By Jen Wittes
We head for The Miracle Birth Center, of course.
Saw this lovely cow in early labor when we arrived. Being that my doula switch is apparently always flipped to on, I desperately wanted to crawl in her pen and stroke her head. I wanted to tell her that she’s got this and that she’s going to be a fabulous mother. I wanted to tell her to ignore the looky-loos and to instead look inward, finding her personal bovine goddess strength. Thankfully, I was able to hold myself back.
Stopped in later in the day and her calf had arrived! A bouncing, wobbly-legged boy that my son named “Cheese Curd.” The barn assistant loved it and chose it for the official name. Score!
The same assistant told us that calves born to dairy cows are primarily bottle fed, as their mothers don’t have the best maternal instincts. Why? They expel a lot of milk, but don’t have their young to the udder for most of that expression and thus, that connection is somewhat interrupted. For this reason, the mothers and calves are separated into adjoining pens after the initial birth experience, because the mother—instincts disrupted by her job as a milk producer—might step on their young. There is so much about this that got my doula wheels turning, thinking about the importance of bonding rituals and—a Welcome Baby Care favorite—skin on skin.
Also met a nice mama sheep with twin lambs. Watch how she stands with them protectively, sternly warning spectators with a fiery eye to “back off.”
I always love to see how universal motherhood is. I love how the families I work with are in such a primal, animal place that somewhat mirrors much of what you see at the Miracle of Birth Center. We may drive cars and poke away endlessly at our smart phones, but we are essentially simple creatures with deep biological instincts.