mothers, daughters, and homebirths!

When I tell people I’m having a homebirth, one of the most common reaction is, “You’re so brave!”

(When we told one of Ryan’s co-workers, a young single man, his eyes bugged out of his head and he asked incredulously, “Can you do that?” I smiled. As though a hospital room somehow is a necessary part of a woman giving birth!)

Brave? Perhaps. Crazy, maybe. I’ll let you know when it’s all said and done.

But the idea of having a homebirth is hardly daunting to me, thanks again to my mother, who had three.

These are the impressions I was left with after being a part of those three births:

When Jamie was born, I was only 5. I watched, but don’t remember a thing except that he was big, a bit purple, and had only two little specks of blood on his shoulder. I also remember that Mom got a beautiful new nightgown and matching robe, which she put on after he was born, and that she got to eat New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream in the dining room, where we all gathered to celebrate his birth. (She’d not been allowed sugar during that pregnancy, so when the grocery run was made, ice cream was on the menu!) It was the first time I’d ever tried Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Homebirths were all right with me!

With Louissa, I was 7 — old enough to be much more aware. I half watched, half hid behind Mrs. Tallo, who was there for the show as well. She assured my sisters and I that Mom wasn’t angry, just uncomfortable. She had to say that, because Mom was yelling at the friend who was trying to coach her through pushing. I still remember seeing Mom grit her teeth, get in Lauren’s face and growl, “I am pushing!!!” Louissa was born the day before my birthday, and I thought that was as special as it got. That evening, after everyone was in bed, I snuck downstairs to my parents’ bedroom. I climbed into bed between them and held my brand spankin’ new baby sister. Her eyes were dark, and she stared right at me. Another homebirth homerun.

Julia came along when I was 10. She was, unfortunately, born very early in the morning, and came a bit faster than my parents anticipated. The entire birthing team was assembled to help, and all of the siblings were woken to watch, but my mom ended up having her in the bathroom, which was only big enough for my dad. The rest of us had to be content with the nosebleed seats, trying to peak in the door around everyone else who was peaking in. Julia was round and chubby, and Mrs. Colbert called her Butterball until she had a real name. Mrs. Colbert also was in charge of cleaning her up and dressing her, because Mom and Dad had rushed to the hospital when Mom wouldn’t stop bleeding. That episode, unfortunately, put an end to homebirths for my mom. Still, for the next two babies, she made it a point to stay at home as long as possible, and to get back home sooner than possible. I say sooner, because it took me 24 hours to get those nurses MOVING after Jameson was born, but Mom was always in her own bed within several hours of delivery. I suspect that she must have been doing softshoe on the hospital beds or something in order to convince them to let her out.

At any rate, homebirths to me don’t necessarily mean “brave” or “crazy”. What comes to mind, rather, is “relaxed,” “comfortable,” and “celebratory.” It’s birth the way you see it in the old movies, when Mama and baby are wrapped snugly in their own bed, and the rest of the family showers them with love and jubilation.

And the part before that? The actual pushing? Well, that’s pretty much not a cakewalk no matter where you do it, and I’d rather be doing it in my own bedroom, thankyouverymuch.

4 Comments mothers, daughters, and homebirths!

  1. Angela S.

    Relaxed, comfortable, and celebratory! YES! That’s homebirth in a nutshell. I still enjoy the memory of Cassie jumping up onto the bed, literally up against my left hip, while pushing Frank out. People were in and out of the room, cell-cameras “flashing,” text-massaging super speed, laughter, excitement- it was great! All three of my homebirths were like what you described. The best part is when you’re all done, you’re home. I love hearing the sounds of my household living around me. I love being able to walk (less than modestly) to my own bathroom without having to worry about a stranger walking in or someone anylizing the color and amount of my urine. No paperwork, no fancy bracelets, and no flouresent lights. And, not sure if you’ll experience this in California, but for me it always seems that, after I’ve been resting for a week or two, I come outside my house and realize the season had changed. I love homebirth.

  2. Keila

    Once again, I must admit “homebirth” was something I hadn´t even heard of until I came to your house. Though I was unmarried at the time I decided not to really make up my mind about it except in thinking that if your mom had done it, there had to be something good about it. After having my own babies I TOTALLY understand and I TOTALLY wish I could have it that way. Why must we leave the comfort of our own homes, the peace of mind of “keeping up” with other children and have them be a part of the experience, etc. Good for you! Bless you and have an awesome experience! Oh, by the way, where did you get the “Special Delivery” book? I looked it up in the library but they didn´t have it and I´d like to read it.

  3. Randi Young

    Looking forward to hearing the blessed news of a new little one!! Danica, your purses are beautiful! And I don’t get over here enough to scoop up one of your leaf purses…they’re always sold. But, good for you! :)

  4. Danica

    @Keila: I found my copy of Special Delivery at a used bookstore when we first moved here. I’m so glad I happened to see it on the shelf! I’ll mail you my copy as soon as I can, if you’d like. I didn’t get a hold of it until my last weeks with Jameson, and even at that late date, it helped me soooo much. Pictures, diagrams, exercises: I could picture exactly what was happening in my body the entire time I labored, thanks to that book!


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