Mothers know best

Apr
8
2013
by
Lynne McTaggart
/
0
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My maternal grandmother Stella, who migrated to the US from Italy at the age of 15, had both her babies at home. This was not because she advocated home birth so much as because she had been taught to regard medical progress with a fair degree of suspicion. ‘Don’t go to hospital; they change your baby!’ her own mother had admonished her in broken English.

 

My maternal grandmother Stella, who migrated to the US from Italy at the age of 15, had both her babies at home. This was not because she advocated home birth so much as because she had been taught to regard medical progress with a fair degree of suspicion. ‘Don’t go to hospital; they change your baby!’ her own mother had admonished her in broken English.

As it turned out, not even home proved to be the safe haven Stella and her mother had anticipated. Stella’s husband – my grandfather – agreed to go along with these ‘female superstitions’ only so long as a bona fide doctor was present at both deliveries. Many years later, on more than one occasion my grandmother would lament her second and final birth. ‘The doctor – he ruin me!’ she’d invariably exclaim.

The force of her anger over the incident even a half-century later rendered the details too terrible for me ever to probe into, but I assume that she was talking about a botched episiotomy.

During my childhood, the reason for my own mother’s birth at home was always recounted and held up to me with ridicule by my parents—an example of pig-ignorant hocus-pocus. Imagine thinking that professionals like doctors could send you home with the wrong baby!

As it turned out, my grandmother’s wariness of hospitals proved prescient on the single night of her life that she did spend any time in one. At the age of 90 she was rushed to the emergency room under the mistaken notion she was having a heart attack and kept overnight for ‘observation’. Her problem turned out to be indigestion, but she was so utterly alarmed by the entire experience, was so moved to resist the parade of strangers poking at her and invading her privacy, that when the family came to collect her the following morning they found her tied up in a straitjacket—the only means by which the hospital staff had managed to gain her compliance.

 

 

Lynne McTaggart

Lynne McTaggart is an award-winning journalist and the author of seven books, including the worldwide international bestsellers The Power of Eight, The Field, The Intention Experiment and The Bond, all considered seminal books of the New Science and now translated into some 30 languages.

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