My husband, Chris, and I got married when I was 18 and he was 20. He was, and is, in the Navy. Six months after our wedding, he had to go on a six month deployment. New in town, and about to be left on my own, I started looking through AOL profiles for other Navy wives in my area. A woman named Debbie was the only one who wrote me back. She had a three year old daughter and was six months pregnant. We became really good friends. When her husband had to leave on deployment, Debbie asked me to video tape the birth for her. I was so excited! She went into labor the day I came home from a trip to visit family. When I met her in the hospital, she was already in pretty advanced labor. This was the hospital I would be laboring in when I had my babies. Chris and I were planning to try to conceive when he got home right around our first anniversary. Debbie had gotten an epidural that she hadn't originally wanted, but an urge to push long before she was completely dilated proved more than she could handle. About an hour after I arrived, a nurse noticed the baby was already crowning. I grabbed the camera, amid the flurry of "set-up" activity, just in time to catch the one push that brought the baby into the world. The doctor lifted the baby up and, convinced by a previous ultrasound, announced, "It's a boy!!" Debbie looked at her baby and says, "It's a girl!" A bit of a surprise, but all around a great birth.
Except I didn't think so. I hated being in that hospital. It seemed so dirty and dark. The doctor was too disengaged to even look at the baby before making pronouncements as if he were God. The nurses all had snotty attitudes and were frequently rude to me. And why was there such a panic just a few seconds before the baby was born? Why was birth, the most natural event in life, treated like an emergency? I knew there was a better way, and that's what I wanted. I wanted to birth my babies at home, in peace.