In blog 57 – Birth pain: A topic with a bad rap: Zani is amazed to find that there is a connection between birth pain and the mother care babies – of any kind – need to survive.
“What cemented their relationship even more was that they both valued peace and shared a deep-rooted love of the earth. Needless to say, while other children were being raised on jelly, custard and Hansel and Gretel, I nibbled on self-grown nuts and learned about Gandhi and Kant. It was an amazing upbringing. We planted our own fruit, nuts and vegetables, had chickens and a cow, made our own butter and yoghurt, never used synthetic pesticide, because Mom and Dad ceaselessly studied the micro ecosystems that keep nature in balance and used those principles to farm organically.”
At this moment, Vee stops at our table with a tray full of delicious-smelling muffins, farm-fresh butter and little pots of homemade jams. She must have overheard at least part of what Sky has been saying.
“That’s so refreshing to hear, Sky!” she says as she arranges the plates on the table in front of us. “I have this nagging feeling that the downfall of humankind may be the ever-increasing distance between people and nature. Nature is where our roots are.
The distance leaves people feeling disconnected and discontented, which we are all too eager to fix with busyness, pleasure or medication. It’s just my opinion, but I believe there’s no antidepressant as powerful as freshly dug earth and the joy of seeing something sprout.”
And that is that. Vee and Sky has each found a kindred spirit. I smile at them both and ask, “Would you like me to go and fetch another cup, Vee, and then you join us?”
Vee looks around and sees that all her guests are enjoying themselves and that she could take a breather. Without skipping a beat she bustles off to fetch another cup and a muffin. “What an unexpected gift to have tea with two beautiful pregnant ladies! I’m sorry I interrupted you, Sky. Would you like to continue? Zani?”
Sky seems a little uncertain now. She can sense a bond between Vee and me and her sensitive nature does not want to intrude or monopolise the conversation. So I encourage her with a “Please do carry on, Sky, I’m fascinated.”
“Well, one of my parents’ role models was Eugene Marais. Do you know of him?”
Vee does. She is an avid reader with a haphazard library filled with treasured books and a whole shelf for books by early South African authors. As it turns out, Eugene Marais is one of her favourites because of his varied background as lawyer, journalist and poet, and his acute observation skills as a naturalist.
Of course, I am chuffed with myself that I also know of him thanks to a beautiful South African movie called Die Wonderwerker. Jake and I love watching art movies on a Sunday evening and we’ve actually watched the movie about the life of Eugene Marais fairly recently.
“How amazing is that!” says Sky. “I seldom find people familiar with his work and here both of you know of him! Forget my life story, let’s talk about his thoughts on pain in childbirth.”
“My word, Sky, you have such an agile mind! Childbirth didn’t feature in the movie as far as I can remember. Please tell me about it – that is if you don’t mind, Vee?”
“Me? Mind? Absolutely not! It’s so important to talk about birth and pain while both of you are not too far away from it yourselves, even though pain is generally not a popular topic.”
Sky wipes the crumbs from the corner of her mouth, takes a sip of tea and it even looks like she shakes her feathers in readiness for the topic. “Eugene was a very patient man who watched all kinds of animals and insects for years on end. Baboons, scorpions, white ants, fireflies and many more, but I think the baboons and white ants were his favourites, because he published various scientific articles and two fascinating books, one about ants and another about baboons.
“His thoughts on birth pain were born after watching the birth process of many species over the years. He came to realise that when babies were born who needed care, birth pain was part of the birth process. If an egg was laid and the mom would stomp off never to see her young grow up, birth pain seemed to be absent, like with crocodiles, but where mother care was needed to ensure survival of the young, birth pain was always present. His phrase was: ‘Where birth pain is feeble, mother care is negligible.’”
“Phew, please say that again? When I tell Jake about all this I want to get it right.”
And with that the pen and notebook are part of the conversation again, but this time I am writing, not reading.