Monday, January 09, 2012

A birth, a boy and a book

Eight years ago today, on a sub-zero morning of a full moon, my son was born by unexpected c-section. He was fine. I was upset. My husband, then a journalist, shell-shocked from witnessing the cutting, cauterizing, puking, shaking and stitching, wondered if any of it had been necessary and defaulted to skeptical reporter mode, asking the obstetrician a question when I had finally been wheeled into recovery.

"What," he asked her, "would you have done in this situation 500 years ago?"

I was groggy but overheard the gruesome answer that she delivered to him at the foot of my bed.

Her response generated more questions and my resolve to find out if what she said was true. I spent many therapeutic and enlightening hours in the rare books department at various libaries, pulled shifts in hospital maternity units, and devoted a great deal of time interviewing academics, midwives, doulas, nurses and parents, processing information for myself and what would become my book, Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born.

For these last eight years, Jan. 10 has been a day of reflection for me on becoming a mom and an author -- simultaneously. This year, I am noticing that my son is no longer a baby and the c-section scar, a thick keloid that looked like a frown when viewed from above, is almost imperceptible.