Reflections on Home-birth
From Dad’s Point of View
My wife woke me at around Midnight on December 22, 2018. “I’m having pretty intense contractions” she said. “Did you download that app which times the contractions” she asked? “Not yet” I replied with a sense of panic in my voice, “let me do that right now.”
Within seconds I had an app downloaded and was faithfully timing my wife’s contractions at her command. “Now!” she would grunt. Followed soon thereafter by “Stop!” Shortly after I started the tracking process, she got on her knees in the bathroom and was like “Oh my God, this is happening fast!”.
I texted our midwife Davi, who by the way is the singular best midwife on Planet Earth (I exaggerate not), and she calmly and patiently instructed me on what to do next. Turns out my only real job at this point was to time the contractions and let her know when they were 5 minutes apart, so she would then come over.
We got to that point after only a few sets of contractions, and Davi and her helper (aka “Anya The Doula”) were on their way.
Meanwhile, my wife’s labor was progressing like a freight train barreling into the station, it was coming fast, and it was starting to look like I was going to be handling this delivery right there on the bathroom floor.
Still kneeling on all fours, I watched as my wife’s water broke onto the bathmat. Her pain was incredibly intense at this point and it took all her strength and willpower to let me help her up and onto the bed.
Luckily for us, labor began in the middle of the night when LA traffic is at it’s low point and Davi & Team could get here in less than 20 minutes. Had the birth happened in the middle of the day, or God forbid, at rush hour, this would have certainly been a much more juicy home-birth story with her talking me though what to do by phone, and me, a mere husband, doing it all.
“Davi the Midwife, At Your Cervix!”
Davi arrived at 1:23am, just 13 minutes before our new daughter popped her little head out. There was a flurry of activity by Davi and Anja as they prepared their equipment, spread pads around the bed, cranked up the baby heart monitor and all the other tools of the trade.
I had only two jobs at this point: to get the midwife team whatever the hell they needed and to video everything that was going on, so that I could put it all together into a fully edited birth video. I had made birth videos for our other three daughters and I couldn’t let Daughter #4 down, so I had to deliver the footage or else fail miserably in my fatherly duties.
I take great pride in these birth videos because I can only imagine what an everlasting gift that will be to them throughout their lives to be able to look back at their own births and see everything that happened, what we looked like at the time, what we did and said and just what the world looked like the day they arrived. I wish I had that and I’m sure they and their children will one day be enthralled by it all, for many generations to come.
The birth itself was what I imagine a textbook home-birth to look like. My wife grunts and screams, pushes like a you-know-what, and the baby’s head pops out, followed by her shoulder’s (that’s the hard part), then WHOOSH the rest of the body easily slips out and there she is, nestled safely in Davi’s hands as she immediately transfers baby to Mama’s arms.
Davi cleans up the baby and rubs her vigorously as she lays silently on my wife’s chest. “Why isn’t she crying?” asks my wife, with a tone of concern in her voice. As if on cue, the baby starts crying at that very moment and we all laugh a sign of relief. All captured on high-def 4K video, by the way, in case you were wondering.
Lots more to do. My wife still has to “birth” the placenta, which is the term they use to describe getting the placenta to follow the baby out of the birth canal and into a bowl. Apparently, yet more pushing and grunting and groaning is required to get this to happen, which is so anti-climactic at this point, but then again, I didn’t design the system.
When the “pulse” along the umbilical cord still connected to the placenta stopped throbbing, it was time to cut the cord, which Davi prepared with clamps then handed me a scissors to do the honors. The cord is a lot tougher than one would expect, which I suppose is a good thing given that it had to survive all those hours my wife was bouncing away on the elliptical during her pregnancy. Snip, Snip, Snip…cut.
While all this was going on, Anja the Doula was busy in the kitchen turning half the placenta into a smoothie for my wife to drink right away, with the other half destined to be air-dried and powdered, then turned into a hundred pills for my wife to ingest over the next few weeks. For those of you not familiar with this procedure, sorry I can’t provide a rationale for it, there are just some things I take at face value and never bother to research the science behind, and this is one of those things. I suspect there is a good reason for a post-partum mother to ingest her own placenta, I hope so, because we’ve done it with all 4 of our daughters.
One of the best things about a homebirth is that when it’s all over, you’re home. You’re in your own bed. After about 4 hours of post-partum care and monitoring, the midwives left. Davi’s parting words were “You guys have been through a lot tonight, you should both get some sleep before the kids wake up.”
At that very moment our 2 year old came storming into our room, it was about 6am, and a new day had begun. Our other two girls (ages 6 and 4) had both slept soundly through the home-birth and they got to meet their new little sister one by one as they woke up the next morning and came into our room.
The only member of our family besides me who got to witness the birth was our “Midwoof” Fidel, who was in the room with us the whole time.
As of the date of this writing, which is 15 days after the birth, we still haven’t picked out a name for our little one. My wife and I just can’t seem to agree on the perfect name. Another advantage of home-birth: you have one full year before you have to obtain a birth-certificate and pick a name. For now, my nickname for her is “Nonamé.”
My wife swears “this is our last baby for sure, you might as well get that snip-snip operation done, we are definitely not having any more children.”
To which I reply “That’s what you said two babies ago.”
Postscript January 14, 2019
People often ask me how my wife and I came to the idea of having our children via home-births.
Back in 2011 we watched a documentary called “The Business of Being Born.” This movie was our inspiration for really looking into what home-birth is all about. My father was an Obstetrician/Gynecologist, and I recognized a lot of truths in that movie from the stories he used to tell me. Unfortunately, he was no longer alive when I watched the film, I would have loved to watch it with him and ask him “Dad, is that true, is this true, tell me, tell!”
You can watch the trailer HERE, and I think the movie is available to watch on Netflix…check it out!
We’ve had all four of our daughters at home, all in the exact same bedroom. Best experiences of my life!