Whenever I would tell a fellow Southerner about my plan to have a drug-free water birth, I would always receive the same reaction: skepticism and a lecture about how painful it would be. Although I would always answer their criticism with the same reply, “I have never been in labor so I know it may be too painful — I am just going to try.” What can I say? I am people pleaser. It is not in my nature to challenge those who seem more experienced. In my heart I knew I could do it. I could only think of one thing that might shake my confidence: a long labor.
I enjoyed working with the doula and thinking about how I could “reframe” pain and manage my panic in labor (panic is a big thing for me). I also prepared “birth affirmations” and put them on index cards for the doula to read to me when I started to panic during labor. I also read a wonderful book called The Big Book of Birth that gave much information about labor both physiologically and psychologically.
Like many first time pregnant moms I envisioned that my labor and delivery would go a certain way. I planned a natural birth using Bradley Method techniques, hired a doula, and anticipated laboring at home for as long as possible before heading to the hospital to deliver. I wanted minimal medical interventions and no drugs. I managed to pull off the no pain medication and a vaginal birth, but only after a four day induction and a heap of drugs helped get me there. Here’s how it all went down.
I knew my baby would be born in a hospital before I ever got pregnant. I desperately wanted to have a home birth, but my PPO insurance would only cover a birth in a hospital of their choosing. I couldn’t justify $6000 out of pocket when I would only need to pay $200 for a hospital birth… so to the hospital we went.
I had enjoyed an easy pregnancy without many of the usual issues, but as we reached the 40th week I was ready to be finished! We had decided to go with a midwife for our prenatal care and the birth, and also brought in a doula on the recommendation of a few friends. We also definitely wanted a hospital birth, so we made sure to choose a nurse midwife who was affiliated with the best maternity hospital in the area. I run with a fairly offbeat crowd, but having the baby anywhere other than a hospital was just not for me. I was hoping to not take any pain meds, but was fine with doing so if that’s how it went.
I always knew my baby would be “late.” I disagreed with the due date predicted by my three month scan and thought my actual “forty week mark” was about twelve days later. When I declined induction, I was referred to a consultant who was surprisingly supportive and said that twenty years ago I wouldn’t have been induced, so it was my decision. I was constantly aware of every kick in the womb, which was more reassuring to me than any scan could be.
Olivia’s home birth was absolutely something I wanted to do in my life — part of my bucket list, if you will. I never imagined I’d deliver in my bed, but now I realize that this was Olivia’s birth — in the end I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.
Due to circumstances beyond both of our control — a move, a job change for me, and my partner’s desire to really try the job it took him over a year to find — it looks like I’m going to be having this baby alone. There’ll be doctors and nurses and maybe a doula, sure, but I always thought my partner would be there with me. And while it’s possible that he may make it for the birth, it’s entirely possible that he will miss it.