I gave birth to Arden at home.
I haven’t talked too much about this, mostly because it was a decision we made that I didn’t want to have to defend. It has seemed private and irrelevant to most of my conversations: we’re adults, we knew what we chose and why we chose it, and I really haven’t been too interested in hearing other thoughts on the topic.
Now that it’s over, though, I’m in a different place about discussing it. We have had a wonderful experience, one without unnecessary medical intervention (though with those same interventions available and close by if we needed them) and one where our desires have been heard and valued, discussed and upheld, even when it wasn’t terribly convenient or easy for anyone involved.
For me, though, the very best part of having a homebirth wasn’t avoiding unnecessary medical interventions or feeling like my choices and desires would be respected. Instead, it’s simply been being able to stay at home.
I’ve always felt like those days and hours at the hospital were difficult and distracting. I felt like I never really got to be with my baby, because there was a constant flow of strangers asking questions, poking and prodding, asking for signatures, and more. None of it was bad, persay, but it was overstimulating enough that it kept me from attending to my babies the way I wanted to.
I think the effects of this overstimulation continued at home, too. Unfortunately, one of the things you get at a hospital is an opinion from anyone and everyone as to how your baby is doing, what’s best for him or her, and what you need to think about over the next days and weeks.
Normally, I filter things like this well. Giving birth, however, leaves me very vulnerable. I suspect that’s fairly normal: the combined effects of enduring intense pain and, sometimes, trauma, hormonal upheaval, and the emotional and spiritual aftermath of participating in something as supreme and meaningful as bringing a new human into the world seem like prime ground to create a perfect storm of openness and vulnerability in the human heart.
All of that to say, I’ve never been able to say “Shut up and go away,” either to the people giving their opinions or to my own thoughts after they leave. And so I come home with my baby and a racing mind, with a restless, hollow feeling that I’ve always thought was just how I responded to birthing but I now suspect comes from the atmosphere surrounding the birthing rather than from the act itself.
For me, the overstimulation that has kept me from paying the kind of attention that I’d like to pay to my newborns at the hospital has continued at home, certainly for days but sometimes for weeks.
Being at home this time has not only allowed me to better understand how and why I processed things the way I did in the past, but has also permitted me to create the sort of environment where I can attend to my baby in the ways I’ve always hoped to in the past.
This wasn’t an intentional creation: my reasons for birthing at home largely centered on the fact that my previous labor went exceptionally fast and anything that would help me avoid going through transition in a moving vehicle or the parking lot seemed like a vast improvement. I didn’t set out to create a nest of time for Dave and I and the baby, or to welcome her in stillness and rest rather than hustle and bustle.
But me, being me, well, that’s what I created. When I got to rely on my instincts and do what came naturally and made the most intuitive sense, I created for us a bubble of time and space that has let me know Arden better than I’ve known any of my other newborns. I’ve kept things so low key that today’s trip to the doctor and even a trip to Target the other day felt like they were just a bit too much. I’ve held Arden more, nursed her more, and known her more than either of the others at this point.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.