Monday, August 06, 2007

Dr. Friendly made us homeschool

I've blogged previously about many of our reasons for homeschooling, including some of the things that pushed us towards it when The Apprentice was a preschooler. However, on thinking about it I can honestly say that we started homeschooling because our family doctor didn't deliver babies.

No, I'm not completely crazy and I will explain.

When I was first expecting our Apprentice (now a teenager), we were still newly married and I had never had reason up until then to find myself a family doctor. I think we picked someone out of the phone book, and right from the first visit I was uncomfortable with her. (Doctor: "What can I do for you?" Me: "Well, I think I'm pregnant." Doctor: "Is that a Problem?" It took me a minute to understand what she was asking, and when I did figure it out I was horrified.) Anyway, it turned out that Doctor Friendly could do prenatal checkups but didn't deliver babies, so we would have to go with whoever was on call at the hospital, or hook up with an obstetrician, or something.

We took a hospital tour and were also less than impressed. "This is the triage area." (Thought bubble: Triage? Like on MASH? Come to think of it, the decor kind of reminds me of the army as well.) "Here's where we put you first, then we move you here, then we move you here..." (Thought bubble: Sounds like an assembly line.) "Is there a rocking chair in the labour room?" "Uh...maybe we can find one somewhere..."

Several weeks later, almost too late in the game, we talked with a local midwife and asked if she would come to the hospital with us. It turned out that that wasn't possible due to hospital-midwife red tape at that time (it's changed since then), but that we could have a home birth. We took a collective deep breath and never looked back.

A couple of years later, we realized that what we learned through the homebirth process was much the same as what we needed to know to homeschool.

1. We took responsibility for the decisions that needed to be made. Although the midwife was the birth expert, we said yes or no to tests, we helped make a birth plan, and we were responsible for making the choice to "risk" a home birth.

2. We did it together, the same way Mr. Fixit and I had done a lot of other things. It wasn't just my decision, it was both of us doing our homework and making it happen.

3. When things got tough, we prayed, got help, and survived. There were several tough points before, during and after the Apprentice's birth, which I won't go into in detail here; but we got through it, and we survived all the usual first-time parent jitters plus some. If we could handle that--homeschooling sounded like a snap.

4. We were reassured by the example of others who had homebirths and/or were homeschooling. This was very helpful in countering the naysayers, including a dentist who told me we were taking too big a risk in having a homebirth (while my mouth was full of stuff and I couldn't talk back).

5. We were spurred on by many small, incidental reasons that made sense to us. Around the home birth, we thought of the facts that we liked our own big bathtub (I don't think labouring in the tub was possible at the hospital), that it would be more private and quiet at home (nobody else's babies crying), and that we could take our time, not be on someone else's schedule (and be pushed into having procedures that would speed things up). We also liked the fact that the midwives took a lot of time and talked to us, unlike Dr. Friendly. We felt responsible and capable.

When we considered homeschooling, we thought of small/big things such as Mr. Fixit's frequent shift changes; the fact that the school wasn't very close and that I didn't drive; the idea that our Christian faith could be an integral part of what we were doing; my background and interest in children's books and curriculum (I had already done many things that you do when you homeschool); and the fact that we were already used to being a "threesome," and enjoyed spending time together. We felt responsible and capable.

So I guess I will always be grateful in some way to Dr. Friendly; because if she had delivered babies, we might never have discovered how empowering it was to give birth outside the hospital box; and if we hadn't done that, we might not have jumped into homeschooling with both feet. But she didn't, and we did, and that's that.

Important P.S. This post is not meant, in any way, to criticize those who choose hospital births, any more than it is to criticize those who have honestly considered the alternatives and have chosen public school for their own good reasons. It is simply the process we went through ourselves.


Rebecca said...

Wow...great post. Homeschooling is really like is not an isolated decision, but it grows out of a worldview.

Angel said...

Enjoyed your post. Mine is posted now, too. Was fun reliving those memories. Thanks!

Summer said...

Great post. :) I'm very much a homebody, birth them at home and school them at home. LOL It's nice to read another who moved along a similar path. :)

randi said...

I love your comparison to homebirth! I am a homeschoolre/homebirther too, and feel so blessed that God led me to both of those things!

Purring Piggy said...

We had a very similar story... we started with an OB and took Bradley natural childbirth classes. The OB didn't look so wonderful after we talked to him about our birth ideas. We switched to a midwife in the beginning of our 8th month, and our dear friends who were taking Bradley classes with us switched to the same midwife at the beginning of her 9th month! Getting involved in birth decisions paved the way to get involved in the educational choices to come! Nice to know others have taken the same path!

Katherine said...

Thank you for this post! We are also a homebirthing/AP family, and we are just beginning our homeschooling journey for much of the same reasons you mentioned.
However, I have been questioning myself/abilities for months now. Your post helped me put our decision back into perspective, and to remember why we choose to do the things the way we do: Because it's best for our kids & our family! Thank you.

Dana said...

We took responsibility...

That really is what it is all about. Thank you for your story!

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

This is a thought provoking post for me. I never thought to connect it, but MLC was born at home with a midwife. With N., we had planned a home birth, but complications required a hospital delivery, although the midwives I had engaged for the birth were there at the hospital. And they helped shield us somewhat from the usual hospital routines so that N.'s birth was still a normal (in our definition--I'm sure the hospital people thought it was abnormal) birth.

Anyway--I never thought about a connection between our home birthing choices and our decision to homeschool. I never thought of it because we did send N. to public and private school for six years. But when we were at the place where we knew we could not get the educational services that N. needed, homeschooling had already been on my mind for some time. Maybe because we had thought long and hard about doing birthing unconventionally, it became easier to think about other unconventional ways of living.

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