[This is the fourth in the series Homebirth Dads: 10 Questions. If you would like to participate, contact me at derek at naturalpapa.com]
Homebirth Dads: 10 Questions with Steve C.
Steve C. is a freelance writer, father of 3, and befuddled birth assistant to two VBAC’s (vaginal birth after caesarean).
1. Why did you choose homebirth?
I didn’t really choose it. I respected my wife’s opinion on it and supported her 100%.
2. Whose idea was it, yours or hers? If hers, what convinced you to agree? If yours, what gave you the idea?
It was my wife’s idea. After her unnecessary c-section I was extremely upset. I felt I had let her down in some way. I believe it’s the woman’s right to birth how she wants. If my wife had wanted to give birth in a field full of goats, I’d have supported her. I did not want to see her suffer again, and her OB had told her she would never have given birth without a c-section. The usual CPD nonsense. I trust her instincts, and in my opinion it is the woman who does all the work, and it should be her that decides how to birth. Nothing makes me angrier then when I hear of women who want to homebirth and their husbands won’t “let” them. There is no “let” involved, and I think it is extremely disrespectful. If you love the woman you are having a baby with, you should support her birthing decisions.
3. What homebirth books or resources did you find to be the most helpful?
To be quite honest, my best homebirth resource was my wife. I never really read anything. My wife would read me stuff, but I had absolute faith in her ability to birth safely at home. She got an emergency childbirth manual meant for EMT’s etc… I didn’t read a word of it until she was in labor, by which point I was too tired to take any of it in.
4. Before the birth, what fears or issues did you have surrounding homebirth (or birth in general)? How did those change for you after experiencing the birth?
My biggest fear was if responsibility fell to me. If there was a possible problem and the decision fell to me about whether we went to the hospital. That scared me and kept me up at night. During the first homebirth I was confident. My wife was begging to go to the hospital. It was learning to discern “I’m in transition, this hurts” from “I am in trouble and need professional help”. It came quite naturally. The baby seemed to not be coming at all and I wound up having to give my wife an internal exam through which I was able to discern why the baby wasn’t coming. He was stuck. To this day my wife is amazed I was able to know this, but it just came naturally. When I told her how he was stuck she repositioned and things moved ahead. The only scary moment was when I saw blood. I called a friend of my wife’s who is a doula and she assured me this was normal. After the birth I was quite proud of myself for being supportive and being able to know that my wife didn’t really need the hospital and that it was just transition. It made me much more confident. For the third birth I was concerned again about the decision falling to me, but I was much more confident in my knowledge this time as it was no longer an unknown.
5. What do you wish someone had told you before your first homebirth? What advice would you give to a first time homebirth dad?
I don’t really have anything I wish I was told. My wife did her best to reassure me, but it was fear of the unknown more than anything, and you can’t do anything about that until you’ve experienced it. As for what advice would I give to a first time homebirth Dad, it’s very simple. Trust your wife’s instincts. Don’t let your fears get the better of you. I know of several women who wound up not homebirthing, despite wanting too, simply because their husbands were scared. Don’t be scared. Women have been doing this for thousands of years just fine before the medical profession stuck their quite frankly unnecessary noses into it all. Yes, bad stuff can happen. But you know what? 99% of the time, it won’t. My wife was told she’d never give birth vaginally, she’d always have to have a c-section, her pelvis was too small etc… In short, trust your wife, and remember, OB’s will LIE through their teeth.
6. Which part of the birth did you find to be the most difficult or challenging for you?
Without a doubt, transition. You would have to be made of stone to not find that difficult and extremely distressing. To hear the woman you love screaming her lungs out, begging for painkillers in so much obvious pain is just heartbreaking and it’s very tempting to throw in the towel and take her to the hospital she will quite often beg for. It’s also the time you need to be the most supportive and strong for her.
7. Did you have support during the birth from your guy friends? If so, what was the most supportive? If not, what would have helped you the most?
None at all. Only two friends actually had any kids, and all were hospital delivered. And they live in a different country.
8. How was your interaction with the midwife during the birth? What could have made that better?
There was no midwife. It was just me and my wife.
9. How has the relationship with your partner changed after having a homebirth together?
I don’t think it has, to be honest.
10. Would you have another homebirth? Why or why not?
Yes, and we did. Earlier this year my wife homebirthed our third child, getting the water birth she’d always wanted. Whereas we had issues with our second getting stuck and labor lasting for a very long time, our third was swift. My wife was screaming in pain and was expecting a good few hours of transition pain again like she had with our first homebirth. It was with some surprise that the baby was born 20 minutes later:)
Bonus: Will you describe the emotional/spiritual side of your birth experience from a man’s viewpoint?
I always wanted a girl. When I found out our second was a boy, I was immensely disappointed. This all went away when I caught him. Easily one of the most incredible experiences of my life. While my wife recovered and held him I went and sat in the living room to email my Dad and I was shaking. Just absolutely exhilarating and amazing. The third wasn’t quite so emotional as I’d done it before. I was also ill for the birth sadly. But again, right after the birth I went off and had a quiet moment to myself to absorb what had happened.
[Thank you, Steve. Wow, more unassisted homebirths in the Homebirth Dads series! And two VBACs, no less. Be sure to catch the first second and third interviews, here: Homebirth Dads: 10 Questions with Damon Young, Homebirth Dads: 10 Questions with Sean Daily, Homebirth Dads: 10 Questions with Nick Chambers.]
Image: apdk at Flickr