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When I got pregnant with my second child, I knew I wanted to try for a home birth. I was able to have my daughter via a drug-free water birth and as such, I felt confident that home birth would be a good option for us. Little did I know when I chose this route that I would learn so many life lessons that I would take with me long after my son's birth day was over. Here are a few things home birth taught me.
1. Bodies are amazing
I suppose this is something that most women who've given birth have learned, because no matter what setting you're in when your baby arrives earth-side, it's pretty beautiful. There's just something about having a natural birth in my own home that really opened my eyes to the beauty that is the human body. The fact that my body was able to house, grow and then deliver an actual flesh-and-blood human with nothing other than the tools it already possessed is incredibly cool. I found myself in awe over the beauty and intricacy of it all.
2. It's important to surround yourself with your tribe
Part of the reason I chose to have a home birth was because, having done this before, I knew how important it was for me to feel safe and comfortable during the process. In the end, it ended up only being me, my husband, the midwives and one of my dearest friends. As much as I love my parents, my in-laws and my other friends, I knew that these few individuals were the little tribe I needed to get through labor. They helped me in unique ways and made the entire affair wonderful. They encouraged me when I needed it, but stepped back when I needed the space to figure it out for myself. That's what a good tribe does—both in birth and in life. I felt safe and supported through it all and I truly believe my home birth never would have happened without my tribe.
When the chips are down and life gets hard, I am able to remember it and remind myself that I really can do hard things.
3. Home is my favorite place to be
I love being home. I knew that even before having a home birth, otherwise I wouldn't have had one. But being there for the birth of my child was so special and made me feel even more connected to this place where we have chosen to put down our family's roots. Being surrounded by familiarity and my own things was such a wonderful part of this experience.
4. The beauty of having a plan, but holding it loosely
I am a planner. It is something that has been engrained in me for as long as I can recall. I like to know where we're going, what we're doing, who we're going with, how long it's going to take and what I should bring with me to be prepared. The thing about birth though is that despite all of the planning, things will never go 100 percent exactly the way you want them to.
Of course planning is important. I readied my home and gathered my supplies weeks before my due date. I sat with my midwife and created a plan for emergencies. But once it was go time, I had to let go of my plan—or at least lighten my grip on it. My birth ended up going differently than expected for a second child. My baby was quite a bit bigger and pushing took quite a lot longer and he was in the wrong position. But, the fact that I was able to hold on to my plan loosely gave me room to roll with the punches and change and adapt as things changed. It's something I am learning to apply in my everyday life now as well and something that will be a continual journey.
5. I can do hard things
Birth is a challenge. No matter how you slice it, it just is. Having a home birth taught me that I can do hard things. I was able to deliver a 10-pound, 8-ounce, 23-inch, posterior baby without so much as an asprin and the fact that I was able to do that makes me feel like I could probably do just about anything if I set my mind to it. It is a strength that I've drawn on many times since. When the chips are down and life gets hard, I am able to remember it and remind myself that I really can do hard things.
This life lesson was probably one of the most surprising of my journey. Though I probably wouldn't have said it out loud, before having my son at home, I thought that natural birth was the only way to have a beautiful birth. I mean, I truly believed that whatever route a baby took to get to earth was great, but secretly in my heart of hearts, I believed that "natural" was the best route and that the others simply couldn't be quite as beautiful, because of their sterile hospital surroundings.
Having a home birth though, taught me that a beautiful birth is in the people you surround yourself with, in the inner strength you possess and in the fact that the end result is a sweet, new baby. Birth is beautiful no matter how it happens: on a plane, in a bus, at home, in a hospital—anywhere. I think the important thing is that we all surround and support other women in their choices and unique journeys. They may not be the same as our own journey, but they aren't any less beautiful.