Above: Yesterday — the day after Tracie P’s narcotic-free labor — Georgia P (right) met her sister Lila (left) for the first time at the hospital where both girls were delivered. That’s pawpaw (my father-in-law, Rev. B) in the middle.
“The word natural,” when paired with wine, “is nebulous and ill defined. Nobody knows exactly what it means,” wrote Eric the Red (a friend and writer I admire greatly) in the Times last year.
“The only thing many natural-wine partisans agree on,” he observed, “is that they abhor industrial practices in agriculture and the technological and chemical manipulations of wine.”
No matter where you stand on the issue (and for the record, my wife Tracie P and I are unapologetic and unabashed “natural-wine partisans”), it’s hard to argue with Eric’s point: a clear-cut, widely embraced Natural wine manifesto or creed has yet to emerge, even though writers like our beloved friend Alice Feiring have delivered brilliant and thrilling essays and monographs on the ethos of “Natural wine.”
It is a movement in fieri. I know that it exists and that I like it. But I can’t quite tell you exactly what it is (yet).
Above: Watching Tracie P deliver our second daughter without the use of narcotics was one of the most intense and terrifying experiences of my life. It was terrible, awful, and literally gut-wrenching. By the time it was over, I was trembling and sobbing. I love her so much — so very much — for giving our family this gift.
Natural childbirth, on the other hand, is a historical movement that emerged in the 1930s thanks to British obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read, who coined the term.
Here’s the definition, with attribution, according to the Oxford English Dictionary:
natural childbirth n. childbirth in which the mother-to-be uses methods of relaxation and physical cooperation with the natural process of childbirth (advocated by G. D. Read in 1933); (now also) childbirth with minimal medical or technological intervention; a birth of this kind.
(On an unrelated note, while researching this post, I discovered an early appearance of “natural wine” in print. In the 1888 Encyclopaedia Britannica, the editors used the expression natural wine as a counterpoint to “gallisized wine,” where gallisized denotes a wine that has been produced “by the infusion of sugar, acid and water” with grape must [Oxford English Dictionary]: “Science affords a means of distinguishing a gallisized from a natural wine,” they wrote. The term gallisization comes from French Chemist Louis Gall who invented the method.)
Above: Lila P’s delivery wasn’t achieved entirely without the aid of contemporary medicine. But Tracie P did manage to give birth without the use of narcotics — our primary goal.
When we became pregnant with Lila Jane Parzen, our second daughter (born on Monday of this week), Tracie P began to research natural childbirth because she wanted — above all — to increase her chances of successfully breastfeeding.
Although Tracie P did successfully breastfeed Georgia P, our first daughter (now nineteen months old), it was initially challenging and Tracie P ascribed the issue, in part, to the epidural anesthesia applied in our first delivery.
Together, we decided to have childbirth that was as natural as possible. Ultimately, our doctor did employ medical techniques to induce our labor (because we were one week past our due date and induction reduced certain risks to both child and mother). And all the while, had something gone wrong, we would have had the support and aid of the hospital at our disposal to improve our chances for the delivery of a healthy baby girl.
But in the end, Tracie P — whom I now consider a super human — did manage to give birth without any narcotics. And I’m happy to report that nursing — on day two — is already moving along smoothly with a healthy latch and numerous poopy diapers.
Above: We couldn’t be more pleased with the results. And we’ll be taking beautiful Lila Jane Parzen home later today. Yesterday, Georgia P and Lila P TANDEM NURSED! And even though Georgia P isn’t exactly “thrilled” by the arrival of her younger sibling, she gently and lovingly patted Lila on the head yesterday when they nursed together. It was magical.
In the sleep-deprived wake of our miracle, I couldn’t help but think about what Alice Feiring once told me when I asked her to define Natural wine.
Natural wine, she said, was “an intention,” a goal to which a winemaker may aspire.
We certainly didn’t achieve an absolute “natural childbirth.” But we employed elements of its “intention” to arrive closer to our achieved goal of narcotic-free delivery.
What epistemological implications may we infer from all of this?
Honestly, I am so tired and emotionally drained at this point that I really couldn’t tell you.
What I can tell you is that my beautiful wife and my beautiful daughters have given me the greatest gift that any person could ever dream of: a life made whole by love and warmth, joy and laughter…
Lila, Georgia, Tracie, and I are so grateful for all the notes of support, congratulations, and love from all of our friends and family on social media. They mean the world to us. We’re so happy to be part of this community and our joy is only made greater by the fact that you share it with us. Now it’s time to let nanna and pawpaw make us some dinner and try to catch up on our sleep…