by Kasie Monchak
The road to my UC was a long one, as I detailed a bit in the piece “Reflections on Nikolai’s Birth, and How I Got There.”
A lot of the reasons why I chose UC, and my feelings about it, are in there. I first considered the idea of a home birth when I was pregnant with my daughter four years ago, but there were no available midwives in my area. I had a beautiful all natural hospital birth with her, but I still felt like something was missing.
I discovered UC shortly after she was born. I knew instantly that it was the path I was supposed to take.
I was drawn to UC for a few reasons.
One being the horrible experience I had with the birth of my first child. Although I had three more hospital births following his, each one a little better than the last, I truly felt that there was more out there. I always carried some pain and sadness around from my first birth.
I was scarred from being treated like a machine, a number, like just another patient on the assembly line of birth. I really believed that trusting in myself, and only in myself, would heal that. I would know that yes, I was capable. I felt like I owed it to that scared and powerless 20 year old. And it all came true.
I began by reading Laura Shanley’s site, and also her book.
I read countless birth stories and articles. I talked to other UC mamas online (Mothering.com has a UC forum). I educated myself on what types of complications I could handle, and what I would need to transfer to a hospital for. I was determined to take in as much information as I possibly could. When I found out I was pregnant with baby #5, I was so excited! Thrilled to be bringing another child into our family, but also excited that The UC I wanted was a reality.
I spent the pregnancy continuing the research I had been so deep into for over two years.
I had such a peace about the whole thing. It wasn’t a blind faith, but an indescribable sense of calm and well-being. I trusted my knowledge and my body. I never had any doubts about my decision, but there were moments where I wondered “What if?”, which I think is normal in any birth.
What I went back to was the knowledge I had gained. I addressed any questions in my mind, and moved on. I never dwelled on anything negative. I was realistic and responsible in my thinking and planning. I didn’t throw caution to the wind and hope that everything would go well. It was carefully thought out every step of the way. When I went into labor, I was bursting with excitement. The birth I had planned for nearly three years was about to happen!
Although I have never had a midwife-assisted home birth, I think the main difference is that with UC, you have to have a huge amount of trust in yourself.
Huge. There is no one to fall back on. You have to have the ability to keep your head clear, and not allow any negativity in. Because other people’s negative attitudes can have a big enough impact on MW assisted HB, so the implications for UC are even greater. You don’t have someone there to tell you that it’s okay, that you are making the right choice. You have to KNOW.
I didn’t tell very many people about my plans for this reason. People are uneducated enough about home birth in general. I was on a sacred journey, and I couldn’t allow anything to harm that.
Some other books I read (although not specific to UC) were Childbirth Without Fear, and Ina May’s Guide To Childbirth.
“Reflections on Nikolai’s Birth, and How I Got There.”
It was a traumatic labor and birth, with every intervention short of a c-section, and it affected me in many ways. It showed me how very important the birth experience is, and how it can affect other aspects of one’s life. So too did Nikolai’s birth, but in ways very, very different.
So, how did I go from a cold, sterile operating room, harsh lights, harsh voices, impatient doctors and nurses, and the ever-present tick-tock of the labor and delivery clock, to the quiet of my bedroom, the warm water, the cool air and sound of birds drifting in from the window, and being on my own time?
It started with a little fire that was lit inside of me during my first labor, one that would not allow them to cut me when I knew it was unnecessary. One that grew and grew through three more pregnancies and births before Nikolai’s.
“His birth has left me with a sense of accomplishment, not in a way that I feel my experience is better than anyone else’s, but that I, and no one else, am responsible for bringing him into the world.”
I chose not to trust medical professionals, partly because of my previous experiences, but also because I knew I could do this.
My husband was supportive during my labor and birth, but I know there were times when he was nervous and doubtful, especially when Nikolai did not seem to be moving down. I think, although we have not had any in-depth discussions about it and I don’t know that he would admit it, he was truly scared right before I broke my water, up until Nikolai was born.
Of course, I knew that there was nothing to fear, and although I had a brief flash of “What if he doesn’t come down?”, I knew that it would be okay. I think if not for that and me reassuring him that I could do it, he would have called 911.
He was not on board with the whole idea of unassisted birth in the very beginning, and never totally comfortable with it although I think he came to trust the fact that I had done my homework and knew what I was doing. He did it for me, because he knew how much it meant to me. And because I am stubborn as all get out, and he knew arguing about it would be useless. I do feel I owe him a debt of gratitude for that. I think he is okay with everything now, and I actually hear a bit of pride in his voice when he talks about it.
I love to tell people about my birth experience, not to brag, but hopefully to plant a seed in someone that birth does not have to be scary and painful and that they, not doctors, are in control.
It is okay to trust your body.
I don’t necessarily recommend unassisted birth, because I believe it is a very personal decision that one must look within themselves and do a great deal of soul-searching to come to. You are soley resposible for the birth of your child. That can be a very empowering and fulfilling thing for some, and downright scary for others.
What I hear most often in casual conversation is “You’re so brave!” or some variation thereof. I do not feel brave. The statement actually makes me a little uncomfortable. My usual reply, and the truth as I see it, is that women who give birth in the hospital are far braver than I. I just did what I felt was best for my baby and myself.
What I am struck by most is that Nikolai’s birth was this momentous and wonderfully empowering and fulfilling experience, and at the same time, quite simple and ordinary. I look at the pictures and watch the video, and I am in awe of the fact that mine was the first touch he ever felt and moved by the emotion of it, but it really is simple. I had a baby at home, just my husband and I.