thoughts re: ‘the business of being born’ documentary

My church screened the new documentary The Business of Being Born Saturday. From an art/critical/analytical stance, the movie is not wonderful; it’s OK. The content was great, and it was empowering to see this information in a film that’s getting some attention, but I doubt that the AMA is going to watch it and think, “Oh, wow. Our whole profession has fucked up royally.”

It’s infuriating to see some of the doctor’s arrogant contentment with being completely ignorant of the natural process of birth. Many had never witnessed a non-medicated birth. I really think, based on my acquaintances’ birth stories, that most doctors haven’t. There was a lot of talk about the “cascade of interventions” and some exposition to show how interfering in labor creates fucked up labors.

I was very moved that Ricki Lake (who is the executive producer) let Abby Epstein include footage of Ricki’s homebirth. It was so incredibly beautiful. I feel like her being a public figure and knowing that people gawk and gossip and judge,  but being vulnerable and showing her body in its most intimate, intense moment is a kind of a little gift to women as a whole. An offering to try to help bring back our ownership of our bodies.

The showing here was a benefit for the WV chapter of a midwives organization whose name I can’t remember right now. They held an informal little discussion afterward. I left feeling some kind of emotional charge and purging that was hard to process.

I knew watching it would make me re-examine my birthing experience, but it felt different than I’d expected. One of my midwives was there- the one who took my “water broke and it has green poo” phone call and checked me into the hospital. She switched shifts before my active labor and my favorite midwife took over. That’s one of my regrets- choosing the practice that rotates prenatal care and, apparently, labor attendance between several women. The shift change was OK, though- great timing and the woman I was closer to took over when things got serious.

I wish I’d have talked to L, though. The film and seeing her made me want to cxommunicate with her about my experience. I wanted to thank her for being so gentle and so supportive the way she guided me through all the scary changes to my birth plan. She was amazing at respecting my dream of birth even as she helped me understand that it couldn’t happen the way I’d wanted. It’s hard to describe, but she and Del both validated my wishes by emphasizing that my birth was not really “normal,” that my conviction that I could deliver without medication was correct in a typical situation but there was going to be intervention that was beyond normal birth pain. (They had to force my cervix open so yes, there was a narcotic shot.)

So I wanted to thank her for all of that, and articulate it, but I left before the rest of the group. (Amusingly, I had to excuse myself to get home to pump- the grandies had Molly.) I felt such a lack of closure. I should have hugged L, at least, on the way out.

I left feeling such a weird mix of stuff, anyway, that I wanted Molly’s presence to help…um?… ground me in my motherhood. So I called, and she was still awake, so I picked her up and came home and snuggled the sleepy nursling between Bu and me, and relaxed.


If you’ve read through, you’re probably of the nature to be open to a prayer and good vibes request, so send Bu’s cousin J and baby Evan some healing, loving, strengthening, milky, warm thoughts for their scheduled C-section this afternoon. I don’t for the effing life of me know why her doctor doesn’t think they should at least wait for Evan to tell them it’s time before they do surgery, but J is content with this, so I feel like it’s better, on her terms anyway. Blessings and love to J and her baby, and to all Mamas everywhere.


7 responses to “thoughts re: ‘the business of being born’ documentary

  1. Of course good vibes to her and the babe…

    And to you. I know it has been a tough process to heal from the loss of your ideal birth and that sucks so much ass (but it is also a healing process, which is good… haha, I just used healing twice!). You’re such a rockstar. I admire you so much.

    (PS — since you’ve gotten the new domain I am no longer logged in 😦 But I LOVE IT anyway 😀 YAY!!!)

  2. Lex, it didn’t log me in at first either- at my own blog! Heh, but now there are new cookies or whatever and I’m in:)

    I just wrote a similar post at our new super secret project and I think I’ll actually “announce” said project today:)

  3. Hey! I saw a poster for this movie at a Starbucks yesterday and thought of how you’d probably dig the movie.

  4. My birth didn’t go the way I wanted it to, either :/

    Is there a reason for the planned C, or does she just want to get it over with? I hope that it all went well.

  5. @Teresa:
    She had a C-section with her first (emergency) and around here the idea of vaginal birth after a section (VBAC) is like telling an OB, “I’d like to give birth while skydiving with flaming knives please.”

    I do have a friend who’s had 2 or 3!! homebirths after her 1st was a C-section. w00t!

  6. I wanted to see this movie- I’m glad to read your review. I have a friend who had her sixth baby after triplets (C-sec w/them of course) – a homebirth with number six, and he weighed 12 lbs! I KID YOU NOT! Even after my first hosp birth and later four homebirths, she was my inspiration! Whew! (Nope, not a cut or tear at all, either…) Heidi- do you teach childbirth classes?

  7. @casachaos

    That’s incredible! A 12 pounder with no tears- awesome:)

    No, I’m just a birth junkie:) I researched like crazy and am really fascinated with the beauty of the process and the politics involved.

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