Posted by: emjb | July 24, 2005

I’d Like to Thank the Academy for This Baby

On one of the forums I frequent, a (17-year-old, first-time) expecting woman was puzzled as to why her father did not want to be in the delivery room with her. She also mentioned that she wanted him there because her two best friends, her boyfriend, her mom and her 11-year old sister were going to be there, too (and somewhere in there, a doctor or midwife and maybe assorted nurses).

I mentioned this to Matt and he said “What, does she think it’s like receiving a Grammy?”

My response to her (which she did not reply to yet) was something on the lines of, um, how much room do you have in your hospital room? And do you think all these people are going to be able to deal with seeing you naked, seeing your bodily fluids, and seeing a baby come out your lady business? Because, in picturing my family, there are very few individuals whom I think would be able to deal with the above. Not because they don’t love me, but because, hey, nudity, and goo and stuff. And undoubtedly, hours of me walking around and cursing and making other noises.

Birth shouldn’t be shameful or hidden or anything, but it’s not like having a violin recital or a tea party either. You can’t be ladylike or pretty or please an audience with your performance, or chit chat about Aunt Frieda’s gout while you’re doing it (at least not in the thick of it). It’s hard, sweaty, painful, and to me anyway a bit…sacred. There’s nothing casual about it, even if it’s fairly quick and uneventful. It brings up powerful emotions, and requires you to be extremely brave and strong when you are in a lot of pain, to not be ashamed to yell or cry or put yourself in undignified positions to get the work done.

I don’t know this girl, of course, but my hypothesis would be, she’s scared about her birth. She’s thinking that if she surrounds herself with lots of people, it will take her mind off of what’s happening and make things stay normal. If she treats it like a picnic, it will feel like one. I can understand the impulse, but what’s more likely to happen is that this doesn’t work, she freaks out, the nurses rush everyone out of the room, and then she has to deal with the situation with just her boyfriend there, who is as scared as she is. My heart goes out to her…I can’t imagine doing what I’m doing now at 17. I would be terrified too. What she really needs is one strong, experienced woman (midwife or doula or relative) in the room with her, letting her know she’s going to be ok and that she can do this.

I hope she finds that person before the big day.

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