Brought to Earth by Birth
by Harriette Hartigan
[2008. Eugene, Oregon: Motherbaby Press, 86 pages, paperback.]
[Review first published in Midwifery Today Issue 89, Spring 2009, © 2009, Midwifery Today, Inc. Review by Min Yi Su.]
When I gave birth to my own children, I didn’t see how they looked when they first entered this world. So the opportunity to view the faces Harriette captured in her photography was as breathtaking as catching a glimpse of a rare and magical creature.
Knowing that I had only skimmed the book for photos the first time around, I created another opportunity to sit and read what Harriette had to say as an artist, a mother and a midwife who had spent 35 years observing and assisting in births. I noticed a pattern of silence and stillness intermittently between pages. It reminded me of the silent moments between my contractions when I was in labor. Her words guided me through stages of pregnancy and birth with tender wisdom. Quotations on birth were placed deliberately in places where I found them most inspiring.
My births are etched into my cellular memory and will always be a part of me, but to experience the highlights of birth, as if Harriette herself was holding my hand, is another experience altogether. Her photos say a thousand words, but her artfully crafted words say what my heart knows is true.
Min Yi Su is a freelance writer and the homebirth mom of three.