I was born three months too early. My mother’s body was shutting down, so an emergency caesarian was planned in a frantic effort to save her life. Weighing in at a little over two pounds, I was dubbed Miss Preemie Universe. I was rushed to the NICU where I remained for four months, while my mother laid in a pitch black room with toxemia and renal failure.
Years later she would tell me, she felt so much grief around her birth experience and so much grief as a new mother of a severely premature child. “ what did I do wrong, she thought?” She wanted the chubby Gerber baby, the healthy baby that nursed and slept with pink rosy cheeks.
Both my mother I did not have the birthing experience that she was hoping for. While her talented medical team was able to save both of our lives, my mother felt grief and anger. She never got to experience the third trimester of either of her pregnancies. I can’t image the fear she must have felt being told she was dying and the doctors needed to remove me from her womb to save her life. Not only faced with her own mortality, she was forced to confront the fear of losing her child as well, a fear no mother should ever have to face. While most mothers long to hold their newborns close, to nurse and comfort, and coddle, my mother just felt overwhelming grief and anger. Instead of bonding, we both fought frantically to live.
Every mother is deserving of a peaceful, uncomplicated and comfortable birth, one that is supportive and celebrated. Every child deserves to be brought into the world in a gentle manner, free of trauma. I While this isn’t always the case, especially in the United States, I believe it’s an ideal that most women hold close as they approach their due date.
No one wishes for complications, unplanned interventions, trauma, and infant mortality, but the reality is that these are a very real possibility for women giving birth in the United States. According to theCenters for Disease Control, the United States has a higher infant mortality rate than any of the other 27 wealthy countries. A baby born in the U.S. is nearly three times as likely to die during her first year of life as one born in Finland or Japan.
When I became pregnant with my daughter, I knew I wanted a very different birth story then the one my mother and I shared. I was haunted by the fear that, I too, would have a premature child or develop life-threatening toxemia. Despite my fears, I felt an undeniable yearning to reclaim the birth experience that my mother did not have. For me the choice was crystal clear—if all went well, I would opt to have water birth, in the comfort of my own home and entrust my prenatal and postnatal care to a talented and caring midwife.
A woman’s birth plan and choice of care givers is a deeply personal one. I did not arrive at the decision to home birth lightly, but felt after much research and spiritual investigation, it would be the best possible choice for myself and my child. I am fortunate to live in Maine, were home birth is legal and midwifes are plentiful. I was even surprised to find that my insurance company covered my care and birth with my midwife.
Not only did I have a healthy, robust pregnancy, I carried my daughter full-term. She was actually a day late and weighed in at 8.9 pounds and was 22 inches long! My labor was very quick. I pushed for 10 minutes and delivered my daughter in the water. It was absolutely perfect. She never left my chest after being born, and never left my side for the next few days. My home birth was everything I had hoped it would be. I felt safe, supported and in control the entire time. Surrendering to the process and pain and moving beyond my fear has changed me for life.
If you are considering having a home birth in Maine I would love to speak with you about my experience and see how Reiki can support your pregnancy and natural birth plan. Since I offer in-home reiki treatments, I can be with you weeks before your labor, helping to ease the discomforts of pregnancy, support your birth, and even visit for treatments in your home, long after your baby is born.