So you’ve probably read my wife Janessa’s post about giving birth to our newest little one, Zellene, at home. This is our third time giving birth at home, and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it as well. I’m not as eloquent with words as Janessa is, so forgive me if some of it comes across as crass or crude, but I wanted to present my inner-most thoughts on the subject and how they’ve evolved over time.
The decision to have children was a huge step for us. It wasn’t the “having children” part that was the huge step. We always said we wanted kids. It was the timing, really. I won’t get into the details of it right now, but we were basically standing on a ledge and decided to jump. It was sudden, but we knew it was the right thing.
Fast-forward to when Janessa is pregnant and the topic of home birth was brought up. I was not on board with the idea… at all. To be honest, I knew nothing about home birth, but I had my preconceived (and rather ignorant) notions on the subject. Reluctantly, I agreed to attend some local Bradley classes with Janessa. It took some time, and some conversations with the other fathers in the class who helped me rationalize my fears, for me to come around to the idea. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea, mind you. I just came around enough to go along with it because that was what Janessa wanted. I wanted to support my wife.
They covered a wide range of topics in the class, including the idea of husbands being a birth coach to their wives. To quote Jim Gaffigan; “being your wife’s birth coach is just a generous way of saying ‘standing there terrified'”. Yep. That pretty much summarizes how I felt with that kind of a “responsibility”! When the time came, I knew I would freeze up in terror and become completely useless (perhaps even detrimental) to the birth process. “My wife and child are going to die. I’m going to be a widower at 23 and it’ll be all my fault”, I thought. (I told you I was irrational.)
Fast-forward again. Janessa and I are walking around the mall. Maggie (our first child) is 10 days past due at this point. “If Maggie were a Blockbuster rental, we would have owed a ton in late fees”, I thought. Boom! Janessa’s water breaks all over the floor. She wraps her jacket around herself while I go and get the car. I meet her at the entrance and (in our excitement and hurry to get home) we leave without telling anyone about the liquid bio-hazard we left in front of the Radio Shack. “That poor janitor. He has no idea what he’s cleaning up”, I thought. “Who the heck could pee this much?!”, thought the janitor.
We get home and get the birth pool set up and the bed ready. “I’m going to have to buy a new mattress after this. It’s going to look like a murder scene”, I thought.
The contractions get closer and closer together. We call Janessa’s midwives, Zellene and Liz, who arrive a few minutes later. They busy themselves with the matters at hand. Before I know it, Janessa is in the full throws of labor and I suddenly realize that I haven’t panicked. Somewhere between the calm professionalism of the midwives, the adrenaline, and trying to avoid having my fingers squeezed off by Janessa during her contractions, I forgot to panic. The next thing I know, I am holding our beautiful baby girl, Maggie. Zellene and Liz ordered Janessa and I to lie next to each other and enjoy being with our new baby. They would take care of the rest. It felt fantastic to not have to worry about the logistics of everything after the birth. We just got to sit and bond with our first child. I couldn’t believe how amazing the experience was! Home birth was the coolest thing I’d ever been a part of and our midwives were the most relaxed and peaceful professionals I’d ever been around. I was sold on home birth.
About 2 years later, we repeated the process with our second child, Jacob. Jacob proved to be a slightly more difficult birth than Maggie, even becoming stuck at the shoulders at one point. Janessa’s midwife, Zellene, and her apprentice at that time, Shawna, were so composed, calm, and professional that we had no idea there was even a slight issue. They swiftly corrected the situation and the next thing we knew, we were holding our son. I was floored at how they instantly recognized the complication and corrected it in a matter of seconds. These ladies really knew what they were doing! By this point I had no idea what I was so afraid of with home birth. Birth is completely natural after all, and women have been doing it for thousands upon thousands of years. About an hour after Jacob arrived, we were all enjoying a stuffed-crust pizza from Pizza Hut together. Seriously! See if you get that kind of experience at a hospital! This scene is one that effected me deeply. Janessa, Zellene, Shawna, me and little Jacob all sitting together enjoying a hot pizza an hour after Janessa gave birth to a new human being. The vibes of “Yep. We all just delivered a baby, but it’s no big deal or anything” that these 3 amazing women were exuding was an awesome thing to behold. I’ll never forget that moment and the epiphany that accompanied it for as long as I live.
So, here we are, a few weeks after the birth of our third child, Zellene, who Janessa’s midwife was kind enough to lend her name to. This third birth was absolutely amazing. Janessa and I feel like pros now (not that we actually are!). The confidence of our midwives from the newly formed Birthroot Midwifery, Zellene and Shanna, is just contagious and it infected us! Our baby Zellene was a text book example of birth. I am hesitant to use the word perfect, but I can’t think of a better one.
The feelings and emotions I experience don’t change or become less powerful with each birth like one might imagine, even with my new found confidence in home birth. Each birth is just as amazing as the last! The awe you feel when you witness the birth of a new person is unique and cannot be matched by anything else in this life.
Janessa, Maggie, Jacob and baby Zellene are my world, my life, my everything. They are the reason I live. I cannot thank Janessa’s midwives, past and present, enough for the supreme level of care and attention they give to her and our amazing children. I owe them a debt that cannot be repaid.
I am excited for what the future holds for us. The prospect of birth no longer frightens me like it once did. It is an experience that I now look forward to sharing with my beautiful, amazing wife.
As a father and a husband, there is nothing more powerful than holding new life in your arms. The kind of home birth experience made possible by Janessa and the midwives of Birthroot Midwifery is something that cannot be topped.
I love being a small part of home birth.