I just finished reading another book about the history of childbirth. This one was called Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth. I half expected it to be a repeat of Birth Day, which I finished reading earlier this month, or at least similar to Birth: A Surprising History of How We are Born (the covers are even similar). I was pleased to discover that this book stood on its own as an interesting and absorbing tale—the emphasis was really on the recent history of childbirth, up to and including sperm banking and cryo-preserving eggs. I will share a full review soon, but I first wanted to share one of the new things I learned from the book. In the chapter on Freebirthing, the author shares the story of Pat Carter, a woman in the 1950’s who had seven unassisted births and wrote a “manifesto” about unassisted birth called Come Gently, Sweet Lucina (the book I had heard of, the rest of the historical information, I had not). She called her theory of birth euthagenesis (“good origin”). It didn’t really catch on and the author of Get Me Out states that euthagenesis is one of the “few un-Google-able terms.” So, I instantly wanted to write a post and make it googleable 😉 Of course, I did google it prior to posting and lo and behold I did get a single result, Rixa Freeze’s dissertation Born Free: Unassisted Childbirth in North America. So, darn, I didn’t get to put it on the map first after all! Rixa is so awesome that I can forgive her for that though 😉
Only about a week following my miscarriage, I received a review copy of a new book by Heather Cushman-Dowdee (also known as Hathor the Cowgoddess). I have a pile of birth-related books waiting for me to review. However, I found that this soon post-miscarriage when I go to read them, my heart just isn’t in it, and I set them down again. However, Heather’s book was a different experience. Titled Simply Give Birth, the book is a beautiful collection of powerful birth stories (mostly unassisted births). When I got the book, I thought, “well, I’ll just flip through this a bit, even though my heart isn’t in it.” Well, I was instantly entranced in spite of myself. I didn’t finish reading it that week, but I picked it back up the following week and read it all the way through. What a treasure. It was very, very good and I really recommend it.
As I have briefly referenced here, I was struck by how the experience of “unassisted natural home miscarriage” parallels that of unassisted birth. Immediately after my body released my little baby, I felt strong and brave and powerful and like, “wow! I did it!” even though the outcome was not what I ever planned for or wanted. I rarely see feelings like that expressed in the many hospital/D & C miscarriage stories I’ve been reading lately and I feel happy that I was able to give myself and my baby the gift of “letting go” in our own dear home.
Reading Heather’s introduction about telling a new story about birth made me think there are new stories to be told about miscarriage as well. She says about the stories she selected for her book: “…all birth stories…prove what can be done. We can birth our babies and relish it too. We’re not stoic or fanatical, we’re mothers doing what mothers have always done, giving birth; with grace and spirit, and chutzpah, and moxie…they shared their grief, their passions, their exhaultation, and their fears. It takes massive courage to write about this most personal of moments with such candor and intensity and then be willing to share…”
Simply Give Birth is simply amazing. If hope you are lucky and find it in your Christmas stocking this year. If you don’t, or if you just can’t wait to read it, pop on over to the website and buy it ASAP!