TP: How did you mentally and otherwise prepare for the home birth of your daughter? How was it different from what you imagined it would be?
MP: Despite the fact that I am a registered nurse and have worked as an EMT and first responder for twenty years, until my daughter was born, I had never witnessed a live birth. I had only delivered plastic babies with snap-on umbilical cords. So I re-read the obstetrics section of my original EMT textbook, watched some home-birth videos, met with the midwife. But above all I realized I was destined for a supporting role in every sense of the word, and as such, I pretty much let my wife and the other women involved take the lead. I can't say the experience was different than I might have imagined, but I can say I was unprepared for how powerfully my wife's strength during the delivery reinforced my love for her, and I was also struck by the peaceful transition from the dramatic act of birth to simply being together -- four of us, now -- in our home....TP: How are farming and parenting similar?
MP: Wow. First time I've been asked that one. Seems a bit of a minefield! The first thing that strikes me is that both have a way of blasting away any pretension or false sensibilities you may have carefully constructed for yourself. Maybe you thought you were a bigshot, but the pig just pooped on your boot anyway. And then the baby does the same thing. Then there is this constant sense that you have assigned yourself responsibility for a being that is dependent on you acting like a grownup at some point. You also discover the limits of your influence and the importance of sometimes standing aside. You can regulate every second of that pig's existence, but you'll wind up with pale meat. Good then, to turn the animal loose and watch it root around joyfully, finding the food it was designed to find, long before you showed up with your Farm & Fleet boots and a bag of feed. Same with children. You must tend the fences, be the grownup, remain in charge ... but you must also at some point let them go free-range, a little bit at a time, beginning earlier than you might think.