All posts tagged: childbirth

Editorial Musings: Motherhood and the Paschal Mystery

On the night my first child was born, when she finally came into the light and they placed her onto my stomach, that moment of first seeing her face, right in front of me, was a beautiful shock: her wide open grey-blue eyes looking straight into mine, her forehead creased with deep wrinkles. There she was. After nine months of trying to imagine and understand the reality of the life that was developing within me, there she was. I thought I had grasped, in the waiting, the fact that there was a little person inside my body. But when placed face-to-face with this brand new human, the distance between what I thought I’d understood and what was really true came to light along with her tiny body. The encounter with that face was a revelation of how much had been unknown, even if so anxiously anticipated and indeed physically felt—from the first flutters of movement to the discomfort of kicked ribs. A human person had grown inside of me, her reality—dimly perceived in a sonogram—now …

The Crucible of Motherhood

Several months ago, Jessica Keating, Program Director of the Office of Human Dignity and Life Initiatives at Notre Dame, delivered a lecture in the Institute for Church Life’s Dante lecture series in which she used the phrase “the crucible of motherhood.” This phrase struck me as singularly important and true. The image of refinement by great heat and intense struggle seems apt for a vocation initiated by excruciating pain and physical endurance—well beyond the actual act of giving birth. I’ve also come to see, particularly in this election season, that words matter. A LOT. After three long pregnancies and three natural births of three very large children, I’d like to see those defending the lives of innocent children in the womb use more language empathizing with the mother herself. Women need to be able to say in one breath how difficult and even awful parts of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood can be while also affirming the infinite value of the prenatal child and his or her absolute right to life. The dignity of the person …

Review: “The Gift of Birth” by Susan Windley-Daoust

“They were ‘doing birth’ to me rather than helping me ‘give birth,’” writes Susan Windley-Daoust of her first experience of childbirth, which she had hoped to do naturally but that instead resulted in “failure to progress” and a C-section. “That birth experience ended up being spiritually abusive by the ongoing treatment of me as an object (and not just an object; close to an object of ridicule). My experience may have been worse than some, but it was not that unusual” (14). So many women are terrified at the notion or scarred by the past experience of giving birth in the U.S. today. In The Gift of Birth: Discerning God’s Presence During Childbirth, Windley-Daoust speaks to the need for healing and also for truth: for women to recognize and reject the culturally accepted, destructive lie that “childbirth will break you: you can’t do it without the drugs; that’s just life and it needs to be this way” (14). Her first birth gave her the impetus to be “extremely intentional and attentive” to her three subsequent …