The little tombstones of Harpers Ferry

Harpers Ferry is a historical town located in West Virginia, where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet and divide the states of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia.

By hiking one of the hills that faces the town, one can see the three states at once and also one of the most beautiful views of a old town by a river, especially if it is fall.

The civil war supposedly started in this town, when a white man named John Brown and some slaves (along other white men) led a raid to take over buildings and weapons to start his own version of an abolition.

Those men were captured and killed by Marines, btw. This was another time; another mentality.

Many subsequent battles for this war happened in this area. Pictures of Lincoln can be seen in posters by remote trails, while he visited with soldiers.

My husband and I went camping and whitewater rafting there. The wine of the area is decent for East Coast standards and if you sit long enough in one of the battlefields, dozens of deer will eventually show, cautiously staring at us, wondering if we are going to eat them, and then trotting closer. The town is also apparently haunted and it can be truly spooky at night.

At the top of this historical town there is a church and a large cemetery.

While walking around it I noticed the small tombstones. I joked with husband if this was a midget town back in the day, until further inspection of dates and names worn out by weather and time, showed that the tombstones were of babies. Most were a few days old and many were placed next to another adult death of the same date.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that these women and their babies died during or a few days after giving birth.

I wondered what could have possibly happened to so many babies and women and that's when it downed on me what they lacked: doctors.

And modern medicine.

I am thinking this as I read "Ina May's Guide To Child Birth," where she pretty much claims that intervention from doctors and modern medicine is a product of the devil.

Ok, she doesn't use these words, but that's how it sounds like.

Why did I pick up this book when I am decided on an epidural and further medical intervention if needed?

The journalist inside of me (that was my degree in college) wants to weigh both sides of the coin before making a final and wise decision.

I get it. Natural birth is better for both mom and baby. Both will recover faster and will have a better chance to survive.

A few friends that described their natural birth say that the pain is in fact excruciating, but that holding your baby is the fastest and most effective pain killer. These women also say that they bonded quicker with the babies that came naturally.

I get all that.

What rubs me the wrong way is how far Ina May goes into claiming that most of the women that gave birth in her midwifery farm had perfectly awesome deliveries. She goes so far as to say that some even giggle and find the whole experience amusing.

As a shock factor more than anything, there is a picture in the book of a woman with a baby's head coming through her vagina while she laughs hysterically.

Let me tell you something. The few times I felt labor pains, I didn't think it was funny at all.

Ina May also makes some dangerous claims that her patients with preeclampsia were treated solely with diets filled with beans.

I understand that her book is to advocate natural birth and its benefits, but in the same token, there are women with high risk pregnancies that could take her book to heart. They may end up not considering the other side of the coin, and how important is to have a real crew of professionals with many years of studies behind their backs and a NICU at hand.

Ina May makes me think that she considers the advent of modern medicine to aid in labor and survivorship of mother and baby to be a business plot to make money. When I read all that, however, I think of the little tombstones.

Maybe doctors do lack the caring and bedside manners for a true spiritual experience in giving birth, but I will take my chances. Off to a hospital and their evil machines I will go.


  1. Smart woman you are. Being at the hospital all emergencies can be taken care of but they can also let you do your own thing if you don't need medial intervention. I did it the natural way in a hospital two times and it worked for me :)

  2. Ok, I have to admit that as I finish Ina mays book I feel a lot more informed and less scared of the birth process. I recommend it to anyone, tree hugger or not.

    I am now able to ask more specific questions to my doctor.


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