Tuesday, January 4, 2011

10 Questions for Homebirth Dads with Sanfis Daly

I saw this link and immediately called DH (Dear Husband) to answer these questions! These were good questions; I hadn't asked some of them! Here are his responses:

1. Why did you choose homebirth?

Because it seemed the best way to provide a normative birth experience for us as a family.

2. Whose idea was it, yours or hers? If hers, what convinced you to agree? If yours, what gave you the idea?

When we were dating, she broached the topic first and we talked about it on several dates. We both happened to agree on the various points and it was a non-issue.

3. What homebirth books or resources did you find to be the most helpful?

For me, specifically, I loved having “Emergency Childbirth” by Gregory C. White (This is available online as a PDF form: http://www.theperfectbirth.com/Emergency-Childbirth--A-Manual.html.

We also both read Marilyn Moran’s book, “Pleasurable Husband/Wife Childbirth: The Real Consummation of Married Love.” It’s a very deep book and it draws on Catholic Theology, but the concepts make a lot of sense regardless of religion. It’s easy as a father I think to feel left out, but this book made me feel very included and important to the whole process. It confirmed that we were a family embarking on a journey together.

4. Before the birth, what fears or issues did you have surrounding homebirth (or birth in general)? How did those change for you after experiencing the birth?

I tagged along with my wife when she was interviewing doctors, midwives, doulas and hospitals for prenatal care and back-up/high risk care if needed. I was astonished at the current state of our local hospitals. Before she was pregnant, I viewed homebirth as just a normal thing to do and often thought, “Why bother going to the hospital if you’re not sick?” I wasn’t anti-hospital. After all her meetings and interviews, I was not only anti-hospital, but speechless and scared of the thought that we might need to use these hospitals.

After both of her homebirths, she chose to transfer to the local hospital for stitches. We visited with the ER surgeon both times. This helped heal my view of the hospitals as the ER doctors and nurses were very different from the OBs. They were respectful and seemed up to date on evidence-based medicine. Except after our last unassisted birth, the ER doctor pushed circumcision on us 3 times. I lost faith once again.
5. What do you wish someone had told you before your first homebirth? What advice would you give to a first time homebirth dad?

I wish someone had truly convinced me to take care of myself while she was in labor. People told me to do it, even my wife, but I dismissed it as a superficial nicety. But her first birth was very long and she needed me to be present with her the whole time. By the time our daughter was born, I felt like collapsing. Not a good way to start fatherhood!

The second time around, I had more respect for this idea of caring for myself. I trusted her when she told me she would wake me up when she needed me (at the beginning of labor) and I made sure that whenever she wanted a drink, I made two drinks, one for me and one for her!

6. Which part of the birth did you find to be the most difficult or challenging for you?

It was really hard for me to feel as if I was supporting her without touching her. Everywhere you look, massage and touch are promoted as labor resources. And on top of that, I am a very touchy person. But both times, my wife did not want to be touched during labor. She would even recoil from me, and I had to focus and remind myself that it wasn’t personal. Labor partners should let everything roll off their backs, such as any harsh words, harsh body language, rejection, asking for space, etc….it’s not personal. She’s going through an intense experience.

7. Did you have support during the birth from your guy friends? If so, what was the most supportive? If not, what would have helped you the most?

I didn’t have much support because my peer group hasn’t really moved to the childbirth milestone yet. I did get support from my father and my father in law, who is very pro-homebirth.

8. How was your interaction with the midwife during the birth? What could have made that better?

We planned an unassisted birth the first time, but ended up calling a midwife partway through because my daughter was asynclitic and having a slow time coming out. The midwife was extremely gracious, gentle, unobtrusive and helpful. She was an amazing person and very knowledgeable in a way that can’t be taught in schools. She helped reposition the baby and ensured that we had a peaceful homebirth in a situation that would have ended as a non-emergent c-section due to “failure to progress.”

The second birth was an unassisted birth. 

9. How has the relationship with your partner changed after having a homebirth together?

Experiencing birth as a family is indescribable. I encourage every father to fight for that experience. You will make new connections you never knew could exist.

10. Would you have another homebirth? Why or why not?

Yes, of course. Unless my wife convinces me to have an ocean birth!

Bonus: Will you describe the emotional/spiritual side of your birth experience from a man’s viewpoint?

I am Catholic. And I found a lot of spiritual fulfillment in our birth journey together as a family. When I was kneeling next to my wife, whispering to her as she was breathing through a contraction, I thought of St. Joseph and how he must have felt. It was only him and Mary and God. That’s a lot of responsibility on our shoulders as fathers. It can feel heavy and scary. Yet at the same time, I felt as if I had become the person I was meant to be and the father I wanted to be.

As for connecting with my children…fathers, catch your babies, or touch your babies as they are born. Talk to them. Look into their eyes. It’s a ride you will never forget. Both my babies gave me their first smile. An amazing gift.

Zon smiling

Ian smiling
Update: You can read about our third unassisted birth here:  http://guggiedaly.blogspot.com/2012/02/birth-story-of-ciaran-james.html