The week after my daughter was born, my phone was a flurry of messages. Not from family members, calling from far away to send congratulatory wishes. Nor were they from guests at the door, pre-packaged dinner and flowers in hand. Yes, those messages were present, but there was a more resounding stream of inquiries that landed in my inbox: “I saw you posted your birth photos today. Are you sure you want to do that?”
Their concerns made sense. I was hormonal, sore and exhausted, transitioning my family from two to three and learning how to nurse and swaddle and open a can of soup with one hand. Naturally, my assessment skills weren’t necessarily award-winning at the time. It was only fitting that friends would assume I’d regret my decision completely, and as we all know, the Internet is forever.
I also understand that birth photos are incredibly personal. And not for the faint of heart (although admittedly, my friend is an amazingly tasteful birth photographer). Sharing such intimate photos is so very out of character for me, someone who rarely divulges private details about her family.
But I also understand that I chose an alternate route when birthing my daughter – a choice that some still have a strong aversion to and a path that I wanted so badly to shed light upon. When I shared that I was having a home birth, critics flocked far and wide to question the decision, sharing their own birth stories of C-sections and disasters and emergencies. And I get it. I truly do. Modern medicine is an amazing tool that I feel incredibly blessed to have access to – when necessary.
But after a healthy pregnancy, I didn’t feel I needed the medical interventions our society offers under the “one size fits all” plan. I wanted to usher our daughter into a calm, peaceful world with a method I’m comfortable with – for me. This doesn’t mean I’m advocating that everyone participate in a home birth, and certainly doesn’t mean that I judge anyone who has chosen a different path for themselves. I simply opted for a different item on the menu, and in a perfect world, that would be fine.
But we don’t live in a perfect world, and so many of us fight hard to share our experiences, to warn others of complications and problems and experiences. It’s what makes our society so wonderful – the sharing and exchanging of information. Yet it’s also what makes our society so isolating at times. Because when we choose what isn’t “normal” for most, that decision is polarizing. And our past histories and experiences and perspective begin filling in the blanks: Is it safe? Is it responsible? Is it wise? Yet for me, a home birth was all of those things. And I wanted so badly to share that experience.
I wanted to share that no, a home birth doesn’t only exist for folks who live in a yurt. It’s not for hippies or religious activists or feminists. A home birth is for anyone.
But the choice is for everyone.
Image Credit: Betsy King
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