Fancy being born here ?
I learnt of a widwives network through a specialist of the Marquis of Sade. Now, where is the connection ? This is the way things work in the country.
The Marquis of Sade's specialist runs a second-hand bookshop in a nearby town. Peculiar man, but good with first editions. I droped by for an information. Had the Marquis de Sade really stopped in town in his life-time? It was important at the time, for a report on "Heritage week" for the paper. Yes, he had. See page so and so of "The complete letters of the Marquis de Sade to his wife". The local tourist brochures never mention it. Locals are not yet comfortable with the sadistic Marquis. Plus: what the "divine" marquis had to say about the town was not good. In short, it stinks, swarms with mosquitoes, rotten place, don't ever come here if you can avoid it.
On a bookshelf I notice an important assortment of books about childbirth. Surprising, considering the guy, the Marquis de Sade, and so on. He is the official book stockist for a local midwives network, who patron natural birth at home. So, naturaly, I called.
Around 80 babies are born at home each year in my departement, most of them in the mountains. It's a staggering figure, considering the sinking population growthrate of this area. Obviously, hippie-style, environment-friendly mums make the bulk of this population. If you can spend one winter in an old farmhouse, with no central heating, up there in the mountains, you can face anything. But the hippie communes of the seventies handed down to the urban refugees of today a surprisingly well organized network and routine.
The local midwife tends to mums-to-be with regular workshop, meetings, and basic check-ups. When labour starts, she is in attendance or calls the ambulance or the hospital helicopter if something looks strange or goes astray. Since country hospitals are closing down one after another, medical authorities do not argue too much with them. It's either being born at home, or driving over a hundred kilometres to check into the nearest hospital.
For its thirtieth anniversary the network invited a natural-childbirth guru from Paris. I did not attend. To bond with mums-to-be over natural childbirth in a bucket of hot water and incense fumes, up there, in the mountains, is a tad too much for me.