One of the many things I love about homebirth is being invited into a family’s home. I usually visit their home for the first time around 4 weeks before the baby’s due date. This is the time we make sure all the birth supplies are organized and that I know where to find things when I arrive for the labor. Mom and Dad show me around and tell me where they expect the baby to be born—whether it’s in their bedroom or in the bathtub or maybe another room where they might set up a birth pool like the den or kitchen. We cover details like the location of ceiling fan switches and the thermostat, and what snacks mom should have on hand for labor and postpartum.
Some people worry that birth is messy and they don’t want that mess in their house, so, at the home visit we discuss how to make the bed and cover the carpet to protect it. After the birth my apprentice and I clean up everything—we do the laundry, clean out the tub, and scrub away any spots that may have found the carpet. When we leave you would never know that a birth just happened in the home except that there’s a new addition to the family.
I’ve attended homebirths on the past two Sunday nights and the 2 homes couldn’t have been more different in appearance. The first one was the home of a dairy farming family. They built most of the house themselves. I’ve watched the progress over several years as I’ve attended their previous births. It’s a rustic, open floor plan built with lumber from their own property, including stripped cedar tree columns inside and out. Pets, farm animals, and beautiful blonde children romp around the yard and surrounding land. They grow a vegetable garden, raise their cows and horses and hunt deer. Mama farmer gave birth in her loft bedroom while the older children slept downstairs. The baby’s crib is tucked in the corner of the loft with new bedding and a blue sock monkey.
The second home is an elegant suburban home that was also mostly built and decorated by the family. Mama painted all the rooms in gorgeous faux finishes. Daddy has done meticulous landscaping—laying stone patios and retaining walls embellished with lovely flowers worthy of a spread in a home & garden magazine. There are vegetables and herbs growing around the house and, since this was their first baby, I imagine there will soon be swings and toys in the yard. Mama gave birth in the tub of her luxurious bathroom filled with vases of homegrown flowers that Daddy replenished with fresh ones all week. The baby’s crib is in a nursery fit for a princess with a crystal chandelier and gold trim (though she won’t be leaving mommy’s bed for a while).
Both homes were designed with attention to personal craftsmanship to build the physical structure and, more importantly, they both share the virtue of love that truly makes a home and builds a family. Both families prepared their homes for the arrival of a new baby with joy and excited anticipation. Both families invited me into their home to share in one of the most special days of their lives. I know I say this a lot–but I mean it–I always just feel so honored.