who's the ECL?

My photo
Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm not BAD evil, more like devil's food cake evil.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Journey

There has been talk of this study done where the conclusion was that neonatal mortality rates are higher among babies born by cesarean, but no one knows why.

We talked a bit about this with Suzanne Yates when she was here doing a shiatsu for pregnancy and labor workshop. She talked about the journey the baby makes on its way out of the womb and into an independent life--well at least far more independent than it was in the womb--and how this journey is very important for the baby to make. In fact, nature intended babies to make this journey.

I remember when I was in high school I was trying to explain the importance of the journey to my boyfriend. He was my first love. We had this crazy magnetic connection. It was wild, and terribly heartbreaking. In some ways I feel like my heart will forever be breaking when it comes to this guy. But don't we all feel that way about our first loves?

I was telling him that there was this journey that we all as humans were making, up this mountain, and the journey was a long and winding and arduous path and even though we were heading towards the top, we couldn't see the top. We just knew that was where we wanted to be. Like knowing that the views from the top of Mt Hood must be spectacular, and so setting out to hike up and see. That's what we, the human race, was all about. And I remember telling him that he wanted to skip the journey, the long sweaty hike, he wanted to skip the trials by fire and ice and whatnot, he wanted to hire a helicopter up to the top and when he would get there, he would turn around and around in circles, looking out at this spectacular view, and ask, "this is it?" It was the journey that make the view so spectacular. It was the journey that was the point, not the end product. That's what I was trying to tell him.

And that's what I'm trying to say now. Maybe this journey that we make as babies trying to arrive on the planet is incredibly important. Maybe what we learn as infants as we make our way out will already hold lessons that teach us how to survive independently. Maybe taking the helicopter to the top--when not medically necessary--really does leave us asking, "this is it? Where's the magic, what's so special?" Maybe skipping those trials by fire and water and whatnot leave us ill prepared to face a life full of gravity, bacteria, by-products, disappointment, and broken hearts. Maybe we don't learn that things will get uncomfortable and shitty but we will survive and adapt. Maybe we don't learn how to cope with the unending hardships of life.

Babies born vaginally and without the use of pain killers (to the mom) are high as kites. They are pumping out a good chunk of endorphins as a response to being forcefully ejected from their happy warm watery home and squeezed through a tube into the light and cold and microbes and noise and gravity and weirdness that is this world we live in. So, yeah, babies learn that things can get bad, very bad, and that Normal can change drastically, but the reward for enduring the change and bad times is a nice natural endorphin high. The first lesson babies learn is that stress, adapt and change = magic carpet ride.

(Aside: Newborns also learn that they NEED PEOPLE. They learn that life is not to be lived alone. If everything goes well the baby can go straight to mom after being born, and baby learns that feeling high = mom [and dad]. A sort of biological dependence is thus created between babies and their parents. Babies equate happy and high with mon and dad, therefore they can eventually equate happy and high with being in the company of other people. We need each other to be happy and cope. We can't do it alone. Nature sets it up for us to learn that from the very beginning.)

So yeah, it seems pretty obvious that babies who are born by cesarean have a harder time surviving. They didn't get time to learn how to do it. They didn't learn how to struggle, endure, persevere, cope, adapt, and change. And they didn't get their sweet reward at the end. What lessons do cesarean babies learn in the first few minutes? What stories do they begin to tell themselves about how the world works and their place in it?