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Kelly Had a Baby!

Welcome Orion Joseph Dungan!

Born August 7th. 10#2oz.

In my last days of pregnancy, I felt drawn to read the birth stories and writing of midwife/freebirth advocate Jeannine Parvati Baker. Jeannine famously said, "Birth is not an emergency…it is simply an emergence." She was beloved by those that knew her for these one liners that give us pause (and maybe push some people's buttons) to consider more deeply affirming to read words of profound trust in birth itself. For all I’ve learned, seen, and experienced of birth in the last twenty years, I was still showing up as a first time mom–vulnerable, excited, walking into the wild unknown.

Writer and activist adrienne maree brown also speaks of emergence–she defines it as: “the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions.” What better way to describe the intricate yet everyday occurrence of labor and birth? The pulsatile flow of oxytocin, the flood of adrenaline in transition…

There is an emergence in every birth. Whether a baby is pushed out or pulled out, the baby emerges, and the world is forever changed. A new person is born. Parents are born, or born again. And beyond an individual birth, we can look at birth as a whole–our collective experience of birth–through the lens of emergence. Each birth is like a fractal of the whole, and when we have so many fractals of difficult or traumatic birth (which we do–stats range from 25-34% of births reported as a traumatic experience), then our culture of birth as a whole is most accurately described as a culture of traumatic birth. To name this, I think, can feel overwhelming and painful. How do we shift it?

Cultural change occurs through emergence. It occurs through an accumulation of fractals, of individual experiences and everyday occurrences. It occurs through the accumulation of powerful, positive birth experiences. In my own birth (still fresh and tender and being integrated), I can name that it unfolded nothing like I though it would, and yet I got everything I needed: I was anchored in my somatic (body) experience. My choices were deeply honored. I was in my power and connected to my baby. From this experience, I can move into motherhood clear about my own inner resources.

Where does the future of birth lie? The real answer is we don’t know. But we can learn from the concept (and living truth) of emergence that strengthening connections between fractals–from one birth to another, form a nurse to a family, from a mother to a baby, from a homebirth midwife to a hospital OB–creates resilience and possibility in the face of the wild unknown.

With love,


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1 Comment

Camille Clarke
Camille Clarke
Aug 31, 2023

I love this. Thank you for sharing Kelly. Congratulations and I'm so happy for you. ❤️

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