Few people are going to confuse me for the stereotypical earth-mother type, weaving baby diapers out of organic cotton, sipping raspberry-leaf tea to get ready for labor, and mashing and storing my own lovingly raised carrots for a first baby food. I’ve always wanted to be that kind of mother, but I'm not.
Still, the first time I realized I was expecting a child -- and later, when I saw the ultrasound image, that little boy kicking and having a grand time -- I knew this was a sacred moment, and a cherished life. I wanted to embrace this tiny boy in the same way I felt he was already embraced by a merciful God: through a loving, prayerful, and happy gestation, birth, and life.
My husband and I fell into a program called the Bradley method as a way of trying to give birth safely, relatively comfortably, and spiritually. Bradley practitioners hold the belief that, well over 90 percent of the time, women know how to give birth without drugs and interventions, and with knowledge and support, they will.
I must admit that when we were told by our Bradley instructor what could happen without much (if any) consent in the hospital -- routine episiotomies, being trapped on your back in a bed (easily the most painful position for a woman in labor), being placed on a stopwatch chasing the time down to a mandatory Caesarean section -- we didn’t quite believe it. When that same instructor suggested it would be worthwhile to engage a doula to give support during labor and delivery (see "Why I'm Becoming a Doula," page 19), we thought we’d be okay without one and didn’t want to spend the money.