When we first began looking into our options for giving birth to Evelyn, I wasn't quite comfortable with giving birth at home. Daryl was extremely comfortable with the idea, and even suggested, several times, that we have an unassisted birth. Yes, and he says that *I'm* the crunchy one! But I most definitely wasn't comfortable giving birth in a hospital, that was something that I knew from experience. I found middle ground in the thought of giving birth in a free standing birth center.
As the pregnancy went on, however, I kept finding my thoughts veering back towards the idea of giving birth to this baby at home. The biggest reason that I was uncomfortable with the thought of staying at home to labor and birth, was that Daryl and I did not have a home of our own. We were living under the same roof with Daryl's parents and brother. Mix into that equation my mother coming to visit and Daryl's other brother coming to visit, and you have one house full of nosy bodies. Not that Daryl's family members are generally nosy bodies, but a woman giving birth elicits a certain curiosity. The rooms aren't sound proof. When I thought of Daryl's family being able to hear me labor, a nervous and embarrassing feeling swept over me like a wave. It was akin to the thought of them being able to hear Daryl and I being intimate. And rightfully so; giving birth is an extremely intimate moment in a couple's life. Daryl and I wanted a birth that included only him, me, and the people necessary to attend the birth safely. We were unsure if we would have that with a home birth.
But every time I drove down the bumpy road to get to the birth center, I would wonder: could Daryl avoid this pot hole or would he take that curve too sharply? It's kind of a long drive, and there was construction during the day. Often going to an appointment, I would get stuck in traffic. Could I give birth in the car?
Then I would think of Jonah. Did I want him there? Did I want to leave him? Did I want him to see the baby moments after she was born? Would I be comfortable laboring while he was away from me? (I hadn't really ever left him over night before) How would he react if I went away and then suddenly came back with this new tiny baby? How would he react if he could hear his mother scream?
Then I would think of the baby. Sweet Evelyn. I had not even seen her face, but already I wanted to protect her. To keep her snug and safe. To hold her and never let her go. Would I be able to put her in a car seat, cold and mechanical, when she is just hours old?
I was pretty indecisive up until the last minute that I had to make the decision. After speaking to my midwife several times (it was a discussion at almost every appointment) we decided to plan for a home birth, because then everything would be in place if I decided that I was staying put. And if I decided that I wanted to leave the house, then we would figure that out when the time came.
Well, the time came. I was having a grand day with my mom and my family. Daryl's brother was due to fly in that night. My father-in-law left to pick him up from the airport around 10:00pm, which was about the time that I was saying "this is certainly NOT a false alarm, we're having a baby soon!" They arrived home at midnight, just as labor was becoming intense. I was being very loud. I heard them come in. I knew they could hear me. I didn't care!
I thought about going upstairs to greet my brother in law. The thought of the stairs made me ill. The thought of moving made me ill. Daryl called the midwife shortly after. He held the phone out to me... was I going to tell her to go to the center, or to come here. My nails were dug into the carpet with a contraction, like a cat who doesn't want to take a bath.
I wasn't moving.
I think we'll stay home tonight!
Yes, my family heard me all the way on the third floor of the house. Yes, sometimes I am a little embarrassed thinking about that. Although, I do wish I had asked for my mom to come downstairs during labor because I think I would have been calmer. She would have reminded me to stay calm, to "keep my face soft." (the labor advice she kept repeating to me over and over again during the week before Eve was born)
It turned out though, I was happy to have family there. More happy than embarrassed. When Jonah was moments away from being born, I had asked for my mom. I suddenly didn't like the people around me who were not my family. I wanted them out. I told them to get out, then I said "I want my mom." I called her as soon as I could, and told her to come. I needed her. Knowing that she was close by, that my family was near me, that I would see them as soon as the baby was out... that was the most reassuring thing I have ever felt. If anyone asks me what the best thing about having a home birth was, I tell them that it's definitely a tie. Not having to commute (in other words, having my bed right there!) and being surrounded by those I love instead of a room full of people I've never met.
I found some video of family interactions within the first 24 hours of Evie's life. I took some still shots of the video to share what happiness, what love, there was surrounding this child at birth.