A Father’s Perspective – The Journey from Hospital to Home

by BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR

Many women have questions about how to approach their partner about natural birth, and especially out-of-hospital/home birth. I don’t ever remember being worried about convincing my husband – but then again, my feisty side comes out pretty often (and I don’t let go of an idea once it is in my head). It was a process however, moving my husband’s mind from hospital birth to home. I even had to convince him of the safety of natural birth! I know my view of the process, but I was curious as to how my husband viewed his journey. So we did an interview – and here is what he had to say:

1) How do you remember me approaching you about the subject of out-of-hospital birth? We were at a friend’s house, and we got on the topic of babies. You looked at me and said “I hope you know we will be using a midwife and having an out-of-hospital birth.” I was dumbfounded, and said “No we’re not – we are going to use a hospital like normal people”. You said “We will finish this conversation at home”. Over the next two years, we talked about it – it was an ongoing conversation. Honestly, we talked about it from the time we got married until you actually got pregnant (two years later).

2) Why were you against home birth and natural birth in general? As a guy, I thought it wasn’t normal. I just knew about TV and movies – rushing to the hospital, yelling and doctors, and then you have a baby. And at that point in our lives, none of our friends were even close to having kids, so I had no one to talk to about it. I was brought up not knowing any better. I read about midwives in school in history books, I had no idea that they were still a viable option. Natural birth scared me since I thought you *had* to have the medicines to have a safe birth. I thought that without the epidural and drugs, you would harm the baby.

3) When was the “turning point” for you? After you were pregnant, I realized this was very important to you. I felt that I needed to respect that and at least go to a meeting with a midwife. I was half hoping that you would give up on the idea and that this would appease you. That first appointment was all it took – I knew this was the way to go. I apologized to you for not trusting you in the first place.

4) We had appointments with both an OB and our midwife, what was your take on the care/respect of both settings? The OB was exciting, since it was our first appointment to confirm pregnancy. We were not sure if our insurance covered the midwife yet. I remember the OB came in, and we both had questions, but I didn’t feel like we could ask them. It felt structured and rushed, we didn’t get to really talk. No one asked how we felt, and I left confused. I didn’t feel included – in fact I didn’t even feel like *you* were included. Several people were rude or at the very least, very rushed. When you said you wanted a natural birth, and she*laughed* at you – that got me angry, but also ashamed. I thought that at the time (that you shouldn’t do it), but when someone else said it to you, I realized how wrong it was to ever tell a woman that. No one should tell you can’t give birth naturally.

When we met the midwife, I was nervous. I was expecting hippies and long skirts. But it was different. It was comfortable and set up like a home, I didn’t feel like I was in an office. I felt more comfortable. Everyone (the clients that were waiting) was talking and having snacks. I felt like a guest in a home. I remember watching everyone and thinking, “Who is the midwife? Do they have a stamp on their head or something? I don’t see anyone in scrubs.”

When we sat down with the midwife (who was not wearing a long skirt or smelling of incense), she talked to us for over an hour. Asking questions about our life, our relationship, our plans, what names we were thinking of. We talked about the ideal birth that you saw in your mind. It felt so nice – and it felt exciting. I felt informed and encouraged to find out even more. We were encouraged to call the midwife anytime to ask questions – I felt like we had 24/7 care from day one. I saw the confidence you had walking out of that room after the appointment. That was my major turning point – I was on board 100%. I also realized that you were right all along! Yes – I said it!

5) How did you feel the prenatal care went? Did you feel included by the midwife? I felt very included. I felt like that was the core of midwifery, that the whole family is part of the process. I didn’t feel like a spectator as much. Obviously, I can’t grow a baby, so I will always be outside the experience in many ways. But the midwife made me feel included as much as possible. I was given the responsibility to be ready for you and I felt empowered to be strong for you. I felt validated in my wish to be a part of my child’s birth.

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Catching Susanna

So many things, like time, like rest, like fear,
Like apprehension and anxiety, feelings of inadequacy,
They all just seem to disappear
In the perfect moments, those ones
Where God removes the escape hatches,
And doesn’t let us press that eject button,
But stands there with us in the embrace
Of all encompassing presence, face to face.

She let me know it was time, the clock was ticking,
And though there seemed a lifetime between each pulse,
Action was needed now. We had to move quickly,
So we did. We had to be ready,
So we were, and I’ll never know the pain,
Only she could feel that, but I could see it,
And I could hear it, and I just wanted it to end
Though I knew what its end meant.

It meant I would be the first to touch, to greet,
To make contact and welcome what would in a minute be her,
And it meant when she came to us, it would just be us three,
In our room, in our bed, in our home, the same room,
Just mere feet away from exactly where we met her sister.
Please God, let it not be like that was. I’m not equipped. She saved
Her life, but she’s not here. It’s just me and an amazing mother
Doing her part. No, It’ll be fine. There is no choice, no other.

As fast as it was, it crept, compared to the moment she came,
A head, for just an instant, then like the release of a kinked hose,
She blasted into this world, into my hands. I felt her warm frame,
Slippery, slimy, but she coughed, she breathed, no cord, all clear,
I must have had her in my hands less than a second, but she’s alive.
I could feel her life, and I just knew, she breathed and I with her
Then I like a second basemen turning two, quickly passed her on,
I placed her in her mother’s hands, and just like that my job was done.

All three were different, and each had its own fear, its own fight,
And each left its mark on me. God knows I wasn’t ready to be a Dad,
A man of responsibility, with a sense that moments matter, so he gave
Me these, and I stand in thanksgiving to Him and to her, my wife,
For bringing me into the moment, to be a part, a real part, of something
I could have otherwise avoided, playing the spectator on the sidelines.
Instead I got to fight for one, to pray for another, and deliver the last today,
Though days of doubt will come again, I’ve thrice now known presence, grace.

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A Father’s Perspective on Homebirth

by Ron Stauffer; husband, father, believer, web guy, marketing guy, musician, and man of many secret talents. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and five children, and is frequently told he’s too young to have as many kids as he does.

“If you know me well, you probably know my family is a home birth family. Which means, of course, that we choose to give birth to our children at home with a midwife in attendance. If you didn’t know that about me, congrats! You will now learn all about a huge aspect of my life.

My wife and I have five children, ages seven and under, so for the past eight years we’ve been consumed with all things pregnancy, babies, labor, and birth. This year, we’re just now starting to take a breath from all the craziness for the first time ever. Sometimes I feel like we should take a vacation and do nothing but sleep for a month (my wife, especially)!

One thing I’ve found interesting since we’ve chosen to birth at home is that people are really surprised to meet a “Home Birth Dad.” Most women are impressed when they meet my wife, but they’re not sure what to do with me. Because I am a man. I really don’t understand why this is so strange, but I’ve gotten used to it by now. Actually, these days, I frequently find myself the only male in a room full of women talking about labor, birth, and child rearing, and I’m OK with that. As a matter of fact, I’ve even given pitches before for a business idea I’ve been stewing on for a few years: creating the first-ever holistic Birth Center in Colorado Springs. And this is entirely driven by me… a man.

My own birth story is quite interesting: I am the second oldest of nine children, and all nine of us were born via the “Caesarean section” (what we always called “C-Section”). My mother is a saint for putting up with all those surgeries to have us children, and I really mean that. When stitching her back up, her doctors used to tease her and say things like “Hey, as long as I’m in here, should I just put in a zipper to make it easier for your next birth?” I suppose she had to develop an incredible sense of humor, since most people can’t resist commenting on a family with nine kids—which is remarkable enough without even adding in the C-Sections. I’ve heard all kinds of crazy things people have said to my parents: funny comments, sexual comments, and downright nasty comments from rude people who can’t respect my parents’ decision to have as many children as they did, and all by C-section. I heard people talk about how “risky” it was and how my mom was “being dangerous” and how the risks became greater with each C-section she had. I couldn’t believe how judgmental people were about this, but I’d gotten used to it.

Since I grew up in a home where none of us were born vaginally (sometimes called “naturally,” though this term is inaccurate), I was bewildered by the idea of women being able to give birth without surgery. I heard rumors of women who walked into the hospital, gave birth, and walked out of the hospital a day or two later. How was this possible, I wondered? Until one of my aunts gave birth to my cousin, I didn’t even have a detailed conversation with a woman who’d given birth without a C-section. To me, birth to me was pretty scary: it was very expensive, very serious, it required a major abdominal surgery, LOTS of drugs were administered, and a long recovery process was needed. That was what birth was in our family.”

ron-stauffer-homebirth

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