Oh, sure. I bought all the pregnancy and parenting books and read most of them. But what I’m laboring (hey-oh!) to impart to you is that I didn’t really explore my options when it came to the actual process of giving birth.
I didn’t really even realize that there were options.
I just did what everyone else I knew who had been pregnant did. Found an OB-GYN I liked and listened to every damn thing she told me including what pre-natal testing I should get and when to get induced. During our 39-week check-up when the doctor asked us if we wanted to have the baby that day, we said, “Sure, why not?”
We didn’t know nothing ’bout birthing no babies and if the doctor said it was time then it was time. Turns out that had more to do with her busy schedule than my body actually being ready to be in labor, but I didn’t know that at the time.
We checked in to the hospital, I got dosed up with Pitocin and two epidurals later our daughter was born. All was great aside from the fact that the doctor got held up at another delivery at another hospital, so they asked me to stop pushing, and by the time the doctor arrived the epidural had worn off and I’d received another that left me with absolutely no feeling from the chest down.
At the time that didn’t really bother me. My birth plan was to have no birth plan, just go with the flow and busy doctors are part of the flow. Frankly, I’m still not bothered by it. The birth of my daughter was a lovely, happy experience that I’ll treasure forever. We had our healthy baby girl, liked our nurses, and the doctor was fine too. I mean, she was in and out in ten minutes but we liked her.
I will say that the hospital bill completely blew my mind. 80% of it was covered by insurance, but when you go down that itemized list of what you’re being charged for, it really highlights the sad state of affairs that is American healthcare. It isn’t just how much hospitals charge you to deliver here, it’s the manner in which they go about it. It’s sneaky and underhanded and confusing. There’s no flat fee, it’s all itemized down to every single Ibuprofin that you swallow. More on all of this at a future date. Suffice to say that I’d rather deal with a sleazy mechanic and a broken down car then navigate another labor and delivery at an American hospital.
But in the end, when it’s your child’s life at stake, money is no object of course. There is no disputing what hospitals are great when your baby’s life hangs in the balance. But childbirth has been happening for a loooong time now. It’s something we do, not something that happens to us, not an illness that needs to be treated (unless complications arise and then you can reassess your options) with drugs and machines.
We are birthing our babies in a time when the experience of childbirth has been taken over by busy, often impatient, doctors who are trained to suggest unnecessary testing and interfere with drugs and medical equipment which, once instigated, sets in motion a domino effect of unnecessary interventions. We live in a time when the childbirth experience has been distorted by movies and TV, a time when birth horror stories are a national pastime. We have been conditioned to believe that the pain of childbirth will be agony, that only doctors are qualified to deliver children, and that we should always submit to the authority of doctors if we want what is best for our baby.
It’s not our fault. We don’t know any better. We just do what our mothers did, what our friends are doing, what we see on TV, what we read about celebrities and their VIP hospital wings after their scheduled C-section/tummy tucks.
You see where this is leading, don’t you?
My house. My bedroom. My bed. Or my bathtub or maybe my floor. Wherever the labor leads me.
I’ve known that I was going to have a home birth for a long time now. Since well before I became pregnant. This time I’ve done my research and it’s all so simple. Something stinks in American healthcare, specifically when it comes to childbirth. We have been led astray. That doesn’t mean I’m advocating against hospital births. As mentioned, my hospital experiences were fine and choosing to give birth in a hospital is certainly an excellent choice. So is choosing to give birth at home.
The point is, there is a choice. That’s not something a lot of women realize. Or if they realize it they have an incorrect perception of giving birth at home.
We’ll talk more about that in the days to come.
MORE ON BABBLE
25 powerful photos of women giving birth
10 things you should take OFF your baby registry
29 things you should never say to a pregnant woman
10 “unsafe” things I did while pregnant— and still had a healthy baby
The most age-inappropriate baby gear… EVER