WOMEN WHO JUST WON’T GO

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?
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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?”

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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.
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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.
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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.
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I love these stories of women taking charge of their own births.

12 thoughts on “WOMEN WHO JUST WON’T GO

  1. Love it Glo! Womyn do need to realise that birth is such a profound experience in our lives and that we need to follow our instincts relating to how we do it. I do think it’s sad that these womyn are with men that do not trust them/their intuition enough to allow things to be the way they should be. Hoping that the man I’m raising will have a very different view on pregnancy and birth!

  2. When pregnant with my 4th child, I was doing all my reading up on how to birth my baby alone because of the real possibility of me not being able to make it the 1+ hour drive to the birthing centre. Because I had moved out of their territory, it was the B/C’s policy to not allow homebirth. I struggled with making the plans for that birth because I … Read Morecould only see myself birthing at home. Finally, 5 days b4 baby came, the other midwife said she wasn’t happy with the idea of trying to drive to the B/C, so she pulled a few strings for me and voila!- now we were planning a homebirth! I was so relieved!
    Anyways, my husband was disturbed at the fact I was educating myself on how to birth alone, as if I had something up my sleeve! I mean, I knew I could do it if I had to, I was not afraid, but he wanted to make sure I at least had a midwife there, just in case. (Which I think is understandable: I am his wife, and this is his child, and he loves us!) As it turned out, this baby did come very fast and the midwife did not arrived on time, … my doula showed up just as the baby was crowning and she got to catch my baby 🙂 I am thankful that my husband is supportive of hb, but he wasn’t comfortable doing it alone. For my #5 birth, I could have cared less if no one was there. I told him up front that I was not afraid of doing it alone – I knew I could do it and so he should not panic if the baby got itslelf born b4 anyone got there! ;P

  3. love it. I always thought that when women say they cant have a homebirth because their “husband is not comfortable with it”, well that’s just a cop-out. educate your husband, or just do like these women! lol! I love birth stories like this 🙂 best ever!

  4. The decision to have a homebirth with my second child was one that I defended for nine months. I expected to defend it with friends, acquaintances, etc, but the person I most steadfastly argued with was my (now ex-) husband. My stand was that it is my body and there was no way we could compromise: it was either hospital or home, and there was no way I was going to the hospital. Whether or not this was a sign of things to come, I’m not sure, as we are now (happily, on both parts) divorced.

    My feeling, then as now, is that it was my choice who was with me, who touched me, etc as it was MY body going through the process. I am sure that any man would ask the same courtesy be given him if he had to undergo healthcare of an intensely personal nature: he’d want to trust the people around him and feel comfortable.

    For that birth, I certainly entertained thoughts of doing it all on my own, without my midwife, but I wasn’t ready for that. I agree with Jennifer about discussing birth choices before marriage…with my current partner, our unassisted birth (my third child. his first) was wonderful as he trusted the process. Otherwise I think I would have done it solo this time. These stories speak to me of women who trust their bodies and instinctively *know* they are doing the right thing. Thanks for sharing these inspiring stories Gloria.

  5. Dear Gloria,
    Thank you so much for your blog and your site. You are awesome. It makes me want to connect with the homebirth community here in Thailand, cause there are crazy things here like women opting for C section because of astrology and because they have been somehow convinced that birth must be painful and a C section won’t be. Wanting to have children myself one day I want to learn as much as I can so that we can feel confident to have a child (or more) at home, with or without anyone else around. Much love and a big hug to you.
    :* 🙂
    Dylan

  6. I am such a woman. All my babies have been born at home. There never was a choice of where to birth to consider, only a conviction of my heart and soul of the rightness and safety of birthing at home.

  7. Having a few animals now has been awesome for our children’s understanding of birth. They have now witnessed 3 births at home. Our cow, with a single baby, our goat with twins, and our goat again with triplets. This morning my daughter announced to me (although it’s been 6 months since our last birth) that she can easily tell if it’s the placenta coming or another baby, even though her brother was convinced when he saw the bulging amniotic sac after the first baby was born, was a placenta, not a baby. Seeing these moms birth easily without assistance is incredibly informative and empowering. One of my sons was also the one who was checking for ligament changes in our goat and announced to us that she was going to have a baby a couple of hours before it was obvious. My daughter also asked me if midwives ever stimulate the breasts during labour, since our goat allowed her 6 month old to nurse while she was in labour (although she had already weaned her) and seemed to benefit from it. (shared from my FB comment) I’m very happy that my kids are learning about the normalcy of birth… it will make them so much better prepared when they go through it themselves.

  8. My husband walked out when we interviewed the Midwife who would be at our first homebirth. I focused on being like a flower opening. At one point my husband commented that we should be leaving for the hospiatl now. I told them We cant go as I am in transition. The midwife said I couldnt be as I wasnt making any noise. I asked her to check my dilation. She informed my husband that I was 9 and a half. I knew then I would have my homebirth and I heard the Halleluijah chorus in my head. 20 minutews later I was holding my new babe.

  9. Love the sentiment here! Like others who’ve stated the same thing above, I hate hearing women say they “can’t” have a homebirth because their significant others “aren’t comfortable” with it. Really? So instead, YOU get to be uncomfortable while YOUR body is giving birth?? I fully realize that it’s just as much the man’s child as it is the woman’s, and that the man is concerned for his wife (who wouldn’t be, with all the horrible birth propaganda out there!), but taking away her choices because of a lack of trust is not okay.

    I thank God that my husband was in complete agreement with my strong need to pursue a homebirth for our second child, especially since it was also a VBAC. We faced an insane amount of adversity from so-called caregivers and actually planned to go unassisted in the end. When the actual birth rolled around, we were unassisted for the most part, but a dear woman with birth training came to me in the final hours, when I was exhausted after two nights with no sleep and not sure how much longer I could last. She helped me focus, and I pushed my baby out into my own two hands right there in my living room. It was, by far, the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

    It’s too bad my side of the family didn’t agree when I called them a couple hours later (after a brief but much-needed nap) to inform them that not only had I gone into labor, I’d also given birth – at home. They knew nothing – not about us planning a homebirth, not about me going into labor, and not about our baby being born – until hours after the birth itself. I just couldn’t trust them to support me. And that’s really, really sad. Even more sad? They still haven’t forgiven me. <–Proof, in my eyes, that telling them would've been a bad idea. If they're this dramatic after the fact, how much stress would they have caused me while I was in labor?! Too bad I can't just hide the whole damn pregnancy from them next time, because it'll probably be hell. Ugh.

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