By Katherine Henderson © 2011
Today I was having a doula consult/pow wow with my good friend Michelle. She is currently planning her second home birth and I have the privilege of being her doula!
We were exchanging birth stories and the contrast of quality between her home birth and my hospital birth was like night and day.
"It was great!" she began wistfully, "My midwife was so encouraging. She told me exactly what I needed to hear."I, on the other hand, labored alone for 14 1/2 hours. My OB didn't even come into the room until Korban crowned. He barely spoke to me, and certainly never looked me in the eyes.
"She only checked my cervix twice."An L&D nurse was in my room every hour, on the hour, to stick her fingers in my vagina without so much as a "hello" before doing so.
"When I was losing energy she brought me some food to nibble on."I was only allowed ice chips to eat and hard candy to suck on. Not a single morsel of real food crossed my lips the entire day.
"The only truly painful part was the crowning."I was so afraid of being that screaming, cursing woman in labor that I got an epidural when I no longer had the strength to whimper alone in silence.
She was in the privacy and comfort of her own home.I was in an unfamiliar hospital with the door swinging open constantly without regard for who was in the hall and able to see me nude. My room was so cold that I couldn't tell if my shaking was from hunger, cold, or the anesthesia. And all kinds of strange staff members were walking in and out without ever bothering to knock.
She was surrounded by loving support.My anesthesiologist made fun of me for wanting to labor naturally.
Her midwife delayed cord clamping as a matter of routine.My OB had to be asked repeatedly, and after the fact, regaled us with alleged "risks" of delayed clamping.
Her midwife respected her birth plan.I was warned against "reading too much."
Her midwife understood that labor should start on its own.I was bullied for refusing an induction.
She had an empathetic and caring woman who deeply revered the normal birth process.I had a man who thought he knew how to birth my baby better than my own body.
I'll admit I'm jealous. She got to have the birth of my dreams! But that's actually a good thing for both of us. It's a good thing for all womankind! It affirms the truth of what women have been told they aren't even allowed to hope for - that labor can be wonderful! And dare I say it - enjoyable!
My birth envy fuels the drive to achieve my own audacious dream of emotionally, spiritually and physically fulfilling labor.
Michelle, thank you for inspiring me with the beauty of your jealousy-inducing birth story! I am looking forward to being a part of yet another one of your amazing home births!
Katherine Henderson is a wife, and mother to one, in Ardmore, OK. She is currently working toward her Birth Doula Certification through DONA International. Read more from Henderson at SAHM I Am.