This email bounced.
So I’m hoping to invoke the powers of the fabled seven degrees of celebration, sorry – separation! – in order to get it to its intended recipient. Or just to spread the appreciation.
Please could someone pass this onto Naomi Wolf, who wrote Mis-Conceptions:
Dear Ms Wolf
Thank you for your extraordinary book Mis-Conceptions. Reading it has been a revelation. Your account led me with intense familiarity back along the road I walked nearly two years ago. You have beautifully, honestly revealed to me much of my own experience that I remember acutely but have never put to words. Thank you for articulating the terrible, marvelous nuances of the experience – especially the fluctuations between peace and turmoil, between anticipation and fear, between the desire to be the successful textbook mother-to be and the uneasy sense that the textbooks were skipping out huge swathes of something crucial but un-utterable.
Your book also had me weeping with gratitude for my own experience and with anger and outrage for the millions of women that routinely get cheated of that experience by the medical fraternity. Entirely by a series of chance encounters, I ended up opting for home birth. I was, at the time, a South African living in the UK, and had the support of a lovely NHS midwifery team as well as my doula. It turned out to be an extraordinary, marvelous, spiritual experience. Bloody, exhausting, ferocious, excruciating – and entirely possible. There was no need for medication or any intervention – and that felt normal, not remarkable at all. Not because I’m stoic (I’m not) and not because there wasn’t pain (there was); it just felt I’d completed some sort of gruelling marathon or endurance event – with exactly the right support team there to coax me up every last hill.
In the aftermath of that experience, I had the evangelical, elated glow of the converted when anyone mentioned home birth. The endorphins took months to wear off and carried me through the early days of my child’s life in a kind of blurry glow. And yet I also felt curiously silenced about the experience by the overwhelming prevalence of the very myths you list in your section on birth. I didn’t feel I was allowed to share my experience in case I offended someone who’d suffered the far more common medical-trauma style of childbirth. It’s more than good fortune though: it’s about information, the right kind. Your book comes as a welcome breath of fresh air. I only hope it is being read and heard my expectant mothers in the developed world, and is inspiring them to claim back their trust in their own bodies and instincts.
Cape Town, South Africa