As I contemplated the birth of my first son, I wasn’t particularly worried about logistics. I lived in New York City, and had no other children. I’d left my job a few weeks before my due date, and was spending beautiful autumnal days alone (though a pregnant woman is never really alone), strolling around Manhattan under gorgeous fall leaves, licking ice cream cones and knowing that when push came to shove, I could jump in a cab and get to my hospital across town.
The birth of my second son, however, was scarier to imagine. Things were different at that point: I lived in the suburbs, and was the work-from-home parent of an 18-month-old toddler who clung to me like a barnacle on the Jolly Roger. As I pushed my cart through the aisles of the local mega-Shop Rite, looking into my kid’s cherubic face, I wondered, not-so-idly: if my water breaks here, what the hell happens? Do I plunk the kid down by his favorite cheeses (the Laughing Cow ones that he likes so much he actually ate through the netting of the bag, the foil and the rind to get to them once) and tell him, “Wait here till someone you recognize shows up”? At least in the supermarket, there would be adults around, so things would somehow work out.
My biggest delivery fear was that I would deliver at home. (Cue Jaws music.)
Yes, I know home deliveries are usually attended by knowledgeable professionals in most cases. But what can I say: basically, when you get down to it, I’m a wuss. At my Lamaze class, when we went around the room and were asked how we pictured the birth of our children, everyone else waxed rhapsodic about iPod mixes, being surrounded by loved ones, and the scent of eucalyptus. Me? I said, “If they can give me horse tranquilizers, that would be ideal.” If there had been an epidural sign-up sheet in advance, I’d have written my name in huge golden letters across the whole page. So home delivery? Oh, no, no, no. The only things I want delivered at home are well-chosen items contained in FedEx, UPS, Amazon, or pizza boxes. Okay, maybe Chinese or Thai as well. You get the picture.
Did you know that a THIRD of all mothers in the Netherlands give birth at home–intentionally? But in most countries, health insurance won’t pay for home births, or so says this article in The Economist. Yet the trend continues.
What’s the appeal of a home birth? After all, The Economist notes that giving birth at home “may be safe most of the time, but when things do go wrong, they are more serious. In hospital, more things go wrong because intervention is more common, but the complications are less likely to be lethal or to cause permanent damage.”
People who give birth at home, it turns out, simply want a more natural, less-emergency-like environment. “They want to have a birth which is intimate, personal, empowering and unmedicated,” one website I researched stated. “They want the birth to be a joyful family event.”
I too want the birth to be a joyful family event–but I think I’d be much more joyful in this particular situation if I had access to an epidural. I am also extremely wary of all that can possibly go wrong in a childbirth situation, and prefer to be surrounded by trained medical professionals, amply equipped facilities, and painkillers. Oh, I already said painkillers. But the point being that access to all that, in turn, will make me significantly less stressed out.
How about you? Are you a “stay at home” mom in the delivery scenario? Would love to hear your stories.