The minute she came out, I was born again. It was like we’d just been born together.
paper dolls photography
If you are privileged enough to have witnessed a woman giving birth naturally in a place she has chosen, what will you have seen?
You will first be in awe of her strength.
And you will think – for how could you not – what a phenomenal creature a woman is. But you will only have seen this astonishing sight if you have understood that if you disturb her in her work, she will be thrown off course. One must sit quietly and patiently, almost invisible, breathing with her, not disturbing her internal rhythm. And you will see that the pain of her labor seldom overwhelms her.
A deep significance to the mother, the momentous quality of pain, as she is surrounded by the deep sense of inwardness, forced to recognize her independence, her loneliness, selfhood, becoming conscious of her own existence. Paradoxically, this actual self-consciousness exposes a woman to her wholeness, her strengths and her endurance.
Nature would not have organized labor to be intolerable. It is the limits of our human understanding that wish to control all that is surveyed, that has conquered women by making them labor in the most tortuous environment constructed.
Let us bring them into harsh rooms with bright lights. Let us make them lie on their backs on hard narrow beds. Let us tether them to machines so they cannot move. Let us make them stay silent. Let us restriction their eating and drinking. Let us expose their most private parts and threaten them with cold steel. Let us make them push their babies upwards, against the pull of gravity. Let us monitor and measure and chart every move they make. Let us swab, wipe, prod, poke, irate, confuse and frighten them as much as we can.
In these conditions, labor swiftly becomes unbearable and pain relief becomes a woman’s only hope. Get me an epidural, cut it out of me, anything, make it stop. Please help me!
This is not the natural cry of a woman in labor bringing a child into the world, although if you have only ever witnessed labor and birth in a medicalized setting you might be inclined to think so. Her only hope for salvation lies in the anesthetist who numbs the pain or the obstetrician to remove it.