Sunday, September 9, 2007

Birth and death

Last night, I went to see a friend of mine who was acting in a performance of Karen Brody's play Birth. I mostly went for my friend; I probably wouldn't have taken the time otherwise, but I'm really glad that I did. I tend to avoid anything that seems to me that it will be a politicization of birth and motherhood, mostly because, in my experience, such events involve proselytization of a correct way to do things. I may piss some people off here, but I firmly believe that there is no one right way to do birth and mothering (and, more generally parenting). I think there are some ways that are wrong, but there is definitely more than one right way.

So, the best part of this play from my perspective is that it wasn't advocating any particular right way to do birth, rather (and this is only my interpretation), it seemed to be saying that mothers should be central to the birth experience, and that their experience should be nurturing, whatever nurturing may be for them. Of course, what each of us needs to feel cared for is intensely personal and individual; inherently, there is no one way to do it. I found that message to mesh tremendously well with my own sense of how birth should go, and it was nice to see it right out there. It was particularly interesting, in an audience full of midwives and pregnant women to see the reaction to the character who chose two planned c-sections for her births, with no regrets, and to the character who chose epidurals. Their support seemed less strong to me than that for those characters who chose to, or who came to an appreciation for, a birth which did not involve such interventions. All I could hope was that those members of the audience saw that the horror stories in the play were not necessarily the story of a c-section, but the stories of those characters whose birth experiences were entirely out of their hands, whose friends and families and doctors did not honor their sense of what was going on for them in the moment. It was well done, and I'm very glad I went.

I was especially glad because it was a nice reminder of the starting part of life (as well as of the births of my daughters, which are very good memories for me). It was a contrast to what I'd found out the day before in Anne's blog (yes, I admit that I tend to avoid the news on weekends, so I probably would have missed this for a few days otherwise), which is that Madeleine L'Engle had passed away. While, as I said to Anne, it is not possible to call her death at the age of 88 after a long and well-lived life a tragedy, it nevertheless felt like a personal loss to me. I credit her descriptions of loving and very human families with keeping me sane and well at times when my family was not so functional. I'm glad I knew her through her books.

In keeping with the theme for this post, I have both started and frogged Kauni in the past 24 hours. I got my 252 stitches cast on, and knitted three rows before realizing what any knitter worth her salt could have predicted; without doing at least some ribbing at the beginning, all I was gonna get was curl. Grrr...
I was focused on not ribbing both because I don't want the bottom of this pullover to pull in, and because I'll be doing a checkerboard pattern for the bottom, rather than the alternating color stripes that generally go with ribbing. It just about killed me, but here's where I am with the sweater now:
Alas, and alack. So, I think what I'll need to do is to always purl one of the colors in the checkerboard and knit the other (ya think this is why the person I saw who'd done checkerboard patterning did it that way? ya think? man, you'd also think I'd learn...). So, here I go again. The good bit is that I didn't like starting with purple and orange together as much as I'd thought I would, so I'm going to try purple and green. We'll see.

The Boudica sock, however, continues apace. Note the two circulars instead of four dpns. I'm giving it a shot; who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
(But you can't always make her like them.)

1 comment:

Anne said...

ooo, 2 circs--you're brave! I keep thinking I need to give Magic Loop another shot but 2 circulars is more than I can cope with, I think. At least dpns are SHORT. I am pleased to report that I've finally finished the sock I frogged not once, not twice, but three separate times because I hated the yarn/pattern combination (and also discovered an early mistake), and I sure hope my sock pal is going to like them. On to Second Sock; I sure hope this one goes faster!

I was bemused/amused to discover that we've got similar cognitive threads going 3000 miles apart; the other end of the scale of my L'Engle posting this weekend has been planning a baby shower and all the knitting I want to do for the imminent child of a treasured colleague. It feels right to be doing that while simultaneously considering a life well-lived and well-written, and it makes me, too, think about the very different ways my two daughters joined our family. Physical births are an important emotional moment in the construction of a family; it's harder to assess the literal impact of the arrival of an adopted child even though the process sometimes feels just as arduous. More on that another time!