Monday, September 13, 2010

homebirth and no home

posted by damidwif 
Many years ago, I never thought about homebirth even though I wanted to be a midwife. I, like many, or most, Americans, thought homebirthing was back in the day. My grandmother proudly told me that she birthed all of her kids at home, in her bed. I thought it was cool...for her. Several Black persons that I have talked to, both men and women, tell of their grandmothers, great-grands and even mothers birthing at home. But everyone speaks as if this time existed during the slave trade or something.

Flashback to Ms. Celie giving birth at home. The Color purple was set in the early 1900s, I think.

All the white bloggers and mommy persons are talking about homebirth right now. I stand in solidarity with the idea, in principle: a woman should have the right to choose her place of birth. I also believe that hospitals are awfully nasty places, especially for something so sweet, innocent, and pure as birth. In fact, I am actually terrified of hospitals and am wondering how I am going to fair once I begin clinical.

But what do the Black mommies want? Are they talking about homebirth and midwives? Not really. And it is partially because of this that I feel some type of way about the hype surrounding homebirth. Homebirth for whom? What if you have no home?

What is a home? Some say it is the place where you lie your head at night. Some say it is where the heart is. But what if you are unhomed or homeless? What right do you have? To birth in a birth center or hospital is a shelter. What happens when that stay has ended?

I gave birth in hospitals with no thought at the time of doing it elsewhere. For me, being in the hospital, aside from the constant interruptions, bright lights and noises, was like a hotel accommodation....a mini vacation. I didn't have to cook and got good food at regular intervals. I was cleaned and bathed. I was served drinks and snacks on demand. Nice strangers visited me and seemed genuinely concerned about my well being. The t.v. had cable. The room was immaculate. I got help with the baby when needed. Everyone was happy. Thoughts of returning "home" were almost depressing. What was I going to do with that damn baby and myself?

Have you ever taken a child or a poor person (or a combination of the two!) to a hotel and seen how bright their eyes shine at the sights, sounds, and smells? It is a break from that person's reality.

What I want to ask the homebirthing community is, who is homebirth for?

Will a midwife go to a tattered, or tiny house off of Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd and 30th street and push through a crowd of dark black dreadlocked loud smokin brothas hanging out on the corner that evening eyeing her every move to assist in the birth of a single mommy in a two bedroom house with many others but no partner, no air conditioner in the humidity of early August and a broken toilet and a some roaches here and there?

Meet your client where she is, isn't that the p.c. phrase now?

All of the aforementioned conditions have never applied to me...simultaneously...but I know a lot of women who live in that reality. Are they thinking about homebirth?

Coincidentally, as my classmates have ordered their books, are ordering their supplies, doing their readings in advance, printing Powerpoints and preparing for class, I am looking for a home. I walk around with a smile, glad to be alive, glad to be AT school [physically] but scrambling around inside. Tuition went up, financial aid either remained the same or decreased. Where do you go when you have bad credit, no recent verifiable rental history, part-time income and money from loans, loans, and more loans, no local family or friends and kids who you refuse to put in the local neighborhood school? What should I care about homebirth?

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