Manger Mania!

Your Communicant has spotted a new trend: “Stable births”—giving birth in a barn, attended by animals—are the new-old way for babies to come into the world. Amongst some New Yorkers, finding a nice spot with animals has almost become de rigeur. “Stables are great because they’re semi-outdoors,” says Laurel Minley-de Deseriato, 35, of Manhattan. “I had Lorenzo and Hickory in my apartment, but even that began to feel a bit unnatural. I had became aware of the electrical fields. I smelled the car exhaust. So this time, I went out to Pennsylvania and found a great farm.” She gave birth to her youngest, Nutmeg, in the barn of Al and Bobbie Stoltzfuss of New Nemeroth, PA.”She just showed up,” said Mr. Stoltzfuss, “pregnant as hell with the two other kids and asked if she could use our barn.”

“My partner was in Argentina at the time, and we hadn’t really discussed it, but it just felt right,” said Ms. Minley-de Deseriato, who was planning on having her third child at home with a midwife, but instead packed up her family in a Zipcar and headed out “not knowing where.”

“She asked if she could use our barn, but we wanted to take her to the hospital or at least set her up in a clean bed, but she said no. She wanted to smell hay. Reminded us of something,” said Mrs. Stoltzfuss.

“Which is funny because we’re not Christians,” said Ms. Minley-de Deseriato. “But yes, my doctor was a donkey.”

Would the Stoltzfusses welcome any other New Yorkers in search of obstetrical solitude?

Mr. Stoltzfuss shook his head no. “I told the lady not to tell her friends about us,” he said. “Soon enough we’d be overrun and in legal trouble up to our eyeballs.”

Ms. Minley-de Deseriato said she respected the Stoltzfusses’ wishes, but that indeed, many of her friends were now “chomping” for a real “barn birth.” So, in addition to raising three children and teaching Qigong part-time, Ms. Minley-de Deseriato is starting a new business: Barn Births. “I’m locating, arranging transportation, having a pre-birth run-through, and clearing any legal issues in advance,” she said, noting that demand is outpacing suitable locations for the time being. “I lucked out, but a lot of places don’t really want women giving birth in their barns or stables, which is ridiculous. I really can’t imagine a better place to bring a child into the world.”

What about sterilization and hygiene issues?

“What about it? We’re animals too, in case you hadn’t noticed.” With that, she took a call from an interested client who was wondering if it would be possible to have a VBAC in a barn. Ms. Minley-de Deseriato said yes, but that she should bring a midwife, and that she’d find a barn within a “five-minute drive” of a hospital.

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.