Tag: Pregnancy

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 →

The (Historical) Body in Pain

For the last decade, I’ve been reading and writing about other women’s pain. Contractions lasting 72 hours. Feverish deliriums after a punctured uterus. A woman beaten with a tree branch. I study the history of gender and medicine, and my book manuscript examines the parallel processes of the medicalization of childbirth and the criminalization of… Read more →

Meanings and Materials of Miscarriage: How Babies in Jars Shaped Modern Pregnancy

In 1866, a young man in Crestline, Ohio, visited Dr. J. Stolz to ask the physician for help. Mr. B’s wife was in much pain and distress, and Mr. B feared for her life. Stolz accompanied the young man back to his house where he found the 16-year-old woman thrashing about in bed, screaming in… Read more →

The Proof of Pregnancy

In February 1819, the Caswell County Superior Court in North Carolina tried three white women for infanticide. At issue was the state of the remains: whether the body was of a fetus or child. The accused birth mother, Sarah Jeffreys, initially denied her pregnancy but upon repeated questioning acknowledged “she had lost something but she… Read more →

The Gendered Dynamics of Miscarriage

  I was sitting in a small meeting room in the Olympic Village at Squaw Valley for a writers’ workshop. There were thirteen people in our group, eleven women and two men. For a week, we took turns reading and critiquing each other’s nonfiction work, and on this day, my essay on my wife’s recent… Read more →

Mothers of Monsters

I am looking at an infant boy suspended in a jar of liquid. The preservative fluid has kept the boy’s body looking much as it did when he was born over two hundred years ago here in Amsterdam. The crown of his head protrudes upward several inches, giving his head an odd shape and swollen… Read more →

Scheduling My Miscarriage

Scattered across my journals, you’ll find various iterations of multi-year plans, listing off months, allowing me to plan my way backward toward deadlines. In the spring of 2014, while wrapping up the first year of my doctoral program, I made such a list. My husband and I had been married for nearly four years, and… Read more →

Anatomy of Generation

Before the advent of modern technologies like the ultrasound, miscarried and aborted fetuses provided some of the very few glimpses inside the pregnant uterus. Pregnancy loss, whatever its personal meanings for women and their partners, offered physicians precious insight into the mysteries of human reproduction. The earliest recorded observation of a human embryo is in… Read more →