Lets me be clear--we didn't plan it that way. Sarah has a midwife cousin, and always wanted a home birth. I was totally disinterested. And for our first two children, it just didn't make sense financially. We had good insurance coverage, and the hospital births were practically free, while a home birth might have been covered but certainly would have involved a lot more acrimony to get the bills paid. And then Coop was rushed directly to the NICU after his birth with meconium blocking his airways. If anything reinforces an irrational belief that the hospital is the only safe place to have a baby, it's having your first born rushed out of the room with blue skin while no one gives you clear answers about his prognosis. It is actually very reassuring to have the machine that goes "bing!" nearby when your fragile son is struggling for air and you are wading into the uncertainty of parenthood for the first time. So I always thought that the home birth discussion ended in that delivery room where they saved my suffocating son.
But other things that happened that night left a nagging feeling that something was wrong. It really was hard to get answers about Cooper's prognosis. And before he was born we weren't being presented with options regarding my wife's care, we were barely being told what happened after doctors and nurses made decisions. And the birth plan that my wife and I actually debated while she prepared it (really!) was read by, I'm pretty sure, no one but me and my wife. We kept telling people about it and they looked at us agape as if to say "oh, honey... that's so cute!" Sarah was unable to see Cooper most of the time he was in the NICU. I had to sleep on chairs if I wanted to stay with Sarah.
Then when Dexter was born, it felt even more unnatural. Like Sarah wasn't even part of the process. It was surreal when the doctor asked to leave the room for an hour to perform someone's c-section when it was clear Sarah would deliver at any moment. Dexter's was an uneventful birth, but was still a bad hospital experience. At least with Dexter I has a chair that folded out into a bed. Sort of an industrial futon.
After Dexter was born, I saw The Business of Being Born. And we moved to a new house within 10 minutes of a hospital, a house which was coincidentally nearer that midwife cousin. And we changed health insurance to a private policy that made the difference between home birth and hospital birth negligible (that is expensive either way). And we saw Sarah's cousin at a lot of family events in a row. So, long story short, home birth was back in play and Sarah talked me into it.
Her contractions started in earnest on Christmas Eve. They stayed regular, but far apart for almost two whole days. And then things accelerated, rapidly, Christmas night. Sarah's complete birth story can be found here: My Husband (Unexpectedly) Delivered My Son. The contractions went from 7 minutes apart to "he's here!" so fast that he beat the midwife to my house. And me, Mr. I-don't-want-to-see-that caught my son as he came into this world in the middle of my bed where we all slept later that night. It was amazing. No sleeping in chairs. No doctors walking toward my wife with syringes while we stopped them asking "what the hell is that?" Just Sarah screaming into the cell phone connected to her cousin, the midwife, en route to the house while I begged her to tell me what to do and she talked us both down.
Sarah bought me a "catch present." A sonic screwdriver Wii controller, and a t-shirt that reads "Real Men Catch Babies."