Monday, March 24, 2008
Our new baby, installment #35
About 10 weeks after Harrison was born at home, my mother asked me to come down to Bellani Maternity, a boutique near her house, to watch a screening of "The Business of Being Born," Ricki Lake's new documentary, for which I was interviewed. What was special for me about this night was that my grandmother and my sister-in-law would be coming, too. Before we watched the film, my mother and I added up all the births among the surviving women on our one side of the family. My grandmother had three children. My mother two. My aunt 2; her daughter, 1; my sister-in-law, 1; and I had two. Out of those 11, 10 births were either horrendous, cesareans, or extremely painful. Only one birth was absolutely without complications and would be remembered for how simply wonderful it was -- the one that happened at home, with a midwife, my second child. Although my mother finally understands why hospitals can get in the way of childbirth, the results of our little mathematical exercise was still surprising. After the film, I mentioned the family statistics to my grandmother, who was unconscious during her births thanks to Twilight Sleep, and I think for the first time she, too, understood that birth could be better if we left it alone. It was a small triumph.