pretty cute. Loving them is pretty easy. Smiling babies should actually be categorized by the pharmaceutical industry as a powerful antidepressant. Being happy is really the definition of success, isn’t it?
Jeannie has had all our babies at home in our apartment. Hey, we’ve got the room, right? If you are unfamiliar with home birth, like I was, you probably think of it as taking a hundred years of advancement in the field of obstetrics and just throwing that away. You just wing it. Well, that’s what I thought, too. During the birth of our first child, I remember thinking, “Hey, I can’t program a DVR, but I’m here to help. Now where would you like me to stand terrified? That will be my contribution.”
At times, it seems we elected to have our babies at home mostly to make other people feel uncomfortable. I quickly learned that people don’t want to hear about home births. Their first reaction always seems to be, “Oh, you had your baby at home. Yeah, we were going to do that, too, but we wanted our baby to live.” There’s usually an assumption of irresponsibility or laziness: “You didn’t want to go to the hospital?” Isometimes explain that the hospital was, like, twenty blocks away and that I didn’t feel like putting on pants. “Weren’t you worried that something would go wrong?” Don’t most people worry at the hospital? Hospitals should just be renamed “houses of worry.” Actually, we had our babies at home, not in a Waffle House. “At home? Isn’t that a little too comfortable? Why didn’t you have the baby in that germ-infested building where sick people congregate? Didn’t your wife want to give birth in a gown someone died in yesterday?”
Believe me, I get the concern. Home birth sounds crazy. It is a wild experience. I remember at our last home birth, there was so much screaming at one point, I actually woke up. I thought someone had scored a touchdown or something. When I saw my wife was just having another baby, I asked her to keep it down and went back to sleep.
It may come as no surprise that home birth was Jeannie’s idea. I’m not really even a fan of cooking at home. At all of our home births, I was Jeannie’s birth coach, which is a generous title for “that guy in the way.” In reality, I would assist by performing counterpressure and get yelled at for doing it wrong. Don’t worry, it wasn’t just Jeannie and me; there was a midwife there, which means we believe in witchcraft. Actually, a midwife is a certified medical practitioner. She is
your “extra wife” and will not make you breakfast. I learned this the hard way. Most midwives are actually former labor and delivery nurses, which means that they have more experience with the whole labor from beginning to end than some doctors do. With healthy labors, doctors come in the bottom of the ninth and catch the ball for the winning last out, whereas midwives have been in for the whole game.
Jeannie’s first home birth was not even originally planned to be a home birth. The birth was supposed to be “natural,” without drugs in a birthing center at the hospital. It was to be at Bellevue Hospital, which I’ve always thought of as a mental hospital. Given how crazy Jeannie and I are, I thought it was only appropriate that she give birth in a hospital that was famous for its mental ward.
During the first and second trimester of her pregnancy, I remember nodding along to Jeannie’s excited tutorial as she explained all she had learned about natural childbirth versus C-section, the Bradley Method, and home birth. Like most of you reading this, I would end every discussion with “Well, obviously we’re not having the baby in our apartment, right?” Jeannie would assure me “No,” and then I would go back to whatever I was eating. Our “birth plan” was to wait until Jeannie was far enough into labor that she could have the baby naturally at the hospital in a birthing center without medical