Since the start of this blog, sharing other women’s birth stories and their reasoning behind the choices they make is something very important to me. By highlighting their voices, we have an opportunity to step outside of our normal way of thinking and inevitably grow. By sharing these perspectives, I hope you feel a little more confident and lot more empowered at this motherhood thing.
It felt completely natural to start this interview segment with the one and only Amanda Grace Sudano Ramirez. She has been my partner in crime through this birth obsession, gifting me birth books and videos for almost every holiday, paying for half of the Orgasmic Birth documentary (a little weird, I’m not going to lie), inviting me to all her birth viewing parties (basically just her and me), and listening to me go on and on about babies and periods and all things birth.
And the truth is, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her. So, I hope you enjoy her voice for a change…
Why did you choose a home birth?
This is going to sound like the cheesiest thing ever…but I feel like home birth chose me.
Long before I had my son, I had a friend who had a home birth. I texted her during labor, assuming ‘oh she’s probably on her way to the hospital,’ and her husband texted me back and told me they were having the baby at home. I didn’t even know that was a thing! I always thought people only had babies at home if it was a complete accident. I didn’t know you could actually plan for it. So that was so new to me.
The thing that stuck out the most was…
A. She’s not hippie at all…in fact she’s a nurse.
B. She likes her medication.
C. She’s actually someone I wouldn’t necessarily think would have a high pain tolerance.
I just didn’t expect her to do something so brave like a home birth. Not that she’s not a brave person! I just didn’t expect her to do something so left field. Because at that point, 5-6 years ago, that was left field.
Later, she wrote a blog about her birth story. When I read it, the thing that stuck out to me the most was the moment after her baby was born. Instead of the nurses and doctors taking their daughter immediately away to clean her up, they first let them have that skin-to-skin time. While they were examining her to make sure she was ok, the husband took the baby to another room to just bond with the baby with no one else around. Just him and her. He got to experience this moment of peace and intimacy with his daughter. I just thought that was so great, and that’s what won me over. I loved that idea.
I had attended my sister’s births in the hospital, and there definitely wasn’t those moments of calm, quiet after the birth. There was always a lot going on. People running around, monitors beeping, and it was definitely exciting, but it wasn’t peaceful and intimate in any way. So that really struck me as something that both Abner and I would really want.
So this friend had mentioned the Business of Being Born in the blog, so I ordered it right away on Netflix, and proceeded to watch it several times in a row. I watched it curious but totally skeptical. I remember hating how much it made sense.
I didn’t want to want a home birth.
I thought my sister’s births in the hospital were all great! They induced her, she got the epidural, and everything was relatively calm and easy. It was like she just went in, we read magazines, and the next thing the babies were born. And I thought that was awesome! I’ll have all the babies if I can do it that way!
The fact that I was quickly wanting a birth that was going to cost me something really kind of pissed me off. After watching the documentary, I was like ‘No! I don’t want to want this! Ahhh crap!’ Abner came in from the other room and asked, “What are you doing? Why are you yelling?” It was because now I wanted a home birth. ‘I had it all decided for so long, and now I don't want that at all. This is making perfect sense for me, this is what I actually want and I’m annoyed by that. I don't want to want it.’ And he just laughed at me.
From that point, there was never any other option that sounded better to me.
And then when my mom got sick, and Abner’s dad got sick, we were in and out of hospitals all the time, so it just kind of sealed the deal. I don’t feel comfortable in hospitals. I have too many bad memories in hospitals to feel like I could go in and have a baby.
Did you have any major fears going into labor?
I always felt very confident knowing that if I needed more support, there was support available for me. I trusted my midwives, my doula, and my husband, that if there was something wrong, if anybody had any sense that maybe things weren’t quite right, there was no pride in transferring to a hospital. If we needed that help it was no problem. There’s a hospital right down the street. So I didn’t have any fears about the birth itself, or the health of the baby.
I did have fears about who would be at my birth. At the time, there was a new midwife on call that I didn’t know as well. One of my sisters lives out of town, and my other sister has a baby, so if someone isn’t there to help would she make it? Not really knowing who would be there made me nervous in the weeks leading up to the birth.
Because I knew if I didn’t have the team I trusted to support me, there was a better chance of me feeling nervous and not feeling confident in myself.
Especially not having ever done it before, I didn’t really know what to expect at all. I wanted the people I’ve been talking to about my health and emotions for the whole pregnancy to be there, and not somebody new that would be thrown into the mix.
After realizing that that was a fear of mine, we ended up hiring a doula. She was our saving grace because I knew for a fact that she would be there. Knowing I could call her the minute I was feeling contractions and she could be there all day if I wanted her to be actually calmed me down a lot and totally let that fear go away.
The biggest prayer I had was that it was going to be a fear free birth. I’ve dealt with pain before. I’ll figure out how to get through the pain. If there is a problem, we can get help. But what I didn’t ever want to feel once during labor was fear. I didn’t want that to be a hurdle that I had to jump in the whole process of laboring him. So I felt like I got that fear out by hiring a doula. And because of that decision, I went into labor fear free.
I had a fear free birth just by facing those fears ahead of time.
Was there anything you took away from the birth process that you didn’t expect?
We talk about this a lot…There was this greater sense of becoming parents throughout the whole process. For Abner too…because we were doing this at home, there was a greater responsibility for him to be the head of the household even through the birth process.
Even before labor, people would ask a lot of fear based questions, and he was just like ‘Nope. We’re not going to do that.’ And it was like the beginnings of him protecting our son. It was the beginning of him using those Father-protector muscles. So it felt like by the time he was born, Abner was already using those muscles. I do think everybody has those. From the moment you find out you're pregnant, you kind of already step into those roles, but I think because we did it at home, we had to take a little bit more initiative. We had to know our stuff a little bit more so it allowed us to become parents over time as opposed to overnight.
Any last thoughts?
I remember this being a common theme from other people…
You don't win a trophy for having a natural birth. Either way as long as you have a healthy, happy baby, you’re not going to get some trophy.
But I kind of did get a trophy by the end of it. I learned to look at something that’s painful and that people say should be scary and realizing, No! There’s actually amazing beauty in it. I don't have to cut out that beauty. To look at something that’s painful but still see it as absolutely worth it…and magical…I feel like that was my trophy.
Pain is pain. I feel like people deal with pain all the time. People run marathons...which sounds like a horrible idea to me... What do you really get out of it? You know what I mean? There really is no perk for it, unless you actually win it. But for most people, you do it because it feels good to do, and it feels good to accomplish a goal. In a lot of ways, birth is the same…except the added benefit of privacy, and the comfort of your own home.
A lot of times in life, you can take a harder route that inevitably builds something greater in you. Through this whole process, I feel like there were so many parts to me that grew. Trust that grew between my husband and I. I found a faith in myself that I don't know I’ve experienced before…
There’s all the things by the end of it I realized, that was my trophy. It was fully worth it. There are so many things in life that cost something that are worth it. I hear it all the time…”Oh I could never do that…I have to take an Advil for a headache…I could just never do that.” And you're like, ‘Of course you could!’
So many people have been telling you your whole life that birth is the “worst thing ever,” and there’s all these scary stories, but there’s also all these beautiful stories too! Birth even in its unpredictability is beautiful and magical and special. It’s something that doesn't have to be “let me get this over with as quickly as possible.”
There is beauty in the process of it even if that process includes pain.
And most of the wonderful things in life are like that.