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A Thanksgiving Dinner to Remember

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These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

by Carolyn Keefe
from Citizens for Midwifery News, Fall/Winter 2004

Welcome to our humble establishment. We hope you enjoy sharing your special Thanksgiving Dinner with us. Well do our best to make your dinner a unique and memorable experience.

Our highly trained professional staff is among the best in business and will work to ensure your comfort, privacy, and safety while dining in our establishment s state of the art facility. The home-like ambiance will help you relax, and you'll appreciate the comfort of knowing that the operating room is right down the hail, should the need arise.

Thanksgiving is coming up, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to think about the normality of birth. We often say that birth is a normal physiological process, but its hard for most people to understand what that means. Comparisons to other normal physiological functions are valuable. Although some others more closely resemble birth, eating will work to illustrate how a normal function can be spoiled by over-zealous attempts to control it.
Of course, birth is a far more profound and rare experience. Also, in both cases, sometimes some people need help — when eating people can choke, have allergic reactions, have digestive disorders, and even need to bypass the whole process. But in both cases, most of the time, our bodies can perform the function more or less as designed.

Let's imagine, then, consuming our Thanksgiving dinner under the same circumstances that most women in the US give birth:
• First, you make the decision to leave home and go out to the “best” restaurant in town with the “best” chefs. This means leaving behind your children and most of your family, but you agree anyway.
• When you make your reservations, you are informed that consuming the meal will very likely be dangerous and difficult, so a surgeon will be supervising in case it becomes necessary to insert a tube.
• The restaurant insists that you arrive before Thanksgiving and get started on the meal early, so as not to miss the holiday.
• You are shown to a small, cold, dark room that smells awful, but is good and sterile. You are encouraged to change into appropriate clothes for eating, though they may be uncomfortable and make you feel self conscious.
• Before you can sit down to eat, you're hooked up to an IV and wires to monitor your progress with swallowing and digestion, just in case emergency surgery is needed.
• As you eat, various medical personnel hover, looking in your mouth periodically — sometimes in mid-chew
— to make sure you're progressing well.
• At the first sign of displeasure or difficulty, you're offered seasonings to mask the flavor and the meal is pureed to make it easier to swallow.
• If you aren't eating quickly enough, the surgeon comes in to give you something to improve your appetite and tells you that the tube will need to be inserted if you don't finish soon.
• When the moment you've been waiting for finally comes, the surgeon performs a procedure to expedite the process.
• When the meal is all over, everyone tells you that are lucky to have finished it alive, with your entire family intact. After all, such unpleasantness is the price we pay for eating safely.
• Even if you are able to complete the meal under these circumstances, any complaints you might have are dismissed as ingratitude. You learn to not discuss it and accept that you will be expected to undergo exactly the same experience for each Thanksgiving dinner.

Of course, birthing women are in a far more heightened state of awareness. They are extremely vulnerable to stimuli, which can have a profound effect on their ability to function well under such circumstances and on their perceptions of the experience later.

If the meal described above seems unpleasant, imagine how difficult giving birth under such circumstances must be. That so many women do it successfully with a minimum of negative effects is remarkable. Then again, many do not. Small wonder.

We hope you have enjoyed sharing this very special meal with us. Please remember us for all your dining needs, and tell your friends and family about your wonderful experience. We look forward to serving you again!

Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appétit!

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