I am planning a home birth.
Now, I know what you're going to say, and let me answer some questions for you: Yes, Jeff is going to grow Jethro Tull hair and start wearing flannel. No, there will be no barn animals (unless you count the mice who live under our sink). Yes, I realize this means that I won't have access to pain medication. No, I am not allowed to smoke pot first. (I already asked.)
My mom had both me and my sister at home, so it's normal to me, the same way a hospital birth is normal to most people. And of course if anything goes awry we'll be whisked away to the hospital so that the baby and I are safe. But the purpose of this post isn't to defend home birth to skeptics. It's to ask a simple question that's been haunting me since I got pregnant:
What do I tell my neighbors?
When my mom had me she and my dad were living in a cavernous 6th story loft just northwest of Union Square; they had the whole top floor of the building, and since this was 1980 I have always assumed that whoever lived beneath them was busy either shooting heroin or painting in the nude when I arrived. When my sister was born we lived in a little suburban one-story house in Austin, Texas, separated from the neighbors by 30 feet or so on either side. But I live in a small, four-apartment brownstone with cracked ceilings and holes in the floorboards. I can hear my upstairs neighbors have sex, play Rock Band, and even drop cutlery. In my bathroom there is a vent that seems to lead directly into another apartment, because I can always hear someone sighing softly, presumably while on the toilet. Seriously, what do I say?
"Hello, neighbor. Sometime in the next month or so you will hear terrible screams coming from my apartment. It could be at noon or it could be in the middle of the night. Do not be alarmed; I am merely giving the gift of life. I plan on using a birthing tub, but from what I hear those suckers are pretty hard to break, so the chance of my flooding your apartment with my baby water is quite low. Regardless, please accept this $7 bottle of wine and this set of airplane earplugs as a token of my sincere advance apologies."
Hmm. I may have to work on my speech.