In honour of kgirl, I offer you the World’s Top Ten Birth Stories. (Spots 3 and 4 are empty - any suggestions?)
10) Tamar gives birth to twins:
And it came to pass in the time of her travail, that, behold, twins were in her womb.
And it came to pass, when she travailed, that the one put out his hand: and the midwife took and bound upon his hand a scarlet thread, saying, This came out first.
And it came to pass, as he drew back his hand, that, behold, his brother came out: and she said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez.
And afterward came out his brother, that had the scarlet thread upon his hand: and his name was called Zarah.
9) Athena from the head of Zeus:
When it came time, Zeus was in great pain; Prometheus, Hephaestus, Hermes or Palaemon (depending on the sources examined) cleaved Zeus's head with the double-headed Minoan axe, the labrys. Athena leaped from Zeus's head, fully grown and armed with a shout, "and pealed to the broad sky her clarion cry of war. And Ouranos trembled to hear, and Mother Gaia" (Pindar, Seventh Olympian Ode).
8) Most famous C-section in history:
Macduff was from his mother's womb
Macbeth Act 5, Scene 8
7) Melly gives birth while Atlanta burns:
(this one’s too long to quote, so I’ll give you the highlights)
EVERYBODY: “The Yankees are coming!”
SCARLETT: “The doctor can’t come. Nobody can come. You’ve got to bring the baby and I’ll help you.”
PRISSY:“Miss Scarlett, Ah doan know nuthin’ ‘bout bringin’ babies.”
... flies, sweat, screaming ...
MELANIE: “I’m going to die.”
... mewling baby boy ...
SCARLETT: “We’re going home, to Tara.”
Gone With the Wind
(because the only thing worse than an unmedicated homebirth with incompetent midwifery is an unmedicated homebirth with incompetent midwifery followed by a horse-and-buggy ride out of a burning city)
6) “My workshop of filthy creation”
It was a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.
5) Snakes on a homebirth:
4) Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane
(as suggested by Veronica Mitchell)
"Good God!" said his lordship. "Did I do that?"
"All the evidence points that way," replied his wife.
"Then I can only say that I never knew so convincing a body of evidence produce such an inadequate result."
The nurse appeared to take this reflection personally. She said in a tone of rebuke:
"He's a beautiful boy."
"H'm," said Peter. He adjusted his eyeglass more carefully. "Well, you're the expert witness. Hand him over."
The nurse did so, with a dubious air. ...
"Do you feel it's up to standard?" he inquired with some anxiety. "Of course, your workmanship's always sound - but you never know with these collaborate efforts."
"I think it'll do," said Harriet, drowsily.
"The Haunted Policeman" from Striding Folly
3) Roll it and pat it and mark it with a "B"
(as suggested by Christine)
The first twin, a nearly six-pound boy, came fairly easily, despite Essie's slender frame, but the second did not follow as I thought it should. I had begun to fear for it, when I realized that it was very small, but in a breach position. I reached in and turned the twin so that she was delivered head first, but blue as death. Before I even cut the cord, I put my mouth down and breathed into her tiny one. Her chest, smaller than my fist, shuddered, and she gave a cry, but so weak, so like a parting, that I was near despair. ...
I swathed the child tightly and held her against my body. It was like cuddling a stone. I almost ran from the bedroom. What was I to do? They must give me an incubator if they expected me to care for newborn babies in this godforsaken place.
The kitchen was slightly warmer than the bedroom. I went over to the enormous iron stove. A remnant of a fire was banked in the far corner under the stove top. I put my hand on the stove and found it comfortingly warm. I grabbed an iron pot, stuffed it with all the dishrags and towels I could reach with one hand, laid the baby in it, and set it in the oven door. Then I pulled up a kitchen stool and sat there with my hand on the baby's body and watched. It may have been hours. I was too intent to keep track, but, at length, a sort of pinkness invaded the translucent blue of her cheek.
Jacob Have I Loved
2) Levin witnesses the birth of his firstborn son:
He stood in the next room, his head leaning against the door post, and heard shrieks, howls such as he had never heard before, and he knew that what had been Kitty was uttering these shrieks. He had long ago ceased to wish for the child. By now he loathed this child. He did not even wish for her life now, all he longed for was the end of this awful anguish.
"Doctor! What is it? What is it? By God!" he said, snatching at the doctor's hand as he came up.
"It's the end," said the doctor. And the doctor's face was so grave as he said it that Levin took the end as meaning her death.
Beside himself, he ran into the bedroom. The first thing he saw was the face of Lizaveta Petrovna. It was even more frowning and stern. Kitty's face he did not know. In the place where it had been was something that was fearful in its strained distortion and in the sounds that came from it. He fell down with his head on the wooden framework of the bed, feeling that his heart was bursting. The awful scream never paused, it became still more awful, and as though it had reached the utmost limit of terror, suddenly it ceased. Levin could not believe his ears, but there could be no doubt; the scream had ceased and he heard a subdued stir and bustle, and hurried breathing, and her voice, gasping, alive, tender, and blissful, uttered softly, "It's over!"
He lifted his head. With her hands hanging exhausted on the quilt, looking extraordinarily lovely and serene, she looked at him in silence and tried to smile, and could not.
And suddenly, from the mysterious and awful far-away world in which he had been living for the last twenty-two hours, Levin felt himself all in an instant borne back to the old every-day world, glorified though now, by such a radiance of happiness that he could not bear it. The strained chords snapped, sobs and tears of joy which he had never foreseen rose up with such violence that his whole body shook, that for long they prevented him from speaking.
Falling on his knees before the bed, he held his wife's hand before his lips and kissed it, and the hand, with a weak movement of the fingers, responded to his kiss. And meanwhile, there at the foot of the bed, in the deft hands of Lizaveta Petrovna, like a flickering light in a lamp, lay the life of a human creature, which had never existed before, and which would now with the same right, with the same importance to itself, live and create in its own image.
1) Mary gives birth in a stable:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.