Meet Cletus the Foetus. This week we turned 30 weeks pregnant. At ¾ of the way through, the days and weeks are evaporating at an even faster rate than usual.
Seven weeks left at work, 10 weeks left until D-Day. And when I think back to 10 weeks ago — as the cliché goes — it feels like yesterday.
Yet the past 29 weeks have been an extremely steep learning curve. When I think back to sitting on the end of the bed with my husband, both of us giggling hysterically at the blue line, since then I might already have turned into a new person.
I had the idea of home birth in the back of my mind, from a close friend who had described how wonderful her home birth had been. She had also tipped me off about hypnobirthing.
But it had just been a conversation until now, when I started to realise that actually, the idea of having my baby in my own house, in my own time, with my own midwife — and being able to spend our first night together in my own bed — sounded pretty rad.
So I started researching. I read ‘The Positive Birth Book’ by Milli Hill, which I am now fanatically recommending to everyone. It’s empowering, informative and above all positive (duh!), which in a world of horrific birth stories was pretty refreshing to discover.
I also read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth (Ina May is my new hero BTW). I read The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (the La Leche League book – a brilliant gift from my sister) and I watched a bunch of positive birth videos on YouTube.
I started to realise that birth didn’t have to be a medieval torture process — and the realisation was powerful and transformative.
I learned of the benefits of home birth. Of gentle, natural birth. But most importantly, I learned that I need to recalibrate my brain to see birth as positive, and train my body to learn to release and cooperate when the time comes.
Instead of paying for NCT, we have instead opted for hypnobirthing lessons which will hopefully help with this recalibration. And all the reading and research I have done so far has also helped completely rewire my brain.
When I tell people I want a home birth, the most common reaction is either to smirk or grimace – you’re having a laugh! Won’t you be scared? What if something goes wrong?
And at first I didn’t always know how to respond. But now I say NO! A hospital is somewhere you go when you’re sick – and having a baby is not an illness.
Having a baby is a beautiful, natural and wonderful thing, which I want to do somewhere I am comfortable and feel safe. And while I am aware it’s not exactly going to be a barrel of laughs, I don’t want to expect that tearing, unbridled pain and horror are all integral to the process.
I want it to be powerful and strengthening – a rite of passage into the all-exclusive motherhood club for me, and a calm, stress-free introduction to the world for my baby.
Smirkers gonna carry on smirking right now, cos obvs I have not actually been through the process yet. Clearly I have very strong hopes and aspirations – yet I am aware that things can go wrong.
And while I fervently hope they don’t, I need to accept that possibility to enable me to deal with it should anything bad happen.
But I am doing everything I possibly can to make my baby’s birth be positive and natural, and I am hoping against hope that it will all pay off.
And really that’s the reason for this blog post – to document my pre-birth thoughts and hopes in order to be able to compare real reality with (genuine, not hind-sighted) imagined reality once Cletus makes her appearance.
Because if I can prove it was all worth it, and help inspire others to embrace all that is positive about giving birth — then that will be a job well done.
By Sarah, who lives in Sheffield with Dan.
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