Some women just won’t go to the hospital to have their babies. Even though their doctors have warned them, even though their husbands won’t let them, even though they don’t have any supplies, they just won’t go to the hospital. This small group is never studied by researchers. What clock ticks inside of them that all cultural taboos cannot reset. . . what steely resolve has them navigate the logistics so that they give birth to a baby in the place that they feel safest despite lack of agreement?
My friend, Dee, lives in small town, B.C. She had had two hospital births and was not impressed by what she experienced in the local institution. She let her husband know that she wouldn’t be going back there again. He agreed as long as they could find a midwife.
There was a British midwife living in their town but she did not attend home births so, as far as her husband was concerned, Dee’s home birth couldn’t happen.
She started having sensations at suppertime, she didn’t say a word. She ate her meal, cleaned up the kitchen, and excused herself to go to bed. Her husband was watching T.V. About 10:30 p.m. she called out to him “Do you want to come and meet your new daughter?”
Caroline had had a home birth for her son. She was a single mother and she had a fainting spell after that first birth that required a transport to hospital. When her baby son was a few months old, she met and married a wealthy businessman. She became pregnant and her new husband was not at all comfortable with a home birth but he made sure they had a great doctor and hired me to be her prenatal teacher and birth coach.
The day she had the baby was sunny and cold. She called me and we went out for a long walk. Her sensations were picking up and so we returned home. Her husband had to go to City Hall for a meeting. She smiled at him and said, “Go ahead, we won’t be going to the hospital for a while. I’m going to have a shower.” I had no idea the baby was on the way out. She stepped out of the shower 20 minutes later with the baby’s head crowning. I quickly phoned her husband and told him to come right home but he missed the birth by 15 minutes. He was very happy to meet his new son and, after that, they just stayed home when their two daughters were entering the world.
Louise wanted to have a homebirth but she was pretty sure her husband, a flight attendant, wouldn’t go for the idea. It was their first baby.
I encouraged her to set up a meeting with me and I did my best to “sell” him on the idea of a home birth. He sat in the meeting with his arms crossed firmly across his chest. When I finished talking he said “Thank you for your time, we won’t be having a baby at home.” I thought that was the end of the idea for both of them.
The day she started having birth sensations, he had an overseas flight. She let him go without saying a word. She gave birth by herself in her apartment and phoned an ambulance about a half an hour after to come and get her. (she needed help to clamp and cut the cord). When her husband came home, there she was in the hospital with a newborn daughter. I don’t know if she ever told him that she gave birth at home. She only told me the story about a week later. i was amazed.
Camille had her first baby in France. The obstetrician told her at the first visit that the baby would die in pregnancy. The baby was born in the hospital 9 months later and was just fine. She wasn’t too impressed with French doctors.
She gave birth to her second child in Toronto, Ontario. The nurse at the hospital came in to check her and said “You’re fully dilated, you should push now.” Camille was furious. Who was this nurse to tell her when to push? She wasn’t too impressed with Canadian nurses.
She decided to have her third baby at home in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a cold stormy night. Her older two children were staying with a friend, her husband was on the road doing sales work, and Camille settled in to have her baby alone. She had done a lot of reading in preparation although material was scant in those days before the internet.
The baby was born on the linoleum floor of her bedroom. Camille’s only regret is that she didn’t realize she could leave the cord alone for a longer period of time. She tied and cut the cord, birthed the placenta, cleaned up the floor, went to the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee and settled back into bed to enjoy her baby girl.
The reason I heard this story is that Camille’s daughter that was born on the bedroom floor became my client for a homebirth 30 years later! I was so excited to meet her Mom, Camille, after I heard about her births.
I love these stories of women taking charge of their own births.