When we told everyone we were having a home birth, we heard a range of reactions, from:
“Wow, that’s awesome. You’re so brave!” to:
“That’s crazy. You know you’re not gonna win a medal for that, right?”
I actually think people who have babies in hospitals are the brave ones. Women who give birth in hospitals actually have the balls to stand up to medical personnel who might pressure them into making certain decisions. I chose a home birth, partly because I wasn’t brave enough to deal with all of that.
I knew I wasn’t going to win a medal for having a drug-free, intervention-free water birth in my bathroom at home. That’s not why I set out to do it. I wanted what I believed to be the best, most peaceful experience for our baby. And that’s exactly what I got.
I couldn’t have asked for a better birth. Absolutely nothing went wrong. I spent months preparing physically and mentally for what I was told would be very similar to running a marathon. I read every book on natural childbirth that my friends and care providers recommended. I did daily exercises and started chiropractic treatment in my third trimester to get my body aligned for an easier labor. My husband and I attended a 12-week class on the Bradley Method of natural childbirth. My nutrition was impeccable. (Well … except for the times when I was craving chocolate brownies and vanilla ice cream, which — I’ll admit — was pretty often.) It shouldn’t come as a surprise that my labor was less than 24 hours long, with only about 4 hours of hard, active labor and less than an hour of pushing. And my baby girl came out crying right away. Healthy. Strong. And absolutely beautiful.
It wasn’t until after the labor and birth that I started figuring out just how hard this was going to be.
“This” being motherhood. That first week was brutal. It was everything they said it would be and more: an emotional roller coaster coupled with sheer exhaustion as we tried to figure out how to care for a newborn. My midwife said my milk would come in in 3 to 5 days. By day 8, I was freaking out because my baby wasn’t getting enough milk and had lost more weight than she was supposed to lose in that first week. I started wondering if I’d be able to breastfeed. I doubted my ability to care for her. I cried every time she cried, which was often. Several times, I caught myself proclaiming cowardice with these dreaded words:
“I don’t think I can do this.”
I had spent so much time preparing for the birth itself that I hadn’t stopped to think about what comes next. To me, the birth was the “end.” I had gotten through it, and I was proud of myself.
Until I realized that it wasn’t the end at all. It was only the beginning of my journey into motherhood.
It’s a long and tiring journey, but I’ve been told it’s also the most amazing and rewarding journey a woman is called to walk. My baby is a month old today, and we are still figuring it out. Each day that passes, we discover something new about this little life we brought into the world. We talk about how we’re going to raise her. Beyond home birth, our choices include co-sleeping, baby wearing, chiropractic care, not vaccinating, listening to our instincts and, in general, keeping things simple. These choices may be unconventional for some people, but we are simply doing what we feel is best for our family, which I encourage every mom to do no matter what anyone else says. And, besides, being a mom is about so much more than all of these choices anyway.
Being a mom means raising a life in a world that becomes increasingly uncertain with each passing day. Where safety is often valued above freedom. Where education and work are more about meeting statistics and sales goals and less about learning and pursuing your passion. I want to teach our little Indie Grace to be exactly who she’s called to be and who her name declares she’ll grow up to be: independent of this world through the grace of God. I want to inspire her to dream, to play, to love, to be. To jump. Fly high. and Never land.
It won’t be easy. There will be lots of crying and sleepless nights. But it will all be worth it.
Sure, having a home birth may have been “brave,” but it takes a lot more courage to be a mom. And I’ve already received a medal for that: her name is Indie.