Millicent’s Birth: My Homebirth Story
Unassisted Homebirth…for Husbands/Fathers
©Bob Griesemer, 2000
This is the story I wrote for Lynn’s book as part of the men’s chapter.
I have put off for a long time writing my comments for Lynn’s book. She has the whole thing written now except for my input so I better write this. I guess one of the reasons it’s taken so long for me to write my thoughts down about our home birth is that it was just so awesome that I feel like I can’t even come up with words adequate enough to describe it. Let me try anyway.
When Lynn first mentioned the idea of giving birth to our baby at home I told her she was crazy! No way was I going to allow that. I was the man of the house and it was my responsibility to protect and watch out for the well being of the family and I just felt that giving birth at home away from the professional medical support was just plain irresponsible if not downright dangerous. Well, that was because I had bought into the prevailing notion that childbirth is inherently risky and fraught with danger that requires the constant supervision of trained medical people. Little did I know just how wrong that notion was.
Lynn does not give into me that easily so she worked and worked on me to educate me about the idea of homebirth. I am not too stubborn and will change my mind if I am presented with new information so I did some reading and listened to Lynn with an open mind. It was when I read Marilyn Moran’s book Birth a Dialogue of Love that I realized we should have a homebirth.
It was Marilyn who made me realize that birth is part of a couple’s love just as conception is. I concluded that I was missing something from our four prior hospital births. I was not a participant; I didn’t have a role to play; I was extra. I just stood around trying to talk soothingly to Lynn and holding her hand (when she let me), but the focus of attention was on the medical surroundings and all the interventions, the constant stream of strangers into the room to check on progress, to hook up the fetal monitor, to insert the IV during one of the births. I felt so unneeded one time I went and got myself a sandwich for lunch, leaving Lynn there knowing the medical people would be watching her. I know that seems pretty cold and heartless of me, but I feel that the situation contributed to that. As I recall, it was actually the doctor who suggested I go to get some lunch.
Then we got close to delivery (still talking about the other four hospital deliveries) and that’s when I really became superfluous. In all four of our hospital births there would come a time during labor when Lynn would not want to hear from me or touch me. One time she actually told a nurse she wanted to hear her, not me, and wouldn’t let me touch her.
At the time I didn’t think it bothered me because I’d heard all the jokes about the wife in labor who blames her husband for doing that to her and all that. I think we tell those jokes just so we won’t have to seriously think about what’s going on around us in that delivery room, because if you stop and think about it, which I’ve done now thanks to Lynn, you’ll realize that in most cases the hospital delivery room is the last place you want to be to have a baby with your wife. Men, you would never let another man between your wife’s legs while she’s lying in bed half naked in your bedroom, right? Yet you give up that position when she’s in the hospital to have a baby and you don’t think twice. I think there is something wrong with that.
A baby is born and it is beautiful and wonderful and a miracle from God. In the hospital you have about a minute to contemplate that before the trained medical personnel grab the baby and whisk him off to do whatever their training says they’re supposed to do with him. Once again I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that because after all, they are highly trained, skilled medical professionals who know what they’re doing. Well, that might be true but what they’re doing is not necessarily for the good of the baby or the mother. What’s best for baby and mom is for them just to be together, to start nursing, but at a minimum to be held close and to look at each other. Don’t believe that talk about how newborns can’t see. If you were in a dark room for nine months and then were suddenly brought out into a room with bright lights like the average hospital room and then had some eye drops put right in your eyes, you’d probably not see very well either. But, if instead, you were brought out into a room with low lighting and were left alone, like a a baby is if born at home, you’d see much better.
I thought about those four hospital births and about what I’d read in Marilyn Moran’s book about birth really being a dialogue of love between husband and wife and realized that giving birth in the quiet comfort of your own home really would be much better.
The moment of Millicent’s birth will be forever etched in my mind as the most significant moment of my life. I can hardly begin to describe the feelings and the emotions of the moment, to see that little purple head start emerging from my wife’s body, and then the rest of her just slipping out into my waiting hands. I was the first one in the whole world to hold my baby. What a miracle from God, what a gift from my wife! Time stood still. The rest of the world ceased to exist. All that mattered was the task at hand, assisting Lynn as she labored and catching Millicent as she came out in the world. When it was all over and Mom and baby were settled down and comfortable and things were cleared up, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was on an adrenaline rush the whole time. I remember feeling like I just had four or five cups of coffee. It was such an intense experience.
Guys, if you want to gain a whole new appreciation for the miracle of life and for your wife then catch your own baby. You’ll also feel more of an attachment to that child too. I feel different about Millicent than my other four that were caught by doctors in the hospital. I don’t mean to say I love Millicent any more than Robby, Melanie, Hilary or Christina. I love all my children as unique and special gifts from God entrusted by him to my and Lynn’s care, but there is just something there with Millicent that isn’t with the others. I really believe she even reacted to my voice differently as an infant, almost as if she knew that I was the first one to hold her. I should have had that with all my children and if I had it to do over again, I would have had all of them at home.