It was in the 10th grade in Mr. O’Boyle’s Civics class (shout-out to sister Natalie) that I first learned that I was a liberal. We took a quiz which consisted of a series of questions about our political opinions and at the end was a big whopping donkey. Friends and family can vouch that I have always been left of center. Even when I considered myself a Christian, I would argue that Jesus was a feminist who was opposed the death penalty and in favor of gay marriage.
Yet my well-earned pink stripes began to fade when I moved out to California. Because in comparison to the nutty folks out here…I’m basically a libertarian (shout-out to cousin Bradley). And that’s not just because I favor legalizing pot and opening the borders.
I find myself most at odds with my peers in California when it comes to things like environmental issues and 9-11 conspiracy theory. I think the tree-sitters on the Berkeley campus are wasting their time. I’m unconcerned about the possible harms from plastic, microwaves and cell phones. I tend to eat well…but that’s mostly because of my good up-bringing and the seductive nature of natural food labeling. I heard someone once spew the epithet “npr liberal” and I think it stung so much precisely because it fit so well.
Okay, i know what you are thinking “what the hell does this have to do with Cougar Dan?”
If you had asked me about home birth 6 months ago I would have told you what I have been telling people for years, “The epidural is one of the major accomplishments of the feminist movement.” Who wouldn’t be in favor of taking the pain out of birth? Isn’t the pain of birth supposed to be “women’s punishment” for original sin anyway?
Furthermore, I had always been (and am still) sensitive to the culture of judgment around women, pregnancy and motherhood. Home birth advocates and those nuts at the La Leche League have always struck me as card-carrying members of the “what women should do with their bodies” club.
Spare me, right?
But a couple months before I got pregnant Natalie gave me a couple books about birth. One by Marsden Wagner, is a strong criticism of the birth industry in the United States. I found Dr. Wagner to be, like many doctors, incredibly arrogant and condescending.* Nevertheless, the weight of his experience and the scientific evidence presented in the book was very compelling.
But what person would make a decision based on scientific evidence alone? There are other reasons…emotional and personal which have also contributed to my decision to opt for a home birth, rather than a hospital or birth center birth.
A second experience which influenced my choice happened on a regular day like any other day. I was sitting in my living room contemplating my home. Home is an important place for me now. In my childhood I moved quite a bit…and it now gives me comfort to have stayed in one place for so long. This August, Howie and I will celebrate our 3rd year living in our apartment. I will have to check with my parents on this…but I’m fairly certain that this is the longest I have ever lived anywhere.
Feeling content in my living room, I began to imagine what it would be like to give birth at home versus in a hospital. I imagined the things I would have available to me: my bed, my shower, my kitchen, my clothes, my music etc. I imagined being able to walk around my neighborhood while in labor…thinking of the beautiful trees, sidewalks and arts and crafts houses. I thought about how I love to be at home when I’m not feeling well and about how rotten I feel when I have to go somewhere else.
And that was it, at that moment in my living room I could see myself doing this thing at home…in the place where I’m most comfortable…in the place where I can build a support network that will be especially focused on me and my needs.
Obviously, these two anecdotes are not the complete story. But they do show how I came to be on this home birth path. Since these experiences a lot of reading, discussing with Howie, interviewing of midwives, and consulting of professionals has happened. In the next couple weeks I hope to reveal more about our plans for “the birth.”** And, since we’ve invited all of you to participate in this exercise with us by giving you this blog address…we welcome your thoughtful comments about the path we’re on.
More to come… k
*This statement does not apply to any of the Dr’s that I work with, am friends with or am related to (even by marriage).
** My mom was pointing out the other day that it’s funny to refer to it as “the birth” when after “the birth” it will be “XX’s birth.”