Summer 2019 Editorial: Birth & the Unexpected

Summer 2019 Editorial: Birth & the Unexpected

Birth is always unexpected

No matter what we were picturing, it is never exactly as we imagined. It might be faster or slower, it might be harder or easier, there might be more or fewer medical decisions, it might not be in the location we planned… But even aside from these obvious differences, birth always entails an element of the unexpected. It is one of those rare life experiences that takes us outside of our usual frame of reference, to the far edges of our consciousness, into the extremes, the in-between–beyond the framework of our imagination. 

No one opens their birth story with ‘it was exactly as we expected…’. No one talks about their birth as if it were a usual, humdrum event. No matter how mundane from a medical perspective, no matter how ‘textbook’, the way we experience birth is transformational. It’s transcendent. From the most negative to the most positive, from the traumatic to the ecstatic, birth can always be described as unexpected. 

In this Summer issue, we discuss several specific instances of the unexpected during birth: The unlikelihood of the due date, having a baby with Down syndrome, having an intersex baby, and what about an unplanned caesarean... But even if nothing so obvious takes your birth down an unanticipated path, even if your own path was entirely as predicted, we think you’ll be able to relate to the sense that giving birth–having a baby–always feels astonishing. It is never, ever, exactly what we expected.

Stephanie Ondrack

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