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Location: Allentown, PA

I'm a Christian wife and a mom to three daughters and two sons. I'm a member of the board of directors of EmPoWeReD Birth. In my "spare time" I'm a doula, and a certified childbirth instructor.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Selling Birth

I spent the better part of yesterday attending a birth as a doula. I got the first call from the expectant mom a little after 5 a.m. Just a "heads up" to let me know that she'd been having contractions since 3:30 and they were 5 minutes apart. A follow up call around 7:20, then her husband calling back about 5 minutes later to let me know they were headed to the birth center. I finished my morning routine, drove to work to quickly cancel some appointments, then drove to the birth. It was a long drive complete with backed up traffic, so I arrived around 10:40 a.m. I left the birth center around 10 p.m. It was a long day. I was incredibly honored that they chose to allow me to do this, to participate in this holy and sacred part of their lives.

Imagine my surprise when I read today of a mom "auctioning off" the chance for someone to attend her birth, which was scheduled to be induced this past Friday--for the bargain starting bid of $5000.

I wonder if she got a taker...there were no bidders. She seemed very assured that a high number of hits on the sale meant it was certain to draw a high bid.

As I said, I attended a birth yesterday. But I didn't have to pay them, and I wasn't a stranger. I was their doula. I was their childbirth instructor. I was a trusted adviser. They paid me to attend the birth.

I hope this Ebay-mom had a birth that she enjoyed. But I'm sad that she didn't understand that what a sacred event it is--that she thought it can be auctioned off to the highest bidder. But I suppose that is part and parcel with the society that we live in. Unlike most birthing moms in America, the mom I was assisting was giving birth in a birth center where she likely had met every person who assisted in her birth prior to the actual event. As a doula, I've attended births where the only person the parents had met prior to the birth was me. A parade of nurses, resident obstetricians, and on-call obstetricians that they have never met are in and out of the room. They are exposing the mom's most private parts to bright and shining light, they are insisting that she allow people to touch her in these parts that she would normally not allow anyone but her most intimate partner do.

I wish I could explain to every pregnant couple that birth is a sacred event, and they should guard it as such. Invite only those people that they know, trust, and love. I can't reach every couple. But I can reach some...so I'm doing it, one couple at a time.


Blogger TulipGirl said...

I remember when my first was just born and handed to my arms, this overwhelming identity with Eve, "With the Lord's help, I have brought forth a son."

The sacredness of birth is one of the things in Creation that I believe points to God, ala Romans 1. Even those who do not know God, see a spiritual side of birth (for example, "Birthing from Within" talks about this.)

2:57 PM, February 03, 2005  
Blogger Jane said...

Wow, I wish you could come out to SE Asia where we work and be my doula. I'm giving birth to our second child in late March. Our first was also born here and we had very little support from anyone. My husband, thanks to books like The Birth Partner, did an amazing job of helping me through labor. The nurses at the hospital left a lot to be desired. This time around we both realize that we can do it, just the two of us, but that it sure would be nice to have one more person to support us and to give hubby a bathroom break sometimes. He left me once during labor and it was a bad scene. =) There are very very few midwives (who understand our strange western ideas about natural childbirth) in this country and the one that I know is having her own baby any time now. So we won't be able to hire her. Anyway, just reading your post and imagining being surrounded by supportive and caring people who know me and know what they're doing makes me a little homesick. Just to give you an idea - our main nurse was checking to see how dilated I was and she was not checking in the right place! And I am the one, in the midst of contractions, who had to point this out to her!!!!!!!!!!!

5:45 AM, February 06, 2005  
Blogger TulipGirl said...

Oh, Jane! *hug* No American I know in Ukraine would have a baby here. And my Ukrainian friends who have had babies, well. . . Leaves a lot to be desired. (Blaming a mother for not pushing "right" and that's why her baby got sick, etc.)

Anyway, I always imagined that were I to be pregnant here, it would be a lot easier and cheaper to hire one of my midwives from the States to come out here and spend some time. A girlfriend of mine from highschool was the midwife when #3 was born, and I bet I could talk her into it. *grin* (Talking the insurance co into paying for it would be a bit more tricky. . .)

This time around we both realize that we can do it, just the two of us, but that it sure would be nice to have one more person to support us and to give hubby a bathroom break sometimes.While I believe doulas and great midwives are very valuable, I want to encourage you a little. After #4 was born, Hubby told me, "I was sad when it was time to call the midwife. We really seemed to be doing well on our own." And this is from a man who is NOT fascinated by all things birth-related and forbade our midwives from saying certain words around him. (Like mucous plug.) Sooooo. . . I'm confident you and Joe will do just fine when this one comes. *grin* And, it seemed like each birth was easier for my Hubby to handle--Joe already has great experience!

4:19 AM, February 09, 2005  

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