My customary closing, when I respond to an initial email from a woman looking for a birth doula, is "Enjoy the rest of your 40 or so weeks, and best wishes for a wonderful birth-day."
When we meet in person, I will start the conversation by asking "What are some of the ways you envision your birth?"
But who's birth is it, really? Isn't it the baby that is being born?
I admit I never gave much thought to this use of language until a friend was critical of someone else's homebirth. The woman blogged about her birth in heroic, Herculean terms, and my friend found it boastful. "It's just a notch in her belt," he argued. "And it shouldn't be about her. It should be about a healthy baby." His assumptions about the healthiness of homebirth aside, his feelings are only a reflection of the way birth is typically viewed: a medical event meant to be just barely endured. And if the birth is traumatic, the disappointment with the experience gets swept aside by saying "In the end, all that matters is a healthy baby."
Of course we all want a healthy baby. A healthy mother, too. But there are women who envision something different than a delivery that is done to them, under a cloud of fear and suffering. They want to experience the physiological process of birth: the wonder, the fear, the ecstacy, the pain, the awesome strength of her body's own power to thrust another human being into the world. Their babies will be born, and these mothers want to birth them.
To my clients, I wish them all a wonderful birth-day.
cross-posted on Massachusetts Friends of Midwives blog.