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.

BBH Dad

Help! I Want a Home Birth But Dad Doesn’t

20 Comments 03 June 2010

By Eric Walker

What do you do when you want a home birth but your significant other doesn’t?

Does this sound familiar?

So your significant other isn’t on board when you entertain the idea of home birth. Don’t be surprised if this is the case.

Many Dads-to-be are skeptical at the first mention of home birth.

Our society trains us guys to think doctors know best, and that it’s our patriarchal duty to make safe choices.

So how can you help him overcome this old paradigm? How can you educate him so that he tells people that the home birth midwife is the only person that he’d ever trust to birth his children into this world?

Today’s post is about how to work with your significant other in the situation that you want to have a home birth, and he doesn’t.

Also I’m writing this post with the assumption that Dad is committed to being an active part of the birth experience.

I have to warn you, what I suggest in this post isn’t easy work. It will force you to come out of your comfort zone. It will test you and your significant other’s ability to communicate and work together.

But in doing so, the suggestions I provide will further prepare you for something arguably just as important as your birth experience, and that’s labor and delivery.

It’s the ability to grow with your significant other during times of change and challenge that will be profound markers for an enduring relationship.

With that said, please take the perspective that disagreeing about wanting or not wanting to have a home birth is a great opportunity for love.

I will now cover five rules for you to understand and apply.

Follow along with this process.

Rule #1. He Loves You and the Little Little One

No matter how heavy handed, thick sculled or stubborn he may seem about the option to have a home birth, he loves you. He wants what is best for you and your little little one.

He simply lacks the proper understanding about home birth. You must understand this, and use it as an opportunity for education and communication.

Along these same lines, NEVER question his intent.

You can call into question his knowledge on the subject. You can giggle at his naiveté. You may observe that he could have made better choices. But never question his intent. He wants a wonderful birth experience just like you.

So start with the understanding that you both want the same outcome, but see it from a different point of view.

You want or are seriously considering home birth as a birth option. He wants a hospital birth. You both want the best birth experience possible. You both want a healthy and strong child that enters this world without complication.

That’s a great start, and good ground to be standing upon.

Rule #2. Communication begins just between you two. No one else.

Even if you have the most supportive and wonderful relationship with your respective family members, guard yourself from their influence on this matter until you and your significant other have thoroughly communicated, and can be united on this decision.

Worst case scenario:

Your mother-in-law points her accusational finger at you, and says, If anything happens to my grandchild, it is all going to be your fault,” and then the in-laws whisk your significant other away to tell him how irresponsible having a home birth would be.

I know it’s dramatic, but realistic.

This would not help either one of you. Agree to guard yourself from non-experts with opinions especially non-expert family members with influential opinions. Odds are they don’t know anything about home birth.

Let this communication process take months. It rarely will be something that occurs over a weekend, or even a week. The home birth or no home birth communication phase will last for awhile. Embrace that. Make this communication period part of the fabric of your bonding. It will underscore and set the tone for your entire pregnancy.

Here are some key talking points for the communication process:

  • Throughout the communication (decision making) process, model the behavior you seek to receive. If for some reason things go badly, and you end up in a fight, race for the peace bridge. Don’t bother holding out for the other person to apologize or take back what they said. It doesn’t matter if you don’t question intent. Simply make amends and focus on modeling the behavior you seek to receive.
  • Be able to articulate the reasons for your desire to give birth at home. Go beyond the intuitive, instinctual and emotional reasons. This is certainly good enough for you, but be able to translate that so that your significant other can make logical sense of it.
  • Be open to his reasons, concerns and fears for not wanting a home birth. No judging. No arguing. Simply listen and justify. You want to be able to get inside the psychology of your significant other.
  • I recommend keeping a notebook, whiteboard or chart that documents the key points of this communication. As over the top as this may sound, it will be vital. It will help you stay on track with two-way communication and not get sidetracked with repetitious road blocks that impede progress.
  • Again, this is to be communication just between you and your significant other. I suggest making that agreement and any other necessary agreements before the communication process begins to make your time pleasant, productive and efficient.

Rule #3. When you educate, you empower.

You and your significant other will want to be just short of experts (or authorities) about home birth. I’ve spoken about how I trusted the instincts and confidence Kaitlin had for home birth, but we both followed that up with education, and lots of it.

One of the first places I’d like to recommend may not be what you’d expect.

Let me introduce you to Natural Papa (Derek Markham). I don’t know the dude, but I’ve recently discovered that he and I have more than a few similarities.

Natural Papa is a tree-hugging dirt worshipper from New Mexico who has a cool blog about natural parenting.

I think his blog is useful for home birth dads and/or dads-to-be who need more information and perspective.

One of the biggest problems for home birth dads is that they usually don’t have a lot of support from their peers.

Natural Papa has done a good job of finding other home birth dads. He has several interviews that I think every home birth dad to be should read. It’s also great social proof.

Follow the links below:

Home Birth Dad interviews from Natural Papa.

You’ll find over ten different Home Birth Dad interviews.

In one of Natural Papa’s interviews, he speaks with Jorge T. Cuevas from Home Birth Dads [dot] com.

Jorge is the only person I know of who has created a product with the home birth dad in mind.

Although I haven’t purchased this $25 DVD, I did listen to an the internet radio show that Kerry Tuschhoff , founder/director of Hypnobabies [dot] com, natural childbirth expert and certified hypno-therapist did with Jorge.

Go here to listen to that Home Birth Dad DVD with Jorge Cuevas interview.

From that interview, I can tell that the Home Birth Dad DVD provides unique insights about home birthing from the dads from dads who have already experienced it. Dads candidly answer questions about their concerns and considerations.

It’s true that men considering home birth rarely have the opportunity to ask other men about their experiences, this video bridges that gap and allows home birth dads-to-be to get answers that they may have been seeking but did not know where to find.

By no means does the education stop there.

I highly recommend a natural childbirth class in your local area.

This shouldn’t focus exclusively on home birth, but rather focus on natural childbirth that incorporates the best of many different birth philosophies. It should offer an in-depth look at a variety of natural birth techniques that stress trust for the mother’s body.

If a dad-to-be is going to support home birth, inevitably he’s going to trust his partner’s body to do what nature has been doing forever.

Furthermore, when Kaitlin and I attended a natural birth class here in Kalamazoo called Birth Kalamazoo. We were introduced to so many other resources, videos and significant names in the field of home birth that we had an unlimited amount of options for further self study.

I recommend you take advantage of further study and explore. Here are a few of my favorites:

Rule #4. Exercise and follow through.

Performing these exercises will open up the lines of communication after you feel as if you’ve exhausted all communication. Performing these exercises is also the best practice and application for all that you’re learning about home birth.

Write your home birth plans.

During your natural parenting class, you will most likely be asked to complete a birth plan. I highly recommend this. In fact, I recommend three birth plans. Write the plan for a home birth. Write the plan for a hospital birth, and write the plan for a home birth transfer to a hospital birth.

Have fun with birth art.

There is one kind of learning that you’ll receive from books, DVDs and all varieties of web pages. But for you to fully participate in the process, you and your partner will benefit from birth art and/or journaling.

When you and your partner are able to bring an image to light, I think you will be surprised at what it reveals. If you allow it to be a prompt for further exploration, it may tell you even more about home birth.

Rule #5. Prepare, test, communicate and decide.

If you’ve gone through all of the aforementioned “rules,” then I think you and your partner will have come to an agreement about where you will birth. Again, the process will likely take at least a month, but probably a little longer.

Going through the aforementioned process will definitely open your partners mind to home birth, perspectives, realities and potentialities. I know it did for me.

Now here are a few parting thoughts that I’ve sub-titled Prepare, Test, Communicate and Decide.

Prepare:

Set up your home for birth even if he hasn’t fully endorsed the idea yet. Where will you labor? Will you have stations set up? Who will clean things up? Who will be present? Will you use water, or no? Ambiance? Who will be your midwife? Is she available? Will you have a doula present? Is she available?

Basically, prepare as if you’re having a home birth. Cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s. How’s it feel?

Check to see if your preferred midwife is available as early as possible. Same goes for your doula. Find out how they work; how much they cost and their overall preferences and mode of operation. Have them over to the house. When they come over, prepare a fruit and cheese plate for something, and get comfortable. Get to know this person. Do you like her?

Test:

Keep going to the hospital for “normal” care. How is that going? How does it compare to your visualizations of what you want your birth experience to be like?

Communicate & Decide:

Somewhere throughout the communication and education phase, use the calendar to set a date for a decision. If you’re fully engaged in the process, and visiting your hospital care provider AND hooked up with a home birth midwife and doula, you can wait pretty late into the pregnancy.

Once you make a decision, trust that you’ve both underwent and exhausted the lengthy process and feels right about it.

Although it’s true that the woman is the one giving birth, and can ultimately be the final decision maker, if your significant other is the one who sits next you during labor, through the pain, through the intensity of the experience, don’t cut him out of the decision making process. And don’t ever get emotionally charged up and say that you have that clout over him (even if you do).

It is much better undergo the process I have shared today, and get his questions answered.

Most dads will be very nervous about a home birth. But little by little, with communication, education, preparation (and statistics) on your side, he’ll see what you see.

It is always better for the significant other to have faith in the process and the midwife, than to not have faith in what’s going on.

It will be better for you, your relationship and your child in the long run.

BBH Dad

The Manifestation of Birth and a Brand New Woman

13 Comments 28 May 2010

The world is full of people ready to advise us, direct us, persuade us, implore us, analyze us, judge us, and ultimately, confuse the crap out of us.

Wouldn’t you agree?

We make decisions that move our lives in new directions. The instant we make those decisions, our lives change.

There is something I want to say. As a dad here at Bring Birth Home, I have a lot I want to share from the other side of the aisle. Katie likes to call me BBH Dad, but you can just call me Eric.

I know that somewhere in-between the lines of today’s post, there is a lesson about Katie, the home birthing creator of this blog. I bet you can apply it to your life too.

Katie never meant for Bring Birth Home to become what it’s become. She simply wanted to extend her passion for home birth.

Our profound home birth experience led Katie to want to help educate and empower women about their choice to birth at home.

This site started with the hope that more women might discover their options and own their birth experience.

Bring Birth Home is growing into a family business. We love it and we are committed!

But that wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes until recently.

Once upon a time, it was me who resigned from his 8th grade English teaching job in exchange for two part-time jobs — one of which involved mopping floors on Friday nights.

I did this so I could obsess over all the aspects of blogging, internet marketing and social media in the name of entrepreneurialism.

Empowering and Educating Women About the Choice to Birth at Home

Katie has always been consistent, even-keeled, supportive and at times even sympathetic of my drive and goals.

Barring a few moments that no human is immune, Katie has always remained calm and relaxed. She’s certainly kept a great perspective, and has rolled with the punches.

I, on the other hand, have been the one who’s hunched over the computer, shoulders touching earlobes, eyes blazing. On a mission.

Katie has watched me hunt and peck my way through the process of building an internet business with the stubborn, fool-hardy clumsiness of a gold miner. Quietly looking over my shoulder, she’s panned the nuggets worth learning.

Then one day while stirring a sizzling pan of vegetables, she asked me if the domain Bring Birth Home was available. There is a lot of meaning and metaphor inside that phrase: Bring Birth Home.

Leading up to that moment, Katie had been a very active participant at My Best Birth. That was her place to blog.

So when she created Bring Birth Home with WordPress, she had no intention to blog. At first, it was a gathering of home birth stories on static pages fueled by passionate interest. It still is that. It will always be that (first).

This was early December of 2009.

And literally, in 60 days she was effortlessly expressing her truth in such a way that up until that point, I had only seen it when she was playing the guitar, or nursing Ella Rose.

Katie has an aptitude to shut out the noise. She is able to hear her own quiet internal voice sweetly speak what she recognizes as her own unique individual truths.

I recognized this characteristic before we found out Ella Rose was going to join us.

But I will never forget the moment Katie began to recognize it herself, harness the power of it and trust it. It’s bookmarked in my memory as one of Katie’s greatest moments.

We were just buckling up our seatbelts as the car idled in the cold dark fall evening after watching Suzanne Arms speak about natural childbirth.

Katie said, “I think I want to have a home birth.”

There was something in the way Katie said it that was pure certainty.

This is not hyperbole. It was that statement that gave Katie the courage to live inside out; to truly bring birth home.

It was an unconscious line she drew in the sand, and only once she chose to live that way did everything start to fall in place (health, love, friends, and harmony) synergistically.

When we live our truth we resonate.

Katie resonates.

That was the moment I gained a deeper sense of trust in her instincts. I learned just from the way Katie expressed that one sentence to have faith, and to protect, nurture and zealously guard that purity and resonance.

It all grew out of becoming a mother.

The entire experience leading up to the day of Ella’s birth, and every day since has brought forth a women, a very beautiful women who finds and shares meaning with you here at this blog.

Thank you for being here. I’m going to start blogging here too. That’s how cool this place is. I have grown to almost love it as much as she does.

Please sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t already, we have some exciting things coming your way.

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