Thank you for the lovely comments! Some have asked for some more birth detail, so here it is.
After ten months (43 weeks) of a very healthy pregnancy, baby and body finally decided it was time. The length didn't surprise me - I cook babies a long, long time. Labor started at around 4 pm, contractions eight minutes apart. My husband called the midwife and then we went to the store to walk and get groceries, hoping to keep the contractions steady and strong.
When we got back, the midwife and her assistant were there. I wanted to stay busy, to help labor seem shorter, so I made a goat meat stew (from a new recipe, using coconut milk - it was very, very good) for after the birth, chocolate chip cookies, and rolls. The distraction worked because it was 10:30 before I realized it. My younger daughter had gone to bed and my older daughter, though she wanted to be there for the birth, was fading fast. After telling my contractions to "stop it. Stop hurting my mother.", and having it explained to her that the contractions, while uncomfortable, were a good thing, she curled up with my husband and went to sleep. Reason #413 why homebirth is wonderful.
At 10:30 my water broke and I expected to give birth within the next 30 minutes - that's how it had been with my two girls. I wish I'd known it would be different this time. An hour later I had to admit that I was nowhere near giving birth yet, so I'd better stop thinking "this one could be it" and just start acting as if the pushing was hours away and rolling with the contractions that were getting me there.
At 1:38 am on Monday morning, I felt the urge to push and at 1:40 am, he was here. There was no slowing him down once he was ready. The movement from birth to my chest was so fluid, so natural. It was an amazing feeling. My first birth, at the hospital, had me reaching for my baby before they handed her to me. My second birth, at home, had my husband holding her first. This one was different, and it was wonderful.
I'm trying to think of what is "best" about a homebirth.
Is it the calm knowledge that you won't have to submit to hospital policies like IVs, baby monitors, and labor on a bed? These things may not be common everywhere, but in my tiny, podunk hospital, they're mandatory.
Is it being able to wear what you want and know that, unlike one of my sister in laws, you don't have to change into a hospital gown with "Central Laundry" printed on the front of it?
Is it being able to labor in the comfort of familiar surroundings, wandering from room to room, relaxing in your own shower, cuddling with your children, leaning on your husband, or locking yourself away from everybody when that feels necessary?
Is it not having to refuse medication over and over, having that eat into your knowledge that you are strong and capable and able to do this thing that, from birth, your culture has told you you are not able to do?
Is it not having to ask permission to hold your baby, not having to hand the baby over for weighing and measuring before you're ready, not having to say goodbye as your baby is taken to the nursery for "standard treatments"?
Is it moving from the birthing place to your comfy recliner and nuzzling your newborn baby as you both doze and he tries nursing and figures out this new way of eating for the first time?
Is it watching your daughters' faces as they wake up and see a newborn baby that wasn't there when they went to sleep? Watch their little faces as they put it all together and realize that this is real. And not have to say goodbye when visiting hours are over.
Is it realizing a day and a half after birth that had you given birth in the hospital, you would just now be getting "permission" to leave and come home. Instead, you've been home and comfortable since the birth.
There is nothing "best" about a homebirth. A homebirth makes a birth "simply" a part of life. It doesn't break it apart from life and make it a medical event. It honors it as a natural, albeit glorious, event. I know how very lucky I am to have had low-risk pregnancies that have allowed me to have this experience, that have allowed me this way of welcoming new life into our family.
Was this too much? lol - I hope not. Back to regular, not so sappy blogging now.