Category Archives: Karen Strange

Unhurrying the Moment of Meeting: Three Years On

“What’s inside an eye?”

My daughter turns three today and this was her question that started our day.   Then, as we walked to nursery school, she asked, “When Halloween goes, wheNevie holding hobbs1re does it go?” I’m still working on an explanation for the spiraling movement of time and the effort is helping me understand why my daughter talks so often about what she will do when she is a baby again.  If Halloween will return next year, why not her babyhood?

When I think back to her babyhood, what returns for me is the sweet pleasure of first meeting my little girl on the outside.   The moment was poignantly unhurried.  I had the space to see and the time to discover my just-born child; it was a slow meeting, slow enough for me to be present for the arrival of this brand new person.   What was different from my other children’s births was that my midwife, Valeriana Pasqua-Masback, did not hand me my baby, as the midwives had done at the births of my sons.  Instead, she simply guided my daughter onto the bed below me.  Valeriana left the moment of meeting to my daughter and me. The experience was joyful beyond what I had imagined. The labor that got me to that point, however, was not so joyful.

My boys’ labors had been exquisite.  Raw and intense, the boys’ labors had blasted from beginning to end, and surrender was every bit as spiritual as it was physical.  Sarah Buckley, in her book Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, reports on her yoga teacher’s belief that giving birth is equivalent to seven years of meditation. The idea had the ring of truth for me.  With each of my son’s labors, I felt I had traveled to the fiery core of life itself and returned with a strong, centered part of myself I hadn’t known was missing.  I still feel it in my bones to this day. My daughter’s labor, however, was more “seven years” than “meditation.”

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Laura and Neil’s Story

1-LauraandNeilI first observed this pause at a home birth in the Bronx, where I helped Laura and Neil work through a rather zippy labor. Neil’s eight brothers and sisters had all been born at home in Ireland, and home birth had made immediate sense to Laura when I raised it as a possibility months earlier as she mapped out elaborate plans to arrive at the hospital as late as humanly possible.

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