BBH Dad

How Dads Can Walk the Line and Decide in Favor of Home Birth

9 Comments 10 June 2010

by Eric Walker

Your significant other has told you that she wants a home birth.

Oh man! Maybe you want to react and shout “No way, you’re crazy!”

Today’s post is for dads, so go grab your husband. Tell him to play this Johnny Cash song first. It goes like this…

I keep a close watch
on this heart of mine.
I keep my eyes wide open
all the time.
I keep the ends out
for the tie that binds,
Because you’re mine
I walk the line.

So what do you do, Dads?

Maybe you fake being supportive and wait for the perfect pillow talk moment to slyly shoot the idea down to test its depth.

Maybe you’re all for it, and you follow the instinctual lead of your partner with full confidence.

No matter what your feelings about home birth, you know the trouble and turbulence that awaits you if you don’t play the relationship game to win.

And really, that’s all we want isn’t it? It’s peace.

On one hand, we know for us Dads to have our peace, we have to help create a peaceful birth experience.

But home birth!?

WTF!

Who is having freaking home births these days besides crunchy hippies who go against the grain, and Hollywood going ex-tv talk show hosts who can afford to make documentaries about home birth.

I mean really!

Alright dude, here’s your wakeup call—

Home birth is real.

It’s a slow burning movement, and you might be pleasantly surprised like so many once-skeptical dads turned homebirth evangelists.

So please, heed the advice (free, and worth every penny) I’m about to provide here, and read this post with an open mind.

I’m going to tell you about how I walked the line and discovered that home birth was, indeed, the best decision for my family.

The “walk the line” method will work for you if you apply it throughout at least the first five or six months of your partners pregnancy.

Whether you’re all for the suggestion of home birth, or you’re dead set against it, the “walk the line” method is a solid way for both you and your partner to agree that home birth is the right choice.

Let me attempt to petition the part of you that just questions whether it’s a good decision or not. Period.

Good decision making is an essential skill for relationship success in-general, and effective house-hold and family nurturing in-particular.

But first, the reason I like the “walk the line” method is because it’s an effective means to diplomatically lead and make important decisions. It’s also nearly fool proof, and virtually eliminates any chance of catching hell from your significant other.

If you can learn to make timely and well-considered decisions, then you can often lead your significant other (and family) to spectacular and well-deserved success i.e. a peaceful birth experience, successful labor and delivery of the single most precious piece of cargo ever to be sent to your metaphorical doorstep – your child.

However, if you make poor decisions, i.e. you’re a dickhead who won’t even entertain the idea of homebirth, you risk relationship failure (and failure in many related aspects) and therefore, your time as a leader will, most likely, be brutally short.

The “walk the line” method is the unique skill of being able to maintain an intermediate position between contrasting choices and opinions. In this case, it’s whether to have a home birth or not to have a homebirth.

I know it can be tough to embrace homebirth. On one hand, you’re expected to behave in a socially accepted manner, especially as prescribed by law or morality. And dang man! Don’t you know it? Big brother is making homebirth illegal in some states and countries.

Morally speaking, you might catch hell from your fellow drinking buddy. I know I did.

When I mentioned I was having a homebirth, he said, “Have you lost your mind,” and went on to tell me a bad situation he had at the hospital, and how if he was at home, he may have lost his child.

He ended his diatribe by saying, “Now would that be fair to your baby?” My replay, “Ummm… no… hey bartender?! Another Makers Mark on the rocks, please.”

But trust me when I tell you that all you want to focus on securing the emotions of your significant other, and how those emotions will impact you.

I’m not advocating that you do this at the expense of your own. But the “walk the line” method also provides you the space to rant, rave and raise holy hell if you feel like it.

Now that I’ve set the stage for walking the line, let me tell you the dead simple way to implement the method.

Commit to both a hospital birth and a homebirth.

And by all means, include a birth center birth if that is a consideration you and your significant other would like to entertain. And do so for the first five or six months (minimum) of pregnancy.

Why? A few reasons…

You are literally forced to gather information, and experience about both hospital care and home birth.

Then you can toggle back and forth between hospital care and home birth. This makes for very healthy conversation and participation because you’re doing this with your significant other.

You’re gathering information, and having an experience with your significant other FROM the SOURCE. Therefore, your positive or negative responses won’t ever be AT your significant other. This is a critical aspect of walking the line.

I took some notes about my “walk the line” experience.

Although I supported and trusted Katie’s decision to home birth from the start, I wanted to go through the motions to be sure I wasn’t just drinking the Homebirth kool-aide.

There were two major areas that I decided to focus upon when I walked the line between attending regular hospital procedures and homebirth midwife procedures. Here were my findings.

These findings were personal to me and Katie. Your findings could be different. That’s the point. Although, our findings were very similar to dozens, if not hundreds of other hospital vs. homebirth experiences.

The two categories are Care and Relationship.

Care reflects the type of care that mom receives from the practitioner. Because of my athletic background, I’m a strong believer that the way you practice to play is the way you will perform during game time.

So for me, I considered the prenatal visits to be just as critically important as when we actually had our baby. A bad record in the care department leading up to birth makes me feel as if the care during birth would be poor too. Why wouldn’t I think this way?

Relationship reflects the bond that is developed such as trust and friendship. I might not be the world’s most sentimental or even emotionally aware guy. I do alright, but I’m no dummy.

Relationships are built on trust and all the underpinnings of friendship, and that stuff matters when it comes time to labor and birth. In fact, it matters a lot.

Let’s talk about Care first.

If you’ve listened to my home birth story, you know that I had resigned from my teaching job (and the full coverage insurance that went with it) only two weeks before I found out she was pregnant.

It’s an understatement to say that I was concerned.

We had to sign up for Medicaid. I met with one of the ladies there who was handling our paperwork and ask if Medicaid carried a certain stigma. I was concerned that we’d be treated unfavorably, or be judged because we were using Medicaid. I was assured that wasn’t the case.

Nonetheless, I noticed that all the Medicaid peeps went in the room on the right side of the hallway, and all the insured peeps went into the room on the left side of the hallway. Talk about Sneetches with stars on their bellies or no stars on their bellies. I didn’t believe her, and she wasn’t convincing.

But I did later find out that the kind of treatment we received was no different than those that had insurance. I found this out by asking a lot of questions from the Dads that were employed by both public and private institutions.

With homebirth, insurance and how it relates to care wasn’t an issue whatsoever.

In fact, our midwife wouldn’t even accept insurance. You paid with cash, check or credit card. Working with our midwife was based on whether she liked us and we like her. It had to be a match.

Relationship

We saw someone new every time we went to our hospital visits.

This may seem crazy to you. It definitely seemed crazy to me. Creating continuity was extremely difficult. It meant adjusting our schedule to their work schedule, which didn’t stay the same each week.

Creating continuity with our homebirth midwife was a breeze.

We spoke on the phone and arranged a time. Or when the homebirth midwife was over to our house, we’d both get our calendars out and decide on the next meet up time.

Out of all the different hospital midwives we saw, none actually touched Katie’s stomach.

Besides lathering the cold jelly on Katie’s stomach with a Doppler, they didn’t actually touch her belly.

Our homebirth midwife would touch Katie’s belly as if it were a crystal ball.

Doing so she discovered what position our baby was in.

Our midwife took urine samples every time. I don’t remember what she was checking for, but it was reassuring. Our homebirth midwife had discussions with us about our vision for birth, and what she wanted the experience to be like.

She asked us questions like whether or not we wanted vitamin K or eye ointment. Our homebirth midwife pleasantly answered all the questions I asked. I asked far more questions that even Katie asked, but maybe that was because Katie already knew in her heart.

At the hospital, there were 11 midwives, which meant we had a 1:11 chance of getting the midwife that we were visiting on that particular day.

When I asked questions, they weren’t pleasantly answered. I might get an answer like, “Well, usually we do it like this…” Or one time, I asked a hospital midwife how she felt about alternate birthing positions, and she shot back, “I have a sore back so I won’t do a lot of those positions, and I’ll never do a water birth. It’s best if you just let us take care of that for you.”

Too often I wanted to throw daggers at the hospital midwives. I don’t think I would have walked the line with the hospital midwives if it weren’t for the fact that it was only a five minute drive.

There was no driving involved with the homebirth midwife.

I was sure to always shovel the sidewalk of snow when she arrived to our home. Don’t overlook the convenience of having your midwife come to your home.

Our hospital visits would last, literally, three minutes.

Add an additional five minutes with my pestering hypothetical “what if” and “can we” questions.

Our homebirth visits lasted an hour or two.

Katie would fix up a fruit and cheese plate. We’d talk and laugh. Then our midwife would do her thing for awhile with Katie. Then it’d be my opportunity to ask questions. Our homebirth midwife would answer them completely, and tell stories.

My “walk the line” experiential verdict about hospital care vs. homebirth midwife:

When it comes to the actual birth, you’re sharing and living the most intimate and personal experience with a person whom you should like.

Not a potential stranger where you don’t know what you’re walking into.

I could easily justify homebirth over hospital birth after seven months of walking the line with both.

This is unfortunately not laughable, but pleeeezzzze. No relationship existed between us and the hospital. It was in and out.

Our homebirth midwife on the other hand, she’s a friend for life.

She came to our home before, during and after birth. She visited us about a dozen times before Ella’s birth. She was at our home for 24 straight hours during labor. And she returned the day after Ella was born, two days after that, a week after that, and two weeks after that.

Whether you’re all for home birth, or dead set against it, walk the line, man. Then you truly will have the experience, not just the hunch, to say to yourself, Yup, homebirth is a good decision.

Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write down and share your perspective and experiences. Your comments on ‘care’ and ‘relationship’ are very clear and well expressed and to me, articulate well why continuity and relationship based midwifery is so important and appropriate.

    • bringbirthhome says:

      @Carolyn,
      Thank you for taking the time to read what turned out to be a long blog post. Yes, “care” and “relationship” are important. I didn’t make it as clear as I would have liked about how important that was to me, not just Katie. It was important to me, and my emotional well-being too. I honestly felt like a number in the hospital, as if the hospital midwives didn’t like their job. I have worked with kids ages 5-14 since I was 19 years old. I can read peoples’ eyes. There was a condescension the hospital midwives had toward inquisitive people like me. It was unsettling. No way did I feel comfortable bringing my own flesh and blood into the world with that as my experience leading up to birth. Our homebirth midwife had made a choice to not be that way. –From Eric (BBH Dad)

  2. Tarraguna says:

    My husband and I had a homebirth about 3 months ago with our first child and it was the single most important life altering desicion we have made. Thanks for writing so well about the father’s position. I have been trying to explain to fathers to be that at a homebirth they would play such a big role and be so involved but at the hospital they are likely to be ignored and miss the beauty of seeing their women give birth to their child and them bond as a family. Thanks for sharing.

    • bringbirthhome says:

      @TarraGuna,

      Thank you. Congrats on the birth of your child, and double congrats on having a homebirth. I think you’re very accurate when you say “life altering” when you speak of the decision to have a homebirth. Having a child is life changing; having a homebirth is life altering.

      One of the reasons Katie asked me to publicly participate more wasn’t just because BBH has gained momentum and getting bigger. It wasn’t because we’ve made BBH an LLC with the goal of making this a real business. It was because in order to really advocate and educate about homebirth, it has to include moms and dads. We fully realize that dads might not be coming to the blog to read these posts, but moms are likely to share. And that’s where it starts.

      Thank you,

      Eric (BBH Dad)


Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] Another Dad tells the story of how he navigated the choice between hospital or home birth. [...]

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    [...] site, if you are considoring a homebirth, it is great to read through everything) is this one: http://bringbirthhome.com/bbh-dad/da…of-home-birth/ It is written by a man who does the blog Natural Papa. He was wary of the safety of homebirth [...]

  3. Home Birth Dad Chronicles - Home Birth Stories from Dad | Bring Birth Home - June 24, 2010

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  4. Navigating the BBH Blog - A Road Map | Bring Birth Home - October 30, 2010

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