What if something went wrong?
This one sentiment is, I think, the real pivotal point to wrap our heads around when we contemplate, discuss, envision, consider, support, and/or choose homebirth.
For many mothers, fathers, couples, grandparents, friends, neighbors, strangers, reporters, authors, nay-sayers, and well-wishers alike, I really think this is the Big One. You know what they picture--and you know that for some people, you can tell them and tell them and tell them all about what you would do if such and such occurred, and they still wont care, still wont hear you.
So, what is really involved here is multi-layered and complex. (You know how I abhor trying to write impressive statistical scientific essays...)
You have the basic fact that childbirth in the popular culture is based in fear, secrets, and avoidance of lawsuit.
You have the basic fact that no one, not even obstetricians, knows what natural spontaneous unhindered unmanaged childbirth even looks like, sounds like, IS like.
You have the basic fact that there are huge amounts of bucks wrapped up in the system that has taught us all that we cannot think for ourselves, we cannot seek information from each other, and that only experts can save us from the perils of our life processes.
You have the basic fact that most things natural and whole are secreted away, hushed, hidden, even reviled and feared as a matter of habit and commonplace.
You have the basic fact that a dramatic "thank goodness for the doc because of XYZ" childbirth story is probably the ONLY kind anyone of your moms, dads, neighbors, pals or enemies have ever had any exposure to whatsoever.
Roll all that into this big nebulous that is the murky imagery that floats around in *most* folks' heads when they hear that you are pregnant, and then tell them you are going to have a homebirth. they do not hear you say "we are planning a homebirth", they hear "We aren't going to the hospital".
The Hospital, the big safe magical place where all the guardians are with all of their minty fresh technology and impressive masked men? You're NOT going? Wha-wha-what do you mean???
You just shook up their little snowglobes in more ways than one. Be aware of this on some level. You don't have to give one hoot, but it helps to be aware of it.
When you demonstrate to some people that you are willing to forge your own path, that you are willing to eschew popular custom, that you are willing to follow instinct and reason and personal research, you can unwillingly piss them off. How dare you do what they could not. How dare you question your reality when they could not. (How dare you succeed, lets not forget, either.)
They might see you as foolish, but if they stick around long enough to hear all of your lovingly gathered safe birth statistics, they might just get bristlier. So they will turn to fear and aggression, out of habit and needing to remain within their own comfort zones. Especially older people. Not everyone wants to take their life by the horns and bust out of the box and stand for wildly progressive change. For some people, even talking like that will upset them. Que sera.
So, in order to talk you out of your choices, in order to make their own selves get back to a more comfortable zone, they will unconsciously think "hey, why does anyone go to the hospital to have a baby--oh yeah--cuz its so safe" and then they will bust out the WHAT IF SOMETHING WENT WRONG?
A perfectly legitimate question--for all of our lives experiences, really. We try from our first waking moments in the morning to the end of our day to avoid injury, danger, and death, right? Brush your teeth, buckle up, don't grab the hot stove, careful with the knife, don't throw glass, shut your eyes tightly in a sandstorm. We try to be safe naturally. So the actual question is not so dumb--I spent every single visit with my midwives asking variants of this exact question, and the UC-ers inform their selves the same way, most likely---educate yourself on negative scenarios involving labor and delivery and then plan solutions and options.
What would granny and pappy say if you told them that babies and mothers die ALL THE TIME in the hospitals?? For alot of folks, this would end the conversation because that would be too much truth and too much radicalism and too much reality chipping away at the Big Beloved Buildings of our communities. They might counter with something about "well, in rare cases", etc. But that's just it. Birth has no guarantees, your living through today has no guarantees. Life has no guarantees. But for some of us, instead of just lining up at the doors of the local popular OB/GYN's office for 3 minutes visits by grumpy strange doctors who don't know our names, for scheduled inductions and unnecessary interventions that put our bodies and our babies and our psyches at grave risk, like so many sheeple, we stand up and choose something different. Something we researched and heart wrenched and soul searched about, some of us for years. We choose to have our babies at home, at birth centers, in water, in forests, in peace, in safety, in dignity, in wholeness, in humanity, in sanity.
If anyone ever says to me "what if something went wrong?" in regards to birth, I can tell them it already has, and then show them all my external scars. I don't care if we are in the middle of Sunday dinner, and in fact, I hope we are. They can consider themselves lucky that my deepest scars are inside of me, or Id show those, too.