1 July 2009

Dear Nicola...

Pinch and a punch for the first of the month! Putting on a political hat for today, so excuse the break in regular programming. Did you know that in exactly one year from today it will be illegal to have a homebirth with an independent midwife in attendance? Do you know why? Because the Australian government has just passed down a draft legislation which will make it illegal to work uninsured and independent midwives are not covered by insurance or medicare. Pretty dumb huh? It seems so to me, Swayer and our owlets. We'll be attending a rally in Canberra in September to try and get our voices across. Tricky to do when you are a minority, but as this issue is about more than just homebirth, but a woman's right to make an informed choice over where she births and who is there, it involves everyone. I'm hoping we can make a difference so that when our owlets are feathering their own nests, they can choose where and how they'd like to birth...

So why do we care so much? I'm going to get personal now and tell you about how the owlets made their way into the nest... The big owlet was born in a private hospital. We had seen our private obstetrician for uneventful 10-15 minute meetings once a month and on the last visit she told me I'd need to be induced because my baby was a week late and she had elective cesareans booked for the remainder of the week and me going into labour naturally would be inconvenient. For her. So I agreed, and after a relatively short but extremely intense labour, she was born. How I avoided the cascade of intervention spiralling into a catastrophe, I don't know. The doctor made it back from shopping for a handbag, just in time to catch her. She was perfect and after a quick feed she was whisked away to another part of the hospital for weighing, tagging and testing. Swayer went too. I was alone for a while. My Mum stayed and watched me shower. I felt bloated, exhausted, torn, puffy and weird. The photo below shows how my big owlet felt... more than weird. Cold, alone, freaked out by the gloved hands holding her like she's a cat or something...

The week that followed was all about Swayer, me and the big owlet trying to figure out how to be a family and fit that in around the procedures and schedules of a hospital. What had been a simple breastfeeding relationship turned into a confusing and painful one as midwives on shift changes came to offer differing advice... We didn't begin to bond until we arrived home. When we left the hospital we felt like we were stealing her and super naughty for WALKING WHILE HOLDING HER!!! The whole week seemed bizarre and my underlying thought was "but why am I in a hospital if I'm not sick??"

So skip forward to 2006. Little owlet was on the way and we wanted a different approach. One that felt more natural and included Big owlet as much as possible. We met with an independent homebirth midwife for an hour visit each month, more towards the end. She got to really know us and our environment. We felt confident in her abilites and experience, should anything go wrong, which is actually rare in a space where a woman feels supported. Little owlet was born at home, underwater, ten days after her "due date". Her sister was watching while Swayer caught her and handed her to me. It was one of the most simple, uncomplicated, magical events of all of our lives. I felt energised, normal, strong, content. We were supported by two brilliant women, the midwife and my Mum, who kept a close eye on us while we went about our lives and got on with being a family in our own space. Here's a little montage of the moments around her birth and babymoon. So different. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat...

I'm writing to the Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, as well as my local MP. I'm also attending the rally with my family and signing an online petition. What will your do?


  1. Wow, that video si beautiful! I've not really considered home birth before (not that I'm pregnant or anything!- I wish!!), but this makes me want to!!

    I think I'll be putting my letter in to my local member as well.


  2. beautiful video:D I so wanted a watrbirth for my last but sadly we'd moved to a smallish town which just wasn't equipped for it, let alone a home water birth! And why not, because "women just don't ask for it"WTF good god! how can this country be so backwards!

  3. What a beautiful video. It made me well up with tears. My third child was born at home in 2007. A event that has changed my life and our family. My husband and I will be going down to Canberra in September for the rally - might see you there. Yours is a lovely blog.

  4. Right with you every step of that post. And we really have tread a very similar path. I have already been on a different soapbox this week but thank you for the reminder to write a few more words for one hugely important cause.

  5. The montage gave me goose bumps. What a beautiful gift for you and your baby. I only wish my birth could have been anything like this. I have one boy and he was born in hospital after 36.5 hours, weighing 9 pound 4 ounces. I laboured in my spine and went through nearly everything but a c-section: epidural, distressed baby, merconium staining, they gave me drugs to speed things up and broke my waters, episiotomy, forceps, tearing and then he was taken away after a quick hold because I had had a temperature during labour and they wanted to give him anti-biotics and monitor his breathing.
    Everyones story is different and I still believe that women should be allowed to birth at home. Instead of taking that right away, why doesn't the government find ways to support home birthing? It would save them some hospital beds.


  6. Beautiful post, thank you for sharing it! Here's hoping the government is listening....


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