Tag: Pregnancy

In Vitro Fertilization: From Science Fiction to Reality to History

It was not that long ago that “test tube babies” only existed in science fiction. I remember my shock when, in 2007, one of my students at Wellesley College told me that she was an IVF (in vitro fertilization) baby. “The technology couldn’t be that old, could it?” I thought. In The Pursuit of Parenthood:… Read more →

What to Expect When You’re Expecting in the Nineteenth-Century U.S.

Type “pregnancy” into any internet search engine today, and you’ll literally get a billion results. This plethora of information at our fingertips feels quite modern, and yet it has a long history: American women have long turned to the printed word for advice about their reproductive bodies. In the nineteenth century, there were many competing… Read more →

Over-the-Counter Anxiety: Selling the Home Pregnancy Test

Walk through the aisles of any American drugstore, and you’ll eventually encounter the home pregnancy test section. Because of the ease, convenience, and relative affordability of these tests, the majority of Americans now find out they’re pregnant in the privacy of their own bathrooms. The home pregnancy test is undoubtedly a success story. You can… Read more →

A Tale of Two Midwives across Four Centuries

What happens when the person who delivers most of the babies in her community is arrested? This is a tale of two midwives, separated by nearly four centuries of history, and yet remarkably alike. Six months ago, certified professional midwife Elizabeth Catlin was arrested on the grounds that she was practicing midwifery without a license…. Read more →

How I Met My Mother: The Story of an Unexpected Pregnancy

I was born seven weeks after my mother found out she was pregnant. I was not a medical miracle — I was a bouncing 9lb 14oz when born — but my route into the world was complicated by a series of doctors (all men) who repeatedly told my mother she was not expecting a child… Read more →

This is Not a Culture of Life, This is a Culture of Un-Death

Last week at a Vatican conference on abortion, Pope Francis “argued that children who were not expected to live long after birth deserved to be treated in the womb ‘with extraordinary pharmacological, surgical and other interventions.’” He intimated that parents who did not use extraordinary measures were not caring for their children, saying that “Taking… Read more →

Openness and Authority in Pregnancy: Lucy Knisley’s Kid Gloves

I began reading Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos on my own due date, desperately trying to keep busy as I awaited my baby’s arrival. Lucy Knisley’s extremely honest and intensely readable graphic memoir about pregnancy and childbirth was not exactly a distraction, as the book recounts her own stories related to trying to… Read more →

Labor, Birth, and Superstitions

On the morning that my daughter-in-law went into labor, a small bird crashed into our apartment window and lay dead on the terrace. At least that’s what I assumed happened when I saw its small black and yellow body lying on its side. Our internet research told us it was a Blackburnian Warbler, a bird… Read more →

From Hospital to Home: Wendy Kline’s Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth

Wendy Kline has delivered a new addition to the history of childbirth in America. In her engaging and well-researched book, Coming Home: How Midwives Changed Birth, Kline presents a new and necessary chapter in the story of the medicalization of childbirth in the United States: the history of the home birth movement. Kline has a… Read more →

For Keeps: Teenage Girls and Anxiety around Sex during the 1990s

In 1995, I was sixteen and experiencing the excitement of my first real love. As if out of a 1990s teen rom-com, my boyfriend asked me to “go with him” by drawing a picture of roses and placing them in our shared locker. Once, when we were shamelessly making out in the band room between… Read more →