Last week we featured Melissa’s beautiful account of her home birth and welcoming baby Jonah in to this world (click here if you missed it). This week we are delving in to part two of her story, where she speaks to the reasons behind her choice to birth at home under the care of her midwives, and with the support of her doula and birth partners.
It is important to note that Melissa is in Los Angeles, California, where you have to actively choose midwifery care, rather than opting for the standard obstetric-led hospital based model of care.
MELISSA | CHOOSING HOME BIRTH
I knew I wanted Joe, Carly, and our birth doula, Kailtin, to be present at the birth, and after working with pregnant and postpartum women and diving into women’s sexuality and the birth world for many years, I knew I wanted to birth in the comfort and security of my own home. I wanted autonomy. I wanted to be surrounded by people who trusted me, my body, and our baby. I wanted to feel revered, respected, in charge, powerful. I wanted to be celebrated by people who treasured birth as the rite of passage it is and who would encourage me to go to great depths to find the strength and release to bring our baby to the world, who would hold the space for me to go there and return safely. It was important to me to be able to labor and birth where and how my body wanted, undisturbed and without intervention, to have control over our environment and what happened afterward (the ability to decide about certain tests, vaccines, cord cutting, breastfeeding, time alone as a family, skin-to-skin contact), and to allow for the regulation of baby’s and my nervous system, thus creating an environment of safety and calm for his emergence into the world. I also planned to remain home in the weeks after birth in our postpartum cave, and this allowed us to peacefully transition into rest and recovery mode. I did this because birth and postpartum recovery matter for a woman’s lifelong health and baby’s wellbeing.
When I interviewed my midwives initially, I knew we were meant to be together. I left their office feeling energetic, excited, and understood. Their care was unmatched, and their trust and faith in me and my body from day 1 was beautiful. They put me and Joe at ease throughout the entire pregnancy, provided information and assurance, laughed and cried with us, believed in us, watched over me during birth, and lifted baby Jonah onto me in the birth tub when the position my body chose to birth in wasn’t conducive to my catching him. They sewed up my tear with care and communication. They tucked us into bed and helped initiate breastfeeding. They did Jonah’s newborn exam on our bed next to me and came back many times to check on us all during postpartum home visits. Even though I had left the verbal plane of where everyone was for most of my laboring journey, I could hear their voices throughout and remember snippets of the encouraging words and suggestions they offered. They also served as amazing resources after the birth in helping me piece together parts of my story. Hearing their version of my birth was also fascinating and healing.
Beyond the more cognitive parts of what I remember from my birth, I remember the feelings in my bones — utter ecstasy, excruciating pain (I’ll personally choose to use that word), doubt, confidence, courage, and the comfort of knowing we were safe.
One piece I love about my home birth is that I get to relive these incredible moments every day as I walk down my hallway, lie in my bed, take a shower. I can always look around and garner strength from the memory of what my body and mind did, of what I’m capable of as a human being and a woman. There have been so many days and nights since then that I’ve mustered up more strength from those memories than I knew was available in me. I can always look to the spot in my room where the birth tub was, close my eyes and remember his tiny body against mine for the first time, and relish in the memory of the night baby Jonah and I were born into a new world.
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