Friday, April 18, 2008

Natural Birth

This week a friend of mine lent me a short book called Natural Birth that she found at the local $1 Shop (the same place my oft-referenced Zen Calendar came from). I read it this morning and am not sure what to think of it. It is basically an extended poem originally published around 1980 and reprinted in 2000 (the edition I read). The author's birth experience happened in like 1962 and then when her son was 16 the poem poured forth and was eventually published. I found the overall tone of the poem distressing to read really--she did, indeed, "succeed" in having a "natural birth" in a 60's hospital as a teenager living at a home for unwed mothers without her partner or any support present, but her birth experience was fraught with stress, tension, and agony basically. She experienced a lot of pain, mistreatment by the physician attending, and lots of pushing for medications (even almost forcing her to have a "shot"--a spinal--that they were then unable to insert after three tries). The dominant theme of the poem seems to be pain and it was stressful to even read--she is so agonized, in misery, suffering, and pain, pain, pain, pain. She seemed like a victim of it in a way that is very different than my own experiences or perceptions of the pain involved with labor. The poem is like this haze of pain. I kept wishing she would get up and move around and work with her body, but I got the impression she was lying down and enduring. I think her overall perception was of having "walked through the fire" and feeling good about it, but personally, I felt like a much more active participant in my births--not like a victim, but like a doer. I felt like birth was something I was doing, something I was working with, not something that was happening to me helplessly.

When the author begins pushing her experience shifts to feeling more powerful--lilies blooming and such. She also thinks about everyone else going about their normal lives and closes with:

"while they slept the whole universe had changed"

I remember feeling this way too after my babies were born like, "they have no idea that a miracle was happening while they slept!" When friends of mine have babies I feel similarly as well--like, how I could I have been sleeping and unaware of the MAGIC that was happening in the world at the same time!

Anyway, it was an interesting and unusual read.

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