Born on the West End
On Sept. 26, 1920 in Seguin, Texas, my grandfather, Reno Schubert, was born at home. He was delivered by a midwife, the common practice in that era. According to Wikipedia, roughly 100% of babies born in the U.S. in 1900 were born at home. This had diminished to less than 1% by 1955. A reduction in infant and maternal mortality followed the increase in birth rates.
Despite the medical benefits derived from the increase in hospital births, there has been an increasing trend in homebirths this millennium. Reno was the last member of my family delivered at home, by a midwife, until our daughter Violet was delivered in our bedroom, on the West End of Galveston Island, by a midwife. We had been very interested in homebirth since we found out we were going to have a baby. We searched everywhere we could think of, but could not find a midwife. We became resigned we would have a ‘natural’ childbirth at a hospital, or birthing center in a hospital. This all changed roughly seven months into gestation when my children’s mother, Shauny, overheard a couple of midwives having a conversation at a local restaurant. Shauny immediately began asking questions and just like that, we had midwives! We continued our visits with our OB/GYN and began have pre-birth visits with the midwives as well. Immediately we felt comfortable in their presence and we felt peaceful and confident in their skills, demeanor and abilities.
In early fall 2002, our daughter, Violet Robin was born. She was born into a house that contained a few waiting relatives including her grandmother. After Violet was born, it took quite a while for Shauny to enter the third stage of labor, delivering the placenta. After she delivered the placenta, Shauny continued to bleed. Our midwives asked if they could pray over her. Even though neither of us are Christian, we both replied “YES, do what you keeps you focused!” We made the decision to take Shauny to the hospital. One of the midwives rode with Shauny in the ambulance and my mom took Violet and me a few minutes behind. Once at the hospital, the staff was insisting Violet needed to be checked in as a patient. I fought back hard and insisted that the medical staff focus on their patient, Shauny, and did not let them take my daughter from my arms. Eventually they gave her the smallest VISITOR wristband and went about their business. This included letting us know repeatedly that we made a stupid and dangerous decision. Most professions are protective of their markets once they are embedded, this includes the medical profession. Once the bleeding was controlled, Violet was able to lay next to her mother. After a few hours, I walked Violet to her first pediatrician visit. As we knew, she was healthy, vigorous and alert. She glowed. Shortly thereafter we returned home. Amazingly, our bed was clean and fresh. The second midwife stayed behind and cleaned up after the birth. We settled in as parents.
Although that experience was the most exciting and terrifying of our lives, we were confident we made the correct decision to have a homebirth. We felt like we had the biological process planned. We knew that if the biology became a medical situation that we would not hesitate to get to a hospital and that was exactly what we did. The doctors were not able to convince us that we were stupid and dangerous. Our midwives did what they were trained to and once the situation was beyond their capabilities, they leapt into action to get Shauny medical attention.
We remained confident in our decision. So confident that in early winter 2006, our son Cypress was born in the same room and bed Violet was born in. We had the same midwives as they maintained our confidence and comfort. This birth went as planned and there were no medical issues that required a trip to the hospital. Again, we were surrounded by loving family that this time included an older sister- Violet. She cut his umbilical cord and lovingly held her baby brother. We stayed home with our babies and grew into our family. Cypress’s middle name is Reno. We had come full circle.