Two weeks after we moved to the Mennonite community in rural Illinois, a baby was born in a teepee in my backyard. My neighbor Angela was a doula and had agreed to let a friend give birth in her own home. I’m not sure even Angela had expected the full-sized teepee to be erected fifty feet from the double sliding glass doors that looked out onto the backyard we shared.
Really, though, we share more than a backyard. Along with five or so families, we live on 180 acres of woods and farmland and dwell in the seven or eight buildings constructed by community members in the seventies and eighties.
That night, the teepee, straight out of the movie Dances with Wolves, was full of smoke, fire, and rain from the fateful thunderstorm whose thrumming rose and fell in pitch with the mother’s vocal contractions.
I stood at the window early the next morning and heard the newborn’s very first cries. And despite the strangeness of it all, I cried too.
Witnessing an unusual birth, living on a farm, rubbing shoulders with hippies, growing and raising our own food: It all sounds so romantic and interesting when I describe it, doesn’t it? [Read more…]