After watching The Business of Being Born, I felt like it was almost inarguable that homebirth with a midwife was the best option. I recognize that a single movie isn’t justification for a controversial (in the US, anyway) change of course; still, it struck a chord. My friend Sarah sent me a book, Baby Catcher, by a midwife, and I knew my mom used one (in the hospital) for my birth. Certainly there’s a wealth of statistics that confirm that, in healthy pregnancies, homebirths with midwife assistance show fewer complications and involve fewer interventions than hospital births.
Still, feedback from friends and family has been ambivalent at best and hostile at worst. There was the faction who thought it was absurd to consider delivering a baby without pain medication, one comment that I was doing it for attention, and another friend who felt it was insulting to doctors in that it implied that they weren’t competent to deliver babies in hospitals. I get the pain thing, for sure, and I get it when people worry about something going wrong, but, whatever my faults, I rarely crave or demand attention. Sweets, yes, and McNuggets, but not so much attention. That one caught me off-guard.
The nice thing is that I can just not bring it up around objectors. I get what they’re saying, and I understand that they’re on a different page with the issue, but I’m happy with my decision, so that’s okay. The scary part was Heather’s objection. She and I disagree about all sorts of things—meat in marinara sauce, for one—but, as different as we are, we can almost always find common ground on big decisions. This was one of those aberrant occasions when we just couldn’t.
There were a bunch of reasons, the biggest being financial. For the entirety of my prenatal care and delivery with an ob-gyn at a hospital, we were looking at just under $800 (although god knows what kind of surprises they’d tack onto the bill), while insurance covers nearly nothing of the midwife’s fees. The difference in cost is just amazing. I’m not prepared or educated for an anti-corporate tirade, but there’s something awry when having some ladies hang out in your house with a kiddie pool costs four times as much as checking into a hospital with all its attendant staff and equipment. Not unreasonably, Heather found that hard to swallow when babies need so much expensive stuff already.
For another thing, she was not wild about having a gaggle of “hippie dippies” in the house for 48 hours. See, when we went to our initial consultation last month, we thought it was just going to be us in a small office with Midwife Jamie, and then were surprised to find ourselves in a big room with Jamie, Mary, and Karen. I thought they were having a discussion group and we were interrupting, but, no, they were there for us. Have I mentioned Heather and I are scared of new people and large groups?
When we went for our second appointment, the whole crew was there again, and it was again like a feminist discussion group. To me it feels like lunch back when I was in college, differing only in that people are taking notes about my digestive habits. No one is wearing pajamas, to be sure, but it’s casual and full of chuckling over semen. I keep feeling like there should be appetizers on the coffee table. When I was in college, students never met for anything without free food. God, what if I misunderstood protocol and we’re supposed to bring food?
I tried to reassure Heather that probably they wouldn’t all be in the house, all the time, and that it probably wouldn’t take a full 48 hours of together time. If she felt crowded, she could just ask them to step out for a little while. I mean, I’m spitballing here; I have no idea how that works. Again, protocol: do we provide snacks or coffee during the birth? Maybe Heather could get some air on a Starbucks run. Maybe doughnuts.