What the hell happened?
Not exactly the question one might expect from a postpartum nurse, it echoed in my mind incessantly after birth. Induction, intervention, ultimately cesarean were nothing new to me…until I was the one atop an operating room table birthing my firstborn through an incision in my uterus.
Brooklyn James grapples with her medicalized birth as she undergoes several unexpected health issues—fallout from a medically unnecessary cesarean, secondary infertility, miscarriage. While navigating the work and pleasure of new motherhood, there is also much shock, anger, and disenchantment over birth’s betrayal for her to work through. James finally identifies the root of her struggle: she was not prepared for the birth she might have envisioned. So then begins her exploration of all that is and all that can be in birth. The process leads her to a long overdue conversation with her instinct and her body in an attempt to surrender to, trust in, and accept the inherent wisdom within.
Born in the Bed You Were Made is intimate and penetrating, candid and reflective. It reveals a deeper truth about how disconnected many modern women are from birth. Most of all, it is a celebration of self-discovery found in the most obscure yet obvious, most challenging yet gratifying, role as child bearer and mother.
This book is fantastic! I am not one who usually reads non-fiction or even memoirs, but having read previous fictional books written by this author, I knew that this book, being more personal, would be an emotional roller coaster ride. It didn't disappoint.
The author explores her emotions and thoughts over several events that shaped her ultimate decision of having a home birth. As I am not American, I don't know how the medical insurance companies work as such, but I believe that women have the right to decide how and where they would like to birth their babies. Unfortunately, most insurance companies are run by men. I don't mean to be sexist, but its the truth.
I am not a mother myself (and due to my advanced age, I may never have children of my own), but what struck me is how much this author's words touched something inside me that resounded within my inner being. She speaks of the instinctual, primitive brain (the part that handles breathing, and old emotional responses like fear, anger, love and knowing things, perhaps at a genetic level like birthing babies) and how she struggled through going against her instincts for a home birth in her first pregnancy because her insurance company didn't allow it. How this led to her having a Cesaerian that may or may not have been necessary, and later a miscarriage that taught her to trust her body and the genetic knowledge within.
The author also explores the role and history of a midwife. I found this aspect of the book interesting and full of words of wisdom, from the author herself, as well as those used by her midwife and the research books the author has used. I highlighted over 70 passages throughout this book that struck a chord within me. I don't usually highlight that many things in books, so that shows how much this book has affected me. Midwives have an important role for women. They act as a library of knowledge for expectant mothers. They also guide women through the hard work of labour and birthing children. They have a unique insight into the primitive brain through observation, and medical training to handle most problems that may arise. Unfortunately, these women have not had an easy ride throughout history. They were highly respected once, but they have lost their place due to vilification (being called witches, flakes and fakes in the not so distant past) and their knowledge depleted.
Hospitals and modern medicine have grown, time is short in today's society. Large pharmaceutical companies push for the use of drugs, hospitals don't have enough staff to give adequate one-on-one care for every expectant mother, and there are not enough beds for a natural birth. Hospitals have become factories - get them in and send them out as quickly as possible - and induced births, Cesareans (some necessary, but most unnecessary) have become the norm. This saddens not only me but the author too.
It has been an honour and a pleasure going on this author's journey. I wouldn't wish what happened to her happen to anyone else, but her journey is inspirational. I believe that women have the right to a support system like midwives along with obstetrics at a hospital, and the freedom to choose between a more economical home birth or an expensive hospital one. Modern medicine should work in concert with the more traditional methods to ensure a healthy birth experience for both the mother and child.
Brooklyn James has written a story that has touched me deeply. I love her writing style, and the flow was excellent. I am now looking forward to reading more of her other books as soon as I can.
I highly recommend this book, whether you are planning on having children, already have children and are considering having more, or have had children and they are starting their own families. The author references a few books that she used while pregnant, and these may help other expectant mothers too. - Lynn Worton