New year, new stories emerging

Zak Nelson, 1/12/11

First, an update: I have mapped my new domain onto this site. You may now arrive here simply by going to The old WordPress URL will still point here, though. But for ease of communication and to forestall carpal tunnel syndrome by some minutes, I thought it best to active this domain I’ve been sitting on. Please bookmark the new address and tell all your friends, enemies, and converted nemeses.

Now: I have, as I’ve mentioned, two stories I’d like to write next. One about an aloof cryptozoologist, another about a pregnancy. I’ve started on the latter. It involves in this rough, rough draft an expectant first-time mother, her husband, and her midwife. I think I want to tell it in third person omniscient, diving into the over-shoulder perspective of each of the three characters at various points. The intent is to write about people who intellectualize pregnancy and birth, who are on a collision course with reality.

I will be the first to admit my weaknesses: I am not a father yet. I have not experienced birth from any perspective except as an uncle or friend of new parents. My wife is a midwife, and she will aid and abet me as best she can. But the story is more about how people intellectualize processes of nature—a universal experience that I know well, and which fascinates me. So, hopefully I’ll be able to capture and write the experience. Believe me, I’m my own strictest critic: if the story starts to feel forced or inauthentic, I’ll put it into hibernation and pick up a different one.

But for now, it’s off to a good start. If you have any personal tales about mothers who overthink their pregnancy and birth, either with positive or negative outcomes, I’m all ears. And if you are (or know) a midwife with insight about how your own profession is, in a way, an intellectual approach to birth—or not—please share by leaving a comment. I’ll leave it that vague for now, to see what kind of comments I get.



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  1. I just stumbled across a blog recently, that talked at length about the struggle between what you want, and how reality imposes itself, especially during labor and delivery. Humbling really, considering as much as you try, you really lack the ability to control much in the process. I can’t seem to find the link at the moment, but I will find it for you and send it your way!

    Having had two children, with detailed birth plans, I can tell you neither went as I had planned or anticipated. As I was nearing the end of the second pregnancy I met a midwife, who owned an eclectic book store. She and I spoke many times, at length, about the struggle between doctors forcing things and medical need. My first son had nearly gotten stuck, and in anticipation of it happening again, the OB kept pushing to induce weeks early. I was an emotional wreck over it. Honestly, I think part of it was fear. Did I know my body better than the ‘expert’ (the OB)? Was he pushing for an induction, so it would merely be more convenient for his schedule?

    Sorry for the long-winded comment. It is one of those life experiences you never forget.

  2. I was the queen of over thinking when I was pregnant with Sonia. I read so much literature on pregnancy and the birthing process and had so many ideals for the birth, and everything went out the window when push came to shove. Also, on the opposite end, some think that mother nature will take over and you can just trust your body to do its job when the time comes. I would say that yes, you can and should trust your body, but if you are in a hospital setting it’s pretty hard to listen to your body and not the medical experts in the room. An experienced midwife or doulah or mother or grandmother in the room will make a world of difference. Believing that you alone can be prepared for the trials of labor and birth is like telling someone who has been living in a castle all his life that his survival instincts will kick in when he’s thrown into the forest. Every woman during labor and delivery should have a strong, knowledgeable, and caring advocate by her side, one who understands her body and what it is going through, and who can guide her through the enormously challenging and gratifying process that is birth.

    • What did you read?
      Was it more for a need for control, do you think, or were the books legitimately helpful?
      What did the books get wrong? …Or more specifically, what things do you feel were completely beyond your control that the books maybe indicated were within your control?
      What’s an example of something you planned for, or did “by the book” that did not go as expected?

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