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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Homebirthing in Quebec

"City Kids Homeschooling" is a blog I follow. I don't homeschool my kids. My two oldest go to a Montessori preschool, and I stay at home with the youngest. But when she turns three, I intend to send her to the same preschool. My oldest will also go to kindergarten at Montessori.

After that...I don't know.

I don't follow the blog because I intent to homeschool. At least, not yet. Truth be told, I'm on the fence, and deeply curious about the homeschool set. So I keep reading. Today's post is about homebirthing. I didn't really see the connection...until it started unfolding in my head as I typed a comment on the blog.

My third child was born at home. In one of those magical experiences, my husband and I put the older two to bed while I occasionally left the room with an especially strong contraction. They fell asleep. Labour got into full swing. I didn't have to wake them up, dress them, throw them in the car and whisk them to a neighbour's house while my husband drove like a maniac to the birthing centre or hospital. I let them sleep. I took a bath, called the midwife. I walked around the living room while my husband watched a basketball game and started putting together the bassinet. Yeah...the one that always functions more like a clothes rack than a baby sleeping place.

L was born after midnight, in the wee hours of an especially hot June day. The kids woke up to the commotion just seconds after I pushed L out. Their father loving helped them rise out of bed and scurry in to the room to see L in my arms. They squealed with delight over their sister. I delivered the placenta, and my amazing midwife, who had been with us from my first appointment to now, gave them a quick science lesson on the functions of the placenta. To this day, I hear my oldest declaring to her stuffies that give birth, "You have a beautiful placenta."

Why am I blogging about this now, on this blog, that is not about homebirth or homeschooling? Because it's another experience that will forever be in my mind as uniquely Québécois. In this province, midwives have fought hard to have birthing centres and the right to assist homebirths. I had a midwife when we lived in Boston, but it was entirely different. I had midwives, plural, and the one who delivered me was not one I had seen during my prenatal check-ups. Here in Quebec, Fabienne saw me at every prenatal appointment except one; I called her directly during my pregnancy with any questions or concerns I had; she delivered my baby and came back to the house three times to check on us.

Fabienne is Québécoise. And while I speak French, I somehow felt more comfortable discussing my pregnancy and birth in English. She didn't bat an eyelash. Occasionally, both of us would throw out a word or two in French, when it came more naturally. When L was born, Fabienne spoke in French to the back-up midwife, and the words felt very natural in my home. My husband spoke in French to Fabienne. L was born hearing the two languages from the start!

I'm writing about this because I feel very privileged to have had this birthing experience. Having my baby at home, with a dedicated and devoted midwife, no drugs, no machines, no bright lights, no strangers (Fabienne was part of my family by then!), no equipment, nothing...grabbing that baby and really being the first one to lay hands on her...that experience is MINE and mine alone. And oh, so empowering.

I'm also writing about it because it's not a given. It's not an obvious experience for women who don't even have that option in other countries. Yet another reason why I don't hesitate to say, "Vive le Québec!"

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