The first midwife that we met with was a young, bubbly woman, friendly in the way that you expect people who work in American customer service to be. We chatted with her about her experience and ours, but it was clear within a couple of minutes that she wasn’t the midwife for me: she didn’t do home births or offer Beleghebamme services (that means “a midwife who you pay a little extra to accompany you to the hospital for your birth). Ah well, she told us, I’ll send you a few contacts to try calling, call me if you can’t find someone who does do home births, and good luck!
Home birthing in Germany is legal, but rare. (Apparently Holland is the country of home births. Anyone with experience there??) In order to be allowed to practice in Germany, midwives who perform home births are required to buy such expensive insurance that, for most of them, it simply doesn’t pay off because demand isn’t high. The majority of folks want the securtiy of a hospital when they’re laboring, and considering all the fear-mongering that is done about giving birth, I don’t blame them for wanting to err on the side of caution.
But me, I despise hospitals. When I think of giving birth, the last place I can imagine wanting to be is in a hospital. I know, I know, some of them have comfortable, less-sterile-looking rooms for birthing and great staff and etc, but even so they are not places where I feel comfortable or relaxed, which in turn means they are not places where I particularly want to be when I’m in pain—or having one of the most intense, beautiful, life-changing, intimate, and skull-crackingly painful experiences of my life.
When I’m in pain I want to be in the most comfortable place there is: my own home. There is so much comfort in familiarity, in the way things smell, in the heaps of blankets and pillows on my bed, in not needing to figure out new things like where the bathroom or the light switch are, in not having to deal with any strangers. Knowing that being able to relax can help a birth go far more smoothly makes home birth a great fit for me. I love the idea of not having to drive anywhere once the contractions start and of not having to get home again once some other strangers have deemed Peanut and I fit for release. And I can’t think of anything more beautiful than giving birth in a place so important to me, in bringing Peanut into the world in the place that will remain our heart’s shell for many years to come.
And of course there is also the fact that hospital births tend to be overmanaged births. Many doctors have been trained to deal with birth through a slew of medical interventions, and so, logically, that is how they approach each birth that comes their way. I don’t want to have to fight someone every step of the way (not that I’ll be fit to do so at the time, so I suppose I should say that I don’t want to have to listen to the Beard fighting them) in order to have the birth experience I want. I’m not against medical intervention in general—it is certainly a relief to be living in a time when even extreme medical complications during birth generally end with a live child and mother—and when it comes down to a question of survival, I’d consent to be stuck with needles or cut open or sent to the moon. I’d just prefer not to be.
Birth doesn’t scare me. Hopsitals occasionally do. Birth will be intense, but the way I see it, my body was built to do it, and, more likely than not, will be able to do so without a lot of poking and prodding. With a midwife to guide and help me, I see home birthing as an exciting oppurtunity, and I feel for all the ladies interested in home birthing who live in states in America where it is illegal (or nearly so).
Of course, with child birth you never do know what is going to happen and because I don’t deal well with disappointment I tend to prepare for the worst. So while I am visualizing how fantastic it would be to give birth at home in the red trailer, I’m also preparing myself to be confronted with every situation that I dread. As Nina Planck says in Real Food for Mother and Baby: “The best preparation for pregnancy, birth, and mothering—even better than eating real food—is an open mind. Perhaps your life and work are well planned, orderly. Perhaps you find that satisfying. (I did.) Let go. Having a baby is stupendously wonderful, but things may not go as planned. If you have no fixed expectations, nothing can surprise or disappoint you. The ideal stance is a kind of gentle wonder, now and again brimming over into radical amazement, as your story unfolds.”