When we first started trying to get pregnant, I optimistically scheduled a meeting with Diane West, a midwife, to talk about my desire for a homebirth. Husband was very, very apprehensive about the idea, but after talking extensively with Diane, became convinced that this was indeed the way he wanted to do things too.
Well, flash forward two years: We’ve been through several rounds of Clomid, one IUI, and a clinical study that gave us a free IVF cycle. And voilà! We’re pregnant! And holy crap, it’s twins!
Poof! There go my dreams of the perfect homebirth. In California, midwives are not licensed to attend twin homebirths, and birth centers are regulated by the same laws as homebirths. And while I certainly respect those who choose to birth unassisted, that path is not for me. So off to the hospital we go! I’m not happy about it, but there it is.
A fertility clinic is, by definition, a highly medicalized environment. So it probably shouldn’t have come as quite the shock it did when the first thing the (otherwise wonderful) doctor said to me after “You’re having twins!” was “So you can schedule a C-Section!” I can’t even tell you how far up her eyebrows went when I mentioned that I was still hoping for a natural, vaginal birth. Nor can I convey the skepticism in her voice as she insisted that I check to make sure my OB was on the clinic’s “approved” list, and encouraged me to keep an open mind regarding C-Section.
I have an open mind regarding C-Section. If I have an OB 1) who is supportive of my desire for a natural birth, 2) who has generally low c-section rates, and 3) for whom I have good references from midwives, doulas, and former patients who chose natural births, and that OB tells me that a C-Section is necessary for me and/or my babies, then I’m going to trust her or him and have the surgery. Frankly, even if I got stuck in a lousy situation without the above-described OB, and someone told me I had to have a C-Section, I’d probably have it, because I’d be too frightened not to.
But that coercive, bullying scenario is precisely what I intend to avoid through careful research, and by ensuring that the OB to whom I entrust my life and the lives of my babies has our best interest at heart – not just “hospital policy” or his or her malpractice insurance. Fortunately, I have a fantastic husband, a great midwife, and a wonderful friend who just happens to be a doula, all of whom will be there to support me through this adventure.
Yes, the most important thing is that the babies are healthy, but a C-Section is major surgery, and doesn’t automatically equal a healthy baby. Nor does it automatically equal a healthy mother. When it’s necessary, it’s necessary, and while of course I’m glad it’s an option available in those cases, the fact is that almost 30% of births in this country right now are C-Sections, and they’re not all necessary.
Reproductive freedom is not only about choosing whether to give birth: it’s also about choosing how to give birth. I support every woman’s right to make that decision for herself, and to be fully educated as she works through her decision-making process. This is my choice, and my opinion, and I reserve the right to change my mind at any time up to and including several years after the babies are born.