Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day!

Me and Ina May, mother of modern midwifery.

Apologies for being late to wish you a happy Mothers Day!

I'm not sure that I've shared one of the key parts of the story of my journey to midwifery ~ it has a lot to do with Mother's Day. When I was a senior in college and feeling very overwhelmed by the possibly of being out in the real world, I participated in a peer taught class on women's health on the recommendation of my best friend. It was comprised of a group of about 10 women that met on a weekly basis. I had never belonged to such a diverse group of women and, yet, this safe space that we had created helped me to feel anchored. The physicality that we talked about seemed like such a visceral contrast to all of the right-brained thinking that my courses required and seemed to resonate deeply, touching me to the core. We talked about all different facets of women's heath and took turns presenting (I did a pin-the-birth-control-on-the-lady game). The week we spoke about birth, one woman told the stories of her mother. Her mother's first baby was a straight-forward (possibly semi-traumatizing) hospital birth; the second pregnancy, while in an abusive relationship, resulted in an abortion. Her third birth, the birth of the woman in my class, was in a birthing room at a hospital, and when it came time to push the baby out, she intuitively got on her hands and knees. I remember having goosebumps while hearing about these different experiences. I also realized that I didn't know the story of my own birth.

At the same time, I was also taking a religion class on festivals and parades. We had discussed the history and development of our modern American Mother's Day holiday and how it was essentially exploited to profit the flower industry. I decided that Mother's Day should be given more meaning and determined that many people probably didn't know their birth stories either. Thus, my personal campaign for mother's day became "Tell Your Birth Story Day". Our society doesn't have many designated times for birth stories, other than baby showers which can often turn to horror stories. It is just as important for mothers to tell about the births of their babies as it is for children to be able to ask about the details of their births.

You know, the funny thing is that my dad wanted to talk more about my birth than my mom did. My mom didn't really want to go into details. But these are interesting tidbits that I did discover: I was born at 5:03pm (most natural babies are born late at night or very early in the morning) and I found out where I was conceived, in a 100 year old barn house in Maine.

What is your birth story?


Amy Romano said...

I agree that Mother's Day is the perfect time to reflect on our mothers' experiences birthing us. Three years ago, the occasion of Mother's Day led me to explore the births experiences of my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. I chronicled it here:

Thanks for this great post and your lovely blog. I've been following for a while and catch your RSS feeds in my reader, but this is the first time I've commented!

Kate Zondervan said...

Hi Amy! Thanks for the nice comment! I loved your birth stories that you shared thought the link. Thank you. I'm continually amamzed and honored that as a "birth professional" that I get to be the receptacle for so many birth stories. I think that is terribly important that we all hold our family birth stories sacred, as our own (mostly) oral legacy. It's sad to think how easily some of stories could be lost.