Above are photos from The Farm in Summertown, TN. At this intentional community you will find, amongst other things, the most knowledgable people in the world on childbirth.
I am a childbirth fanatic, just as much as I'm a name fanatic. I read birthing books just for fun. In my youth, I just knew that one day I'd go to The Farm, train to be midwife and live there forever and ever. I made different choices, but I did almost have a baby there while we were on a short term stay in Tennessee, after leaving Hawaii (we moved away at 32 weeks along.)
Being that this is childbirth week here on Marginamia, I thought there'd be no better place to look for names than in the margins of great birth stories! I could read almost nothing but birth stories if I didn't interrupt myself with the reminder that there really is more to do and think about. sometimes. when a really great birth story isn't in front of me. The names here today are culled from some truly inspiring stories.
Last week Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein of The Business of Being Born, released the fourth segment of their new four part series about childbirth, More Business of Being Born, which you can watch right on the website.
In one of the four episodes, they visit the aforementioned Farm in Summertown, TN to speak with the legendary Ina May Gaskin (pictured above.) Okay, may I gush about Ina May? I've read all her books. Beyond being a total pioneer for women's issues, like childbirth and breast health (her views on breast health in today's pornographic-yet-nipple-phobic culture are essential), and beyond being a thoroughly decent human being, Ina May is such a great writer. What do you get when you mix a fantastic writer with an inherently interesting topic? Magic. She's magic. really.
If you ever thought that a braid wearing hippie who supports radical ideals and green living couldn't also be sound, practical, firm, level-headed, and no non-sense; or that she couldn't be a truly original thinker (not just echoing her particular social group;) or that her reasoning couldn't be eye-opening yet balanced and totally sensible, then please, please check out Ina May Gaskin. I would want this woman beside me in pretty much any scenario: in a think tank, a birthing room, on a dance floor, you name it. And what about her name? It's one of the prettiest out there, I say!
More personally, reading the book Spiritual Midwifery, which documents many births happening on the road (some of them in buses,) helped me to just calm down and go with the flow in my second pregnancy when I had to be a bit of a vagabond myself. I actually would have had no idea how well this instability was going to prepare me for a fantastic labor (by teaching me to let go) had I not kept this book close by.
Spiritual Midwifery features some of the loveliest birth stories I've ever read, and some really lovely, timeless, and stylish names. Among them:
Betsy (born in a tipi)
and from her book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth:
Autumn Apple Windseed
Lily Rose Heart
And now for some favorites from birth stories out there on the web:
From Marvelous Kiddo:
Penelope Mae (Poppy)
From Design Mom (birth story page):
Nico Augustine Hawker
Piper Jane (Pippy)
From The Labor of Love:
Phoebe Jean (here)
Now Joy (here)
Ilse (here) (sibling: Greta here)
Hazel Peggie (here)
Eleanor Katherine (here)
Leo Duke (here)
From Unassisted Childbirth.com:
sibling: Dora (born to Mommy Beatrice)
from Mothering.com's extensive birth stories page:
Miriam and Shira (twins) (Mim?)
Additional names from today's inspirations:
**disclaimer-- this is a focus on names, not the particular choices made by the women in these stories. While I would personally never attempt an unassisted labor (I love my midwives and have actually needed their assistance in manipulating both my babies' shoulders), have a non-neccisitaed elective cesarian, or be induced for my own or someone else's schedule or pregnancy discomfort, I support a woman's choice to birth as she chooses. Also, while I am a huge supporter of the home birth movement and birth center and hospital midwives for normal pregnancies, I know that not everything is for every person! I find so many different types of stories to be inspirational, rather they occur on the hospital table or in the home birthing tub. I support choice, information, and policies centered on the well-being of mom and baby over industry. But for today, I really just look at the names attached to these stories.
(images: 70's Ina May and laboring woman, the farm sign-house-jars, bus, roof.)