03.29.11

An Out of the Ordinary Community, Where Every Thing is Perfectly Normal

Posted in Monthly at 4:55 pm by Pasha

By Pasha Holiday

A room of mothers, mostly new and first-time moms, and all around there is a buzz about the birth of each child. Nearly all of the children are snug to their mother’s chest in a sling or a wrap. Half of the babies are happily nursing. These mother’s are not exchanging the usual horrifying birth stories that mother’s often do, the stories that keep women afraid of their own natural ability to bear a child.

In this room, having a baby is not equated to war. This room is full of mother’s who are doing things so normally, so much like nature intended, that it is considered taboo by most of America. These women gave birth to their children at home. In a room surrounded by other mother’s who gave birth at home, things are so normal, it almost seems ridiculous that American society would have it any other way.

I grew up granola. When strangers hear my extraordinary name and ask, “What nationality are you,” my answer always is, “Hippy American.” My mother gave birth to the majority of her seven children at home and has delivered hundreds of babies at home as a midwife. Several of my sisters chose home births. For me there was never a question that I, too, would have my children just the way I liked, at home.

What actually did not surprise me upon entering the club of pregnant women, was how many of them were taken aback and thought I was crazy for my choice. I expected naysayers, after all, in America less than 27,000 mother’s had their children at home in 2007 and a whopping 14 percent of those births were unplanned. We are a giant minority. I was not surprised that every single expectant mother (with the exception of just one other planning for a home birth) wanted an epidural. None had even given thought to having their baby without pain medication.

It seemed so sad to me that none of these low-risk pregnancies even considered home or natural birth an option.

When we all became part of the Mommy Club, at least 85 percent said it was a traumatic and horrifying experience. That the day that the little baby, who they created and gestated for 10 plus long months, was marred by pain, fear and dreadful recovery options. It is a wonder to me why any of these mothers will ever choose to do it again. The hospital stories, ones of induction that made pain unbearable and legs that were completely numb, seemed so wrong, so ABNORMAL.

Truth be told, giving birth to a baby kind of hurts. Well, that’s not true. Contractions hurt (think bad, bad stomach flu pains), pushing is hard and exhausting and the act of actually passing your baby from your body is uncomfortable. So, maybe it does not hurt as much as it is a long, arduous miracle that somehow woman’s bodies know how to perform (all on their own.) I chose a water birth and the actual birth of the little man didn’t really hurt. But water birth is a whole other story, another soapbox that I may or may not choose to stand on at some point.

My memories of the day that I gave birth to Decker Stills include my mother and husband preparing the birth place together, my mom making me peanut butter and jelly with a glass of milk, my husband napping in the afternoon, my midwives knitting and talking about music and my 10-year-old dog running into the bedroom wagging her tail, just as Decker was born. Yeah, the pushing was a lot like running a marathon and the birth pool was eventually full of blood. But the trauma was so minuscule that here, at three months post-birth, I cannot wait to do it all over again. I would have 10 children if I thought my husband would consent.

I feel awful for women who are strong enough to go through chemotherapy or lose hundreds of pounds, but who feel they are too weak to give birth naturally. I feel as though my birth experience, as well as all those other women who make up the Home Birth Community, have something special with their child and with that day that none of those people are given a chance to. All of the babies born at home in that room were so strong and healthy, and none of the mother’s regretted their choice. I wish more people knew how “normal” this whole pregnancy, birth and mothering thing really are. And like the water birth, I’ll save the baby wearing and breastfeeding soapbox for another day.