So, when I decided to try to get pregnant, I consulted a prenatal massage therapist and began having regular appointments with her. I had my Tarot cards read. I paid attention to my dreams. I wrote in my journal every day. I read Susun Weed's "Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year" and began drinking herbal teas to promote fertility. I ate healthily and exercised regularly. All this resulted in a conception one month after beginning "trying," as well as a pregnancy with no morning sickness, lots of energy (after the first trimester nap marathons), and great joy.
I also discovered in the course of my pregnancy that midwifery, as opposed to obstetrics, provides a birth that is gentle, holistic, and respectful--and this was the kind of birth I wanted. My husband and I went to meet a midwife who did home births, fully ready to embark on such an experience.
The meeting did not go well. The midwife seemed distracted and tired. When my husband asked about pain relief, and she began talking about how "some women can handle it and others can't, and you just have to become one who can handle it," I knew that I would not be using her as my midwife. After weighing the potential consequences of delivering at home with a lay midwife (which would not be covered by insurance and would not be backed up by my physician), we decided to switch to a midwife practice in a hospital.
It felt like a good compromise. And it was. The midwives spent an average of an hour with me on each visit. I felt listened to, respected, and happy. And then, at my 20-week ultrasound, I was told that the baby was breech--she was in a "head-up" rather than "head-down" position. I thought it was too early to worry about this, but unfortunately my heart-shaped uterus meant that the baby might not have room to turn.
And she didn't.
In the final weeks of the pregnancy I did everything "alternative" I could to try to get her to turn so I could have a "normal" delivery with a midwife.
She didn't turn--despite the several chiropractic sessions I had with a very kind woman who had given birth to a breech baby at home, homeschooled her children, and refused to give them vaccinations, and encouraged me to do the same.
She didn't turn--despite the moxibustion (burning of an herb close to the acupuncture point) I did regularly at home. And despite my regular prenatal massages. And despite the time I spent lying with my hips up on four pillows. And despite the headstands I did in a pool. And despite my visualizations.
And despite my faith. My faith in alternative medicine. My faith in my own power to determine the outcome of the birth. And my faith in the Goddess. My faith in all these seemed doomed as I sat in the midwife's office and made the appointment for a C-section in the final week of my pregnancy. I cried all the way home.
And one week later, I had a hospital birth. A C-section. With a surgeon. And a spinal block. Everything I hadn't wanted. Everything I was so sure I wouldn't have. And this was my lesson: The Goddess lives in the hospital too. And in the surgeon's knife.
And in the Christian nurses who wear "Jesus loves me" pins. My daughter's birth was magical, not because it was "alternative" or "radical" or even "different" from most births. It was magical because there is magic in the ordinary. It was magical because the Goddess does not bless only those who live a certain prescribed lifestyle. She blesses all of us.
And She blesses us with gifts we don't ask for--but gifts that we need. She blessed me with an old-fashioned, nerdy male doctor who did his job beautifully. She blessed me with a delivery nurse who bent the rules to allow me to take a section of the umbilical cord home for a ceremony, even if she had no idea why this was important to me. She blessed me with laughter as a postnatal nurse rocked my crying newborn daughter to the Native American chanting lullabies I was playing in my room and said, "Hush now, and listen to the Christmas music." She blessed me with a television in my room so I could watch videotape of the brightest full moon of the century on the late-night news, since it was too cloudy to see outside.
Nerdy surgeons, Christian nurses, and televisions--these are not usually the gifts we ask for in front of our home altars and during our rituals. But they are the gifts of the Goddess nonetheless. This was what I learned from my daughter's birth. It was exactly the kind of medicine I needed.