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.

 <<To read more from RevCoachAtkinson, click here>>

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

<<To continue reading this article and more by Ron Stauffer, click here>>

Ana’s Birth Story – Daddy’s Perspective

Alex, husband of Ana

Here’s the husband’s version of what happened at the birth of our first son. 🙂

The first birth for a couple is very significant for many reasons. It was the same for me and my wife. Frankly, I don’t remember very many details for births 2-5. (lol, sorry wifey!) By that time, just birth seemed so normal. That is what I’d like to see culturally, is the NORMALITY of birth. But it’s hard to view it that way for the first child since right now our culture at large most definately does not see it as a normal event.

So for our first, we did plan a home birth, but with the assistance of a well known midwife Rosy who attended our small church. She was great. She brought an assistant to some of the prenatals named Christy. Christy was a very nice, attractive, 30 something young woman with straight blond hair.

At the time, we were renovating a very run down house in Milwaukee in a rough neighborhood (also known as the GHETTO). My wife was not comfortable there, so when she went into labor, she requested to give birth at a Filipina friend’s apartment. I asked her husband Mike if that was OKAY, and he said, “Sure!” LOL (THANKS MIKE!!!)

My wife labored for a long time, and I was awake all night with her trying different things. We did have a birth tub, but whenever she got in, she would just fall asleep, and the labor wouldn’t really ‘progress’. There were lots of people there – my sister Kathleen (a doula), Rosy, Christy, Mike, his son (age 2), Ana’s Friend, and me. It was a small 2 bedroom apartment. I remember trying SO HARD to stay awake in between (and even during) contractions. I must have woken up suddenly about 50 times without having tried to fall asleep. I was slapping my face, eating, drinking, you name it. It was very draining for me. 😛 I can only imagine what my wife must have felt!

Most of the time she was in a semi-reclined position (not a TERRIBLE position to birth in, but also not good either), but she was so tired to get up and walk around, squat, etc. The midwife and her assistant tried many different things. Ana eventually began begging for a c-section. After about an hour of her failing to progress and begging to go to the hospital, Rosy and Christy said they’d have to transfer eventually because she wasn’t progressing. So everyone left the apartment bedroom to go pack their stuff and get ready. I had never planned mentally for that potentiality. Even though it was right there, staring me in the face, my mind could not see me leaving the apartment, getting into the car, going to the hospital, none of it. I just didn’t see it happening. We had planned to do a hospital tour (as a back up, just in case), but push it back too late and now she was in labor. After everyone was gone, Ana began apologizing. I told her it was fine, but I do remember saying that I don’t think I can go with her. I felt like I was going a little crazy (as in, semi bi-polar – it runs in our family) so I yelled for Kathleen to bring me some EMPower (a natural brain supplament). She had battled full on bi-polar symptoms in the past, so she had some EMPower with her.

I think this is what scared Ana even more than the though of giving birth – giving birth without me. So when she saw that I was going insane AND that EVERYONE ELSE was OUT OF THE ROOM (a very important detail), she asked for some Emergen-C (a vitamin C drink) for energy, then got very serious about pushing. She went through a few contractions in different squatting positions, and she seemed very close to giving birth. I asked her explicitly and directly if I could bring anyone back into the room and she said NO! But I persisted, and she sayd “JUST ROSY.” So I went back out to the living room, and said, “ONLY Rosy come in.” She was pushing and began to crown. Rosy asked ME if Christy could come into the room. I asked Ana (probably in the middle of a contraction) if Christy could come in. I got no answer, so I asked again, louder. Her response was simply, “NO!” So then Rosy said she at least needed her birth bag/kit. I went out and got the kit and brought it back. Moments later, the baby’s head came out, and Rosy had to remind me put my hands in there to catch the baby (big thank you to Rosy for getting me in there!). I remember, I was by Ana’s side, so I put one hand in front of her, and one hand behind her, so I could make sure I got a good hold, and I didn’t drop the baby. Makes sense to me, but then you have a big problem after you are holding the baby – your wife’s legs are no preventing you from moving the baby in any direction! LOL So Rosy helped get the baby up to Momma’s boob.

That was it. It was over. She was bleeding more than the Rosy liked (they did provide some ‘traction’ on the cord to pull the placenta out) so they gave her a shot of pitocin in the leg after the birth. We regret it big time, but hey: Close enough to natural for our first time. 😛

There is really no way around it, the first birth is usually going to be an emotional roller coster. It’s SUPPOSED to be that way I think. But that’s just another kind of normal. 🙂 The labor (not just physical, but also mental, emotion, etc) is preparation for bonding. The whole entire family gets to glue themselves together with the trial. It’s just so awesome. Really, it’s a spiritual journey.

So my emotional mental state after the birth was an overwhelming sense of supernatural RELIEF. No hospital. No insanity. PRAISE GOD!

I really do belive that if we had done as we were supposed to, and taken a hospital tour, that we would have had a C-section and our lives would be forever altered.

The one solid peice of advice I can pass on to expectant fathers in a home birth is this – don’t catch the baby from the side. Hahaha! Seriously though, be in the front (or behind, if she’s on hands and knees). It’s is absolutely, 100% OKAY if you drop the baby. In a natural childbirth, the vaginal outlet is only 6″ – 12″ from the ground. Some cultures have the women give birth with NO ONE catching the baby. It just drops on the ground with no negative side effects. Newborns aren’t made of glass. They’re more than capable of being set on the ground for a second. But you know, if someone would have told me that before the birth, it wouldn’t really matter. You’re to excited at that moment, and you’ll probably “screw up” anyway like I did. That’s OKAY too. 🙂

But the story doesn’t quite end there. A few months later, my wife and I were talking about the birth, and she finally opened up to me about Christy, the midwife’s assistant. Ana was terrified of Christy, because she reminded her of a character from a horror movie she saw as a child. She thought that Christy wanted to “eat her baby” which is why Ana absolutely would not ever give birth around Christy. Keep in mind, this TINY LITTLE DETAIL did NOT come out during the prenatal visits, or during the labor. I found out MONTHS AFTER THE BIRTH. … Yeah. LOL!!!

No fault at all to Christy or Rosy. They were great.

<<To see MAMA’S PERSPECTIVE, click here>>

“My Perspective on Birth So Far”

Alex, husband of Ana

So here’s my perspective on birth so far (five home births, first with a midwife, then four unassisted).

There are many who like to include the father in the birth process, or train him to be a birth coach, or take a more active role, etc. Certainly, if he hasn’t done so, these things would be great steps in the right direction. However, ideally I think a more accurate statement of the reality of the situation is that the woman should be doing her best to help the father with his responsibility of seeing his children born into this world. That is to say, ultimately, the outcome of the birth event (and all things leading up to, and following this happy moment) rests squarely on the shoulders of the man (and secondarily upon the woman as his helper). No matter how interested or involved the woman may become in the birth or care for her children (born or pre-born), I humbly submit the man must be even more knowledgable and well-prepaired. Now obviously, he is unable to directly affect the birth outcome because the baby doesn’t grown within his flesh. He must exert his control indirectly, and I’ve found that it can only be done through careful, sustained, deliberate, selfless, true love demonstrated towards his wife. No ACOG/AMA approved mechanical apparatus or invention or intervention will do what genuine Biblical charity and sensuality can. This disposition towards his wife is what created the child in the first place, and it is what will carry her through the delivery, it is what will sustain the life growing within her, it is what will make that child’s heart sing day to day throughout his life. The father’s love for his wife. (Not coincidentally, this relationship is the one upon which all of human existence depends, it is the only Truly Foundational Instituion and Lifestyle Originally Created.) There is no limit to the number of phyisical manifestations this love could have. We may study the release of certain hormones or other physical elements present when a man loves his wife – but it is erroneous to believe those elements can then be extracted from the originating act of love, and applied in love’s absence to obtain the same effects.

So, knowing then that God has anticipated the birth event, and has prepared men well by commanding them to love their wives, what more can men do? They must first and foremost make their hearts right with God – not according to the standards of some regional 501(c)(3) religious services organization – but according to His Law, in Spirit and in Truth as recorded in His Word. Inevitably this means acquiring a perpetual portion of humility to change what must change quickly. Man’s walk with the Lord is highly relevant to the birth process for it sutbly but powerfully affects the way he treats his wife.

Having a fundamental understanding of the God of Birth, we can look to what He meant for the first men to do, and how He intended them to live. How did God create the world? What did He intend us to eat? How did He intend us to pass that which was eaten? Many other questions and their answers flow from these contemplations, and I hope to discuss them at length here.

I apologize if nothing explicitly birth specific was mentioned here, but I had to start somewhere! Might as well start with the basics! lol We’ll get to the nitty gritty I’m sure. 😉

So yeah. God is Love. Everthing flows from Him. So let us live in accordance with this reality, and love our wives until death as we have vowed. 🙂

Unassisted Homebirth: A Father’s Story

“Then we got close to delivery (still talking about the other four hospital deliveries) and that’s when I really became superfluous. In all four of our hospital births there would come a time during labor when Lynn would not want to hear from me or touch me. One time she actually told a nurse she wanted to hear her, not me, and wouldn’t let me touch her.

At the time I didn’t think it bothered me because I’d heard all the jokes about the wife in labor who blames her husband for doing that to her and all that. I think we tell those jokes just so we won’t have to seriously think about what’s going on around us in that delivery room, because if you stop and think about it, which I’ve done now thanks to Lynn, you’ll realize that in most cases the hospital delivery room is the last place you want to be to have a baby with your wife. Men, you would never let another man between your wife’s legs while she’s lying in bed half naked in your bedroom, right? Yet you give up that position when she’s in the hospital to have a baby and you don’t think twice. I think there is something wrong with that.”

<<To read the rest of this article, click here>>

Prepping and Unassisted Childbirth, by an American Dad:

I never intended to be a homebirthing dad.  Our first child was born in the “normal” American way – in a hospital.  Physically, mom and baby came out fine.  But the scars from that experience still throb in our hearts many years later.

The impersonal way hospital staff treated us; the overactive use of clinical equipment, terms, and technology; the fact that I had to keep briefing incoming personnel on our birth plan (since apparently they didn’t take the time to actually talk to read the copies I had provided, or talk to one another); the fact that they ordered my wife to lay on her back, which made the process excruciatingly slow and painful; the fact that the first thing my baby saw was a doctor dressed in a haz-mat suit; the way they whisked the baby away from mom as if the child were public property; the way they treated me like a useless observer and not the head, protector, and provider of my family; the forced hospital stay in a shared room, an uncomfortable bed, and with nothing to eat but sub-par food…the whole experience definitely convinced us that there had to be a better way to do this.

Unfortunately, our second birth did not allow for that.  Due to medical complications in the pregnancy, my wife had to get a non-emergency C-section.  It wasn’t that bad.  Our second hospital experience was better than the first — but only by degrees.  Still present were the lack of communication by hospital staff, the impersonal way my wife, our baby, and I were treated by that staff, the way I was shoved aside, the way my wife was given orders, and so on.  Not to mention the price tag.  If it hadn’t been for our excellent health coverage at the time I’d still be paying for that birth years later.  Also notable was how after each hospital birth some designated staff member would come talk to us about how to use contraception to prevent another pregnancy — as if pregnancy were an undesirable medical condition.  The hospitals sure make a lot of money off of parents’ love for their babies, but they do treat all of the parties as ignorant, blundering, or unwelcome troublemakers.

When we found out the happy news that we were expecting our third, we once again wanted to do things differently.  We really didn’t want to go the hospital route because every time we dealt with an OB/GYN she treated my wife like a semi-idiot and treated me worse — or simply ignored me.  We hoped that this time we wouldn’t be shoved around and have to make more unpleasant memories.

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