I always wanted to live on a farm because I love animals. As we would pass by rolling farms on my childhood family vacations, I would press my face against the window longingly, wondering what it would be like to own and take care of all those horses, cows, sheep and chickens.
When my husband and I visited England several years ago with our children, I took as many opportunities as I could to drive through the countryside and take my kids to farms. It was neat to see my 18 month old learn the animal names and sounds first-hand.
Three years ago we started homeschooling our kids. I decided as a science project to have my kids incubate chicken eggs. My friend had a free-range farm that I could borrow eggs and an incubator and then return any hatched chicks to her. It was perfect. My kids and I learned all about chick development and the hatching process. We were thrilled when hatching day came. We spent the first month of their lives watching and playing with them. They would even cuddle in my kids’ laps. We were all sad when it was time for them to go back to the farm.
A few months ago, we decided to incubate again. As hatching day came and went, we were still hopeful all was well. The next day, one of the chicks began to pip through its shell. There was just a little hole that we could hear chirping through. We waited all day for progress but nothing happened. The clear membrane around the chick began to dry and thicken. I began to worry.
I looked online for what to do and found directions on how to help the chick hatch. I carefully got tweezers and picked a small straight line around half of the egg and then stopped, laid the egg on a warm, wet washcloth, and waited. Within five minutes the chick was hatched. My son and I hugged each other in excitement that it worked.
And then the dread kicked in. I had intervened in that chick’s hatching. I had done exactly what I was against for pregnant women: intervening in the natural process of birth. So often, expecting moms experience routine interventions in the hopes that it helps keep mom and baby safe but sometimes it can actually lead to bigger interventions, such as cesareans.
But, and this is a big but, what I recognized from this experience was that sometimes, those interventions truly are necessary, under the right conditions. When I thought back to my helping the chick, there were 2 things I did that I feel good about:
How is this chick like a pregnant woman? She deserves the same respect. She deserves to be given as much time as is safely possible to birth her baby, and once interventions are deemed necessary, start with the minimal amount and then step back and see if her body responds and continues on its own from there.
It’s a blessing to have the medical technology we have to help women in extraordinary circumstances to birth their babies but overuse and mismanagement of this technology is a concern. Let’s try to give nature a chance.
Birth Boot Camp Certified Doula (BBCD)