So I'm pregnant. Very exciting news, isn't it? Even more exciting is the news that it's sticking (for now); we're officially out of the first trimester, making it much easier to grin and announce the coming baby with gratitude and joy. That trepidatious sense of impending doom recedes a little more each day, and as my tummy begins to grow (only the faintest hint right now), so does the thrill and anticipation. Soon I'll feel movement (the quickening), and soon after that, Mark and Burgundy will be able to feel it from the outside. I'm making a baby.
Given how long and dearly we've wanted this child, some people have asked, all incredulous, why we would take the risk of a homebirth attended by a midwife. After all, isn't a hospital safer? Isn't a doctor more knowledgeable? For those who have been in my home, there's the gingerly asked (and possibly quite valid), "Um, is it sanitary enough?"
In a word, No, No, and NO. I mean Yes. The answer to the last question is definitely YES. No Freudian slips here; move along.
I want to spend several posts exploring these questions and the scientific evidence in favor of midwifery care (as opposed to obstetrical care) and home or birth-center-based labor and delivery. Childbirth is one of the most important rites of passage in our culture, and the way we approach care for this event in a woman and family's life has implications for safety, maternal and infant morbidity rates, cultural assumptions and attitudes toward life and toward the value of people. Childbirth is a fine example of the interconnectedness of life, love, science and progress. Childbirth is my soapbox, my love, a saving grace (for me). Healthy, normal childbirth is a passion, its promotion almost a mission for me.
These posts might be far between because I want to present them in a way that demonstrates the interdependencies of the childbirth process (for example, the well-documented "cascade effect" of our technological advances that has lead to our inexcusably high Cesarean rate in the US). I often find that when a person asks me about one thing, for example, electronic fetal monitoring, I don't do a very good job of presenting the big picture, the whole argument.
I begin discussion logically enough. Unfortunately, as I connect the dots mentally, I get a little rabid. I stumble over my own words; I get "Libertarian Eyes" (a term for the slightly wild-eyed look of a zealot in full-on Preach-the-Gospel-of-My-Cause mode coined by my friend Hannah in discussion of, um, excessively passionate people), and apparently, I lose my ability to form a coherent sentence.
When I come back to my senses, I'm out of breath, spluttering, and whomever I've just assaulted with a vitriolic denunciation of anything short of squatting in a rice paddy backs away slowly and refuses to return my calls for a month. As they back away, I follow them, saying things like, "And that's not even the half of it! I once discovered a coven of obstetricians mired in a Ritual Cesarean chanting insurance codes! I DID! And they are the reason that our society is crumbling! It’s the Demonic Obstetricians of DOOM! You must birth [spittle flies on the heels of birth; I pronounce it like a televangelist] NAKED! Do it for the CHILDREN [I begin to shout because they're running now]! JESUS WANTS YOU TO RECLAIM YOUR FEMINIST POWER! WHEN YOU BIRTH YOU BECOME A SUPER WOMAN; YOU ARE CAPABLE OF ANYTHING!"
So yes, I want to write something coherent and accessible. I want to write something that friends can read without thinking, "Christ on a cracker, don't tell her you're pregnant!" Most of all, I want it to be effective. I want people who read me, who stumble on my journal, to understand that there is a better way than epidurals, episiotomies, and cesarean sections. A safer way, a gentler way. A loving way.