In the same way that no two births are ever the same, neither are any one parents' experiences. This series explores any and every topic relating to pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, from a featured parent's perspective. This week our featured mom is Chelsea Dagot, author of Simon and his Home Birth.
When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with the Beatles. So obsessed that I watched my 5-disc Beatles Anthology DVD set from beginning to end more times than I can count. One nugget of information I learned during this excellent use of my time was that Ringo Starr and George Harrison were both born at home.
To me, the very idea of a baby being born at home seemed completely absurd. I remember assuming that the hospitals in England must have been overcrowded because of World War II, and so the moms must have had no choice. Or perhaps only families of a certain social class were able to get a bed in a hospital. Or perhaps the emergency transportation system was not as efficient as it is nowadays. I told myself that, whatever the explanation, home birth was something that only happened in “the olden days.”
It wasn’t until I became pregnant with Andreo in 2017 that I learned home births are still a thing. My husband and I were googling midwives in our area, and we came across all these beautiful photos of moms holding their brand new babies in birthing pools, on couches, and in ordinary beds.
Still, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of giving birth anywhere but a hospital. I figured that the moms in these photos must be the really audacious type. They must be the type of people who have a history of skydiving, or getting full sleeve tattoos, or hitch-hiking across the country for fun.
I wasn't interested in having a home birth, and decided it was too "out there" for me. We felt much more confident with a plan to have our baby in a building filled with doctors, medical equipment, and a team of nurses. I was excited about being wheeled into the maternity ward and wearing a hospital gown and rummaging through a hospital bag. And so Andreo was born in the hospital and it was everything we wanted it to be. He was perfect!
Two years later, I became pregnant with RJ. Our plan was, again, to give birth in the hospital. But this time, I wondered why it had to be in the hospital. I was feeling a little pull toward the idea of home birth, but I was too embarrassed to admit it (even to myself). I was afraid that saying it out loud would make me look like a hippie dippie mom or lead to polite nods that really mean “I think that’s a bizarre idea but I know better than to say that to this pregnant woman.”
I told my midwives how I felt, and we had many discussions about how home birth would work. I was very much on the fence right up until the moment I went into labour. My husband asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital or not, and I was looking for a sign to help me decide.
This happened to be the same day the BC government declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 and #stayhome was all over social media. I thought, why not? And so RJ was born at home and it was everything we wanted it to be. He was perfect!
The real force that opened me up to a home birth was finally seeing birth as something that could happen at home. Tons of moms out there have this mindset right out of the gates, even for their first baby. For me, I had to experience the birthing process firsthand before I could embrace the idea. I had to get excited about it. I imagined the midwife coming through my front door carrying her medical bag. I was excited at the thought of eating food out of my own kitchen and giving my newborn his first bath in our own sink.
The mainstream, modern, Western media has really been missing out on the world of home birth. Hospital birth is so heavily represented in Hollywood, TV, and books, that it’s hard for many to fathom the very idea of deciding to give birth anywhere else. I asked myself, what small part can I play in normalizing home birth?
After many fleeting moments of silence between late night feedings, I had the idea to turn our story into a children’s book. I wanted to make a book that was simple, and something I would have loved on my own bookshelf as a kid. I found a local illustrator, Sakshi Mangal, with the exact style I was looking for.
The result was Simon and His Home Birth. My hope is that this book will remind the world that every birth story is unique and every baby is born in exactly the place they were meant to be born. Whether we have a hospital birth, a home birth, or an unexpected change of venue for the occasion, every mom is the audacious type.
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