Thursday, February 27, 2014

The midwife and the apprentice

Amanda’s and my plans for our second pregnancy and birth are almost identical to our first. We are again planning a homebirth; we are working with the same midwife and doula; and we are using the same obstetrician for backup medical support. 

The details of our two birth plans seem identical upon first glance, but there is one big difference. We are adding a new member to our birth team, our four-year old son, Ezra. 

Seeing his sibling’s birth will be an intense experience for Ezra. Birth is painful, emotional, messy, and kind of weird. It is also a joyous and exciting time for a family, and we cannot imagine Ezra not being a part of that moment. 

Including Ezra has meant that much of our preparation for this birth has focused on how to best accommodate his needs during the labor. We know that familiarity and knowledge are the best tools we can provide Ezra with to make his sibling’s birth a good experience. So, we try to involve Ezra in most of our prenatal appointments. He has been to a couple of ultrasounds at the doctor’s office, but his favorite appointments are prenatal checkups with our midwife.

Ezra loves when our midwife visits and greets her with a big hug. Before her arrival, he prepares for the appointment by getting out his medical kit so that he can help check the health of the mom-to-be and baby. Our midwife is impressively patient with him, and after several visits Ezra has become familiar with the routine. The appointments have been the perfect opportunity for Ezra to get to know our midwife so she will be a familiar, friendly face at the birth.

One of the many wonderful advantages of homebirths is that it is family friendly. Ezra could not participate in these appointments as openly or as comfortably in an OB office. Being at home for these appointments, and more importantly the birth, removes at least one source of anxiety. Even though seeing his mom in labor may be frightening, Ezra will be in the environment where he is most comfortable rather than an unfamiliar hospital room surrounded by strangers. Ezra should feel safe even if he is a little nervous, anxious, or even scared. 

Another advantage to being at home is that labor is not all excitement. At times, it can be pretty slow and dull. When Ezra is restless, bored or tired of waiting he will have plenty of his own toys, books, and games to keep him preoccupied. Though he will be present at the birth, he will also be able to navigate between the birth and his regular home routine. 

We want Ezra to not only feel secure with his surroundings during the birth, but also the people. Amanda and I know we will most likely be too preoccupied during labor to help him, and he will need to be able to seek support and comfort from others. My sister and brother-in-law were wonderful helping Amanda and me when Ezra was born. We were unsure if they would be able to be with us this time because they have a new baby and were thrilled when they asked if they were “invited.” I cannot think of any two people (three if you count his infant cousin) Ezra would rather have with him. 

They are also part of our extraction plan. If things become too overwhelming for Ezra, they can easily pack him up and head to their home. Ezra loves nothing more that a sleepover with his aunt and uncle. 

With only a couple of months left, we still have some work to do to fully prepare Ezra. We continue to answer his questions and talk about both birth and pregnancy. We have also been showing Ezra pictures of himself immediately after he was born. As we move into the homestretch, we still have more to do, but think Ezra is well on his way to being officially trained and ready as the newest member of his sibling’s birth team. I should probably make him a certificate.

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