411” as one of them called it); and so, so much more. By the end of it, I didn’t have a single question left.
But I had made a decision. And so had Chris.
We are absolutely fine with a homebirth. In fact, we’d prefer it at this point. The way I envision my labour and delivery going, I can’t imagine that the confines and controlling atmosphere of a hospital will be any good for me. I would rather be at home, in my environment, with my support team around me. I don’t want to pick and choose who gets to come into the delivery room with me at the hospital; I want my husband, my mother, and my mother-in-law all to be able to be with me, not to have to relegate one of them to another room. I don’t feel like a hospital offers any significant advantage to me at this point, and when I enter the active stage of labour, it seems to me that having my midwife come to my home rather than having to leave here and meet up with her at the hospital will be much more convenient. I’m really happy that we went to the homebirth night.
So, barring the unforseen, Maia will be born here…. probably in this very room. I can’t wait!