I am 23 weeks pregnant and we are now 3+ weeks into our quarantine, due to the COVID-19 outbreak and pandemic. I recently announced on Instagram that we are officially planning a home birth, and I wanted to share our reasoning. As someone who has had three elective inductions and four epidurals, this decision was not made lightly and it took a lot of time and research to fully come to a decision.
I want to take you guys all the way back to the beginning, so maybe you can get the full picture of why a home birth is so important to us and such a good fit for us.
Let’s back track to 2013 (Brooklynn). I was 18 years old and wanted.baby.out. My doctor suggested an induction and I was all for it. At 40 weeks, we went in to be induced. Now, keep in mind that I’m in pain, miserable, don’t even know what’s coming. I don’t remember the exact words said, but the nurse that was assigned to me made me cry several times. Mentioning my age and how I’m a baby having a baby. Saying I better hurry up and get the epidural because my little body won’t be able to handle the pain. I was so relieved when the 7pm shift change hit and the new nurse was sweet as can be. The interaction I had had with the first nurse left me a little bit traumatized. I was supposed to be supported by these strangers as I’m bringing new life into the world, not judged.
Because of the nurse situation at Brooklynn’s birth, I chose to give birth at another hospital for baby #2. Honestly, that situation wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but it still hurt that it even happened. Harlym’s birth in 2014 was uneventful and amazing. No complaints there.
In 2016, I went into labor with Deuce at 38 weeks. Because my contractions were far apart and not progressing the way the doc wanted them to (and it had been 9 hours since my water broke), they started pitocin (the induction med). This caused Deuce’s heart-rate to slow down immensely and I felt like I was passing out, they put me on oxygen. They were trying to keep me awake to start pushing and I really felt like I could barely keep my head up. I pushed for 10ish minutes and he was out, cord wrapped several times around his neck. The doctor pulled him away so I couldn’t see him. He wasn’t crying. They cut the cord and started putting bulbs in his mouth to suction. I could see across the room that his eyes were open wide, but he still wasn’t crying. Once he made a few noises, they gave him to me. He didn’t cry for several days- it was the weirdest thing! He also failed his hearing test. And of course, one of the first things we noticed was his head shape. I asked the nurse why his head looked the way it did and she said it was probably due to him being born sunny side up, and that it would go back “to normal” in a few days (yeah, that didn’t happen). Overall, it was a very traumatic experience, and if you know our family’s story, you know that it resulted in two major surgeries for Deuce.
I had a miscarriage in 2017 and got pregnant immediately after with Bronx. It was an extremely emotional and traumatic pregnancy for me. Every single day I was scared I was going to lose her. I bought a doppler for our home, just to be able to hear her heartbeat and feel reassurance that she was real, that my baby was still alive. I got the epidural (just like I had done with every birth), but it didn’t work. I was experiencing the most intense, painful back labor. The anesthesiologist came back to adjust (about 45 minutes before I started pushing) and all of a sudden I was numb up to my chest. Could barely breathe. (And I was already on oxygen because my heart rate was incredibly low.) She was born in 2018 after five minutes of pushing. They placed her on my (numb) chest and it was like everything in the world was right. She was here, she was beautiful, she was my rainbow after a dark storm. I deeply exhaled and breathed her in and I’ve never felt more peace. After about 20 minutes, the nurses asked if they could weigh her and measure her and I said yes. They took her and immediately started panicking. They said her temperature wasn’t regulating and she was too cold. I said ok, give her back to me so I can do skin-to-skin and nurse her! They point blank told me no, and left my room with her. They took her into the nursery to run tests. I screamed at Anthony to follow them. At some point, I was moved into the postpartum room all by myself. I kept texting Anthony to send me pictures and updates. He said they were concerned with her blood sugar. When the nurse came to check on me, I asked her to bring my baby back and she said, “her blood sugar levels are low, so we need to keep her in the nursery.” Little did she know, I had texted two of my close friends who are nurses and asked what they would do in that situation and what should I do? They both said that if blood sugar is low, the baby needs skin to skin and to nurse! I told the nurse this, and she said that the baby doesn’t need to nurse because they’re feeding her formula in the nursery… I. BLEW. MY. LID. Or at least I did in my mind. All I remember is sobbing and sobbing and falling asleep and waking up crying again. I tried getting out of bed so I could walk to the nursery, but because of the intense epidural situation, I still couldn’t use my legs. Finally, after 12ish hours, they brought her back. Everything was normal and fine (insert eyeroll) as soon as she was placed on my chest and started nursing. Every time they rechecked her levels, they were PERFECT. This entire situation was devastating to me. I felt like I had completely been ripped of rights and my consent was a joke to them. It hurt, deeply.
Fast forward to baby #5. When I first found out I was pregnant, home birth wasn’t even a thought in my mind. We’ve always done hospital births, so why would I change it up now? But as my pregnancy progressed, I followed several mamas on Instagram that had had beautiful home births, and they all looked so empowering and majestic. I started to wonder what it would be like to have a redemptive birth experience. But then quickly reminded myself that I could NEVER give birth without an epidural! Hell no, no thanks!!
As 2020 progressed, and COVID-19 progressed, I started seeing more and more hospitals ban visitors. Ban birthing partners. Separating moms from their newborns (if they’re COVID pos). Dads being asked to leave the hospital. And so many more horror stories. I started paying more and more attention to hospital policies, to the way they treat birthing moms and newborns, to the chatter between doctors and nurses surrounding the pandemic and giving birth.
I knew in my heart that I would 100000% rather have my husband by my side than have an epidural. An epidural might drown out some of the pain, but my husband is irreplaceable. I need his support, his hands on my back, his words whispered into my ear. Without him, I don’t think I could give birth in a hospital by myself. I mean, I could… but I don’t want to. Not to mention, a hospital isn’t someplace I want to be right now anyways. SO many scary germs out there.
That was the first stepping stone for me when researching home birth. I probably read hundreds of articles. I read about hospital vs. home birth safety (if you think home births aren’t safe, I highly recommend doing research because that’s simply not true!), I read about birthing consent and rights, I read about epidurals, I read about everything under the sun related to birthing a baby, and then I read about everything related to birthing a baby at home. Then I reached out to four mamas I love and trust and asked about their home birth experiences. Gosh, just talking to them made me feel like I was made for home birth. The way they talk about their experiences? It is simply divine. They all talked about how empowering it was, how strong it made them feel, how amazing it was to be able to sleep in their own beds afterward, how NOTHING happened without their consent. And the ones that had had home births after hospital births talked about what a redemptive experience it was for them.
That’s when I knew this was what I wanted to do. I started mentioning it to Anthony here & there, but he was not on board at all. He was worried about safety… and the mess lol. I started reaching out to midwives and doulas behind his back (not really- he knew but just wasn’t really on board!), jumping on the phone with ANYONE who would give me the time of day. I asked a million questions. The midwife that I really connected with (and then hired!) told me most husbands are scared of safety and mess. She explained to him that midwives bring EVERYTHING we would possibly need: oxygen, hemorrhaging meds, resuscitation supplies, etc etc etc. They obviously just don’t induce or do epidurals! She also explained that by the time her and the doula leave, you’d never know that someone had just given birth (besides the baby). They clean everything up before they leave.
After chatting with him for a few days and showing him a bunch of home birth videos, he agreed and was on board. And now he’s gotten involved in the planning process and is genuinely excited. I think for him, it was fear of the unknown. We even asked the girls if they want to be there for the birth, and they both do! They’ve started watching home birth videos with us. We are all elated.
Even if this pandemic is done, over with, and life is back to normal when I give birth- we are set and ready for our home birth, no going back!! I am SO excited about our decision. I am SO anxious for this experience. I hope it’s beautiful and redemptive and empowering. I know it will be.
I am also super excited to bring you allllll on this journey with me!!
Home birth videos we have watched together: