by Ina May Gaskin
This is Jerome at birth:
I know this book is an odd pick for me, but I found it very interesting and worthwhile. Ina May Gaskin pretty much revived "natural child birth" in this country. This book is an account of one of the most successful communes in America, which is still thriving today, and their experiences as people disconnected from much of trappings the modern world. Like many San Fran/Berkeley intellectuals in the late 1960s, this crowd sought a way of life on the periferal of society. Basically, these were people looking for a more natural (organic), self-sufficient lifestyle. Of course, this is all chiche today, but these folks were pioneers. And still are- with their eco-friendly architecture, cummunal economics, vegitarianism, gender roles, etc.
It all started in 1971 as a caravan of converted school busses carrying 300 people from California to a 1,000 acre plot of land in Tennessee purchased with resources pooled from the founders. Of course, Tennessee land was cheap nearly 40 years ago. From the mid 70s to mid 80s, their numerical heyday, the population maintained around 1,200 (they are now at 200). Many of them were born on The Farm.
But this is a book primarily about giving birth outside of hospitals, institutions that increasingly rely on drugs and ignore human needs beyond the purely physical, births that occur in homes, outdoors, and in meaningful places, and include the participation of family and friends in the event. Sometimes very graphic. Sometimes very intimate. Always spiritual. Always very human. Pretty cool stuff.
The best part of the book is the collection of two dozen personal accounts of births in The Farms by mothers, fathers and their midwives. Some pretty amazing stories.
I admire these people.