When I was pregnant with my daughter, I felt very private about the labor. Actually, I was private about everything. And by “private” what I really mean is “a really nasty person who will bite your head off if you try to talk to her.” Seriously. I ignored phone calls, didn’t answer the door, and avoided going out. If someone did manage to actually talk to me, I usually ended up cutting the conversation short without even attempting to come up with an excuse. I just didn’t like people very much.
So when my midwife asked me who I wanted to come to my birth, my answer was easy. No one. Okay, the midwife of course, and her apprentice I guess, and my husband. Nobody else. And that’s exactly what I got. Not only were those the only people who were present for my labor; they were the only ones who knew about it. We didn’t call anyone or announce it in any way when labor started. For 36 hours, we didn’t talk to anyone but the midwife and apprentice. My neighbors figured out what was going on (we lived in an apartment, so the downstairs neighbors heard us filling up the birth tub), but nobody else even knew I was in labor until Anastasia was born.
And one of my first thoughts after she was born–once I figured out that she was a girl–was “Wow, I don’t hate everyone any more! I like people!”
With this baby, I’ve felt very different. That’s actually an understatement; what I’ve felt is exactly the opposite of my first pregnancy. I’ve wanted to talk to everybody, all the time. I’ve been even more social than normal (and that’s saying a lot). Heck, I started this blog during this pregnancy because I’ve had this overwhelming urge to share everything about my life with the whole world.
So when my midwife asked me who I wanted to come to my birth, I wasn’t sure what to say. I keep having images in my head of a party birth. I’ve had thoughts of posting on facebook and inviting anyone who’s interested in seeing a home birth to come on over. (Please note that I did not post that on facebook. Do not consider this your invitation. Unless I actually call you personally while I am in labor, please don’t show up at my house.) I don’t know why I feel this way–and chances are good that I’ll feel very different when I’m actually in labor–but right now I still love the idea of having a lot of people here, cooking and eating and talking and relaxing together.
Maybe this baby is going to be an extravert?
Anyway, all that to say, my sister and brother-in-law arrived today for Christmas. They had originally planned to come for New Year’s, but they changed plans because of their work schedules. And even though it seems crazy to have company here when I’m about to give birth at my house, I’m actually thrilled that they’re here. I may change my mind and kick them out during labor, but I hope I don’t. I hope they’re here for the whole thing. I hope somebody cooks dinner while I’m pushing the baby out and then we all eat together. And drink champagne.
Of course, I do reserve the right to change my mind and ask everyone to leave.
In the meantime, I’m trying to envision how this birth can work with all these people here. The pool will be in the living room, but the guest room is downstairs, so if I decide I don’t want someone there (or someone decides they don’t want to be here), they can get out of the main space. But it’s hard to imagine what all these people will do, seeing as at my last birth I only had two attendant (not counting Matt), and honestly, neither of them did much for most of the time other than sit there and tell me I was doing great. (Which, of course, is exactly what I wanted them to do.) But with all these resources at my disposal, I keep thinking of fun things that my attendants could do during the birth. For example:
1. Take care of Anastasia. This is the most essential job, and my mom will be doing it. But she won’t really be at the birth. Although I would love for Anastasia to be present for the birth of her sibling, she has said she doesn’t want to be here and would rather go to my mom’s house. So that’s the current plan. If she changes her mind and wants to stay, then my mom will stay with her and focus on making sure she feels comfortable.
2. Fill the birthing tub. This is also essential, and this is my husband’s job as soon as I’m officially in labor. I’m excited about this. I love my birthing tub.
3. Take pictures. I have no pictures of Anastasia’s birth–not until the very end, anyway. I didn’t want any. I would really like some of the actual labor (you know, before the baby comes out–or even while it’s coming out). I may not every publicize them anywhere, but they would be nice to have. It’s incredible how much I love looking at the few pictures I have of right after Anastasia was born, and my favorite ones are the ones that were taken earliest, when I was still kind of in the thralls of labor and the hormonal rush that goes along with it. They’re beautiful and amazing and empowering, and I want more of those. So I have a friend who I may call to come and take pictures (because really, I need more people here, right?).
4. Make a video. Hey, why not? Again, I may never share it anywhere (although I might). But I love the idea of capturing this experience on video. I may not ever want to watch it–but you never know. It might be fascinating to look back on this experience from an outside view.
5. Bring me stuff. The midwives and apprentices will probably offer me food and drink periodically, especially if the labor is long–at least, that’s what they did last time. But I’m enjoying the thought of having so many people around that I can ask to bring me water if I’m thirsty. I mean, when else does a mom get to be catered to like that, unless she’s sick, pregnant, or in labor? Might as well take advantage of it.
6. Run errands. I’m guessing this will be my brother-in-law’s job. If I’m four centimeters dilated and decide that I can’t eat anything but peanut butter, I will send him to the store. He has a GPS; he’ll be able to find it.
7. Play music. I had a CD picked out for Anastasia’s birth, but we never listened to it. This time I’ve made a playlist of songs, but I have no idea if I’ll want to listen to it or not. I would kind of like to at least attempt to have music this time, though. So I’ll probably assign this to my sister and tell her to start it when I’m pushing or something. That way the midwife won’t need to think about it.
8. Cook. I have always loved the idea of cooking during labor, but I doubt I’ll want to do any. I will, however, probably want to eat when it’s over. And even if I don’t, everyone else probably will. I have some frozen meals that we can heat up quickly after the baby arrives, but if somebody feels the urge to cook, I’m certainly not going to stop them. As long as they clean up afterwards. If I get annoyed by the smells or something, I’ll tell them to stop and clean up immediately. I’m not shy about that sort of thing even when I’m not in labor, so I’m not worried about whether I’ll be able to tell people to stop doing something if it bothers me.
9. Post on facebook. Do I really want all my friends to know that I’m in labor? I’m not sure. You have to be careful with this when you’re having a home birth–it’s not like the hospital, where people have to go through protocols to get to you. When you’re at home, people can call you or even stop by to see how you’re doing. And despite how social I’m feeling about this birth, that would not be cool. I want people here, but only if I’ve specifically invited them. So I may not want anyone to do this. But on the other hand, I know all my friends are eagerly waiting for news, and right now I’m pretty darn eager to share news. So I might. It’s good to know I can if I want to.
10. Bake a cake. Wouldn’t it be great to have a birthday cake on the day my baby is born? I would just love that. I don’t have any cake ingredients, though. But somebody can get some if it comes to that, I’m sure.
Anybody have any experience with a lot of attendants at your birth? Did they annoy you or get in the way? What did you have them do?