I wanted to share my story here so that those who do not understand why someone might choose to homebirth multiples could have a little more insight into the decision-making process that goes into it. This essay isn’t to convince anyone to birth at home, or that home is superior to hospital, or that homebirth is the better way for everyone. I simply want to help show one example of why someone might choose to birth at home, since that is a voice that is frequently excluded from mainstream multiples groups. -Christy
Around three years after the planned homebirth of my third child ended in an unplanned and traumatic cesarean, my husband and I began talking about the possibility of having another baby. For many reasons, physical and emotional, my cesarean had been particularly traumatic, so I was only interested in conceiving again if VBAC was a safe option and a reasonable possibility. I connected with ICAN and researched PubMed articles about VBAC safety. After realizing that VBAC was a safe option and that I was a good candidate, we began trying for our fourth child. Within a month, I was pregnant!
After exploring different kinds of providers, I found out that most of the local hospitals had VBAC bans in place, and others had no doctors who supported VBAC. With all of this in mind, I decided that I felt most comfortable with, and most likely to have my VBAC plans honored by, a certified professional midwife (CPM). In my state, CPMs were licensed and could legally practice; only after contacting several local midwives did I learn that my state’s health department had banned midwives from attending homebirths against the recommendation of its own midwife accrediting agency and even though midwives had been attending VBACs legally and without complications for years before. Eventually, after much research and prayer, I found and hired an out-of-state midwife and made plans to drive up in labor and birth somewhere closer to her.
That was it. My plan was settled… or so I thought.
I immediately set to reading everything I could about VBAC, and pretty soon came across a story on the ICAN listserv about a mom who had an HBAC with her twins. The first thing I saw was a picture of her twin belly! WOW! And then I read her birth story. It was incredibly inspiring, but in the back of my mind all I could think of was how terribly insane it sounded to have ANY twins at home, but especially a VBAC with twins. I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but couldn’t stop thinking about it. On first gloss, though, I was pretty sure that if I ever ended up pregnant with twins, I would need to give birth in a hospital to feel safe.
A few weeks later, my first ultrasound revealed two babies.
I was in shock. I was terrified. I was upset. I felt like I had just kissed my VBAC dreams goodbye, and that after two cesareans, I’d never again be considered a “good candidate” for VBAC. My dad took me and my husband out for dinner that night. “At least I’ll get to pick their birth date,” I said to my family, hoping the thought would help me feel better about a potentially-triggering repeat cesarean after such a traumatic and frightening first cesarean.
The next morning I called my midwife and “fired” her. “I guess I just have to have a hospital birth now,” I said.
For weeks, I called doctors, hospital CNMs, and hospitals all over my state, hoping to find someone supportive of a VBAC trial of labor with twins. All week, I was frustrated by rejection and fear-mongering. After yet another rejection, and in tears, I called my doula, who had planned to be with me back when I was still planning a homebirth. After listening to all my worries, concerns, and frustrations, she said to me, “have you asked your midwife if she has any experience with twin homebirth?” Uhhhhh, no. It genuinely had not occurred to me to ask her that.
So, that night, I called my midwife back and asked if she’d ever attended a twin birth. As it turns out, she’d attended dozens of twin births while working as a hospital midwife, and 17 twin births (including a handful of twin VBACs) since switching to a primarily homebirth-based practice. I still needed time to think about it, and she did not want me to plan a homebirth unless I was absolutely sure, so she suggested that I give it a month to research, think, and pray, and call her back and let her know.
During that month, I read every single study about VBAC, twin birth, and twin VBAC that I could get my hands on. I asked questions upon questions of my local ICAN group and their national listserv. I even contacted that “insane” mom who’d had a homebirth VBAC with her twins (the only person I’d ever heard of who had done so), and drove to her city to meet up with her family at a playground. And you know what? Meeting her in person, I discovered that she was normal, friendly, bright, a good mom, intelligent, and extremely well-educated about birth options and the birthing process.
Also during that month, a single amazing thing happened that has forever changed my life and shaped the way I view motherhood, sisterhood, and support. After a particularly panicked freakout on one of the public communities for natural parenting multiple moms, I received a private message inviting me to a secret, invite-only, online community called Naturally Parenting Twins. In that group, I met many other mothers who’d been in similar situations. I could bounce my thoughts and ideas off of them without fear of judgment. Instead of birth-planning by horror story (which is all I found in other twin mom communities), they encouraged birth planning by research and prayer. At the close of that month, I called my midwife and we were back on with our plans for our twin homebirth.
While homebirth had not been my first choice upon finding out that I was pregnant with twins, it did turn out to be the right choice for me and my family. A choice that was originally made due to lack of birthing options and evidence-based medical care in my local hospitals and OB practices ended up being the choice that helped me to avoid an unnecessary major abdominal surgery, and it’s a choice for which I will always be thankful. I know that homebirth isn’t the right choice for every mother, and no mother should ever do her birth planning without doing her own research, consulting her own experts, and evaluating her own need and unique situation. However, mothers should give birth where, how, and with whom they feel safest; for some women, the well-researched and educated choice might turn out to be birthing at home.