So far the voices here and in the trailer have been those of only women. Today we get another perspective. Tim Talbott, a home birth dad, shares his experience at the birth of his daughter. Enjoy!
When my wife was pregnant with our first daughter, she was absolutely certain that her ideal vision would be to give birth at home. She had been born at home, had attended several home births as a doula, and related to childbirth as being a natural and healthy experience for mothers and babies. In her experience, hospitals weren't a necessity for births, unless medical complications were to arise which required their expertise.
At that time I was fairly neutral on the decision. I was born in a hospital and was raised with the mainstream, conventional relationship to birth. One that assumed babies were born in the hospital. Nearly 99% of births in the US happen there.
At the same time, my grandmother had been born in 1900, and I knew that my mom and all of her siblings had been born at home, which to me seemed like a reasonable thing to do. Somewhere along the line as a child, I even remember learning that Jimmy Carter was the first US President to be born in a hospital, which at the time made me realize that hospital births must be a fairly new phenomenon.
In all honesty, I hadn't really given much thought as to where children were born until it personally related to me. Looking back, given my wife’s strong certainty and confidence that home birth would be the most desirable option for her, coupled with my neutrality on the matter, I can see that although I hadn't formulated the exact thought in my mind, somewhere in my psyche I had related to the decision of childbirth location with the question, "Why not give birth at home?"
During the pregnancy, we connected with an exceptional home birth midwife and support team. Up until the final weeks of pregnancy, we utilized our health insurance by also doing concurrent care through the medical system. We made a clearly defined hospital back-up plan, in case any complications arose.
Being pragmatic people, my wife and I aligned in becoming very clear that our optimal intention was to give birth at home, but neither of us would have hesitated for a second to go to the hospital, if that was what was needed to ensure the health and safety of her and our baby girl.
After I had several months to transition into my new role of birth partner, my wife was put on bed rest for the last weeks of pregnancy, so it became my sole duty to gather all of the necessary items that would be needed for a birth at home. Successfully completing this task gave me a deep sense of purpose and duty, which left me feeling empowered and very excited for the arrival of our child.
And then the big day arrived, and with a tremendous amount of power, strength, beauty, fierceness, light and grace, my wife labored our daughter into the world.
For me, witnessing the metamorphous that my wife went through in growing and birthing our daughter, and getting to be the only man present at the birth (with five women and our daughter), was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I had the sense of having been invited into a very sacred circle of The Feminine Power of Creation.
Through that experience of supporting my wife and catching our child as she entered into the world, I felt like more of a man than I had before. To be able to do this in the safety, security and love of the bubble we created at our home, was a gift that cannot be put into words.
Though my daughter’s birth was an exceptional experience, and the one we had hoped for, I can see clearly that home birth is not for everyone, nor does it always end up being the best option for everyone who originally plans on birthing at home.
The key is for the birthing mother to be in the environment where she feels the most safe and confident, and where she'll receive the optimal support she needs to birth her baby in the most healthy and positive way for her. Within that framework, I believe that home birth should be a viable option that is fully supported for a birthing mother if that is her choice.
The reality of the current birth system in the US is that it is a luxury to be able to consider having a home birth. It's not cheap to give birth at home (or anywhere for that matter). With the exception of PPO insurance, most insurance providers will not cover the costs of home birth. We were lucky enough to be in a position to pool the resources together to choose this option, but it wasn’t easy and I can see that not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to make that choice.
It also takes a strong resolve in our culture to make the decision to birth at home and to follow through with it. Making a counter cultural decision like that can feel like swimming upstream against the prevailing winds. This needs to change.
We as a society need to take a reasonable and discerning look at the current state of our profit-driven medical system, rethink our relationship to pregnancy, birth and birth environment, and work to create a more integrated system that utilizes the strengths of the midwifery and medical models in complementary ways. Both the process of birth and the outcome have meaning and consequence.
As my wife, daughter and I now prepare for the arrival of our second daughter in the coming weeks, I feel a sense of deep gratitude to get to be a man with the opportunity to play an integral role in another birth experience.
I have great hopes that in the future more and more birthing mothers and their partners will have the opportunity to consider home birth as an option, within a US society that fully supports this choice. I hope that more and more men, women and children will get the opportunity to experience empowered childbirth, wherever and however it takes place.
Tim Talbott, MA, lives in Petaluma, California with his wife, Brooke, and (almost) two daughters. He is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter (known as Micha’El), and is currently working on an album called, 'Protect the Land,' which will be launched in 2015. For his day jobs, he works at a San Rafael based financial planning firm, he markets and sells the eco-friendly cat toy he invented, and offers spiritual counseling to modern men through his project, “Man, Spirited.” For more information on Tim’s work, check out www.manspirited.com, greencattoy.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/MichaEl/1627233910835318