There is an amazing article in this week’s America magazine. (The Oct. 5, 2009 issue.) It’s called “A Fiery Gift: A spiritual case for natural childbirth.” Susan Windley-Daoust has a deeper perspective on the issue, one I hadn’t considered, and I think everyone (female, or otherwise, and likely to give birth sometime soon or otherwise!) ought to read this. I think she is absolutely right-on.
The gist, if you don’t care to read it for yourself, is that the process of birth, if left relatively un-tampered with, is a powerful parallel experience to some parts of the journey through prayer to God. In fact, she worries about the effect missing out on a “natural” birth may be having on the spiritual lives of the women of this country: “But when an overwhelming majority of women in the United States have unnecessarily scheduled or medically augumented births, we must ask: Do we lose a window to God? A window to the interior life? When the Holy Spirit initiates a spiritual birth to something greater within us, will any of us be able to say, ‘I’ve been here before?'”
Go to your library, or do what you have to, but read this article. It makes me want to stop the pregnant women I see every time we go to the zoo (there are always a ton of pregnant women at the zoo!) and ask if they have considered (really, carefully considered, with the benefit of good information) how they are going to bring their babies into the world. I am convinced that childbirth is transformative. I am convinced that God designed it to be that way. Not easy. Most things worth doing are at least a little hard. But transformative, in part in preparation for the challenges the next many years of child rearing bring. Perhaps, if Susan Windley-Daoust is right (and I think she is), in preparation especially for the spiritual challenges these little ones bring us. I think she asks a very important question: What are we, as a community of women, as a church of women, missing?