Looking Back & Planning Ahead

Welcome 2013!

2012 was a whirlwind year. I began my doula journey and attended amazing births. With each birth, I learned something new. The things that I learned weren’t always black and white, cut and dry pieces of information. I witnessed miracles. Each birth was unique, each mother was incredible, and every moment was precious.

After being able to see these births, I look back on mine and begin to view them in a different light. I walk through them in my mind and pick them apart. Sometimes, I’m satisfied with what I remember. The majority of the time, however, I’m not.

My first birth was in a hospital with almost every medical intervention known to man. At least, it felt that way. It still feels that way. Logically, I know there could have been a worse outcome.  I am grateful for our health. But I would love to be able to go back in time and “re-do” it.

I would have had better support. I would have changed a lot of things that took place during my pregnancy. My first pregnancy and birth shaped how I viewed motherhood, being pregnant, and giving birth. It also influenced my second birth.

With my son, many things were different. I had a good supportive partner, no epidural, no induction, and a much shorter labor. I also had a much larger baby (8.11 vs 6.4), a posterior baby (meaning he was face up), and more stitches. It propelled me into this wonderful birthy world that I am now a member of. I am forever grateful for that.

In order to become a doula/childbirth educator you have to do a lot of reading. Just for fun, here’s some of the books and papers that are required:

  • The Birth Partner: A Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other
    Labor Companions
  • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
  • The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth
  • Active Birth
  • Born in the USA
  • Ecstatic Birth

I challenge you to read any of those and then think back about your birth experiences. You will view them in a different light. That isn’t a bad thing, either. You may realize things that you were told had to happen really didn’t. You might realize, hey! You had a pretty damn amazing midwife/OB! Or, like me, you may start planning your next birth with a diligence that rivals college coaches and their play books.

From reading, listening and read other mother’s birth stories, and being present at peaceful births, I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. I’ve learned that I am a loner. Labor isn’t a party for me. I don’t want people coming in and out of the room. I want few interruptions and even fewer people present. I was surprised to realize that for my next baby, I want a home birth.

Having a baby at home never crossed my mind with Diva. I never thought of it as an option for Smushy. The only thing I wanted to try with Smushy that I didn’t with Diva was a having a water birth. Now, I’m planning a water birth at home. Funniest part? I’m not even pregnant. 🙂

I’ve compiled a list of home birth midwives to interview. I’ve read reviews on them and met most of them in person at one birth event or another. This will be easier; there’s not nearly as many home birth midwives in the Atlanta area as there are doulas. And, I know more doulas than your average person. It makes it hard to choose just one. There are so many amazing ones in my area. We’re a pretty great mix of ages, personalities, backgrounds, and price ranges. I think I have it narrowed down and then I think, “But what about…?” I have time to narrow it down. Of course, the moment I become pregnant, I will probably freak out and decide that I have to hire someone right that very second. Do you hear that, Atlanta doula friends? Be prepared for a phone call where I’m freaking out and begging to sign a contract.

The next thing I am trying to figure out is, again, one I never thought I would want: a birth photographer. With both of my kids, I have some pictures. I don’t have a single “family” picture. I only have a couple good pictures of Diva and myself, the best being hours after she was born. With Smushy, I have better pictures, but not any gorgeous artistic shots. Since meeting several birth photographers and seeing their breathtaking work, I’ve come to realize that I really wish I had pictures like that with Diva and Smushy. I really wish that I had precious newborn pictures of them that I didn’t take.

Me & DivaMe, Diva, & Smushy317397_532896689734_1469663767_n

Here’s some links to the type of pictures I’m envious of:

Oana Hogrefe

Sarah Foti

Meredith Jacobsen

Kim Holderfield

Some of the things I mention may have people scratching their heads and wondering, “Um, can’t you have a doula and a photographer at a hospital?!” Yes! You can. Many people do. I don’t want to deal with a hospital. I don’t want to deal with nurses or the luck of the draw when it comes to who may be on call. I don’t want to sign paperwork declining “standard hospital procedures” & I don’t want to have to stay for 24 hours. Some people don’t mind these. Hell, I didn’t mind them for my first two labors! I thought nothing of them. I think I probably even welcomed them because, at that point in time, that’s what I thought was normal. I accepted the rules and regulations.

Now, I don’t want to accept them. I want to stay home and sleep in my own bed. I don’t want to be separated from my kids. I want them to be able to see their new sibling as soon as possible. I want to snuggle my newest baby, shower in my own shower, and eat real food (have you ever eaten good vegetarian food in a hospital?). So, I’ve decided to go with a home birth. Plus, I really, really hate hospitals when I’m the patient.

I understand that not everyone feels the same way. There are people who feel safer, more comfortable, more confident in a hospital. I admire anyone who can follow what they believe. If a mother chooses to give birth in a hospital or birth center, I’m there to support it! I would love to give birth in a birth center. Currently, the only operating birth center in Georgia is in Savannah. That’s a bit far for me to drive, especially in labor. The Atlanta Birth Center is getting closer to becoming a reality. I’m very excited; I hope that it opens soon. If it opens before I have my child (yes, the one I’m not pregnant with), then I would love to be one of their moms!

According to their website, this is where they currently are: We are still in the fundraising phase of creating Atlanta Birth Center. The opening date depends upon several factors–particularly a final determination by the state of Georgia regarding our Certificate of Need (CON). This determination is a public process that can be appealed by other parties, which makes it difficult to estimate an accurate completion date. We expect to open 6-12 months after the CON process is completed, assuming a positive determination is made by the State. The location will be within five miles of several centrally located hospitals. However, we encourage you to join in the movement to open Atlanta’s only birth center, because as we know, it will not happen unless we have a village behind us.

A birth center gives you the feel of a home birth at a location that isn’t your home. Look at some images of birth centers around the US. Could you imagine giving birth in a gorgeous environment like this compared to a hospital?

birth_room_1tualitin3birth-room-green

Until the Atlanta Birth Center opens its doors and begins accepting moms, I will plan on having a home birth. I know my parents won’t bat an eye; after all, my mom delivered my second brother at home! Had she found a midwife who would have delivered the rest of my siblings at home in Georgia, she would had 3 more home births without hesitation. My friends who aren’t birth professionals may think that I’m crazy. I haven’t broached the topic with them. I haven’t really spoken about this with many people. So, if you’re reading this, surprise!

What about you? Have you ever considered a home birth? What about giving birth in a birth center? Having a water birth? Or, how would you react to the news your friend/family member/friendly acquaintance was planning on having a home birth?

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