In the last few days I’ve come across no less than three children (all 8) who think babies are born by being cut out of their mothers’  bellies. That adds to the child who, a couple of months ago, said this to Amie, who immediately set the record straight. What with all her exposure, from a young age, to David Attenborough’s documentaries, my kid knows about mating and birth in detail. It was a bit of a shock to the other girl’s mom (a GP) when she heard the life lesson her daughter had just received. And then it was a bit of a shock to me what that mom’s reaction was!

Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge. But it worries me that children now think that C-sections are the way children are born, “naturally.” It means that the girls are scared witless, for one, and “never, ever want to have babies!” But what really scares me is that here is yet another essential function of a culture down the drain. The other two are initiation into adulthood, and death rites. There’s a slew of others, of course, like where food comes from, respect  for elders, the preservation of the earth for future generations, etc. But these come out of and after the three basics: birth, initiation, death. Our children are born in hospitals, with only the parents present. Our youth lacks any kind of clear transition into adulthood. Death is hidden away.

If it does not give guidance in the landmarks of our lives, a culture is truly an empty shell and the men who live by it are hollow. All it gives guidance in is the latest style in fashion, what new technological gadget will make you happy, how much money this or that celebrity makes. When  it does reach us deep in our foundations, it disempowers us with fear, submission to the political/economic powers that be, and the suspicion, truthful, finally, that our lives are meaningless.

In this culture, our children are not prepared. We do not prepare them. What do we do about it?

For this reason I’ve become interested in cultures that still give the precious gifts of initiation rites, death rites and birth rituals to their community (let’s not use the language of the dominant culture, that they are “public events,” for that  immediately befouls the goodness). Not to adopt these other cultures – I would be extremely uncomfortable with that – but to learn from them. What do their rites look like, what do they do? Perhaps they will help me recognize the remnants in my own culture(s) and then I can perhaps revive them. And, if my culture turns out not to be redeemable, they will help me make a new one.

That is the task, simple as that. All you have to do is say yes to it, and start the work.

News alert.

This is in from the Childbirth Connection:

Relentless Rise in Cesarean Section Rate
The National Center for Heath Statistics has just released the preliminary U.S. national cesarean rate for 2006: 31.1%. This rate has increased by 50% in the past decade, reaching a record level every year in this century. The most common operating room procedure in U.S. hospitals, cesarean section involves considerable morbidity in women and babies and expense for private payers/employers and Medicaid/taxpayers.

They have a .pdf of a Mothering Magazine article called “Cesarean Birth in a Culture of Fear” on their website. And lots of other information. They’re definitely worth a visit.

I’ve published two new articles in the series “My Natural Birth,” about the birth of my daughter:

My body is a temple… Once I realized this, realized it to the point of awe, I understood that my pregnancy and my birth were nature’s domain. I just had to let go of control. Suddenly the floodgates were opened to a rush of confidence, trust and well-being.

A good birth story is one that was written by the one who actually experienced it (the mom) and that leaves out none of the details… Here is my birth story, the story of Amie’s birth, which I like to call my own: my birth as a mother. I was doing it, not any drugs, or doctors, or forceps: me and a midwife called nature.

The previous episodes are:

I’ve uploaded the first two articles in a series about the natural birth of my daughter (now 19 months ago).  I always wanted to get to the bottom of my (seemingly contradictory) desire for a natural birth. Writing this series has been a great opportunity to explore my hopes and fears about the beginning of my own motherhood and some of the issues that most if not all pregnant women struggle with. I hope you find these articles enlightening. I’m working on two more and will post about their publication here on the blog.

Here are the introductions to the first two articles:

There are many reasons for wanting a natural birth, and there are many reasons for not wanting it. Whatever the choice, a mother needs to ask herself: why do or don’t I want a natural birth? What is it about me, that makes me choose either way? This kind of self-knowledge is important if only because it makes us responsible for “our births” and because it can teach us respect for the decisions of others and thus overcome our divisions within and amongst ourselves.

When you’re pregnant, you’re extra sensitive to psychological pain. It is a good – and difficult – time to take care of the past (and present), to get ready for the future.