by Mark Banta
Had you asked me 5 years ago what I thought of home birth I would have told you, in no uncertain terms, that the risks far outweigh the rewards. Furthermore, I would have said that there is no reason to do such a thing given the excellent medical technology and gifted medical professionals available to us in this great nation. That was five years ago. Today, I have a much different view of childbirth and the “risks” and “rewards” attached thereto. Do I think differently of the excellent medical technology available? No. Do I feel less trusting of the many gifted medical professionals in this great country, our state or our town? Not a bit. In fact, some of the people I admire and respect most in life are medical professionals. Today I have a different view of childbirth at home because, thanks to my trust of my wife, Lauren, the professionalism of some very gifted midwives, and grace from God, I now have the advantage of having experienced two very beautiful and successful home births. I wholeheartedly believe in home birth. In the spring of 1997, after 2 ½ years of marriage and six years of post-college experience in my field of work, I was going to be a father! I was very excited and began to imagine life with a new baby in our home. Taking for granted the “normal” pregnancy and quick trip to the hospital that would occur in 9 months, I looked forward to the joys of parenthood. Then, Lauren began to talk of “natural” childbirth, like childbirth was not natural in it’s very nature. We began seeing a nurse-midwife, which I didn’t view to be out of the ordinary, and attending Bradley classes in preparation for the big day. Then it happened. Lauren informed me that she had set up an appointment with two professional midwives, Abby and Kelley, to discuss the possibility of giving birth to our baby at home. After my initial reactions of “no way” and “why would we do that?”, I agreed to go with her, if for no other reason than to satisfy my curiosity. I am not certain what I expected prior to that first visit to CHOICE, which I intended to be our last, but what I found was not what I expected. Abby and Kelley were very professional, sincere and serious ladies who knew exactly what they were doing. As much as I wanted to dismiss home birth as an interesting but unrealistic idea, I couldn’t help recognizing the confidence and peace about these midwives. I agreed to continue pursuing this new option. After a few more visits to CHOICE, I was convinced that Abby and Kelley were very capable of delivering our baby in our home. Any lack of confidence I might have had was gone. Our first child, Jacob, was born at the foot of our bed shortly before 6:00 am on February 6th, 1998. It was one of the three most fondly memorable and significant days of my life. Abby and Kelley guided us through a textbook birth in the warmth and privacy our own bedroom. I will never forget the incredible peace and joy of sitting in bed with Lauren and our newborn baby resting safely and instantly bonding as a family unit. Our second child, Ellen, was born in our home in the middle of the afternoon on April 28th, 2000. For our second birth, Lauren wanted to use an “aqua-doula” (hot tub) and deliver our baby into the very natural and familiar environment of body temperature water. Once again, Abby and Kelley guided us through a textbook home birth. The joy of Ellen’s birth was even greater with our son, now 2 years and 2 months old, on hand to join in the instant bonding. Our third child is due in June and will be born in our home as well. We are very excited about our son and daughter being able to meet and bond with their new sibling instantly. What a joy it will be for our family. There is no question that home birth, or natural childbirth, for that matter, is not for everyone. There are many factors that make natural childbirth high risk, or not even possible. Likewise, there have been millions of happy, healthy babies born in good hospitals by wonderful medical professionals. However, for our family, home birth with CHOICE has been the right decision. The warmth and serenity of our own home is, in our opinion, the perfect place to bring our children into the world. For our newborn babies to be instantly nurtured by the people whose voices they have been hearing for their entire prenatal existence makes perfect sense. To be able to bond as a family unit, at home, with no outside influences, is very peaceful. The midwives’ professionalism and wisdom from many years of home birthing experiences makes birthing our babies naturally a comfortably safe option. And, perhaps the greatest reward for us, aside from the health and happiness of our children, is the new family members we acquired along the way– Abby and Kelley.
Mark Banta graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Engineering in 1992. He is a General Contractor and Project Engineer who has been involved in the building of many well-known structures in and around Columbus. He and his wife, Lauren, reside in Westerville, Ohio. Their first child, Jacob, was born at home in February 1998. Their daughter, Ellen, was born underwater at home in April, 2000, and they are expecting their 3rd child in June.