Friday, March 20, 2009

Book Review: "Home Delivery" by Cara Muhlhahn

Home Delivery: A Midwife's Journey Through Motherhood and Other Miracles
Cara Muhlhahn
2008, 234 pages

For some reason I can't find this book on Amazon to link to - whenever I do find it, I'll include the link!

(Later note... An Anonymous commentor told me that the reason I can't find this book on Amazon is that it is the same book as Cara's book "Labor of Love" which can be found on Amazon. I have no idea why they would publish the same book under two different titles and covers, but the description of "Labor of Love" is exactly like "Home Delivery", and I can't imagine one midwife writing two almost identical books.)

This book immediately went on my "lifelong favorites" list. It is awesome!! I loved it and have read it twice already since I borrowed it from my midwife, both times in under 24 hours each. I can't recommend this book highly enough!

Being somewhat dense, I didn't realize until close to the end of this book that the author is the black-haired midwife featured in "The Business of Being Born," which I saw at a screening when it came out a year or so ago (and loved!!). That made an instant and fun connection with the author - I could immediately picture her vibrant personality and all of the fun shots we got to see of her in the movie.

"Home Delivery" covers Cara's life story, focusing on the paths that led her to become a homebirth midwife. It's a fascinating read. She begins in Oregon, apprenticing with a lay midwife, then moves on into nursing and then midwifery school, works in birthing centers and hospitals, and then opens her own private homebirth practice in New York. Quite a journey! I loved reading about it.

Other parts of the book include stories of her work, explanations of what she does and why she loves homebirth, problems in the modern maternity system, and introspection on all of the various facets of birth, including the reasons for homebirth and why it is as safe or safer than modern hospital birth (a fact that is repeatedly confirmed by statistics).

She also tells the story of her own pregnancy, labor and birth (a homebirth), and I loved how realistic she was about the experience. Birth is the biggest and most wonderful experience of a woman's life, but it is NOT easy, and it is (for most women) the biggest challenge we ever face. Here are some of her words:

"At that moment, the idea of a C-section seemed pretty good, or at least an epidural. I promised not to be one of those women whining at an ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meeting about my unnecessary c-section. No, mine was justified. Too much pain!

".... I thank Miriam now for saving me from that, but in the moment, I wasn't exactly the picture of gratitude. She had blocked all of my escape routes, and the rest of the crew was banding with her....

"I got in the tub and just stared at the faucet. I don't know how long I looked at that focal point, but at some point it finally occurred to me: I couldn't get the section, and the pain of pushing was probably just as bad as the pain of staying right where I was, with the feeling of a rock covered in glass shards lodged in my a--. This was the epiphany I needed. I got up out of the tub, walked out of the bathroom and down the hall and got fully behind the idea of second stage labor, and the miserable pushing it required." (p. 100-101)

I was laughing out loud as I read this, because my experience was very, very similar. And so are our similes. I've been telling people ever since my own birth that it felt like trying to push out a bowling ball covered in broken glass shards.

This next quote cracked me up, because I had the exact same experience at my birth:

".... Miriam gently guided him into my arms. I wish I could say that I was overcome with bliss, overjoyed with the birth of my son. I'd love to paint a picture in which my face gracefully morphed from laboring Aztec birth goddess to beatific saint as I embraced my perfect child. I'd get there a few days later.

"But the truth is, right after birth, I was too completely traumatized by the pain and the whole ordeal. In fact, I think I might have called him a little bastard. He cried for twenty minutes after the birth, and I remember thinking, in my post traumatic stress disorder frame of mind, 'He's probably thinking his mother is a bitch.'" (p. 101-102)

(With apologies for the profanity.)

My goodness, I'm glad someone else had that experience other than myself! LOL

I also loved what she said about her own breastfeeding experience:

"When my delicious baby cried and needed to feed, I would have to put music on and ice my nipples to tolerate latch-on, and sometimes sip on a glass of wine or indulge in some ibuprofen. That lasted nine days. I knew I would get through that, and never considered stopping nursing, even though I now had a new understanding of how challenging it was and why so many women don't get past that stage if they're not deeply committed." (p. 104)

My friends, it is so true!!! Breastfeeding may be natural, as they say, but it ain't easy.

Anyhow, I simply loved this book. If you're interested in homebirth, this is a great resource. Even if you're not, it's still a great read - a wonderfully casual style, with lots of information and a great story. Check it out!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Diana,

    The reason you are having a difficult time finding the book on Amazon is because it is titled "Labor of Love: A Midwife's Memoir"

    Hope that helps!


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