Birth Story: a Review

Almost twelve years ago (WHAT.) I got pregnant with my first child. At the time I was familiar with the idea of home birth since a number of my childhood friends had been born at home (I didn’t live on a commune, I swear!), but I didn’t begin planning immediately for a home birth. It was a complex mix of insurance frustrations and doctors with poor bedside manners (to put it lightly) that led me to seek out a midwife around the middle of my pregnancy (one more parenthetical phrase. just for fun). Once you’re a part of the attachment parenting/home birth/La Leche League community, you tend to hear about certain things. Ina May Gaskin and the midwives of The Farm, for one. I was recently sent a copy of the new documentary Birth Story about Ina May and how she learned to become a midwife and how she inspired a movement.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear that I know that not every mama is a candidate for an out-of-hospital birth, and that other mamas choose to birth in a hospital setting, and I’m so glad we have doctors to take care of those mamas. But there are more and more women who are making the choice to have a home birth, and there are quite a few women who don’t know they have the choice to make. This documentary is a beautiful story of what midwife-attended birth is, how it became a movement in America, and the power of an intentional community.

There is one awkward moment towards the beginning where Ina May is talking about her own history with birth and says something that felt less-than-inclusive to me. I mention this only because I don’t want to alienate mamas who might feel uncomfortable with the remark. I don’t know what the context was off-screen, and since she otherwise comes across inclusive, understanding, and loving, I assume that comment doesn’t speak for her as a person. In other words – don’t turn off the movie just yet!

The midwives in this documentary are midwives I’d choose for my births. (In fact, they remind me of the midwife I did choose for my births.) They balance current science with trust in a woman’s body. Ina May says, at one point in the film, “Your body is not a lemon.” Indeed. They protect their mamas from stress, and encourage them to find their inner strength. They laugh with you and look you right in the eyes when you need focus.

This film relies heavily on archival footage from The Farm’s history. Now, I may have an unnatural affinity towards 70’s fashion, and that may have played a role in how much I liked those old film clips, but they were also an integral part of the film. Through those clips, we get to experience a breech birth, see the Gaskin maneuver help a case of shoulder dystocia, and relive the beginnings of the community itself. Did you catch that? A breech birth. It was amazing, and I’m still high from seeing it 24 hours ago.

There is a scene where they are sitting around talking about how their hair has gone grey, and what that means for a midwife. It means respect. Instinctively, we know that older women hold the wisdom. In most of our culture we’ve lost that understanding – we do everything we can to stay looking as young as possible. But the midwives of the Farm have discovered that they are trusted more once their hair turns grey. I find that fascinating. In the most ancient of female roles, we rediscover our ancient understanding that becoming old is beautiful. Your body is not a lemon.

If you are interested in what midwives do, or the history of midwifery in modern America (and, in fact, the rest of the world, actually), I highly recommend this movie. But you don’t have to take my word for it! (Obligatory Reading Rainbow reference!) You can buy it on DVD or download it, or you can check the list of upcoming screenings to see if it’s showing in your area.

12 Steps of Letting Go of Perfectionism – Own Your Beauty

Brene Brown has shared her 12 steps to letting go of perfectionism with BlogHer’s Own Your Beauty. As usual, the woman is full of wisdom. Steps three and 12, particularly, spoke to me. Number three, because it’s something I’ve done myself over the years with incredible results, and number 12 because it is something that directly relates to this website:

Practice self-compassion. We need to be kind and tender with ourselves. Most of us talk to ourselves in ways we would NEVER consider talking to other people. We are critical instead of kind. We are judgmental instead of loving. Perfectionism is ultimately a struggle for worthiness and there’s no better place to start than remembering that our imperfections and vulnerabilities connect us to each other and to our humanity.

You should aim to speak to yourself the way you would lovingly speak to a friend. Or the way your friends lovingly speak to you. You deserve the same respect you would afford to anyone else. Allow yourself to be loved.

Now, go forth and embrace good-enough-ness.

Own Your Beauty

I’m so excited to be participating in this year-long initiative sponsored by BlogHer. Just launched yesterday, it features interviews and posts by Karen of Chookooloonks, Caitlin of Operation Beautiful and myself. Each month we’ll be discussing a different topic; this month’s is Authenticity. Go check it out, participate, and pass it on. I believe this could really change the world. ?

In celebration, I think I’ll leave some Operation Beautiful Post-It’s around the zoo today. Why don’t you spread some around wherever you are going to be? I’d love to hear you share your experiences with it so share them in the comments here if you do, OK?

Updated: I totally did it!


How about you?

The Body Image Revolution Has Begun!

Sandy Kumskov of How To Love Your Body sent me an e-mail recently about a free teleseries online all about body image and everything that goes into it. It’s called The Body Image Revolution. Right now I am listening to Cyndi O’Meara talk about healthy foods from an anthropological perspective (not unlike Nourishing Traditions, from what I am hearing) and it’s fabulous. Rather the opposite of the current idea of a healthy diet, she advocates against low-fat and low-calorie diets, and urges us to eat as human bodies have evolved to eat. This happens to be quite similar to my personal philosophy and it’s worked well for my family.

If the rest of the calls (about the very many aspects of body image, not just about dietary philosophies) are half as excellent as this one was, they will change your perspective and, hopefully, your life. The calls began last week, but continue towards the end of the month. And it’s FREE! I urge you to go check it out, sign up for it, and listen. And if you do, let me know what you think. Pass it on!

The Body Image Revolution

Births on Lost – Via Unnecesarean

My friend Jill, who is completely awesome in every way, put together a retrospective of the births portrayed on the TV show Lost. (*sniff* NOW what will I do with the next six years of my life???) I shared this on Facebook the other day, but wanted to share it here, too, just in case someone had missed it. What did you think of the way birth was portrayed on Lost? And what about all those birth mysteries that were never solved? Shame on you, Darlton!

Birth on Lost

The Stripped Project

Gabrielle Loisel sent me a link to her blog awhile back and I was intrigued at the concept, but have not had a chance to look at it until tonight. It definitely lived up to its expectations! She has a similar intent as SOAM does – bringing reality into view for all to see – but her execution is a little different. The photos, of both men and women, are all taken by Gabrielle herself with absolutely no photoshopping or fancy lighting. The blog also includes an array of related articles and links to relevant stories we should all find very important.

So, check it out, but do take note that it includes nudity and you may consider it NSFW.

The Stripped Project