I've always wanted to labor at home until I felt like it would be time to go to the hospital. Even with my fourth baby, I didn't want to be sent home early (the embaressment!) or face needless interventions because I arrived too soon and perhaps wasn't progressing like they thought I should.
With Joseph, I did just that. I labored at home until Adam told me we needed to go to the doctor's. With Camille, I made the call to go in after 3 contractions five minutes apart. In hindsight, I am glad we did since she had mec in her fluid. When my water broke, I was on the monitor and I had the extra reassurence she was okay.
However, a big part of my reasons for staying home this time were my kids. My mother was a childbirth educator and involved in La Leche League. I jokingly call her the orginal hippie and I am just a pale imitation. I always knew she had three unmedicated deliveries and I remember asking her why. She always said simply, "I think it's better for the baby."
As an adult, I now understand and appreciate that her deliveries must have been scary for her and my father but she gave me the gift of never fearing labor and delivery. I never feared the pain of labor. I never felt like it would be unmanagble pain. I grew up reading birthing books, some more mainstream and some definatly NOT (anyone want to give birth in a teepee while smoking pot?), so I certainly knew things could go wrong. I knew my options for pain relief, what might be normal and what wasn't. Adam and I took Bradley classes and became very well informed and I talked with alot of natural birthing mothers who helped me plan for anything- from a normal, fast birth to needing pain medication to a c/s.
I want my children to have that same gift. I want them not to fear labor and delivery, especially Camille who, God willing, will go through this. I want my sons to be loving and supportive of their wives choices.
With Georgie, there was alot of fear from Joseph. When I told him I was pregnant with Cole, we talked alot about how Georgie was sick when he was born and how most babies aren't sick. We discussed whether this baby would be sick and when and how he could visit the baby. It was hard to tell him that there is nothing to fear from birth when his only memory of that experience is filled with a depressed mother and a baby who stayed in the hospital for 9 days.
This time, my children were with me in early labor. They knew Mommy had made it much longer than I had with Georgie and that this baby would be healthy. Still, in the early hours of April 7th, things weren't normal. There was no TV in Mommy's room while I showered and Daddy gave them breakfast. It was dark and quiet and Grandma came over at 6 am. To a six, four and 16 month old, this was weird and possibly scary.
All three of the children checked in on me at least once. They know and like my doula but I'm sure it was funny to see her at our house and not her office. I spoke to each of them and told them it was okay, Mommy and Dr. A were working to get the baby out and they were welcome to be quiet in come in the room. Joseph refused but Camille helped rub my back and Georgie labored with me outside.
When I left for the hospital, I was still in enough control that I hugged them, kissed them and told them that I loved them. They never saw me complaining that labor hurt and that I didn't really want to push. They saw me in control, working hard but not in "themostgodawfulpainofmylife" and "iwanttodiiiie."
There will be a time, yes, when they learn labor can be very painful. There will be a time when they learn horrible things do happen to mothers and babies. They will learn about the real need for forceps, vacuums, fetal monitoring and inducuctions. They will learn not every mother recovers as easily as Mommy does and that there can be very real pain involved in bringing a child into the world.
But not now. Not when they are six and four and still learning. When they asked if it hurts to have a baby, I told them it's like having a big poop but you get a baby instead. I won't tell him that it's like someone set fire to my bottom. I can't do it. I won't give them fear- not now. Not at six and four.
I wonder what they will remember. I wonder if Camille will remember helping me labor. I wonder if she will remember the very normal day suddenly filled with anticipation, with Dr. A sitting at the kitchen table while Mommy ate a snack and leaned over with each contraction. I wonder if Joseph will remember the joy at climbing into the big hospital bed to hold his new brother. I want them to remember joy and anticipation and the nervousness that surrounds bringing a new life into this world.
Because really, normally there is nothing to fear.