By Babis Likouras
After some years I can still get excited about my boys’ births and remember both events with such happiness and clarity. Both births were planned homebirths; well my wife planned the first birth at home. As she was absolutely so sure that she can have our baby at home, she convinced me with her unmovable conviction that she can do it, and she wanted just that. She is a foreigner, born South African with Dutch and Irish ancestors, so I have seen her more than once unsure of herself and more than a bit lost in my Country and culture. Not once was she unsure of herself when it came to the births of our babies. Her first pregnancy gave her a glow and a strength that inspired me. She would not even listen to people’s arguments, she would kindly, but firmly brush their comments off and tell them, ‘I know what I’ am doing’. Her (and my) advice later to all couples in Greece would be: ‘never to tell any one about your planned homebirth to have the least stressful and most wonderful birth you can have, but let no one stand in your way to have the birth of your choice’. My wife’s philosophy is that God made women to give birth and He made babies to be born, so both women and babies know how to do it for many, many years. Nothing changed since Eve gave birth, babies are still suppose to come through the same way, just as they suppose to be made in the same way. But she believes since doctors (men) learned to cut women open (caesarean section) to get babies out and can ‘create’ babies in a tube as a big money making business, people forgot how nature intended us to exist. Who can argue with that?
So the day of our first baby’s birth finally came. I was out for dinner till midnight with my cousin, my wife did not want to come with, but asked me to please go. I only later realized she wanted to be alone, because she knew it was her time to give birth. She had been touchy and quiet for some days now, but I could sense she is excited; she did not offer to share her excitement with me, so I did feel a bit left out, but said nothing. I realized her focus is not just on me anymore but on ‘someone’ else. When I came back at midnight, my wife was walking up and down in our very small apartment, talking to herself. I said goodnight and went to bed. She woke me at about 2:15 am and commanded me in a calm voice to call the doctor to come. I phoned the doctor and she arrived about 15 minutes later. The doctor whispered to me to switch the kettle on and she put a small box with some shining instruments on the table. The ‘delivery room’ was our small lounge with a soft light on, on the floor a thin mattress, covered with plastic and an old sheet. My wife put blue and pink balloons on the ceiling light. I thought she was a bit silly, but she insisted our baby’s birth would be a celebration.
My wife was still walking up and down in the short corridor and breathing in different tones (I think they call it chanting). She went several times to the toilet and her breathing and praying became louder and faster. The midwife also came in at that time, and it was clear the baby is very close to come out. I was not making a sound and was all the time just observing the whole birth; thinking to myself how absolutely and completely the births on Television, where women screaming; lying on their backs between green sterile cloths with masked people, blood everywhere and pushing their eyeballs out, are utter nonsense and so far from what is happening in front of my eyes.
Here I was sitting on a chair observing my wife, totally consumed in her own world, giving calmly, through breathing and praying, birth to our baby in an upright position walking, sitting and standing as she wants, in our own dimly lit lounge, with two very loving and kind whispering women helping her to find a position she wants to give birth in. It was like a beautiful dream happening in slow motion. Minutes felt like hours, and hours felt like seconds.
At last the baby’s head appeared, with big eyes turning from left to right, as if the baby deciding if it really wants to come into this world. I feel excitement rushing through me (is it a boy or a girl?), and then in a moment the rest of the little body appears. As if in a dream I hear my wife screams ‘O God, Babi it’s a boy!!’ I hear she is disappointed, she believed the baby is a girl. “But we love you” the doctor says to the baby. My wife grabs the baby; I have not time to really see him, as she puts him immediately to her breast to nurse him.
It is 5:30 am. I am out of my skin happy and feel on top of the world. I am a father. Life was never better!