She had been referred to one of the doctor's in the practice by her "home birth care provider" when her blood pressure started to sky rocket and said care giver was no longer comfortable with a home birth. The young lady was rather disappointed that she wouldn't be able to give birth at home, and further disappointed that a water birth was not an option at Kaweah Delta. Now, while I would never choose the option myself, I know a few people who have had water births (where mom essentially sits in a giant tub and gives birth under the water) and raved about it, and I certainly understand why it appeals to some people.
No, it was the next thing this first time mom said that caught my attention. "Traditional hospital births are so violent. I want my son's first moments in life to be peaceful, not full of kicking and screaming." I smiled at this sweet, intelligent, profoundly ignorant young woman as I thought to myself, "I hope for your sake that whether your son enters the world on a hospital bed or in a bathtub, the first thing he does when he hits wordly air is let out a loud scream and flail those little limbs with all his might."
I can think of no other single sound so universally reassuring than that of a newborn's first cries--the very first obvious sign of life and health. After hours of grueling and exhausting labor, what could put a new mom at rest more than the sound of a healthy set of lungs announcing to the world, "I'm here!"? Keilana made it quickly and very effectively clear that she had a healthy set of lungs and she intended to use them. She made it just as apparent that her little body was strong and she would not be contained as she scooted herself up in her little warmer moments after birth and wriggled wildly to escape any poking, prodding or measuring--quieting only when she was clean and wrapped in her very exhausted daddy's arms.
When I was in labor with Dylan, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid. Though not an altogether unusual circumstance, it could mean fetal distress. So when I got close to pushing, a team of neonatal specialists were on hand in the room just in case. He didn't initially make much noise, so the pediatrician quickly suctioned some gook out of his nose and mouth with an aspirator and--as much because he was annoyed as because that made it easier to breath, I think--he let loose with a nice big scream. The intervening time between birth and that scream was literally probably less than a minute or two, but it was long enough to make my whole body, already worn out, extremely tense. At the sound of those healthy cries, my whole body relaxed for the first time in 18 hours.
I know a few mothers who haven't had the pleasure of hearing that first cry right away. To name just a couple: my sister's last baby took a few minutes to give her that reassuring yelp, as doctors and nurses worked to make sure he was ok (which, in the end he was); a friend of mine experienced motherhood for the first time with a stillborn daughter (thankfully, she went on to deliver 7 very healthy children). They could tell this new mom that there is nothing violent about those first cries--they are symphonies of life.