I am quickly approaching the halfway point of this pregnancy, and all in all, things have gone extremely well. These past few weeks have been great, lots of energy, no sickness. The worst side effect has been regular headaches at the end of the day. I've gained only 3 pounds so far, and while I was discouraged at first that I wasn't showing and packing on the pounds, I'm glad now that things are progressing slowly. I know I'll be showing soon, and I guess that it's not far down the road until I won't be able to remember a time before I was pregnant.
There have been a few things weighing heavily on my mind. The one that occupies the most space is where and how we want to deliver this kid. Our options are hospital birth and home birth, and we've done some investigating into both. Hospital birth is the easier of the two roads; my health insurance covers the bulk of it, there are medical means waiting and available in case of any emergency, and there's a variety of providers, in case of some sort of conflict. The cons to hospital birth are not widely agreed upon, but for me, they are many: no guarantee that the midwife who has provided all of my prenatal care will actually be the one at the birth, a changing cavalry of nurses, none of whom stay with you through the entire labor, discomfort of an unfamiliar surrounding, the availability of pain medication, nurses and doctors who impose artificial time limits on labor, hurrying things along via pitocin and possibly Cesarean, restrictions on food in the room, small bed so I can't fall asleep with my husband after the birth, and the list goes on.
Home birth comes with just as many pros and cons, but for me the pros outweigh the cons by far. The pros: comfort in our home, surrounded by people of our choosing and one provider throughout the entire labor, ability to eat, walk, dance, or scream as loud as I want without the risk of disturbing anyone but my neighbors, my own shower and my own bed for afterwards, no limit on how long the labor lasts, or rush to get it started if it stops. For us, there are two drawbacks to home birth: 1. The cost is not covered by my insurance provider, and 2. there are no medical interventions available in case of emergency.
Dave and I are meeting with our first pair of home birth midwives on Thursday, and I think they will put some of these fears to rest. It's possible that insurance will cover a portion of the cost, or it's possible they have a sliding fee scale that we could afford out of pocket. It is likely that they work with a backup physician who they call in times of need. We live within 10 minutes of two major hospitals, so if things do go awry, we could be at an emergency room in virtually no time at all.
The biggest fear is that something will go wrong, and we will always blame ourselves for being at home and not at a hospital. That's a fear that we have to face, and one that most friends are helping to put aside. The strangest thing about this is that the women who I've spoken to who have recently given birth at a hospital tell me that they would love to have been at home, they support that decision, and would likely do it themselves next time. The major dissenters are my never-been-pregnant friends, and my family. I think the major reason my family is unsupportive is fear - they have never heard of or known anyone who delivered a child at home intentionally, and don't see any reason why we wouldn't want to be in a medical environment. After all, birth is a medical procedure, and it is done in hospitals, just like kidney transplants. I don't agree.
My never-been-pregnant friends are also hesitant to support me, and that's been hard. I think if we choose to go the way of the home birth, we won't inform everyone until after it's over. I know that some family members and friends will feel a little betrayed that we kept that information from them, but if I can allay their fears and avoid their naysaying by telling them we're delivering in a hospital, and then spring it on them once the baby has arrived, it would put me at ease. Plus, everyone will be so happy to have a new little nephew/niece/grandbaby, that the way the baby entered the world can be easily overlooked.
We shall see. After we meet Clare and Gail this Thursday, we are also planning a tour of Abbott, the hospital where I would likely deliver. We have to weigh both options, our feelings, and the cost (unfortunately). Even if we have to choose the option we don't like as much, I will try to remember that the birth is just one day in a long journey that has already begun. The way I treat my body during the pregnancy could hold just as much weight as the way the kid-o comes into the world, not to mention the 8 million other things that parents do while raising their kids. We're already off to a fabulous start, with a wanted pregnancy, healthy eating and exercise, and the choice to have one parent home full time until baby is 6 months old. You can't beat that for a good start, so I will try not to let this decision about the birth weigh me down. Lord knows there will be plenty weighing me down in the weeks to come!