It doesn’t snow here very often.   Once every few years will we see the kind of snow that is currently blanketing our evergreen world in dove white.  It is lovely: quiet and peaceful in a way that feels temporary and fragile.  It won’t last more than another day.  It will melt away and ordinary life will begin again.  The abandoned cars, without chains and caught unprepared for the weather, will start disappearing as their operators return from wherever they escaped to when they finally gave up on spinning their wheels.  Muddy rivulets will replace the soft white snow and the brief interlude will disappear. 

But for now…

L-O-V-E-U is written in the snow in front of our sliding glass door.   My daughter is bundled up in a pink snowsuit.  Smoke billows from a thousand chimneys.  Kids zoom down the hills with neon sleds. 

It’s idyllic. 

Other than the ambulance parked outside of a house near ours.

I’m reminded, once again, that even something as beautiful as a winter blanketing of snow also holds its ravages. 


Thanks to books/blogs/stories and murmurs of women around me, I assumed that my pregnancy would be nothing but a beautiful experience.  Yes, there would probably be some nausea and swollen ankles but those would really be small in comparison to the magnitude of the beauty it would create.  I thought I was going to have that glow pregnant women supposedly have, as if the tiny new life inside of me would radiate warm light through my entire body. Pregnancy and birth were going to transform me into an ethereal goddess of life or some crap like that. 

Someone left out the part where it could be a disfiguring sledgehammer blow to the side of my head.

I’ve grown short-tempered with the culture surrounding birth and pregnancy in my sphere of life.   There is too much talk of the beauty and not enough acknowledgements of the ravages.   There is mindset that somehow, through shear willpower and determination, pregnancy and birth can be controlled and mastered.  They can be enlightening experiences through dedication and mindfulness.  I’m pretty sure that no amount of mindfulness, meditation, or breathing exercises could have ever made giving birth to my son only to watch him die twenty odd minutes later a more enlightening experience.  It is a luxury that we live in a culture where the outcome of a living baby is taken so much for granted that things such as birth plans and birthing methods have become of such import.  

Perhaps I’ve also grown too cynical over the last four years.  I know several people in my life that would probably agree with that statement.  Most pregnancies, at least in the world I am fortunate enough to live in, are beautiful.  Few suffer through the ravages that so much of the rest of the world commonly does.  I can’t help but think that if there was more balance given to the two in our cultural mindset that for those times when the sledgehammer swings those of us in its path would not be left feeling quite as surprised by the blow. 


What do you think about the pregnancy and birth culture surrounding you?  Birth plans, birth methods… Do you feel that there is a lack of education about the negative aspects of pregnancy and birth (and I am not referring to morning sickness and hip pain here)?  Do you feel silenced by a birth culture that seemingly puts a greater emphasis on the process of pregnancy and birth rather than the outcome?