The Business of Birth

For the From Left to Write Book Club we read Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson. This post is inspired by the book.

Birthing. It's big business here in the States. Expectant mothers plan for the big moment for the better part of those 40 weeks. It's normal for people to inquire about what week you're in, the name of your doctor, where you'll deliver, whether you're having a boy or girl, the name of the baby, if the nursery is ready to go... And then afterward you can count on perfect strangers asking how your delivery went, if you opted to have an epidural, if you're breast feeding, how long you pushed, if you needed a c-section... You don't just have a baby, it becomes the focal point of life. So, as you near the end of pregnancy, you start to obsess a little about the big delivery. OK, maybe YOU don't. But, I do.

My first delivery did not go well. It was long and scary and nasty and has details that make friends of mine reconsider having children. But, it wasn't bad enough to keep me from getting myself back into the same situation. So, here I am... Four days away from my due date and willing labor to start, yet totally freaked out about actually having to go through it.

W's birth could have gone so very wrong. His head was turned up and to the right (I've since heard this described as "sunny side up") and after three hours of pushing his heart rate was rapidly dropping and I was struggling. Things were not looking good. Enter forceps. And I'll stop the story here, but if you're interested you can read a little more here.

For me, there was something both sobering and totally frightening about reading a book in which the twelve-year-old narrator is training to be a birth attendant (aka midwife) in Nigeria. When you're thinking about child birth every day, hoping for a better outcome, feeling resentful about your first bad experience... Well, it's scary to read about labor, especially when they go wrong.

But, at the same time, it's sobering to read about women in huts, laying on the dirt floor, panting. Midwives being called in the middle of the night, washing their hands in polluted water, with a rag and knives as tools. Struggling through the pain in the dark heat with a tween delivering your baby. It makes my impending labor at a top-rated women's hospital sound like a weekend stay at a hotel.

I think of all this and my complaining and whining is suddenly much less warranted.

This post was inspired by Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson, which I received complimentary as part of the From Left to Write Book Club. To see how this book inspired other bloggers visit From Left to Write.


Christie said...

Thank you for posting this. I've thought a lot about childbirth. My own experiences of childbirth pretty horrific, I wanted to see how things are for women in Nigeria. Like you, I was pretty shocked at how dangerous giving birth can be in other places. But I also found a respect for these women who have delivered babies all their lives. Their knowledge and experience, even without facilities or equipment, is amazing. I enjoyed writing the birth scenes in Tiny Sunbirds, as difficult as they were to write. They say that writing a book is like having a baby. But in my opinion, whoever said that has never given birth :) Thank you for reading Tiny Sunbirds

Emily said...

This is one book that I would never want to read being pregnant, but it is your second!

My neo-natologist came from Nigeria. Dr. Kola Oyelese, http://www.umdnj.edu/umcweb/marketing_and_communications/publications/umdnj_magazine/spring2008/19.htm treated me like I was his wife and without his knowledge, skill and quick thinking, there might have been an entirely different outcome for my healthy son.

AwwwTrouble said...

What a perspective you bring to this. Good luck as you face your next delivery.

NickiBabysits said...

Thanks for the book recommendation... I am writing this down in HOPES that someone will let me borrow their library card this weekend! (I owe a hefty fine on mine right now, so... yeah.)