My friend Shannon has given birth to 3 beautiful daughters with support of nurse-midwives. Each birth occurred in the comfort of her home. During her pregnancy with her third daughter, National Public Radio asked to do a story about her experience. The story involved a reporter, an intern investigating her own mommy pangs, talking with Shannon (and taking pictures) throughout the pregnancy and the birth. Kiera was born in July, I was mailed the link to the broadcast in August.Shannon’s story is important in so many ways. It shows a natural alternative to giving birth in a hospital setting. We have safe options and alternatives. This story is a window into the soul of childbirth. This story makes a common miracle (if miracles can be common) a bit more comprehensible. There is a celebratory glow to the pictures and a joy within the sounds.
I am not a mother. I probably will not experience giving birth to a child. I have to say this story made me a bit sad. I got to watch something so communal and wonderful, fully knowing that the experience probably won’t be mine. A small part of me felt like a bird in a cage watching an eagle spread its wings and fly across a horizon. I have thought about childbirth a great deal over the years as friends have shared their pregnancy and birth experiences. I have also grown to appreciate other paths to parenting.
Shannon’s family’s presence in the story allowed me to extend my thinking about child birth to the idea of family. Her family was intimately involved in the process. Her other daughters were part of the breath of the day. I found her husband’s role incredibly moving as well. Shannon was the picture of beauty, strength and peace during the experience even in the presence of tears and pain. Her home itself seemed to embrace the birth in the same way it provides a natural frame for the life of the family – there was an architectural safety and security provided by the setting. Just as they were there for Kiera’s birth in a loving and nurturing way, I know they will be there with that same sustaining power throughout her life. I have no doubt the ebb and flow of celebration will continue. I have no doubt Shannon’s beauty and strength will flourish.
Ultimately, Shannon’s story is one of love. It inspires me to find miracles in my everyday life. I just need to keep my eyes open. Part of keeping my eyes open means to be present to my days – connected to my breath. Her story inspires me to be more loving in both word and deed. To seek meaningful balance. To feel more deeply. To find the things that matter. To hold my own family a little closer. To cook and create. To bring people together and host celebrations. To give birth to new parts of me that I have yet to even discover. Thank you Shannon for sharing your story.