I am currently in a suburb of Dallas, visiting my aunt (Jenny), her husband (Patrick), and their four daughters. Their fourth was born this past Monday at 10:21pm. I had the awesome privilege of being present for her nativity, which took place at home, in a birthing pool. As I consider the culturally normative images of birth--woman reclining on hospital bed, wearing one of those horrible gowns, legs apart, red face contorted, screaming with pain, doctors in scrubs, medical face masks, the husband in scrubs, face mask hanging by one string, saying "push, honey, push"--contrasted with the calm, the candlelight, quiet music, soft voices--the naturalness of Jenny's labor--as the midwife said, she makes it look so easy!--it's hard to believe that the contrasting images describe the same type of event.
Of course, having delivered a baby three times before, Jenny was apparently already a skilled and veteran birthing-mother. So I won't be so enthusiastic as to hope that when, God-willing, I have my first child, the birth will be as smooth and natural as the one I witnessed Monday. But I hope it will be closer to that than to the sterilized hospital births of popular imagination.