Deciding on a Home Birth
I was on a second honeymoon trip with my husband, Jack, in Mexico and I didn't want him to touch me. I wept at the thought of setting foot in a boat. If our hotel had offered room service I would never have left our bed, even though the smell of the pillowcases nauseated me.
"You're acting pregnant," he observed.
"Waaaah!" I cried.
He was right. And a test confirmed it.
A Rejected Birth Plan
When we got home I let my HMO assign me a harried OB/GYN with spiky hair and impressive calf muscles. After some quick how-do-you-dos and a pelvic exam, I told her that I'd done a lot of reading and wanted to do what I could to avoid an episiotomy. Since I was over 35 and this was my first pregnancy, (an "elderly primigravida" in doctor-speak), she told me that I was automatically a high-risk patient, and therefore it was more important to have a healthy baby than to start dreaming up a feel-good birth plan.
To cap it all off, she started squirting lube onto a metal wand while distracting me with chit-chat about her triathlon training. She started to insert the wand inside my vagina and I said, "Hold it, are you doing a sonogram?"
"Yes," she admitted sheepishly. "Is this how it's going to be?" I thought. My fears are going to be dismissed while she tries to sneak through procedures I may or may not want without my knowledge or permission?
Not with my body, you don't.
Searching for a Solution
But in my town there weren't a lot of alternatives to HMO treatment. My choices were to either start grinding through a list of doctors with no guarantee I'd find one whose philosophy matched mine, start trekking to the closest free-standing birthing center (40 miles away), or do what I never in a million years thought I would do: have a midwife-assisted home birth.
Both sides of my family were aghast. "Your house isn't sterile!" said my flabbergasted father. I assured him that the baby already had antibodies to everything in the apartment. My husband, Jack, thought I was insane, until he had a meeting with Anna, part of a team of three experienced certified nurse-midwives who had been delivering babies for 20 years. In the last eight years, said Anna, they'd only had two end up in the hospital (one because the baby had meconium in his lungs, and the other because the woman's placenta wasn't delivering). I liked those odds. My insurance didn't cover the midwife services, though, so we set up a payment plan to somehow, some way, give them $300 a month for 10 months of thorough checkups, tests, shoulders to cry on, birth education, and poised supervision when the big day arrived.